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. View article »

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  • 0:34 University of…
  • 1:12 Stanford University
  • 1:48 Cornell University
  • 2:25 Top English Ph.D. Programs

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School Overviews

Doctoral programs in English are available at several top-ranked schools in the U.S. We'll explore a few of these schools and see what makes their programs special.

The University of California - Berkeley, Stanford University, and Cornell University are home to some of the best English Ph.D. programs in the nation. These highly-selective programs offer students an in-depth exploration of literature as well as a variety of specialization options. They also received top program rankings from U.S. News & World Report in 2013.

University of California - Berkeley

The University of California - Berkeley is home to the top-ranked graduate English program in the nation, according to 2013 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The doctoral program is very selective and typically takes six years to complete. Third year students are required serve as graduate-level teaching assistants for two years.

Doctoral candidates complete coursework in period literature from medieval and early modern times through the 20th century. They can also choose an emphasis in another discipline such as gender, film, or medieval studies, or participate in up to six different colloquia focusing on the study of various genres or literary periods.

Stanford University

Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, was ranked 2nd among schools offering the best graduate English programs by U.S. News & World Report in 2013. The English Ph.D. program at Stanford is highly competitive. The curriculum takes five to six years to complete and includes a critical study of rhetoric, narrative and creative writing and its influence over the contemporary experience.

Doctoral candidates are required to teach as an assistant at the graduate level, for which they can receive teaching awards. Prizes for outstanding dissertations and first year graduate essays are also awarded.

Cornell University

U.S. News & World Report ranked Ithaca, NY's Cornell University tied for 8th on the 2013 list of the best graduate English programs. The English language and literature Ph.D. program only enrolls about 12 students each year. Degree requirements take about five years to complete, and students are expected to teach for at least one year. Students must also meet their particular area's foreign language requirement.

Students have a wide array of concentration areas to choose from, including women's literature, cultural studies, and prose fiction. They may also pursue a joint Ph.D. and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

Top English Ph.D. Programs

The following schools also offer students top English Ph.D. programs:

College/University Name Location Distinction
Harvard University Cambridge, MA Allows Ph.D. students to attend graduate colloquia covering the Renaissance, British and American literature, Medieval literature, drama, and the 18th Century and Romanticism
New York University New York, NY Has a program that focuses on the history and criticism of English and American literature
Northwestern University Evanston, IL The English program offers areas of focus that include Victorian, medieval, and American literature, 20th and 21st century literature, and poetry and poetics
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Fully funds its English Ph.D. students upon admission
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI Lets students earn joint doctoral degrees in English language and literature and education, or English language and literature and women's studies
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Gives Ph.D. students the chance to take part in 14 different working groups
The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Lets students 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
University of Virginia - Main Campus Charlottesville, VA Offers a Ph.D. program that may take 6-7 years to complete
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI Ph.D. programs focus on composition and rhetoric, English language and linguistics, and literary studies

Ph.D. programs in English are available from top schools throughout the United States. These programs are unique in the areas of study that they offer as well as the extracurricular opportunities they provide.

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