A group of Graduate students waiting for class to start.

English, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in English has been offered at USD since 1994. Professors work intensively with graduate students on their writing and scholarship, successfully preparing students to present and publish their work.

Be a part of a vibrant literary community.

Our doctoral program offers classes in British and American literature from Shakespeare to the postmodern novel and in creative writing. Small in size, the program enables you to construct your own plan of study to reflect your interests as you prepare for your written and oral exams.

Our graduate programs are designed to accommodate part-time as well as full-time students. Graduate seminars meet once a week and are scheduled in the late afternoon or evening to allow students with work or family responsibilities to attend. At least one graduate seminar is offered each summer. Working closely with your chair and members of their committee, you will leave prepared to enter the workforce, pursue further graduate study, or apply for positions in post-secondary education. Design and execute a scholarly project that enables you to become an expert in your areas of interest. The USD Department of English is committed to providing its graduate students with support in the form of teaching assistantships, travel funds, and opportunities for research grants. All students can gain practical literary professional and editorial experience by taking classes in publishing, as well as working with the Vermillion Literary Project, South Dakota Review, and Astrophil Press.

Specialize in areas that interest you

Earning your doctoral degree shows you’re dedicated to improving your expertise and credibility in the field of English. You can narrow your research and plan of study to focus on a particular specialty, which helps you become more competitive in your field.

1.) Literary Studies: Critical

This specialization offers students challenging graduate seminars on British, American, and World literatures with a rigorous grounding in historical, theoretical, and philosophical frameworks. Students will have the opportunity to work closely with faculty members publishing in fields ranging from Romanticism and modernism on the British side of the Atlantic to Transcendentalism and the Harlem Renaissance on American shores. The Ph.D. program enables students to construct their own plan of study to reflect their literary and critical interests as they prepare for their written and oral exams. Critical-track Ph.D. students will also have opportunities to teach a variety of courses in order to develop their pedagogy and to establish their credentials for teaching in the academic world. Faculty mentorship of graduate students extends beyond the classroom with professionalization workshops designed to help students navigate the difficulties of the job market with sessions on publishing, conferences, and job materials. 

2.) Literary Studies: Creative Writing

This specialization offers students graduate-level workshops in multiple genres with professional writers—developing not only multi-genre fluency within their own work, but also building pedagogical skills and credentials within the creative writing classroom. While offering discussion and feedback on student work and addressing relevant elements of craft and technique, graduate-level workshops in creative writing also provide broad readings within the “state of the art,” and offer opportunities to engage with current conversations in aesthetic and historical contexts, narrative theory, poetics, and critical theory. These workshops are complemented by graduate literature seminars in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American literature. Students construct their own plan of study to reflect their individual critical interests and to prepare them for their written and oral exams, which will credential them to teach literature courses at the college level. Creative writing Ph.D. students can establish and build upon their pedagogical skills through teaching a wide range of courses, including introductory courses in creative writing. In addition to offering writers time and mentorship to build their C.V.s, the Ph.D. program also offers numerous professional development opportunities in terms of publishing courses, mentorship in the job application process, and editorial/literary organization experience through working with The Vermillion Literary Project, South Dakota Review, and Astrophil Press.


Degrees & Offerings

English: Literary Studies: Creative Writing (Ph.D.)

Doctorate with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

The Doctor of Philosophy in English requires of 54-69 credit hours with 27 focused in your specialization areas. You will construct your own plan of study to reflect your literary interests as you prepare for a written and oral exam. As a creative writing-track Ph.D. student you will participate in graduate-level workshops in multiple genres with professional writers—developing not only multi-genre fluency within their own work, but also building pedagogical skills and credentials within the creative writing classroom.

English: Literary Studies: Critical (Ph.D.)

Doctorate with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

The Doctor of Philosophy in English requires a minimum of 54-69 credit hours with 24 focused in your specialization area. Construct your own plan of study to reflect your critical interests as you prepare for a written and oral exam. As a critical-track Ph.D. students you will also have opportunities to teach a variety of courses in order to develop your pedagogy and to establish credentials for teaching in the academic world.

Program Details

Graduate

College

Department

Contact

Graduate Admissions

Start Your Application Today

Each program has unique application requirements and deadlines. Be sure and consult the graduate catalog for detailed program information. It will ensure your application and materials are complete and submitted on time. To learn more about the application process, visit how to apply.

