Master of Arts
30 credits required. The only specifically required course is ENCR 8100 (Introduction to Literary Research). This intensive one-week course, offered in late August and graded on an S/U basis, is a practical introduction to the techniques and uses of literary scholarship, tied to the resources of the University library system. In addition to ENCR 8100, the M.A. requires 24 graded credits at the 5000, 8000, or 9000 level, taken in residence at the University and completed with a grade of B or higher. These courses must satisfy the following distribution requirements:
- two courses in two different periods of literature before 1800
- one course in the history of criticism or literary theory
Students must also complete a final exercise: either an oral examination, or a thesis, or a pedagogy option. (Those electing to write a thesis enroll in ENGL 8998, which counts as 3 graded credit hours.) Finally, all students register for the 3-credit, Non-Topical Research (NTR) course ENGL 8999, enabling them to meet the 30-credit requirement set by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. There is no transfer credit accepted toward the M.A. Students who receive two or more failing grades are not permitted to remain in the program.
MA students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language. This requirement is normally satisfied by passing a translation exam given by the appropriate University department. M.A students may also satisfy this requirement with an intermediate or advanced course taken as an undergraduate in which they received a grade of B or better.
Doctor of Philosophy (Language, Literature, and Research)
In addition to the general University requirements for the Ph.D. degree, the candidate must normally satisfy the following requirements:
I. Research Course
All entering doctoral candidates, including those who have earned an M.A. degree, must take ENCR 8100, Introduction to Literary Research, a three-credit course for an S/U grade. This is usually offered at the end of August before the fall semester begins. (See Master of Arts requirements).
II. General Coursework
Doctoral candidates who come to the program without an M.A. must take twelve graded courses (at the 5000, 8000, or 9000 level) in graduate English or approved related courses, in addition to ENCR 8100 in the first semester, ENPG 8800 (Teaching Literature) in the second semester, and ENGL 9995 (Dissertation Seminar) in the spring of the third year. These twelve graded courses must be chosen to satisfy the M.A. distribution requirements. Doctoral candidates audit two additional courses in their third year. The entire record of a doctoral student’s coursework (including audits or transfer credits) must include three 9000-level seminars (not counting the Dissertation Seminar).
Normally, students who enter the doctoral program with the M.A. degree in hand will be allotted the equivalent of a year’s course credits, and will enroll in six graded courses at the 5000, 8000, or 9000 level, plus ENCR 8100 and ENGL 9995.
III. Foreign Language
The Department requires that the candidate demonstrate either mastery of one foreign language or proficiency in two.
The candidate may demonstrate mastery:
- by achieving passing grades in two semester-long graduate literature courses offered in the foreign language itself (not in translation) and taken at the University of Virginia . Such courses may also be counted toward completion of the course requirements for the PhD in English, if they are approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies
- by passing a two-hour examination designed to ascertain the student’s ability both to read critical and literary texts in the foreign language (with the aid of a dictionary) and (for modern languages) to write discursively in that language.
Proficiency is demonstrated by passing a ninety-minute examination in each language, which is designed to ascertain the student’s ability to translate prose with the aid of a dictionary.
The full foreign language requirement for the PhD must be completed before the student takes the doctoral oral examination. It is strongly recommended that students make plans early in graduate school for any extra study (including remedial or other course work) that may be necessary to meet this requirement. Eligibility for dissertation fellowships depends on completion of all requirements other than the dissertation.
Additional Requirements for Students of Medieval Literature
Students who wish to specialize in medieval literature must take at least one course in Old English, and pass the Latin exam. They must also satisfy the language requirement for the standard PhD: mastery in one language or proficiency in two. Under the two-language proficiency option, medievalists should offer at least one medieval language (in addition to Old English). (For this purpose, medieval Latin will count as a separate language.) Students should discuss with their advisers which other languages will be most useful and how they can best demonstrate proficiency in them. Candidates in medieval literature should satisfy the language requirements as early as possible.
Students must pass a two-hour qualifying oral examination, typically by late fall of the third year, consisting of two parts: historical teaching and research field, and other teaching and research field. The second field may be a genre, a theoretical tradition, a historical field, or any professional specialization of substance and breadth.
Doctoral students prepare a prospectus for a dissertation, which is subject to the approval of the three-person dissertation committee. This approval should be gained by the end of the sixth semester of study or at latest by the following October 1 during the seventh semester of study, the Department’s standard deadline for candidacy. Within a calendar year of the approval of the prospectus, candidates give a public presentation at a forum open to members of the department (this is not an examination). The completed dissertation is read by the dissertation committee and a member of the faculty from another department, and the candidate meets with them for a defense of the project. Completion of the dissertation requirement depends on the approval of its final form by all four faculty appointed for the defense.
Doctoral students gain teaching experience by assisting with the instruction of undergraduate courses. First-year students enroll in ENPG 8800, in general preparation for teaching one course per semester, beginning in the second year. Students also receive systematic training in writing instruction.