Ph.D. Program


Course Requirements for Lehigh University’s Doctor of Philosophy Program in English

Lehigh University requires that Ph.D. students complete 42 credits (if they hold Lehigh M.A.s) or 48 credits (if their M.A.s were awarded by other institutions). Ph.D. students generally should expect to take at least 8-9 courses or 24-27 semester hours of actual course work beyond the M.A. Students with Lehigh M.A.s must take at least 8 courses or 24 hours of actual coursework. Students who enter the Lehigh Ph.D. program with M.A. degrees from other institutions must take at least 9 courses or 27 credit hours of coursework, but they may be required to take additional distribution courses to ensure breadth of coverage.

1. English 485, Issues in the Teaching of Writing (2 credits) and 486, Teaching Composition: A Practicum (1 credit) or 400, Supervised Teaching (1 credit) will count as one (1) 3-credit course for the doctorate, even if taken while the student was in the M.A. program.

2. Ph.D. students may take an Independent Study, English 495, during their course work toward the degree. See Policy on Independent Study.

Language Requirement for Lehigh University’s Doctor of Philosophy Program in English

The faculty of Lehigh’s Department of English believes that foreign-language study greatly benefits the student of literature. Such study not only illuminates texts written in English but also, insofar as it throws light on the nature of language itself, permits insights into the English language and the culture of English-speaking people. Foreign language study is therefore desirable for the M.A. degree in English, although none is required.

For the Ph.D. degree in English, the requirement is a reading knowledge of one foreign language, ordinarily French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish, although other languages may be allowed at the discretion of the graduate-studies coordinator, with whom students should consult as to the identity of the language. Students must meet the requirement before taking the general examination for the Ph.D. degree.

To meet the language requirement, students may

1. pass a Level II translation examination, administered by the department; or complete the equivalent of one translation or literature course beyond the fourth semester with a "B-" or better; or

2. present evidence of successful completion of advanced language study at the undergraduate level (a minimum of two translation or literature courses beyond the fourth semester) with grades of A or B.

Students may study languages at Lehigh University, at another college or university, at a language institute, or on their own.

Lehigh language courses taken for credit do not count toward department course requirements but do count toward the total number of credits (42 or 48) needed to graduate.

Examinations for Lehigh University’s Doctor of Philosophy Program in English

The exam is comprised of two written parts, a primary research area (five hours) and a secondary area (three hours), followed by a two-hour oral examination.

The exam is given by three English faculty members, two for the primary research area and one for the secondary area. The exam committee is chaired by one of the primary area examiners. A faculty member cannot examine a student in more than one area. A student may elect to invite an additional examiner from another department for either (but not both) of the exam areas.

In the last semester of course work Students will submit to the Graduate Committee a two- to three-page rationale describing the two areas in which they wish to examine and listing faculty who have agreed to examine them in these areas. Students completing their course work in the fall must submit their exam rationale, including a partial list of texts, by the first week of November, and students completing their course work in the spring must submit their exam rationale by the first week in April. After obtaining the approval of the Graduate Committee, the student will complete exam reading lists in consultation with his/her examiners, drawing on various resources like department lists (where available), major bibliographies, course syllabi, and web resources (for example, many exam lists from other institutions are available online). The department will maintain a file of approved lists and rationales for students to consult. All students must deposit their materials in this file before the exam.

Primary Research Area:

This list will consist of 75-100 texts, primary and secondary, canonical and less-canonical, in a recognizable field, in most cases a field found in the MLA Job Information List. A portion of the list should identify a theoretical/methodological area, historicist perspective, or interdisciplinary field.

Secondary Area:

This list will consist of about 30 texts that focus on an area distinct from the research field. The list will have a general orientation toward the texts and scholarly web/media resources important to developing a range of undergraduate courses in a recognizable/marketable area in an historical period or in an interdisciplinary or nontraditional genre or method. Examples of the latter include women's studies, American studies, composition, religion and literature, film and/or popular culture, crime fiction, and science and literature.


Students must take the comprehensive exam at one of the first two scheduled exam dates following the semester they finish their course work. That is, students must take the exam in either August or January if they complete their course work in the spring, or in either May or August if they complete their course work in the fall.

Postponements beyond the second possible exam date will not be allowed on academic grounds (that is, because the student doesn't feel prepared to take the exams) but may be allowed, on petition to the Graduate Committee, for serious personal reasons.

Re-examination: A student who fails an examination in one or both areas may retake the examination in the failed area or areas after a period of at least three months. A student receiving financial aid must retake the examination in the failed area or areas at the next regularly scheduled time (May, August, or January). If the results of the re-examination in the failed area or areas are also unsatisfactory, the student may not continue doctoral studies at Lehigh University.

Application for Candidacy:

As soon as possible following successful completion of their doctoral examinations, but certainly within the semester following the examination, students should file for candidacy with the Lehigh Graduate School. Application-for-candidacy forms are available in the English Office. Applications must be accompanied by a dissertation proposal approved by the dissertation committee and the graduate coordinator.

The Dissertation for Lehigh University’s Doctor of Philosophy Program in English

Each candidate has a dissertation committee of three members in the department and one Lehigh faculty member from another department. The dissertation committee is chosen by the student, the graduate coordinator, and the dissertation supervisor.

The candidate should establish with the dissertation supervisor a timetable:

1. that will permit the supervisor to read the draft version section by section so that the completed dissertation, approved by the supervisor, will be ready for examination by the other three members of the dissertation committee no later than April 1 if the degree is to be conferred in June, August 1 if in October, and November 1 if in January.

2. It is, however, very desirable for the other members of the committee also to read the draft version in progress in order to preclude any need for extensive, unexpected final revisions. Candidates writing dissertations should work out with the committee a schedule that will take into account any exigencies that may arise from faculty schedules during the academic year, and that do not require faculty to be on campus during summer months or during leaves of absence.

At least five weeks before the degree is to be conferred (see the date specified in the catalog), the candidate must deposit with the assistant dean of graduate studies and research in the College of Arts and Sciences a draft of the dissertation approved by the supervisor.

At least two weeks before the degree is to be conferred (see Lehigh catalogue), the candidate must deposit with the dean of graduate studies the completed dissertation, approved by the supervisor and the other members of the dissertation committee. The form in which the dissertation is to be submitted and other final requirements are set forth in the Lehigh catalog and in the other materials that the candidate should procure from the assistant dean of graduate studies and research in the College of Arts and Sciences. The English Department does not require a final examination or "dissertation-defense."