English and Creative Writing
The School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities offers programs leading to the Master of Arts and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees in English and to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Students enrolled in a program leading to the Master of Science in Education degree may take courses in English to satisfy requirements for the teaching specialty. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. in Education program may take courses in English for the elective portion of the program when permitted.
Students seeking admission to the graduate program in English must first be admitted by the Graduate School before they can be admitted to the School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities.
Students seeking admission to the M.A. in English and Ph.D. in English degree programs may submit scores for the general tests of the Graduate Record Examination. M.F.A. in Creative Writing applicants are strongly advised to submit these scores as well. Information about admission may be obtained by calling 618-453-5321 or by writing: Director of Graduate Studies, School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901-4503. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in English. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card.
Within limits imposed by the Graduate School, transfer credits will be accepted by the School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities subject to the following restrictions:
The student must petition the Director of Graduate Studies giving the following information: the number and level of hours being submitted for credit, where and when the work was done, the grade received, and course descriptions and syllabi. As nearly as possible, the course to be transferred should be equated with a course offered by the School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities. An appropriate faculty member will recommend whether the transfer credit hours should be accepted and whether the course satisfies the course distribution requirements of the department. The Director of Graduate Studies will forward a recommendation to the proper authorities.
In the entire graduate program, the student may accumulate up to three credit hours of work below B, so long as a 3.0 M.A. in English or 3.25 Ph.D. in English average is maintained. If the student has accumulated more than three credit hours, but fewer than 10 credit hours, of grades below B, these must be replaced by an equal number of credit hours of A or B in addition to maintaining the required average. That is, the minimum number of credit hours of course work may be increased from 30 to a maximum of 36. A student who accumulates more than nine credit hours of C will be dropped from the program.
A student who is granted a deferred or incomplete grade must complete the work by the end of the next term in residence. Exception to this rule will be made only in a very special case and must be made through petition to the Graduate Studies Committee. A student who has accumulated more than six credit hours of such work will not be allowed to register for more course work until the total of deferred work is reduced to not more than three credit hours. Deferred or incomplete work will be regarded as finished when a student has submitted all examinations, papers, etc., to the instructor. Deferred or incomplete grades in ENGL 595, ENGL 600, and ENGL 601 are not included in the above regulations.
Students may offer work from outside the School (in a single field or in two or more related fields) toward the Master of Arts in English, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, or the Ph.D. in English degree provided that the work does not interfere with regular requirements of the School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities and has relevance to their program.
Master of Arts (M.A.) in English
The School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities offers three areas of concentration in the M.A. in English program: 1) Literature, 2) Rhetoric and Composition, and 3) English Studies. The Master of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Literature or Rhetoric and Composition requires satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours, of which at least 15 must be earned in 500-level courses at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
All students must satisfy the following requirements:
- Core courses:
Four literature courses: two from Group I, representing two different historical periods; and two from Group II, representing two different historical periods - 12 credit hours.
(a) Old and Middle English literatures
(b) Renaissance and 17th Century English literature
(c) Restoration and 18th Century English literature
(d) 19th Century English literature
(a) American literature before 1900
(b) American literature since 1900
(c) Modern British literature
(d) Modern Continental literature
- Concentrations: Satisfactory completion of one of the concentrations detailed below.
- Foreign Language: This requirement may be satisfied by completing, with an average not less than B, two years of college-level work in one foreign language or CLAS 488 or FR 488 or GER 488 or SPAN 488 or ENGL 402 plus ENGL 506 (Beowulf), or the equivalent. Equivalent work will be judged on an ad-hoc basis by the Director of Graduate Studies.
- Research paper/thesis: This requirement may be satisfied either by submitting to the Director of Graduate Studies two copies of a research paper which has received a grade of not less than B in a 500-level English course (a rhetoric/composition course for students in that concentration), or by taking ENGL 599 (three credit hours) and writing an acceptable thesis.
- Final examination: This requirement must be satisfied as specified below.
English Studies Concentration
The M.A. in English with a concentration in English Studies requires satisfactory completion of 36 credit hours, of which at least 18 must be earned in 500-level courses at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
All students in the English Studies concentration must satisfy the following requirements:
- Core Courses:
At least one course from seven of the following areas:
(a) Language and Grammar Studies
(b) Old/Medieval English Literature
(c) Renaissance/17th Century British Literature
(d) Restoration/18th Century British Literature
(e) 19th Century British Literature
(f) Early American Literature
(g) Modern American Literature
(h) Modern British Literature
(i) Modern Continental Literature
(j) Composition and Rhetoric
- Electives: 15 credit-hours, which may be taken outside the English Department.
- Final Examination: None beyond required coursework.