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The background and experience that you gain in the teaching assistant program offers significant benefits if you are pursuing a career in education, business, law or other fields involving leadership or public speaking. Teaching assistants receive a stipend appropriate to the low-cost of living in Vermillion and a reduction in tuition. Assistantships are competitive, generally awarded for a full academic year. They are renewable up to four years for doctoral students and two years for master’s students. The application form for the teaching assistantship is available as part of the department's application packet or from the USD Graduate School.

Students who are fully admitted to the M.A. program are eligible for teaching assistantships. Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis and are renewable for a total of two years, with a stipend of $12,750 and a reduction in tuition to one-third of the in-state graduate tuition rate. Beginning M.A. teaching assistants also enroll for credit in the department's teaching practicum, which provides essential training and support for new teachers.

Incoming Ph.D. students are generally offered teaching assistantships, renewable for a total of four years, with a stipend of $15,250. All teaching assistants receive a reduction in tuition to one-third of the in-state graduate tuition rate. Most teaching assistants teach two sections of an introductory writing or literature course each semester.

Learn More

A speaker at a conference with panelists.

The USD Department of English sponsors two periodicals and a press. South Dakota Review publishes both critical and creative work for a national audience. The Vermillion Literary Project, our student organization, produces an annual literary journal and organizes student contests, local readings and events. You have the opportunity to judge contests, read creative work, moderate events and mentor undergraduate students. Astrophil Press publishes books that explore the possibilities of language, form and genre. These departmental connections provide you with valuable experiences in publishing. 

You will have opportunities to present your work and meet scholars. The John R. Milton Writers’ Conference takes place every other year and features writers such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Percival Everett and Erika Wurth. Our Colloquium Series features faculty members and graduate students presenting their work, as well as visits by nationally recognized scholars, such as Tim Brennan (Minnesota), Patricia A. Matthew (Montclair) and Joel Pace (Wisconsin-Eau Claire), who give public lectures on campus, hold pedagogy workshops and meet informally with graduate students in English. Creative writers from around the country regularly read their work on campus. 

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides the opportunity to communicate the significance and impact of your research project in just three minutes.

Learn More

Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

Learn More

IdeaFest

IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

Learn More

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of English. You may be interested in the Vermillion Literary Project or Alpha Mu Phi to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Alpha Mu Phi 

Alpha Mu Phi is USD's local Sigma Tau Delta chapter. This organization's central purpose is to confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.

Join Now

Vermillion Literary Project 

The Vermillion Literary Project is an award-winning student organization that publishes a literary magazine and promotes all sorts of literary events, for both the university community and the general public.

Join Now

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

Join Now

Departments & Facilities

Our faculty are experts in their fields, bringing practical experience in writing, communication and inspirational thinking.
Carson Sehr outside holding Vermillion Literary Project books

English

Investigate and gain insight into how we understand ourselves and communicate through stories, poetry and other narratives. Cultivate your ability to read and write and think about complex issues with the Department of English.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Department of English. The USD English faculty are award-winning, engaged researchers and creative scholars working within a supportive department community dedicated to providing students with diverse learning opportunities.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Darlene Farabee

Darlene Farabee

Chair, English
Bio Image for Faculty Member Prentiss Clark

Prentiss Clark

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Paul Formisano

Paul Formisano

Director of Writing
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kenneth Green

Kenneth Green

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michelle Gannon

Michelle Gannon

Director, Writing Center
Bio Image for Faculty Member Benjamin Hagen

Benjamin Hagen

Associate Professor
Faculty Default

Reyna Hernandez

Senior Secretary
Faculty Default

Kevin Magee

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Leah McCormack

Leah McCormack

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Martin McGoey

Martin McGoey

Visiting Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lisa Ann Robertson

Lisa Ann Robertson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lee Roripaugh

Lee Roripaugh

Professor/Editor, SDR
Students studying together.

Work on Active Publishing Projects

Our graduate program offers a wide variety of opportunities beyond coursework, including professionalization workshops, visiting writers and scholars, and English Department publications. For example, our graduate students gain valuable experience by


  • Editing the South Dakota Review
  • Editing the Vermillion Literary Project
  • Learning the nuts and bolts of the publishing world by working with Astrophil Press
  • Helping others become stronger writers through positions in the University Writing Center

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
Resident & WRGP
MN Residents
Non-Resident
Tuition (9 cr.)
3061.35
4398.75
5886.45
Fees (9 cr.)
497.7
497.7
497.7
Books (estimate)
360
360
360

More About Tuition & Fees

This is an estimate tuition rate* per credit hour and other factors such as special fees associated with your program may change the cost of tuition. Tuition rates are subject to change. 

If you are wondering about how to pay for graduate school, there are additional funding options to consider.

Take the Next Step