Skip to main content

Graduate Program

Welcome to the Vanderbilt University Department of English Graduate Program.

The Department of English admits and trains Ph.D. candidates across a broad span of literary and cultural studies. Members of our graduate faculty specialize in areas that range from the European Renaissance to contemporary world literatures; from antebellum American print culture to African American; Asian American; Latino/a literaures and cultures; from film and digital studies; through Anglophone literatures to Inter-American and Caribbean literatures and cultures. The work of our graduate students reflects this diverse array of resources:  current students focus on early modern European literatures (sixteenth through eighteenth centuries), Victorian literature, global modernism, early American literature, contemporary literatures of the Americas, literatures of the African diaspora, and Latin American literatures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Methodological approaches are similarly diverse, and often cross traditional categories of period, genre, and nationality:  we have students who frame their dissertations through the history of medicine, theories of gender and sexuality, hemispheric studies, intersections of law and literature, postcolonial studies, performance theory, and digital media.

The M.F.A. at Vanderbilt is a two-year program involving four semesters of graduate work in writing workshops and seminars. Students enrolled will take a workshop and two seminars each semester, until their final semester, when work on the thesis will take the place of the seminars.

The Ph.D. Program in English offers coursework and research supervision in all areas of British, American, and Anglophone literature, film, cultural studies, and literary theory. We aim to produce first-quality scholars, critics, and teachers of literature and culture for colleges and universities. Our program is small, focused, and dynamic, featuring:

  • A 1:1 student-faculty ratio with a superb research faculty.
  • A flexible curriculum tailored to each student's interests and background.
  • A full, five-year funding package for every PhD student.
  • Opportunities to teach literature and writing.
  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary work, including graduate-minor programs in Gender Studies and American Studies.
  • Annual competitive summer research fellowships open to all.
  • Annual competitive dissertation fellowships and dissertation enhancement grants.
  • Generous conference travel funding.
  • Affiliations with the Folger Skakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Dickins Project at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the English Institute at Harvard University, and the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University.
  • A comprehensive system of mentoring and advisement from the first year through the search for academic employment.

NRC Rankings of English Doctoral Programs - Vanderbilt English Ph.D. Program Ranked #1 among Small Prestigious Programs