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Doctoral Program (PhD)


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Why Study English at UB?

Be part of an intellectual community

Our department is a vibrant and thriving intellectual community and offers a supportive and stimulating environment in which to do your graduate work.

What sets our program apart from many other English departments is the day-to-day intellectual environment. Both inside and outside seminars, an extraordinary amount of good conversation goes on, formally and informally, among and between faculty and students. We thrive on sharing with each other the work that we do.

Engage accross disciplines

Students have the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary study groups with both faculty and other students. Study groups include

  • the Early Modern Reading Group
  • the Ecocritical Studies Research Workshop
  • the Race, Empires, and Diasporas Research Group (RED)
  • the Graduate Group for Queer Studies (GGQS)
  • the Cultural Studies of Space Reading Group
  • the Modernisms Graduate Group (MGG)

We strive to keep the boundaries of the English Department as open and permeable as possible, so PhD students are able to take classes in other departments as a way of satisfying part of their coursework requirements. Such departments include, but are not limited to

  • Comparative Literature
  • American Studies
  • History
  • Romance Languages and Literatures
  • Media Study/Film Studies

Participate in department operations

Ours is a program in which students are active in every phase of the department’s operations. A unique system of parity gives graduate students a strong voice in departmental operations. Department meetings are open to graduate students, and student representatives sit as voting members in those meetings and in all departmental committees, including the Graduate Review Committee and the Committee on Admissions and Fellowships.

The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) is an active and vital group that elects students to committees, helps form the graduate curriculum, and sponsors lectures, conferences, works-in-progress symposia, and many other events.

What are the requirements for completion?


The basic requirement for the doctoral degree is 72 graduate credits, the bulk of which are made up by taking ten departmental seminars.

Candidates may also satisfy a Minor Field requirement, broadly defined as an area of knowledge or intellectual discipline other than English or American literature. The range of possibilities is vast, the only requirement being that the Minor Field be cogent and have some defensible relation to the student’s PhD dissertation.


Candidates for the PhD also take a PhD oral qualifying examination that is basically of their own design. The exam consists of three fields, one of which relates to a potential dissertation topic (see the PhD Handbook for more details). The student constructs each examination list with a faculty committee member who specializes in that area, and all three lists are reviewed for approval by the Director of Graduate Studies.


The degree is completed through a book-length work of original scholarship or criticism. The student’s dissertation is supervised and then read by three faculty members. Upon the completion of the dissertation, the student then participates in a dissertation defense with her/his committee members.

How do I apply?

Apply online.

Completed applications are due December 15.

Contact Us

Ruth Mack

Ruth Mack

Associate Professor; Director of Graduate Studies

302B Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3784

Rachel Ablow

Rachel Ablow

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Admissions

431 Clemens

Phone: (716) 645-0690


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Joyce Troy

Administrative Assistant

Graduate Office

302 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2567