PhD Program - Graduate Program | LSU English

PhD Program

LSU’s PhD program in English trains students to become expert researchers, writers, editors, and teachers. Under the careful mentorship of our dedicated faculty members, our students produce ambitious, intellectually rigorous scholarship across a range of literary, cultural, and linguistic areas of study, developing professional expertise in those areas. Our PhDs go out into the world prepared for jobs in college and university teaching as well as for careers requiring similar professional skills.

Why LSU?

  • Faculty who balance cutting-edge work with attentive and personalized supervision.

  • A department that’s large enough to offer abundant opportunities and small enough to allow for a supportive sense of community.

  • Streamlined programs of study leading to the PhD and MFA degrees--providing carefully designed, attentive training for teachers, scholars, and writers.

  • Competitive funding packages for admitted PhD and MFA students, through a combination of Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships, with low teaching loads (one course per semester) to enable timely progress toward degree.

  • Louisiana’s flagship institution, one of the South’s premier public universities, and one of the nation’s most beautiful college campuses.

  • Appealing location in Baton Rouge, a small and vibrant city eighty miles north of New Orleans, with top-notch music and museums, excellent restaurants at every price level, and all the social, cultural, and intellectual richness that comes with being Louisiana’s capital city and main educational center.

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Program Structure

The PhD program is divided into three important phases: Coursework, Exams, and Dissertation. Here is a basic outline of these phases; for a detailed description, see the English Department’s Guidelines to Graduate Study:

Coursework Phase

Students enroll in a full load of graduate classes (generally 3 courses per semester), developing a strong foundation in English-language literatures across a range of periods, genres, and traditions, as well as familiarity with various critical methods and theoretical orientations. In the last semester of coursework, students will begin to transition into the Exams phase.

Exams Phase 

Students build on the foundation developed in coursework by deciding on areas of specialization and formulating reading lists in those areas in consultation with their faculty committee-members. Using these lists as a guide, students read widely in their chosen areas of study and prepare to take their General Examination. After passing the General Examination, students formally advance to PhD candidacy and enter the Dissertation phase.

Dissertation Phase 

Students (now considered PhD candidates) develop a dissertation plan (or prospectus) in consultation with committee-members. After approval of the dissertation plan, candidates begin to produce an original scholarly work based on independent research. They generally write one chapter of the dissertation per semester, often supplementing their committee’s supervision by enrolling in a Dissertation Writing Workshop. As students enter the Fall of their final year of writing the dissertation, those who wish to pursue academic positions participate in the English Department’s Job Placement program. This phase ends with the completion of the dissertation and culminates in the final Dissertation Defense.

Graduate Teaching Assistantship

As an important part of their professional training and as a condition of their graduate assistantship, our students typically teach one course per semester throughout their time in the PhD program. Assignments range from working as classroom assistant in a lecture course on literature, to leading an independent section of English composition. Incoming students receive pedagogical training by taking a course in how to teach first-year composition; the University Writing Program and EGSA provide additional mentorship and support. Later in their graduate careers, all of our students are guaranteed the opportunity to teach a General Education literature course.

Our program is fully-funded to all admitted students. There is no partial-funding, or mostly-funding. All admitted students receive an in-state tuition waiver and a monthly stipend with an assistantship. The Graduate Assistantship award includes a stipend of $23,000 for teaching one class per semester, and checks are direct-deposited near the end of each month. Students are required to pay semester fees designated by the university. 

Program Requirements

All candidates for the PhD must satisfactorily complete the following:

  • Academic Course Plan
  • 48 hours of required coursework
  • Foreign language requirement
  • General Examination
  • Dissertation Prospectus
  • Dissertation (min. 150-175 pages)
  • Dissertation Defense

We encourage students with BAs and MAs to apply. Students who enter with an MA should finish their degree within four years. The English Department allows a maximum of 24 credit hours of previous graduate coursework to be applied toward the degree. At a meeting during the  second semester, the student’s Academic Course Plan committee will determine how much previous graduate work will be applied and which requirements these courses fill.



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Michael Bibler
Director of Graduate Studies

Shannon Slaughter
Graduate Program Specialist