The Doctoral Program is designed as a 4-year funded program. Some employment is typically available to students registering for additional terms of study. To learn more about our funding, please visit the funding and awards page.
In their first year of study, students enrolled in the Doctoral program normally take the following graduate courses:
- Professional and Pedagogical Skills seminar in the fall term
- Research Forum with visiting speakers from a variety of fields and career levels in fall and winter terms
- 2 elective seminars in the fall term
- 3 elective seminars in the winter term
PhD students must take courses from any of the three periods that they have not covered in previous graduate level work:
- Course Group 1: Medieval to 1660
- Course Group 2: 1600 – 1900
- Course Group 3: 1900 to present
One of the courses may be an individual Directed Reading arranged with a supervisor, rather than a seminar. Students are strongly encouraged to take the Publishing Practicum seminar to collaboratively develop writing for publication in winter term.
One of the courses may also be taken in a Queen's graduate program other than English, such as Gender Studies, Philosophy, Art, History, Global Development Studies, or Cultural Studies with approval from the Graduate Coordinator and School of Graduate Studies.
At the end of the first year and throughout the second year, students establish their expertise in a major field of study and academic employment as well as a foundation in special area studies relevant to their research interests. This is the Comprehensive Examination process, which consists of two parts:
- The Field Examination covers one major field of literary study in English—historical, national, or theoretical. This written examination involves one four-hour sitting and one take-home paper written in the Fall term of the second year. A reading guide is supplied to assist students in their preparation. Students meet with examiners during the preparatory period.
- The Special Topic Presentation is based on a customized reading plan devised by the student to address a broad issue or cluster of issues of importance to the student's dissertation work. Students work on the STPs during the Winter term of second year and make their presentations to the Department as part of a two-day celebratory event in early May.
In their second year, students submit a Thesis Proposal that maps out their research plan and formalizes their supervisory committee, which consists of a supervisor and second reader. Subsequent years are devoted to writing the dissertation, and with the mentorship of their supervisor and in collaborations with their peers, to a range of opportunities for research presentations and to publication. When complete, the dissertation is defended at an oral examination, which is normally led by a visiting scholar with special expertise in the field.
Doctoral students in Queen's English enjoy an unparalleled introduction to undergraduate teaching in a series of steps with increasing responsibility. In first year, during coursework, doctoral Teaching Assistants grade assignments and meet individually with students, but do not teach regular tutorials; instead they deliver two or three apprenticeship lectures under the supervision of their faculty instructor. In subsequent years TAs have the opportunity to teach their own tutorials for a larger course and, towards the end of the program, there are opportunities to design and instruct their own course as a Teaching Fellow.
Learn more about our graduate courses
All candidates must demonstrate a reading knowledge of either two languages other than English at a basic level or one at an intermediate level, either by passing a departmental examination or by successfully completing 1) one full year (two terms) of an approved university-level language course for the basic level 2) two full years (four terms) of a university-level language course for the intermediate level.