English (Ph.D.)

Students must complete thirteen (13) courses (39 credits). Those entering with an MA degree are required to complete 10 courses (30 credits). Students must also complete two courses (0 credits) or examinations for reading knowledge of two foreign languages, pass a PhD comprehensive examination, and complete a dissertation and oral dissertation defense. Doctoral students have 8 years to complete all of the requirements for the degree. Students must maintain satisfactory academic progress including a minimum 3.5 GPA and maintenance of continuous enrollment. 


Students should select their courses carefully  and consult periodically with the Graduate Director to  insure that they are fulfilling all requirements. Not  all courses are offered every year; students must fulfill their requirements from courses offered during their  tenure within the program.  

Course Title Credits
One required course from each of the following areas: 315
Literature before 1485
British Literature 1485-1800
British Literature after 1800
American Literature before 1910
American Literature since 1910
One required course with the Difference and Intersectionality designation3
One graduate-level English elective course 43
Demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages through the following:
Four required courses in Dissertation and Comprehensive Examination5
Total Credits35

Graduate literature courses taken elsewhere may be approved to count toward these requirements, and similar courses in Critical Theory may be counted, subject to review by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and through completion and submission of the departmental waiver form.

Normally, PhD students do not take Creative Writing courses, and they are not allowed to do so in their first year. In their second year they may enroll in a Creative Writing course after obtaining the written permission of their adviser.

Language Requirements

Before taking their PhD Comprehensive exam:

PhD students must demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages. PhD students must fulfill at least one language requirement by the beginning of Fall semester of the 2nd year (i.e., within the Fall, Spring, or Summer of the 1st year in the program). The second language requirement should then be fulfilled before the beginning of Fall semester of the 3rd year and before, or at least within, the semester in which the PhD comprehensive exam is taken.

Before completing their MA Capstone.

Students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one foreign language.

Students may fulfill their language requirements in several ways:

  1. Pass a zero-credit Graduate Reading Courses (see GSAS Tuition and Fees for cost). Students should check my.fordham.edu for the current graduate reading language courses.
  2. Pass an exam with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) or Classics Departments (see GSAS Tuition and Fees for cost). Taking an exam might be a good option for those students who have studied a language at another institution. Exams at Fordham are not listed on transcripts until successfully passed. 
  3. Pass an exam administered by the English Department. Exams in Spanish, French, German, Hebrew, Icelandic, Latin, Swedish, Danish, Irish, and other languages may be taken without fee within the English Department any time during the academic year. Contact the DGS to set up an appointment.
  4. For incoming PhD students who hold an MA, we accept proof of one foreign language requirement fulfilled during the course of their MA work.  
  5. For incoming and currently enrolled students, we accept graduate-level foreign language courses (such as "French for Reading") taken at other institutions.  Students must submit a copy of the course syllabus to the DGS for approval. 
  6. We accept an undergraduate degree earned in a foreign language in fulfillment of one language requirement. For instance, if a student's undergraduate school was in Rome and the coursework was conducted in Italian, that student's undergraduate transcript would fulfill one language requirement (no testing is required).

Scheduling An Exam At Modern Languages and Literatures

To schedule an exam download and review the Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) Assessment Policy and Schedule from under English website Forms and Resources page. For an exam in Latin, contact the Classics Department Chairperson.

PhD Comprehensive Exam


PhD students will take the oral portion of the Comprehensive Exam at the end of their second year in the program, either in May or in late August.

In May, the Exam will take place on the designated Reading Day, as indicated on the FCRH academic calendar. In late August, it will take place on one of two Exam Days, the two non-holiday weekdays before the first day of fall semester classes.

The May Exam is strongly recommended as it allows students to begin developing their dissertation proposals during the summer before they begin teaching.


The PhD Comprehensive Exam consists of two components:

  • A revised course essay
  • A two-hour oral exam covering one major field and two minor fields

Exam Committee

The PhD Comprehensive Exam Committee will consist of four English department faculty members, one of whom serves as the Committee Chair.

The student, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), will select the Committee Chair, and, in consultation with the Committee Chair, one Committee Member. The two remaining Committee Members will be selected by the DGS.

Committees must be finalized during the Fall semester prior to the May or August exam date (see Planning and Registering for Exams below and in the New PhD Comprehensive Examination Document).

Planning and Registering for Exams

To register, students:

  • Begin planning their exams in consultation with the DGS by the beginning of the Fall semester of the second year.
  • Review the PhD Comprehensive Examination Document.
  • Use DegreeWorks to verify that all your degree requirements have been met or are in progress.
  • Follow the instructions on the PhD Comprehensive Exam Registration Form (CERF) and submit a completed, signed hard copy and an emailed Word file version of the CERF to the graduate administrator.
  • In the Fall semester, if taking the May exam, register for the Spring semester ENGL 0930 PHD COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION-ENGLISH through my.fordham.edu.
  • If taking the August exam and not taking any credit bearing coursework, register for the Spring semester for ENGL 0912 REQUIREMENT PREPARATION and then register for the Fall for ENGL 0930 PHD COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION-ENGLISH.
  • These registrations must be completed through my.fordham.edu by the add/drop deadline for continuing students as indicated on the GSAS Academic Calendar.

