College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

Graduate Programs in English

The Department of English at Washington State University offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Providing opportunities for diverse coursework and extensive pedagogical training, these programs emphasize interpretive and critical thinking, breadth of disciplinary preparation, grounding in current theory and methodology, and respect for the value of multiple perspectives. Students may elect to concentrate either on literary study (British, American, and postcolonial Anglophone literatures) or on rhetoric and composition. The English Department also participates in Washington State's interdisciplinary American Studies program, which offers opportunities for M.A. and Ph.D. students to take specialized seminars in American Studies.

All students admitted to the various M.A. and Ph.D. programs will have been carefully selected from pools of applicants. They are expected to pursue their degree programs with success and to earn the M.A. degree in two years and the Ph.D. in four. The final oral examination – the culmination of all degree programs – is understood to be a conversation among colleagues, a forum in which the candidate discusses his or her own scholarly goals and asks questions as well as answering them. The intent is that it serve as a welcome into the profession of English studies.

General Program Requirements

  • Unless specifically exempted, all entering graduate students who hold Teaching Assistantships will enroll in ENGL 501 (Seminar in the Teaching of Writing); exceptions to this rule must be approved by the Director of Composition. For descriptions of this course, see the seminar brochure prepared each semester.
  • Candidates for all graduate degrees are normally required to take three credits of ENGL 598 (Teaching Apprenticeship); usually these credits are acquired during a student's first three semesters in the program. Upon evidence of a candidate's satisfactory prior experience in public school or college teaching, the Director of Graduate Study may waive this requirement. For details regarding ENGL 598, see the seminar schedule prepared each semester.
  • Full-time candidates for all graduate degrees must enroll in at least one credit hour per semester of ENGL 700 (M.A. thesis), ENGL 702 (M.A. non-thesis), or ENGL 800 (doctoral research). Students may always enroll in more than one credit hour of these courses if they wish, but the minimum per semester is one hour.
  • In all graduate programs requiring comprehensive written or oral examinations, students who fail may petition the Graduate Studies Committee to retake the examination. If permission is granted, the student will be advised of the maximum and minimum interval permitted between the original and the second exam. Two calendar years is the usual maximum interval. Normally an examination may not be taken a third time.
  • All graduate students should be aware that examinations and graded coursework are regarded as separate and independent evaluations of each candidate. (Examinations are not intended as reviews of coursework: their purpose and scope are described below for individual programs.) The English Department faculty is nonetheless committed either in the design of courses or through recommended readings which supplement specific requirements to providing students with guidance in the task of integrating the specialized contents of seminars into the broader contexts and perspectives demanded by examinations in the various programs.
  • Every graduate student is required to submit an updated CV to the Director of Graduate Studies at the end of each Spring Semester (preferably no later than May 1). The purpose of this submission is to allow the DGS to assemble an annual report concerning graduate student progress and accomplishment. Updated CVs should, at the minimum, provide the following information: any conference papers presented up through April 30 of the current year; all courses taught at WSU or elsewhere during the current academic year; any books, essays, articles, book chapters, or book reviews published by the student, with dates of publication; any books, essays, articles, book chapters, or book reviews accepted for publication (but still forthcoming); any books, essays, articles, book chapters, or book reviews submitted for publication; any grants or fellowships received by the student, with titles and dates; any prizes or awards received by the students, with titles and dates; and any other academic accomplishments.
  • Graduate students must earn a 3.00 grade point average (GPA) for all course work (including all courses listed on the Program of Study and other graduate upper- and lower-division courses). No work of "C" grade or lower may be dropped from a program, nor can a course be repeated for a higher grade if the final grade is "C" or higher. Any course listed on the Program of Study in which a grade of "C-," "D," or "F" is earned must be repeated.
  • A graduate student who fails to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher for all course work subsequent to admission to the WSU Graduate School will be dropped from the University. A student who is dropped may be permitted to re-enroll if the chair of the department makes a special recommendation with the concurrence of the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Final exams, both for M.A. and Ph.D. candidates, may NOT be scheduled during "Dead Week" (i.e., the week prior to Exam Week); this is a WSU Graduate School Policy. Make sure, therefore, to schedule final exams prior to Dead Week. Preliminary exams, on the other hand (e.g., the Ph.D. "Oral" exam), may be scheduled during Dead Week. See Program Coordinator to schedule exam.
  • As of Fall 2006, all graduate students are required to undergo training on the responsible conduct of research. This is a web-based training module, available online at Students are encouraged to complete this training module as expeditiously as possible; they will not be eligible for a TA or RA until they have completed it. All Personnel Action Forms (PAFs) must include the date on which the training was completed. Training needs to be completed by August 15 for payroll purposes.
  • As of Fall 2008, all theses and dissertations must be submitted in digital (PDF) format according to the WSU Graduate School's digital formatting guidelines. Paper copies of theses and dissertations will no longer be accepted. However, students will still be required to submit a 100% cotton paper copy of the title page, the signed signature page, and the abstract page; this will accompany the digital submission of the document. For more information, see proceedures for degrees.
  • Graduate students are required to submit their Application for Degree to the Graduate School. The application is online at Forms. All students pay a $50.00 graduation processing fee.
  • Graduate students are also strongly encouraged to complete Sexual Harassment training. An online training module is available.
  • A note on auditing courses: Graduate students who elect to audit a course must have prior approval from the instructor of the course and from their thesis or dissertation advisor. Official recording of an audit on a transcript requires the instructor's signature on an audit card (available from the Registrar's Office), as well as a discussion with the instructor regarding any specific expectations or requirements to fulfill the audit. Minimum requirements may include attendance at select or all classes and course readings for participation in class discussions. No university credit will be granted for auditing courses, nor may students apply for or take special examinations for university credit in courses which they have audited. Students wishing to audit, or to change from credit to audit, must pay the appropriate fee and submit the signed audit card to the Registrar's Office before the end of the fourth week of instruction in the semester. An enrollment change from audit to credit is limited to the first two weeks of the semester. A maximum of two audits is allowed for any particular semester or term.

