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Our Graduate Degrees

The Department of English offers three options for studying at the graduate level: the Ph.D. program, the terminal M.A. program, and the submatriculation program, available only to current undergraduate English majors at Penn. 


The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. in English is a flexible five- or six-year program that combines broad coverage in English, American, and World Literatures in translation with concentrations shaped by our students’ interests. Students generally study a wide range of literary traditions and theoretical frameworks during their first two years of coursework, and then begin to specialize in their third years in preparation for their comprehensive exams. In the fourth, fifth, and sometimes sixth years, students write their dissertations. Throughout the program, Ph.D. students are taught, advised, and supported by our faculty, and they stay apprised of current work in their respective fields through participation in our Departmental Working Groups, through which they also share their own work.

All Ph.D. students, regardless of citizenship, receive five years of educational support, which covers tuition, fees, and health insurance, and includes a competitive stipend.

Many of our Ph.D. students go on to join the faculty at other institutions, while others pursue careers in the public and private sectors.


The M.A. Program

The M.A. in English is a standalone one-year master’s program. This is a challenging degree program, well-suited for students who want to undertake graduate-level study in the discipline, but who are not yet ready to make the commitment required for a Ph.D. program. M.A. students have the freedom to explore and develop their unique interests through their course selection and are welcomed at our departmental working groups.

Our M.A. students often go on to apply for Ph.D. programs, but they are also prepared for careers in the public and private sectors. The M.A. and Ph.D. programs are not linked; that is, M.A. students may not continue on to the Ph.D. program at the end of their M.A. program.

Because the M.A. program is a one-year degree, students are not funded and must provide their tuition, fees, health insurance, and living expenses. UK citizens are encouraged to apply for the Thouron Fellowship, a competitive award that will fund a master’s degree.


The Submatriculation Program

The submatriculation degree allows eligible undergraduate English majors to obtain the B.A. and M.A. simultaneously. Planning for submatriculation begins in spring of the students’ sophomore year and no later than spring of their junior year. Students interested in the submatriculation program should meet with the College Office to discuss plans for taking graduate courses in their Junior and Senior year and meet with the English Graduate Chair to discuss their fit within the program. Students then apply to the program and, if accepted, complete the necessary forms with the College Office to initiate submatriculant status.

More information can be found here:



Graduate Program Contacts

Zita Nunes, Chair of Graduate Studies

Fisher-Bennett Hall, 132



Meghan Hall, Associate Director of Graduate Studies

Fisher-Bennett Hall, 129