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English, Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at St. John’s distinguishes itself through its integration of rigorous research and writing with pedagogical theory and practice.

Earn a Ph.D. in English at St. John's University in New York City!

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at St. John’s distinguishes itself through its integration of rigorous research and writing with pedagogical theory and practice. As a student in the program, you combine advanced literary, cultural, and writing studies with preparation for teaching. You work with our distinguished faculty to explore traditional and emerging fields of literature, cultural studies, critical theory, and composition and rhetoric, while gaining experience teaching undergraduate courses in writing and literature.

The Ph.D. is the highest degree offered by the Department of English.

The program is designed for both full-time graduate students and professional educators, administrators, and writers who wish to complete a doctoral degree part-time. Pursuing full-time study, you can complete the Ph.D. in about five to six years: two years of coursework, followed by approximately three or four years completing the oral comprehensive exams and dissertation while teaching. As a part-time student, you proceed more gradually toward completing the requirements.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are optional for this program. 

For additional information about the Ph.D. program and the Department of English, please follow our department’s blog, which features course descriptions, faculty profiles, upcoming events, departmental publications, departmental forms, and listings for available jobs and internships.

Department Faculty

View a list of our English faculty.

Department Contact

Amy M. King, Ph.D.
Professor of English
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of English
St. John Hall, Room B-40
[email protected]

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Program Location
  • Queens Campus
Required Credit Hours

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To apply to the Ph.D. in English, you must submit official transcripts showing conferral of your bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 24 credits in English or American literature. You must also possess at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the undergraduate level, with a 3.5 or better in English courses.

You must submit three letters of recommendation, two of which come from an academic reference and attest to your work as a student. You must also submit a recent sample of written work, as well as a personal statement detailing your professional goals.

Applicants who apply with an M.A. or M.F.A. in English may receive up to 18 credits of advanced standing, with approval from the graduate director and the Dean’s office.  For additional information, please consult the Graduate Bulletin.

Applicants who submit materials before February 1 for fall admission will be given priority consideration for funding offers.

General Record Examination (GRE) scores are optional for this program. 

Office of Graduate Admission
[email protected]


The Ph.D. degree requires 48 credits of coursework and six credits of dissertation preparation. As a Ph.D. student in English, you must take the following two foundational courses:

  • ENG 100 Modern Critical Theories
  • ENG 110 Introduction to the Profession

The program’s flexibility and varied course offerings allow you to select the remaining 42 coursework credits on your own, in consultation with an advisor. In order to satisfy the residency requirement, you must complete 24 credits of coursework within your first two years of study, at which time you’ll meet with the program director to plan your additional progress toward the degree. Upon successful completion of your coursework, you’ll select a committee of three faculty members within the department with whom you’ll assemble a reading list of approximately 25 books and critical essays for each of three oral examination areas. You’ll then undergo an oral comprehensive examination administered by your committee, which will allow you to demonstrate your mastery in these areas, as well as to begin preliminary research for your dissertation. After successfully completing the comprehensive examination, you will register for ENG 975 (Dissertation Research Seminar) for each semester of dissertation preparation, during which you’ll apply your knowledge of English, advanced research skills, and critical thinking skills to an original problem in contemporary scholarship, criticism, pedagogy, or the profession in general. Your completed dissertation must be defended orally before your committee and approved by the Dean.

In order to graduate with the Ph.D., you must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language by passing a department-administered translation exam, or by earning a B (3.0) or better grade in an advanced college-level language course.


Career Outcomes

The Ph.D. program at St. John’s will prepare you as a teacher-scholar of English ready for positions in teaching intensive institutions such as community colleges, state regional universities, and liberal arts colleges. The broad training you’ll receive across the sub-disciplines of literary studies, creative writing, and writing studies will also position you for careers in media and communication, publishing, technical writing, writing center administration, and other emerging fields.

Additional Information

Students in the Ph.D. English program benefit from a faculty of engaged, active scholars with diverse research interests. Our professors work to guide students toward the successful defense of their dissertations and help them land the faculty positions or writing center administrative positions they desire.

For additional information about the oral examination, the dissertation process, and the work of our faculty members, current students, and alumni, please visit our blog.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Loretta and Frank Kunkel Scholarship

The Loretta and Frank Kunkel Scholarship is a graduate endowment available to students in the M.A. and Ph.D. English programs. 

Graduate Assistantships and Doctoral Fellowships

The University offers competitive doctoral fellowships and both academic and non-academic graduate assistantships. You can find more information about these positions on the Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships page.

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