GraduateProgram Stages

Stage 1

Course Requirements


All students are admitted directly into the Ph.D. program, and the Department does not have an MA program, as such.  Fourteen letter-graded courses are required.  These courses must be English department courses at the graduate level (200 or above) or equivalent courses offered by English department faculty in other departments or programs. With the approval of the Vice Chair, Ph.D. students may apply to the fourteen-course requirement up to three courses offered by faculty in departments other than English (such as literature in another language, history, art history, Afro-American studies, film, women’s studies).

All graduate students in the First and Second stages of the program are required to take a minimum of 12 units per quarter. Students pursuing the doctorate take English 596 (Directed Individual Study) each quarter during the First Stage, usually on an S/U grading basis, either under an individual professor or the Vice Chair.

Students at any stage of the program may take courses for S/U grading, but such courses cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements. The work required to receive a grade of Satisfactory must be agreed on in advance with the instructor of the course.

Of the fourteen letter-graded courses for the Ph.D., a minimum of three courses must be in periods before 1780, and three in periods after 1780.  (Classes in literary theory, folklore, or other such fields will not ordinarily satisfy the breadth requirement, but students may petition the Graduate Committee for a ruling.)

First Stage Evaluation


At the beginning of the student’s second year in the program, the Graduate Committee reviews the student’s file, which includes the faculty’s written reports on course work as well as grades, and instructs the Vice Chair to advise the student as to his or her progress in the program.  Students who entered the program with an MA may petition the Committee to grant credit toward the fourteen-course requirement for graduate courses taken elsewhere; at the Committee’s discretion, a maximum of four such courses may be credited toward the UCLA degree.



The general adviser for graduate students is the Vice Chair for Graduate Studies. The Vice Chair and a second member of the Graduate Committee also serve as the personal advisers for first-year students. These two advisers meet with entering students, approve their plans for study each quarter of their first year, counsel them as the need arises, and evaluate their academic progress periodically. Among the factors considered in the evaluations are course grades, written evaluations of performance in seminars and other courses, and progress toward the satisfaction of degree requirements.

By the end of the first year (and no later than the beginning of the second year), students select from among the departmental faculty a three-person advisory committee, whose membership will be approved by the Vice Chair. These personal advisers meet with students to discuss their programs and more general issues of intellectual and professional concern. They also supervise the student’s preparation of reading lists for the First Qualifying Examination. As the student’s interests evolve and gain focus, it may be appropriate to change the membership of this committee. There is no requirement that all members of the committee administer the student’s First Qualifying Examination, but it is normal for some, if not all, to do so. In composing this committee, students should bear in mind that not all faculty teach graduate courses each year (some even less often) but that such faculty may well be the most appropriate committee members.

The department encourages students to consult, as early as possible in their graduate careers and frequently thereafter, with any and all faculty, and in particular with those in their special fields of interest. The Graduate Counselor should be consulted on any questions or problems that arise.

The Part 1 Exam


As students near completion of the 14-course requirement (including the breadth requirement), ordinarily sometime early in their third year, they should finalize the composition of their reading lists and the membership of their examination committee. Under the supervision of the committee, the student devises three reading lists, each consisting of approximately 30 primary texts (or equivalent bodies of work, as in the case of poems, short fiction, essays, etc.), and 10 critical texts that have been important to the development of the field, each list representing a coherent field of literary study.  At least two of these fields must be historical, chosen in most cases from among the widely-recognized historical periods (e.g., Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, Renaissance, earlier 17th century, Restoration and 18th century, Romantic, Victorian, 20th-century British and Irish literature, earlier American, 19th-century American, 20th-century American, etc.) and including a substantial number of canonical works by major authors. The third exam topic may be an additional historical field (following the same requirements as the other historical lists), a special topic (e.g., African American literature, literary or critical theory, media studies), or one devised by the student. Where the third field is a special topic or a newly-devised topic, its list is to consist entirely of works not included on either of the two other lists.

Once the student and individual faculty members complete the lists, all three lists together must be approved by the entire examination committee. The lists are then submitted to the Vice Chair for approval. The Vice Chair will appoint an examination committee chair, and the First Qualifying Examination can then be scheduled. The date of the examination will be no earlier than six months (two quarters) after the lists are approved.

Two weeks prior to the examination, students submit to the committee members written work from any two seminars that they believe best reflects their performance. The committee’s review of these papers constitutes the first stage of this examination. The second stage of this examination is a two-hour oral examination.

In order for a student to receive a Pass on the examination, all examiners must agree that the student has passed all three sections of the examination. If a student fails one section, the student will receive a Fail and will be required to retake that section. If a student fails two sections, the student will be required to take all three sections again. The examinations may be retaken only once. Before any failed examination is retaken, the Graduate Committee reviews the record as a whole and offers, through the Vice Chair, advice on how students should proceed. Faculty will be reminded of their responsibility to conduct a rigorous exam, to be willing to judge that a student has failed, and to be willing, when a second failure has occurred, to instruct the Vice Chair that the student not be permitted to continue in the program.

Part I Exams should be completed no later than the end of the third year of study and preferably earlier. Students must complete at least one foreign language requirement and have no outstanding incompletes before the exam can take place. Ordinarily the examination occurs after the 14-course requirement is completed, but in some circumstances it may occur before all course requirements are satisfied, provided that, at the time of the exam, the student has completed at least one language requirement, has no more than two required courses remaining, and has no outstanding incompletes.

Students in the Ph.D. program may receive the MA after they have satisfied the 14-course requirement, completed one foreign language requirement and passed the First Qualifying Examination.

M.A. Thesis Option


Students who choose to leave the program upon obtaining the MA may elect the thesis plan for the terminal MA. Students choosing this option must request a committee from the Vice Chair a minimum of two quarters before completion of the program.  The committee will consist of three faculty members who will meet with the student as a group to consider the thesis proposal.  The thesis will be not less than forty pages (10,000 words) or more than sixty pages (15,000 words) in length. The thesis itself must be filed no later than the tenth quarter after admission.