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Ph.D. Program

Our Ph.D. program offers a more individually tailored approach to students’ educational and professional development. Funding is guaranteed for 5 years; following that, students can apply for additional funding (in the form of teaching fellowships) as needed.

  • Students entering our Ph.D. program must already have an M.A. in English or a related field. Incoming students work with the director of graduate studies to chart out a course plan that best meets their research interests in their first few years; subsequently, they work closely with their adviser and committee as they research and write their dissertation.
  • Our director of graduate studies and placement officers work closely with our students to support their varied professional interests. Graduates from our Ph.D. program have gone on to a wide range of careers. Some of our recent alums have accepted tenure-track jobs teaching literature and/or composition at institutions such as the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, Niagara University,  Stockton University, and the University of Dayton.. Other Ph.D. graduates have taken academic administration positions at George Mason University, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Finger Lakes Community Colleges, and other institutions. These graduates serve in a range of roles including director of fellowship advising, associate director of academic success, director of graduate student success, and digital content specialist.

Course Requirements 

Ph.D. students take 8-9 courses before embarking on their dissertation project. Students with Lehigh M.A.s must take at least 8 courses while those who enter the Lehigh Ph.D. program with M.A. degrees from other institutions must take at least 9 courses.

There are no period distribution requirements for the Ph.D. The only required course is English 485, Issues in the Teaching of Writing (2 credits) and 486, Teaching Composition: A Practicum (1 credit) or 400, Supervised Teaching (1 credit).

Ph.D. students may also take an Independent Study, English 495, during their course work toward the degree. 

Exam Process

After completing coursework in the fall semester of their second year, students begin to prepare for their doctoral exam, to be taken in either May or August. The exam is comprised of two written parts, a primary research area and a secondary area, followed by a two-hour oral examination. 

Following successful completion of their doctoral examinations students file for candidacy with the Lehigh Graduate School. Applications must be accompanied by a dissertation proposal approved by the dissertation committee and the graduate coordinator.

Dissertation Process

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.

Candidates confer with their dissertation supervisor and committee members to establish a timetable for submission of chapters, including ample time for revision in accordance with suggestions made by the supervisor and (whenever possible) other committee members. 

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.