For Current Students

Basic information needed to satisfy the requirements for a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in English

Here you will find guidelines regarding distribution requirements and other issues related to course registration patterns; foreign language requirements; MA final exercise options; PhD oral exams; and doctoral dissertations. It is important that you peruse these guidelines thoroughly at the outset and refer to them as needed throughout your graduate career. It is also advisable to confer regularly about your progress toward the degree either with your assigned advisor or with a faculty member of your choice.

Course Requirements

MA Students:

Ten courses, of which at least eight courses must be taken for letter grades at the 5000, 8000, or 9000 level (total of 24 credits of letter-graded courses required).  These must include ENGL 8800, Introduction to Literary Research, which is graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, at least one course on literature before 1700 and one on literature between 1700 and 1900, plus one course on literary theory or the history of criticism beyond ENGL 8800.  In addition, students have the option to take 3 credits of either ENGL 8999 or 8998, graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis.

1st Year

Fall semester 4 courses (ENGL 8800 + 3 graded)   Spring semester at least 3 graded courses + either a fourth graded course or one 3-unit NTR ENGL 8999

2nd Year

At least 2 graded courses (see enrollment options; may include ENGL 8998, MA thesis)

PhD Students:

Fourteen graded courses, of which of which at least twelve courses must be taken for letter grades at the 5000, 8000, or 9000 level (total of 72 credits of letter-graded courses required).  These must include ENGL 8800, Introduction to Literary Research, which is graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, at least one course on literature before 1700 and one on literature between 1700 and 1900, plus one course on literary theory or the history of criticism beyond ENGL 8800.  In addition, students take ENGL 8900, the Pedagogy Seminar, and ENGL 9995, the Dissertation Seminar.  The English department website lists the non-topical research courses, ENGL 9998 or 9999, graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, that make up the rest of the 72 hours.

1st Year

Fall semester 4 courses (ENGL 800 + 3 graded) Spring semester 3 graded courses + 1 3-unit NTR ENGL 9998

2nd Year

Fall semester 3 graded courses incl. Pedagogy Seminar + 1 3-unit NTR ENGL 9998 Spring semester 3 graded courses + 1 3-unit NTR ENGL 9998

3rd Year

Fall semester -- 12 hours of NTR ENGL 9998 + Audit or sit-in on one graduate-level course (form provided).  Spring semester -- ENGL 9995 (Dissertation seminar) + 9 hours of NTR ENGL 9998 + Audit or sit-in on one graduate-level course (form provided).  Auditing is not the same thing as taking a course on a credit/no credit basis.  Both official audits and authorized sit-ins require the instructor's permission; you must also write the DGS, who needs to request the Grad School dean's pro-forma permission (cc'ing the grad registrar at gsasregistrar@virginia.edu) before you can officially sign on for an audit.  Audits cannot be counted toward the 12-hour full-enrollment total, but they can fulfill distribution requirements.

4th Year

Fall semester 12 hours of NTR ENGL 9998 Spring semester 12 hours of NTR ENGL 9999 ("Dissertation Research")

5th Year and Beyond*

Fall semester 12 hours of NTR ENGL 9999 Spring semester 12 hours of NTR ENGL 9999

   * Ideally the student's PhD dissertation will be completed and successfully defended by the end of the fifth or six year.  All official extensions of time to completion are at the   GSAS Dean's discretion.

MA transfer students should consult the DGS about their pattern of registration. In most cases, apart from taking ENGL 8800 as a fourth first-term course transfers follow the schedule of 2nd year PhD students as outlined above.


Additional forms you may need in the course of your studies are available on the GSAS website; for advanced-enrollment questions visit first Enrollment Options.

For questions concerning the logistics of enrollment, insurance, or other non-academic issues, contact the Graduate Administrator Sally Williams.  All academic questions should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies Caroline Rody.