English (Ph.D.)

English (Ph.D.) | Graduate

Our graduate program in English trains first-rate scholars in cultural analysis, theoretical inquiry, and literary criticism. Students specialize in African American, American, British, Caribbean, or comparative literature. Ranked 7th in the nation by U.S. News, our graduate program in African American Literature is rooted in recognition of the African Diaspora as a founding event of modern history.

The Ph.D. in English at Howard's Graduate School aims to produce first-rate scholars and critics well-trained in historical research, theoretical inquiry, and criticism across a broad range of literary and cultural studies. Our program prepares graduates to compete successfully for postdoctoral positions, tenure-track teaching appointments at colleges and universities, and non-profit and private sector careers. Our curriculum emphasizes critical frameworks addressing fundamental literary issues such as genre and period formation, authorial techniques, rhetorical strategies, thematic motifs, and critical theories. Attention to these issues is intended to foster critical reading, research, and historical analysis skills required to conduct solid and innovative scholarly research in specialized fields. As a doctoral student in English, you may specialize in the various periods of African American, American, British, or Caribbean literature, comparative studies, or literary theory and criticism. You will enjoy a highly collegial atmosphere and work closely with faculty who are committed to your professional development. Our English faculty conduct research that engages diverse fields like contemporary media studies, Black studies, theory of the novel, visual arts, digital humanities, feminist theory and criticism, film studies, postcolonial and transnationalist studies, and postmodernism. They also hold prestigious fellowships from institutions like the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. 

Program Snapshot

      ❱  72 credit hours 

      ❱  Full-time

      ❱  On-campus format

      ❱  Degree: Ph.D.

Application Deadlines

Fall 2024 entry: 

      ❱  Dec. 1, 2023 (early deadline)*

      ❱  Mar. 15, 2024 (final deadline)


Applicants should submit their applications as early as possible for earlier consideration of departmental funding opportunities. Applicants have until the final deadline to apply. However, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the admissions cycle.

*Eligible applicants who wish to be considered for the Graduate School's Frederick Douglass Scholarship must meet the early admissions deadline. Applicants must submit a separate application for the Frederick Douglass Scholarship along with their application for Graduate admission

Transfer credits accepted (reviewed by program director)


Dr. Christopher Shinn

Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Carol Boyce-Davies

Department Chair

Jameya Thomas

Program Coordinator

Program Details

  • Degree Classification: Graduate
  • Related Degrees: Ph.D.

Admission Requirements

Application for Admission

  • Online GradCAS application
  • Statement of purpose/ Statement of academic interest (500-1,000 words)
  • GRE scores not required
  • Official transcripts sent to GradCAS
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university or international equivalent
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Autobiographical statement (500-750 words)
  • Critical writing sample (Upload a 12-15 page critical essay demonstrating your ability to produce and engage literary criticism and theory. A previously graded paper formatted with MLA documentation style, including a work-cited page, is preferable)

GRE Required?

  • No

GRE Preferred Minimums

  • GRE Verbal Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Quantitative Reasoning: N/A
  • GRE Analytical Writing: N/A

GPA Required Minimums

  • Overall GPA minimum: 3.0
  • Undergrad GPA minimum: 3.0

Reference Requirements

Evaluator type accepted:

  • Professor (Required)

Evaluator type not accepted:

  • Clergy
  • Friend
  • Family Member
  • Other
  • Supervisor/Manager
  • Coworker