Students in the English Studies concentration may request a graduate assistantship provided they receive all GA training required by the School of Literature, Writing, and Digital Humanities. Priority, however, is given to students in the other two areas of concentration because those areas of concentration are designed to meet the specific needs of students preparing to teach at the college or university level.
- ENGL 401 or ENGL 402 or ENGL 403 - three credit hours
- Two additional literature courses so that a student has covered three periods in Group I and three periods in Group II - six credit hours
- Electives should include a literary criticism/theory course and may include ENGL 599 - six credit hours
- Satisfactory completion of a written examination over four historical periods and a reading list. A student who fails the examination may take it a second time. A third examination may be allowed, but only by special permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. If the examination committee deems it useful an oral examination may be scheduled after the written examination to determine the grade for the examination. Any student choosing to take the M.A. in English qualifying examination must also file with the Graduate School a clean and properly formatted research paper which has earned the grade of B or better in a 500-level English course or a completed M.A. in English thesis.
- Students may write an M.A. in English thesis, provided they submit an application (including thesis topic and title, signatures of committee members, and a letter or support from their thesis director) and it is approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
Rhetoric and Composition Concentration
- ENGL 401 - 3 credit hours
- ENGL 596 - 3 credit hours
- ENGL 597 - 3 credit hours
- One of the following (3 credit hours): ENGL 501, ENGL 581, ENGL 490, ENGL 491, or an appropriate special topics course (this decision is to be made in consultation with the Area Head of Rhetoric and Composition).
- ENGL 599 (3 credit hours)
- Satisfactory completion of either: 1) a research portfolio and oral portfolio defense, or 2) a thesis and oral thesis defense. In either case, the student will follow specific guidelines established by the Rhetoric and Composition faculty.
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing requires satisfactory completion of 48 credit hours, of which at least 24 must be earned in 500-level courses at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
All students must satisfy the following requirements:
- Core courses:
ENGL 592 - 20 credit hours
ENGL 594 - 4 credit hours
- Recommended and elective courses: As prescribed by the creative writing faculty - 15 credit hours
- Candidacy Review: In the spring semester of a student’s second year in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program, all students undergo a formal candidacy review. By April 10, faculty in each subspecialty (fiction and poetry) will submit to the director of creative writing a synopsis of each student’s progress to date, as well as a finalized thesis committee. In those instances where the faculty finds that a student has not demonstrated satisfactory creative or professional progress and/or cannot form a thesis committee, the student will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies and all faculty members in the student’s subspecialty to determine the nature of the deficiency. The faculty may recommend to the Director of Graduate Studies at this meeting that the student be required to complete remediation, that the student be allowed to continue in the program without sanction, or that the student be removed from the program. In the last case, the creative writing faculty will then submit a written recommendation for removal from the program to the Director of Graduate Studies and the graduate studies committee. Within five working days of receiving this recommendation, the Director of Graduate Studies will request a written response from the affected student. The student will have five days to respond in writing. Within five days of receiving this response, the director will convene a meeting of the graduate studies committee. Should the graduate studies committee concur with the creative writing faculty’s recommendation, the student will be removed from the program. This decision will then be subject to the Graduate School’s academic grievance policy detailed herein.
- Thesis: ENGL 599 - 6 credit hours
- Final oral examination: Over thesis and coursework. The oral examination/thesis defense is open to the public.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in English
Students must apply formally for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in English degree program, including students who have earned a master’s degree at SIU. Admission to the Ph.D. in English program is decided by the Graduate Studies Committee, which makes its decision according to the following criteria:
- An M.A. degree in English or its equivalent
- Appropriate grade-point average (normally, a 3.25 is the acceptable minimum)
- Quality of the submitted writing sample and the compatibility of a student’s proposed area of focus with faculty expertise
A full-time student holding a master’s degree can complete the doctoral program in English in two years, though most prefer three. Students are considered Ph.D. in English candidates when they have: (1) completed the prescribed course of study, (2) satisfied the research-tool requirements, (3) passed preliminary examinations, and (4) been recommended by the English graduate faculty. The Graduate School recognizes students as Ph.D. in English candidates after it receives notification that the students have passed preliminary examinations. Students must be admitted to candidacy at least six months prior to the final examination on the dissertation.
Accelerated Entry into the Ph.D. in English Degree Program
A student enrolled in the M.A. in English degree program may petition the Graduate Director after two semesters in residence for waiver of the requirement of the M.A. in English degree as prerequisite for admission to the doctoral program and for direct entry into the Ph.D. in English in accordance with the following conditions: first, the student must be an exceptional graduate student whose outstanding academic achievements must be supported by a wide range of conclusive evidence including, but not restricted to, the G.P.A., G.R.E. scores, M.A. in English degree research tool requirement, and evaluative letters from graduate instructors; second, the student must present one graduate research paper of outstanding quality, or a published article of appropriate quality, or the equivalent for the departmental files. The petition shall be presented to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. If accelerated entry is granted, the student will proceed toward the Ph.D. in English degree in accordance with the established rules of the department and the Graduate School. Students admitted into the Ph.D. in English program under the accelerated entry option will have to fulfill all M.A. in English degree requirements as part of the Ph.D. in English degree work, but will not receive the M.A. in English degree.
