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Idaho State University

The PhD in English and the Teaching of English

The Ph.D. in English and the Teaching of English is an innovative and distinctive program that integrates research in literature with practical and theoretical training in the teaching of English. The aim of the program is to prepare students for teaching careers in English at two- and four-year colleges and universities. The degree is unique in its integration of research-oriented class work with courses in pedagogy and supervised teaching internships and a pedagogical component in every dissertation. The 2014 Report of the MLA Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature featured our program as an example of exactly the kind of training needed in the profession.  

The department has an established record of doctoral training, having offered doctoral degrees in English since 1971. The Ph.D. in English and the Teaching of English houses the Teaching Literature Book Award, an international, juried prize that recognizes excellence in research on teaching literature at the college level. It is the only Ph.D. program in English in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming. The Ph.D. attracts applicants from around the region, nation, and the world, and is especially well-suited for those whose primary career goal is a tenure-track position at a community college.

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Curriculum, Doctor of Philosophy in English and the Teaching of English

The Doctor of Philosophy in English and the Teaching of English prepares students for teaching careers in English at colleges and universities. The program emphasizes the study of English and American literature, coursework in content-specific pedagogy, and supervised teaching internships. Students also undertake directed, specialized research in a required dissertation.


General Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in English requires a minimum of 39 semester credits beyond the MA.

A course completed as part of a student's MA program may be approved by the Graduate Director to satisfy a particular requirement of the PhD program, up to a maximum of 9 credits; however, the substitution of course work does not waive the minimum credit requirement for the PhD program.

With the approval of the Graduate Director, students may transfer up to 9 credits of coursework beyond the MA from other institutions.

Students must maintain a 3.5 grade point average to advance to candidacy for the PhD. Three grades below B- during the entire program will automatically disqualify a student.

Graduate students must follow the policy on incomplete grades as it is listed in the Idaho State University Graduate Catalog. Teaching assistantships and PhD fellowships will not be renewed for students with incomplete grades on their transcripts.


Special Requirements

Student must complete at least 27 of the required 39 credits at the 6600 level or higher.

Students must complete two supervised teaching internships. The student must submit a detailed proposal for each internship to the Graduate Committee for approval prior to the semester of the internship. The proposal must be endorsed by the member of the graduate faculty who has agreed to supervise the internship. An unacceptable PhD internship will have the same consequences as a course grade of C.

Students will write a dissertation with a section exploring the implications of the research for the student's teaching of English. This dissertation project will be designed in consultation with a member of the English graduate faculty, who will serve as chair of the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee shall consist of three members of the graduate faculty, at least two of whom are English graduate faculty. In consultation with the dissertation director, the student is responsible for assembling the dissertation committee. The dissertation proposal must be approved by all members of the student's dissertation committee and then submitted, with the comprehensive exam lists attached, to the Graduate Director for review, according to the guidelines in the English Graduate Handbook. A Graduate Faculty Representative (GFR) will be appointed after review of the proposal and exam lists.

Students must present a colloquium on the topic of the dissertation research, given in the last semester of their degree work, which will allow them to obtain experience in presenting the results of their research to their peers.


Course Work

Required Core Course

  • ENGL 6612 Introduction to Graduate Studies in English 3 cr


Pre- and Post-1800 Literature Component

A minimum of six credits, fulfilling the following requirements:

  • One seminar in the 662x series that is focused on pre-1800 literature
  • One seminar in the 662x series that is focused on post-1800 literature


Teaching Component

A minimum of 12 semester credits, fulfilling the following requirements:

  • ENGL 6631 Seminar in Teaching Writing 3 cr
  • ENGL 7700 Supervised Teaching Internship 3 cr
  • An additional seminar in the teaching of English, approved by the department 3 cr
  • An additional supervised teaching experience, chosen from:
    • ENGL 7700 Supervised Teaching Internship 3 cr
    • ENGL 7783 Practicum in Second Language Teaching 3 cr


Language Component

A minimum of 3 credits, chosen from the following list:

  • ENGL 5501 Advanced Composition
  • ENGL 5580 Varieties of American English
  • ENGL 5581 Studies in Grammar
  • ENGL 5584 Special Topics in Linguistics
  • ENGL 5585 Linguistic Analysis
  • ENGL 5586 Old English
  • ENGL 5587 History of the English Language
  • ENGL 5588 Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • ENGL 6680 Introduction to Linguistics
  • ENGL 6685 Seminar in Linguistics



Students take 15 additional credits of electives (chosen in consultation with their advisor) that will contribute to knowledge and skills necessary for their dissertation topics and professional goals.


Course Work Limitations

A maximum of 6 semester credits taken outside of ENGL-prefixed courses may be counted toward degree requirements, with the approval of the Graduate Director.


Comprehensive Examination

Students are eligible to take the comprehensive exam after completing 36 credits beyond the MA Students must take the exam before defending the dissertation.

The comprehensive examination is both written and oral. The examination tests the student in the general areas listed below, but the student in consultation with his/her dissertation committee will design the specific subjects and reading lists on which he/she will be tested. The exam lists must be approved by all members of the student's dissertation committee and then submitted, along with the dissertation proposal, to the Graduate Director for review, according to the guidelines in the English Graduate Handbook. 