Exam Results

After the oral exam has taken place, the committee will grade the student's entire Exam as a whole and immediately communicate the result to the student. Written and oral portions of the exam will be graded together and a student will receive only one Exam grade.

GSAS grades include Pass, High Pass, and Failure. All grades require the agreement of at least three of the four examiners.

A Pass grade requires the oral and written expression of a sound conceptual grasp of literary history and form, as well as evidence of a solid familiarity with the individual works discussed. Successful students are able to respond productively to questions and argue points with clarity and specificity, while demonstrating competent knowledge of their major and minor fields.

A High Pass grade requires a higher order of synthetic understanding, historical range, original insight, theoretical sophistication, and detailed recollection. In assigning a High Pass, Exam Committees look for evidence of serious and sustained independent thinking.

Students who fail the exam may retake it once, within six months of the first attempt. The first failure does not appear on a student's transcript. Students may read faculty comments on their exams after submitting a written request to the graduate administrator.

Students whose Exam is only marginally passable but not indicative of the ability to complete a dissertation will receive a departmental grade of Low Pass. Because this grade is officially recorded as a Pass, it allows for a student to receive the MPhil degree. But students receiving a Low Pass will not be allowed to continue work toward the PhD

For further information about the PhD Comprehensive Exam, please review the PhD Comprehensive Exam Document and consult the GSAS Policies and Procedures Guidebook-available through the GSAS website and the English Department website (under Forms and Resources).

Dissertation Prospectus

Information and Instructions

Within two weeks of passing the Comprehensive Exam, you should identify and confirm a dissertation mentor. Send an email to your mentor, copying the graduate administrator (GA) and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and asking the mentor to reply to all (GA, DGS, and student), so the department has a record of the mentorship.
Enrollment in the mentor-appropriate Proposal Development is required (one credit) for all semesters up to and including the semester in which the prospectus is approved with the exception of the one semester immediately following the exam. In that semester you may enroll in ENGL 0950 PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT, a non-assigned section of this administrative course. 

English PhD Teaching Practicum

The required 10th course for English PhD students consists of sequenced pedagogy training spanning two semesters.


ENGL 5999 COLLOQUIUM: PEDAGOGY THEORY/PRACTICE 1 is the first part of the Teaching Practicum and is to be taken in the spring of the English PhD student's 2nd year (before teaching). This part includes individual interviews, assignment of written work, and practice teaching. Each student will have a mentor, complete a portfolio of materials, and create multiple assignments.

ENGL 5999 is graded as Pass or Fail. Once students receive a grade of Pass for ENGL 5999, they will be approved to take the second part of the course in the fall semester (when English PhD students begin to teach). The second part, ENGL 6004 COLLOQUIUM:PEDAGOGY THEO/PRA  (taken in the fall of the English PhD student's 3rd year), introduces students to different pedagogical approaches and methods.


Students take the first part of the Teaching Practicum (ENGL 5999) in the spring of their 2nd Year. Students register themselves through my.fordham.edu with the CRN for that particular semester. 
Students must receive a grade of Pass in ENGL 5999 for enrollment in the second part of the Practicum.

Students register for the second part of the Practicum, ENGL 6004, in my.fordham.edu using an override provided to them by the Graduate Administrator.

Although the seminar introduces students to a variety of pedagogical issues, meetings will focus on the teaching of English Composition/ Rhetoric, a course that is essential to Fordham's Writing Program.

Over the course of their careers at Fordham University, students who have successfully completed the sequenced training will have the opportunity to teach English Composition/ Rhetoric and, in some cases, literature courses.

Dissertation Chapter Meeting

Information and Instructions

No later than eight months after the approval of the dissertation prospectus, the student must have a group meeting with the dissertation adviser and committee members to discuss a draft of a dissertation chapter. Meetings that happen well before the eighth month are permitted and encouraged.
The exact parameters of the meeting are up to the adviser and committee members, but, in most cases, the meeting need not extend beyond an hour. Meetings may take place in person, via Skype, on the phone, or in any other format that the adviser and committee members determine to be appropriate.
The adviser and committee members will not issue a formal evaluation or grade as a result of the meeting (i.e., the meeting is not an exam). Rather, the point of the meeting is to promote timely completion of a chapter draft and to provide concerted, coordinated feedback at an early stage in the dissertation writing process. Because the goal is to facilitate the writing process, the adviser and student also have flexibility in deciding what constitutes a chapter draft and what will be presented to the committee.
If a dissertation chapter meeting is not held within eight months of the approval of the prospectus, the student must send the DGS a plan for completion of the chapter draft and holding of the meeting endorsed by his or her adviser.
If the eight-month deadline for the meeting falls during a period when school is not in session (i.e., winter break, spring break, Easter break, or summer break), the chapter draft is still due within eight months. The meeting, however, can be postponed to the next available opportunity (for example, if the eight-month deadline falls in July, the chapter draft would still be due in July, but the meeting could be held in September).