Top English PhD Programs: List of Schools

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in English or English literature is useful for those interested in teaching at the college level. Programs at the top-ranked schools are often very competitive. Get ranking details, as well as program offerings and other points of distinction for the top English Ph.D. programs in the country.

School Overviews

The University of California - Berkeley and Stanford University are home to the two best English Ph.D. programs in the nation. These highly-selective programs offer students an in-depth exploration of literature with a variety of options to specialize in an area of interest. Continue reading for further details.

The Best English Ph.D. Programs

1. University of California - Berkeley

The University of California - Berkeley was ranked as having the top English Ph.D. program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2009. The program is very selective and accepts less than 5% of applicants each year. The degree program typically takes six years to complete and includes coursework in period literature from medieval through 20th century works. Students can choose an emphasis in another discipline such as gender, film or medieval studies. Third-year students are required to serve as a graduate level teaching assistant for two years.

2. Stanford University in California

Stanford University was ranked second among English programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2009. The English Ph.D. program at Stanford is highly competitive, with only about 3% of applicants being accepted to the program annually. The degree takes five to six years to complete. Elements of the program include a critical study of rhetoric, narrative and creative writing and its influence over the contemporary experience. Students of the Ph.D. program are required to teach as an assistant at the graduate level.

Good Schools with English Ph.D. Programs

College/University Name Distinction Location
Cornell University Students may pursue a joint Ph.D. degree in English language and literature and a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing Ithaca, NY
Harvard University Ph.D. students can attend graduate colloquia covering the Renaissance, British and American literature, Medieval literature, drama, and the 18th Century and Romanticism Cambridge, MA
New York University Program focuses on the history and criticism of English and American literature New York, NY
Northwestern University Areas of focus include Victorian, Medieval and American literature; 20th and 21st Century literature and poetry and poetics Evanston, IL
University of California - Los Angeles English Ph.D. students are fully funded upon admission Los Angeles, CA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Students can earn a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, or they can pursue a joint Ph.D. degree in English and education or English and women's studies Ann Arbor, MI
University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. students can take part in the university's reading groups dedicated to a variety of literary interests, which feature guest lecturers and workshops Philadelphia, PA
The University of Texas at Austin Students can choose from 15 areas of study, including American and British literature, Renaissance literature, ethnic and Third-World literature, drama, language and linguistics, rhetoric, poetry and poetics, popular culture and gender studies Austin, TX
University of Virginia - Main Campus Ph.D. program may take 6-7 years to complete Charlottesville, VA
University of Wisconsin - Madison Ph.D. programs focus on composition and rhetoric, English language and linguistics or literary studies Madison, WI

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