College of Liberal Arts

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 will enroll in ENGL 512 (Introduction to Graduate Study). All entering students who hold Teaching Assistantships will also 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 these two courses, 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. (For details regarding ENGL 598, see the seminar schedule prepared each semester.) Upon evidence of a candidate’s satisfactory prior experience in public school or college teaching, the Director of Graduate Study may waive this requirement.

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.

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.

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 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 year or year and a half to write the dissertation. Most students will complete the degree in four 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.



Degrees offered:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Pd.D.)

Areas of concentration:

  • Literary studies (British, American, and postcolonial Anglophone literatures)
  • Rhetoric and Composition

General Program Requirements

Residence Requirements and Completion of Programs


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