<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=381893259123400&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Department Information

The Department of English is dedicated to the study of the English language and literature. Like all forms of art, the creations of writers give us direct access to what it means to be human in all its complexity and mystery. Our committed faculty of teachers and scholars, poets and novelists cover literary productions from the first flowerings of poetry in Old English to the most recent creative work.

Our teachers help students to think and write with clarity and grace as they prepare to work in a world where communication has become the signature endeavor of our world. Our graduate students in our Ph.D. program are being prepared to join faculties at the best universities in the world.

Program Features

SMU does not admit students to an M.A. in English program. Highly qualified students with a B.A. in English or a closely related field who intend to pursue the Ph.D. should apply directly to the Ph.D. program. Students who have earned an M.A. previously or are enrolled in an M.A. program may also apply to the Ph.D.

We are committed to ensuring our graduates’ professional success through a program featuring:

  • One-to-one student-faculty ratio, ensuring small seminars and ample options for tutorial studies.
  • Fellowships for all doctoral candidates for six full years at extraordinarily generous rates, followed by the opportunity for a seventh year as a Visiting Assistant Professor.
  • Medical benefits, tuition waivers, summer seminars in Taos, NM, and professional travel support for all doctoral Fellows.
  • Opportunities for doctoral Fellows to teach writing and literature classes, beginning in year two.
  • Dissertation-year support for all doctoral Fellows.
  • Close mentoring from matriculation to and beyond graduation.

Degrees Offered

Explore our Ph.D. Program in English

Southern Methodist University Library Facilities

SMU's library system supports a full range of print and electronic media resources. It is also home to two world-renowned special collections.

The Bridwell Library

The Bridwell Library

The Bridwell Library at SMU's Perkins School of Theology is a world-class theological library with over 500,000 volumes and a 50,000-volume Special Collections which includes many print editions from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the present day, as well as manuscripts going back to the first century.

The DeGolyer Library

The DeGolyer Library

The DeGolyer Library is the principal repository at SMU for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Its rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other materials are available to all SMU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and other researchers. DeGolyer Library’s holdings of primary sources are complemented by exhibitions, lectures, publications, and other programs. Dedicated to enhancing scholarship and teaching at SMU, the DeGolyer Library is charged with maintaining and building its various collections “for study, research, and pleasure.”

The holdings of the DeGolyer Library include extensive collections of material related to the European discovery and exploration of the New World, Western Americana, and railroad history, as well as an eclectic range of works by English and American texts in a variety of literary genres, from a 16th-century edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to dime novels and comic books.

Admission Requirements

  • B.A. in English or intensive study of literature in English and a GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Transcripts from all institutions attended (post high school; unofficial documents can be uploaded to your application).
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Résumé
  • Statement of Purpose
  • GRE Scores
  • One 15-20 page writing sample.  Please DO NOT send in samples in excess of 30 pages.
  • International applicants must provide English Language Proficiency scores if their degree does not meet our waiver requirements. 

Deadlines for Admission

For graduate English programs:

  • Priority deadline for Fall admission is January 15th. 

Departmental Assistantships

All applications to be considered for department assistantships must be completed by the applicable priority deadline.

Note: Applications received after the applicable priority deadline will be considered for any remaining funds and openings.

Ph.D. Guide Cover viewed on an iPad and iPhone.



A Guide to Choosing, Applying for, and Thriving in a Ph.D. Program


Degree Requirements

  • 60 hours of credit (including classes, directed readings and dissertation hours)
  • 3 core courses (English 6310, 6311, 6312)

  • Must complete workshops in teaching (prior to the fall of their second year)

  • Six 7000-level seminars

  • Demonstrate proficiency in one non-English language

  • Pass written exams in the fall of the fourth year of study (the M.A. degree will be awarded after completion of the written exams.)

  • Complete a dissertation prospectus and an oral defense of the prospectus during the spring semester of the fourth year.

  • Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0

Alumni Spotlight


Julianne Sandberg

English Ph.D., Class of 2016

What is your research area?

Renaissance British Literature.

What is the best thing you’ve done as a graduate student at SMU?

Through several avenues of SMU funding, I've been able to present research at several scholarly conferences, including Cambridge University.

What is your favorite thing to do in Dallas?

I love walking or running at White Rock Lake, strolling through the arboretum, and enjoying great food and drink at one of Dallas' many excellent restaurants.

What do you wish you had known before starting graduate school?

My colleagues in graduate school would become an important part of my support system. Building those relationships and caring about that community has been one of the most rewarding — but surprising — parts of graduate school.

Julianne is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Samford University. View her full bio here


Do not hesitate to contact your program of interest with any questions you might have!



Want to learn more about SMU’s graduate program in English?

Contact us today, we will be in touch!