Residence Requirements and Completion of Programs

  • The M.A. residence requirement is one academic year (two semesters); three summer sessions are regarded as the equivalent of one academic year. Practical experience indicates that only highly qualified persons with broad backgrounds in undergraduate study and strong foreign language preparation can expect to complete study and examinations in exactly two semesters. Students holding Teaching Assistantships are expected to enroll in 18 credits per semester: this figure includes 6-9 hours of graded coursework, Internships, independent study, and examination or thesis preparation hours.
    Between 30 and 34 graded credit hours are expected (depending on the specific program requirements); a maximum of six of these may be transferred from another institution.
  • The Ph.D. residence requirement is three years beyond the granting of the baccalaureate 5 degree, of which at least two years must be spent pursuing coursework at Washington State University. Again, the fulfillment of individual program requirements may demand additional time. Students holding Teaching Assistantships are expected to enroll in 18 credit hours per semester. Summer study may shorten the time span, but the full-time student will normally need two and a half or three years to complete coursework and examinations, following by another two years to write the dissertation. Most students will
    complete the degree in five years of post-M.A. study.
  • All M.A. and Ph.D. students who hold Teaching Assistantships must establish residency in the state of Washington and maintain such residency for the full duration of their T.A. appointments. Failure to do so may mean that their tuition waivers will be suspended by the WSU Graduate School.
  • An incomplete grade ("I") is a grade that has been temporarily deferred. It is given to a student who, for reasons beyond the instructor's control, is unable to complete the assigned coursework on time. Graduate students may not carry a grade of "I" longer than one semester or summer session while on appointment. Ordinarily, renewed appointments will not be approved in such cases. In other words, graduate students who have received an "I" must complete the work for that course during the following semester or summer session if they intend to maintain their graduate employment.
  • Generally speaking, a student may drop a course without record up to the end of the fourth week of instruction during a semester. After the fourth week, students may withdraw from individual courses (with some restrictions) up to the end of the ninth week of instruction. Withdrawals after the end of the ninth week are possible, but transcripts will permanently show a "W." [For more details, see the Office of the Registrar's web page, particularly the section on "Cancellation of Enrollment."]
  • Graduate students must abide by WSU's "continuous enrollment" policy. If a student is not taking classes during a particular semester (e.g., if s/he is finishing a thesis or dissertation while temporarily teaching elsewhere), this student must nonetheless enroll in a minimum of two credits at WSU to provide evidence of continuing progress toward the eventual degree. Doctoral students may apply for "Continuous Doctoral Status" and pay $50 per semester instead of registering for two credits.

Student Learning Outcomes: Student learning outcomes for the English graduate program (both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees) include the following:

  • Broad understanding of contemporary English Studies and its various sub-disciplines (as demonstrated and assessed by the successful completion of ENGL 501 and all other seminars that students take during their tenure in our program). Seminars typically require six or seven different forms of student accomplishment, including critical essays, literature reviews, oral presentations, pedagogical reflections, and multimedia projects. All of these assignments provide material for evaluation – material which in turn offers opportunities for the assessment of learning goals.
  • Substantial knowledge of more specialized areas within English Studies, accompanied by the ability to locate and synthesize scholarship in such areas (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by annotated bibliographies and literature reviews, along with the successful completion of qualifying exams). Ultimately students are expected to write essays of publishable quality which persuasively defend original theses and incorporate
    important research in primary and secondary sources.
  • Ability to conduct original research in such sub-disciplines as literary studies, rhetorical theory, composition studies, digital technology, second-language learning, etc. (as demonstrated and assessed by the successful preparation of theses, portfolios, and dissertations). These documents are not approved in our Department until committee members are satisfied that they do indeed represent original research and thinking.
  • Ability to present original research findings to appropriate academic audiences (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by delivering conference papers, presenting material at Departmental colloquia or at WSU's annual "Academic Showcase," etc.). Graduate students routinely give oral presentations in their seminars, so they have ample opportunity to learn and practice the skills involved in such presentations. The Department, moreover, provides annual stipends to graduate students whose papers have been accepted for presentation at regional, national, or international conferences.
  • Ability to write scholarly essays or to create texts of other kinds which articulate new claims and present the results of original research and thinking (as demonstrated and assessed, for instance, by the submission of scholarly essays to peer-reviewed journals or edited collections, or by the dissemination of academic or creative texts in other appropriate venues). Graduate students in our Department can still earn their degrees without having published essays or books, but they are encouraged to submit their scholarship for publication, and faculty members often confer intensively with them as they develop and revise their written work.
  • Ability to teach a range of courses in English Studies, including, for example, Freshman Composition, Writing Research Papers, introductory courses in literary or rhetorical study, etc. (as demonstrated and assessed by successful work as a Teaching Assistant in our graduate program). Graduate student teaching evaluations are read both by the Composition Director and by the Chair. And all members of the Department, including graduate students, are expected to examine the numerical scores in their evaluations within the broader context of summary scores across the Department.




Department of English, PO Box 645020, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5020, 509-335-2581, Contact Us