Ph.D. in English

Pursuing a Ph.D. in English allows students to explore the intricacies of language, literature, theory and culture at the highest level.

Program at a glance

Application deadlines: Jan. 15
Admissions cycles: Fall
Assistantship types available: Teaching, Research
Graduate director: Valerie Fridland

Why choose this Ph.D. in English?

Doctoral-level study offers English students the chance to conduct original research within one of the many subareas of the field and become subject-matter experts on a chosen topic -- essential experiences for aspiring professors, authors and researchers. The University's Department of English offers two areas of emphasis within its Ph.D. program, each geared toward a specific realm of English scholarship:

  • Literature. In this rigorous but flexible emphasis, individual programs of literature-focused study are shaped by the Ph.D. student and his or her advisory committee. Students in the program are strongly encouraged to participate in professional activities, including academic conferences.
  • Rhetoric and Composition. This emphasis offers core work in rhetoric and writing theory, coupled with focused study in other fields of English language and literature, with possibilities for interdisciplinary study as well. Students in the program will be active in professional activities of various kinds, such as publishing, participating in conferences and serving as interns.

Students design their programs of study following departmental guidelines in consultation with their advisory committees, complete comprehensive examinations in their fields of specialization and pursue original research resulting in a dissertation of publishable quality. The program is designed to help students bring highly relevant credentials into careers as professional academics.

Faculty in the Department of English are experts in topics such as rhetorical theory, composition theory, digital and visual rhetoric, British literature, American literature, gender studies, public engagement and science. This scope of expertise gives Ph.D. students numerous options for exploring specialized subtopics within the field with highly qualified mentors, said Valerie Fridland, director of graduate studies for the Department of English.

"Our program is a perfect blend of academic rigor,  faculty expertise and mentorship," Fridland said. "We emphasize a collaborative approach between students and faculty advisers from day one, and also offer a remarkably supportive graduate community, where students become true colleagues and peers."

Additional benefits of this Ph.D. program include:

  • One-on-one faculty mentoring
  • A low attrition rate and high placement rate
  • Opportunities for students to teach individually designed courses in their fields
  • Available support for conference travel and research assistantships
  • A small graduate population (70 to 80 students) that imparts a sense of community

To learn more about the people within the Department of English, view a list of all English faculty and lecturers.

To learn more about the program, view the English graduate program handbook.

How do I apply?

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must hold a Master of Arts in English or a closely related field with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. Potential applicants without a Master of Arts in English should talk with the director of graduate studies before applying to determine whether their graduate work meets program requirements.

To apply

Candidates will be accepted for fall semester admission only, and must submit applications by the Department of English's January 15 deadline. Applicants are required to submit for Department of English graduate committee approval:

  1. Scholarly writing sample approximately 15-25 pages in length, demonstrating readiness for graduate study in English
  2. 2-3 page statement of intent, including declaration of emphasis area
  3. Official transcripts
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. GRE scores

The Department of English admits new Ph.D. candidates each fall. The deadline for submitting an application and all required materials is Jan. 15.  For more information on coursework, see the Department of English Ph.D. Requirements page or the program's catalog listing.

International Applicants

The graduate application system in the US tends to be an open application process. Rather than arranging to work with a particular scholar in advance of applying, students generally apply to programs by following the application instructions on the program website. If they are admitted, then they approach a faculty member in the department to supervise their studies.

Is funding available?

Students may apply for teaching assistantships, which give them the opportunity to teach first-year composition and sophomore-level humanities courses, and in some cases courses in their specific fields of study. The TA training program provides supportive mentorship and a research-based pedagogical foundation. Students are also eligible for funding to support their professional presentations at academic conferences. Summer research assistantships provide an opportunity to work with faculty on their research projects. Contact the department for details on current opportunities.

What's next?

If you are ready to apply for the Ph.D. program at the University of Nevada, Reno and are not currently a student, you can apply now. If you'd simply like to learn more about the University's Ph.D. program and connect with a faculty member.

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