English (Ph.D.)

Students entering the program with a B.A. degree have ten (10) years to complete all of the requirements for the degree. Students entering the program with a M.A. degree have eight (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 ensure 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
Required Courses
ENGL 5001Pro.Sem: Res.methods Engl 13
ENGL 5999Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing3
ENGL 6004Practicum in Writing Pedagogy 23
Distributive Requirements
One required course from each of the following areas: 312
Literature before 1500
Literature 1500-1850
Literature 1850-present
Difference and Intersectionality course
Three graduate-level English elective courses (Six for those entering without the M.A.) 49 to 18
Demonstrate reading knowledge of one language other than English through the following: 5
French for Reading
Italian for Reading
Spanish for Reading
Graduate Reading in German I
and Grad.Readg.in German II
Latin for Reading
GSAS Language Exam 1
GSAS Language Exam 2
Dissertation and Comprehensive Examination
Four required courses in Dissertation and Comprehensive Examination
PhD Comprehensive Examination-English 6
Proposal Development
Proposal Acceptance
Dissertation Direction
Total Credits30-39

Research Methods must be taken in the first semester of the first year. 


The Teaching Practicum begins in the second semester of the second year. For more information on the Ph.D. Teaching Practicum, visit our page on the Fordham website.


These are the same courses as those required and listed under the M.A. in English.


Students may enroll in courses in other departments with permission of the English Director of Graduate Studies.


Some of our students fulfill this requirement in this way, but more often they opt for one of the other modes of fulfillment, listed on our website (options 3 and 4 are very common).


To support prospectus writing, students must register for ENGL 8935 Dissertation Writing Seminar the semester after they pass the comprehensive exam.

Graduate literature courses taken elsewhere may be approved to count toward these requirements, subject to review by the director of graduate studies (DGS) and through completion and submission of the departmental waiver form.

Language Requirement

M.A. and Ph.D. students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one language other than English. Ph.D. students must fulfill the requirement before, or at least within, the semester in which the Ph.D. comprehensive exam is taken. M.A. students must fulfill the requirement by at least one month before graduation.

Students may fulfill their language requirement in several ways:

  1. Pass a zero-credit Graduate Reading Course (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 and 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. To schedule an exam, download and review the Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) Assessment Policy and Schedule from under the English website Forms and Resources page. For an exam in Latin, contact the classics department chairperson.
  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 Ph.D. students who hold an M.A., we accept proof of a language requirement fulfilled during the course of their M.A. work.
  5. For incoming and currently enrolled students, we accept graduate-level 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 language other than English in fulfillment of the 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 the language requirement (no testing is required).

Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam


Ph.D. students will take the oral portion of the Comprehensive Exam at the end of their second or third year in the program (depending on whether they entered with a M.A. or B.A.), 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 recommended as it allows students to begin developing their dissertation prospectus during the summer before they begin teaching. To support prospectus development and writing, students must register for ENGL 8935 Dissertation Writing Seminar the semester after they pass the comprehensive exam.


The Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Committee will consist of three 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. The student, committee chair, and DGS will in consultation choose the other two committee members.

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 Ph.D. 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 for those who entered with an M.A., and by the the beginning of the fall semester of the third year for those who entered with a B.A.
  • Review the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination document.
  • Use Degree Works to verify that all your degree requirements have been met or are in progress.
  • 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.

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 M.Phil. degree. But students receiving a Low Pass will not be allowed to continue work toward the Ph.D.

For further information about the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam, please review the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. Teaching Practicum


ENGL 5999 Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing is the first part of the Teaching Practicum and is to be taken in the spring of the English Ph.D. student's second year for those entering with a M.A. and in the spring of third year for those entering with a B.A.

ENGL 5999 is graded with a standard letter grade. Once students complete ENGL 5999, they will be approved to take the second part of the Practicum, ENGL 6004 Practicum in Writing Pedagogy, in the fall semester (when English Ph.D. students begin to teach).


For the first part of the Teaching Practicum (ENGL 5999), students register themselves through my.fordham.edu with the CRN for that particular semester.

Students must complete ENGL 5999 for enrollment in the second part of the Practicum.

Students register for the second part of the Practicum, ENGL 6004 Practicum in Writing Pedagogy, in my.fordham.edu using an override provided to them by the graduate administrator.

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 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).