Course of Study
The Ph.D. degree in English requires, at minimum, 30 credit hours of coursework (of which at least 15 should be earned at the 500 level at Southern Illinois University Carbondale), and 24 credit hours of dissertation at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Required courses are as follows:
- A pro-seminar to be taken in the first year of doctoral study;
- Two graduate courses in literary theory or rhetorical theory or cultural studies;
- Any courses prescribed by a student’s advisory committee to ensure appropriate knowledge of a major area and two minor areas, normally with at least one 500-level course completed for credit, with no grade lower than B, in each minor area.
Research Tool Requirements
A student may satisfy the research tool requirement by fulfilling one of the two options listed below. The choice of option and languages selected must be approved by the student’s advisory committee.
- Command of one language demonstrated by examination in the Languages, Cultures, and International Trade Department. International students may specify their native language as long as they demonstrate fluency in English as well, or
- Reading knowledge of one foreign language demonstrated by a minimum three years course work (or its equivalent) at the college level in one language with a grade no lower than a “B.” Students who take research courses in any language are required to take at least two more courses at the 300- or 400-level in the same language.
The school has expanded its Ph.D. in English program into interdisciplinary studies on a cooperative basis with departments that deal with one pertinent subject matter and which are interested in such interdisciplinary cooperation, e.g., the School of History and Philosophy, the Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade, the School of Media Arts, the Department of Communication Studies, Department of Theater, the Department of Sociology, etc. Permission for an interdisciplinary minor must be approved by the student’s committee and the Graduate Studies Committee.
The Preliminary Exam Advisory Committee and the Program of Study Proposal
Following admission to the Ph.D. in English program, and before the completion of the second year (i.e., fourth semester) in doctoral residence, a Ph.D. in English student is required to form an academic advisory committee (hereafter referred to as the Preliminary Examination Committee) and to prepare a Program of Study Proposal. The Preliminary Examination Committee will consist of four members of the graduate faculty in English. The Chair of the Committee and one other member will normally represent the student’s major area of interest; each of the remaining two members will normally represent one of the minor areas of interest. Within the limits of this distribution, the student may, usually upon consulting the Chair of the Preliminary Examination Committee, change the particular membership of the committee at any point. Normally the Preliminary Examination Committee will comprise the nucleus of the Dissertation Committee. As soon as the Preliminary Examination Committee is formed, it becomes the responsibility of all its members to oversee the student’s program and academic progress.
If a student has not formed a preliminary exam committee by April 15 of the fourth semester in the program, then the student will undergo the formal candidacy review process detailed herein. The director of graduate studies will first consult the student in question to determine the reason for the delay in constituting the preliminary exam committee. In those instances where the director finds that the delay is the result of a simple deadline mismanagement, no action will be taken. In those instances where the director finds that a student as not demonstrated satisfactory scholarly or professional progress and/or cannot form a thesis committee, the student will meet with the director of graduate studies and all faculty members in the student’s area (“area” means either historical period or conceptual focus) to determine the nature of the deficiency. After the meeting, the faculty in the student’s area may recommend to the director of graduate studies that the student be required to complete remediation, that the student be allowed to continue in the program without sanction, that the student be granted an extra semester to complete the program of study, or that the student be removed from the program. The faculty in the student’s major area will submit a written recommendation to the director of graduate studies. If the faculty recommend removal, this recommendation will go to the graduate studies committee. Within five working days of receiving this recommendation, the director of graduate studies will request a written response from the affected student. The student will have five days to respond in writing. Within five days of receiving this response, the director will convene a meeting of the graduate studies committee. Should the graduate studies committee concur with the faculty’s recommendation, the student will be removed from the program. This decision will then be subject to the Graduate School’s academic grievance policy.
Students on a fellowship or a graduate assistantship will be expected to take preliminary examinations no later than two or three years, respectively, after receipt of their M.A. in English degree.
Preliminary examination covering three areas are prepared and graded by the student’s advisory committee. A major examination may consist of one six-hour written exam or one take-home literature review essay. A minor area examination may consist of a three-hour written exam or a comparable take-home literature review essay. Regardless of format, all preliminary exams conclude with an oral defense.
The committee may require the student to complete further work or testing for any minor section receiving a “Low Pass” grade. The committee must require further work or testing for any entire examination that receives a “Low Pass” grade. A student who fails the preliminary examination may request to take it a second time.