The exam areas are:

  • the student's dissertation area
  • a broader field or literary period
  • an area in the teaching of English 

The examining committee will consist of the three-member dissertation committee. In order to ensure that the examining committee has sufficient expertise to test the student in all three exam areas, the dissertation committee chair may propose to substitute a member of the dissertation committee with another member of the graduate faculty, so long as two members of the examining committee are English graduate faculty. The substitution must be approved by the Graduate Director. 

The comprehensive examination may be repeated only once, and must be retaken within 12 months.


Foreign Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language, either modern or ancient, before the program of study is complete. The purpose of this requirement is for students to have a current knowledge of a language other than English and of its relation to the culture from which it originates.

Students may satisfy this requirement in one of the following ways:

  • By passing four semesters of one foreign language with an average grade of B, either during the course of study for the graduate degree or with an interval of no longer than two years between the completion of the last language course and the beginning of graduate study in English at Idaho State University.
  • By passing a language competency exam administered by an accredited foreign language department and having the score reported to the department.
  • By having completed a major in a foreign language, as verified by a college transcript.
  • By having satisfied a foreign language requirement as part of having completed an MA in English with an interval of no longer than two years between the completion of the last language course and the beginning of graduate study in English at Idaho State University.
  • By having a first language other than English.

Recent PhD Dissertations

To give potential applicants a sense of research they might do in our department, below we provide a list of some dissertation and thesis projects completed by students in our programs.  

Graduate students have written PhD dissertations in a number of areas of English studies. Most projects focus on English or U.S. literature, and/or some aspect of literature or composition pedagogy. In some cases, where we have had faculty with relevant expertise, students with demonstrated qualifications have written on Anglophone and other national literary traditions, or traditional or newer forms of narrative (oral storytelling, film, graphic novels, and even video games).


PhD in English and the Teaching of English

The PhD integrates research in literature with theoretical and practical training in the teaching of literature and composition. Each dissertation contains at least one chapter or chapter-length appendix discussing implications of the research for teaching literature or composition. The list below is organized in reverse chronological order, by date of completion.

  • Steve Harrison, "'Come Out of the Woods and We'll Tell You Who You Are': The Protest Literatures of S. Alice Callahan, Charles Alexander Eastman, and Simon Pokagon" (2017)
  • Carla Dando, "Parables as Didactic Literature and their Dialetic Motive" (2016)
  • Jennifer Foradori, "Completing the Picture: Bringing Instructional Design Into Basic Writing Pedagogy" (2015)
  • Zachary Dilbeck, "Middle-Earth, Middle-Margins: Seeing Dwarves in the Shadow of Elves" (2015)
  • Scott Holman, "On the Road Again: The Influence of Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail on Jack Kerouac's On the Road" (2015)
  • Steven Hall, "Reading the Rows: A Working Meditation of Agriculture, Nature, and Literature" (2014)
  • Elise Barker, "Jane Austen in Postmodern Popular Culture" (2014)
  • Kelly Meyer, "Transgressing Postcolonial Indifference, Recovering History: Women and Desire in Arundhati Roy’sThe God of Small Things, Ahdaf Soueif’s The Map of Love, and Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones" (2014)
  • Derik Robertson, "The Caverns of the Heart: The Existential Themes of Nathaniel Hawthorne" (2014)
  • Dahood El-Oqla, African-Arab Hybrid Identities in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Tayyeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, and Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men (2013)
  • Tiffany Brooke Martin, “For the Future”: Consciousness, Fantasy, and Imagination in Owen Barfield's Fiction (2013)
  • Sheldon Lawrence, “Fellow-Citizens With the Saints”: Mormon Conversion Narratives and the Rhetoric of Religious Identity (2012)   
  • Michael Lee, Adapting Edward II: Eight Representations of Early Modern Sexuality (2012)
  • Tsutomu Nagata, A Forgotten Face of Japan: Six Short Stories by Koda Rohan (1867–1947) with a Critical Introduction (2011)
  • Naveed Rehan, “Passionate Struggle Into Conscious Being”: D. H. Lawrence and Creative Nonfiction (2011)

Job Placement of Doctoral Graduates

Academic Positions (initial placements)

  • Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge, MN
  • Aurora University, George Williams College Campus, Williams Bay, WI
  • Brigham Young University - Hawaii, Laie, HI
  • Brigham Young University - Idaho, Rexburg, ID
  • College of Eastern Idaho, Idaho Falls, ID
  • College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, ID
  • Columbia Basin Community College, Pasco, WA
  • Columbus State Community College (Delaware Campus), Delaware, OH
  • Corban College, Salem, OR
  • Heidelberg College, Tiffin, OH
  • Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
  • Multnomah Bible College, Portland, OR
  • Nantong University, Nantong, Jiangsu, China
  • New Mexico State University - Grants, Grants, NM
  • Northwest Nazarene University, Nampa, ID
  • Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL
  • Portland Community College, Portland, OR
  • Rock Valley College, Rockford, IL
  • Sage Colleges, Troy, NY
  • Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK
  • SUNY-Institute of Technology, Marcy, NY
  • SUNY-New Paltz, New Paltz, NY
  • University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, Fort Smith, AK
  • Wanli University, Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China

Positions outside the Academy (Alt-Ac Careers)

A number of our doctoral graduates have established careers outside the traditional academic track. These careers include work in technical writing (at the Idaho Nuclear Engineering Laboratories and elsewhere), industrial communication and training, editing, and teaching in public and alternative schools.