Graduate Bulletin

Spring 2018

Requirements for the M.A. Degree in English

In addition to the minimum requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

A. Course Requirements

A master's degree in English requires ten three-credit courses completed with a 3.0 overall grade point average and submission of a master's thesis. Of the ten courses, three, including a required course in the history and structure of the English language (EGL 509 or EGL 510 or approved substitute), must be in linguistics, rhetoric or composition theory (EGL 506 or approved substitute), including problems in the teaching of composition (EGL 592 or approved substitute). Students who demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English are only required to complete two courses in Language and Rhetoric. EGL courses previously taken on the undergraduate level and passed with a grade of B or better may be accepted as fulfilling these requirements but must be replaced with an elective. Students will sign up for three credits of thesis research while writing a master's thesis. The remaining courses must include one course on literature before 1800, and three courses in at least two of the following topic areas (or other courses as approved by the Graduate Program Director):

EGL 584: Topics in Genre Studies

EGL 585: Topics in Cultural Studies

EGL 586: Topics in Gender Studies

EGL 587: Topics in Race, Ethnic or Diaspora Studies

EGL 588: Writing Workshop

Note: Topic courses may be repeated as long as content varies. Courses run through the School of Professional Development are not accepted for English M.A. requirements.

B. Independent Studies
Only one course numbered EGL 599, Independent Study, will be permitted to count toward the total courses required for the degree of Master of Arts in English. EGL 599 cannot be elected during the student’s first semester of work toward the master’s degree. EGL 599 may be elected during the second semester only if the student has a B+ average in the first semester and has no Incompletes at the time of registering for EGL 599. A proposal for an EGL 599 course should be submitted in writing to the faculty member under whose direction the student plans to study. This proposal must be submitted before the end of the semester previous to that in which the student will register for EGL 599. The proposal must be approved in writing by both the directing faculty member and the graduate program committee of the English Department before the student registers for EGL 599.

C. Competence in a Second Language
Students have the option of demonstrating competence in a language other than English in lieu of completing one of the three required courses in Language and Rhetoric. This competence may be demonstrated by having completed the second year of a foreign language at the undergraduate level within the past five years with a grade of B or better; by obtaining a grade of B or better on a 500-level reading/translation course or other graduate course offered in a non-English language or literature; or by examination arranged by the English department. The following languages are automatically accepted for fulfilling this requirement: Greek,

Latin, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Hindu, and Bengali. Other languages relevant to a student’s graduate program may be approved upon petition to the Graduate Program Director.

D. Master’s Thesis
Students enroll for EGL 598 while writing a master’s thesis of 30-40 pages under the guidance of a thesis advisor (chosen by the student with approval of Graduate Director) and an additional faculty member chosen by the student and the advisor. A final copy of the thesis and written approvals from the advisor and reader must be submitted to the Graduate School by the last day of classes in the semester in which the student graduates. Students must be registered in the semester in which they graduate.

Transfer Credit and Standards of Performance in English at the M.A. Level: The department permits the transfer of six hours of credit in suitable graduate work done elsewhere that resulted in a grade of B or better. The student must, however, make special application after admission. In all coursework done at Stony Brook, an average grade of B is the minimum required, but no more than two grades below B- will be permitted. The time limit for completion of the M.A. degree is three years for full-time students and five years for part-time students. Any student who plans not to enroll in classes for a semester must apply for an official leave of absence; failure to do so will lead to a lapse in enrollment. To re-apply, the student must pay a $500 readmission fee.

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

In addition to the minimum requirements of the Graduate School, the following are required:

A. Course Requirements
The minimum course requirement for students in the doctoral program is 11 courses, including at least seven 600-level seminars. No course with a grade below B- may be used to satisfy course requirements. In order to continue in the program, students must maintain an average grade of B or better in all coursework, and no more than two grades below B- will be permitted. No transfer credit is accepted at the seminar level.

One of the seven seminars the student must satisfactorily complete is the proseminar, EGL 600, The Discipline of Literary Studies. Students must take this course in their first fall semester in the program, or as soon as it is offered.

While the majority of courses for the Ph.D. requirements must be taken in the English Department, students may, in consultation with their advisors, take courses of an equivalent level in other departments or programs. Requests must be approved in writing by the Graduate Program Director.

It is assumed that students entering the Ph.D. program will have studied Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and a variety of literary periods in their B.A. or M.A. programs. However, students with a variety of backgrounds are welcome into the Ph.D. program; those without the kind of broad-based knowledge outlined above will work out a suitable program of study with their advisors.

Students with teaching assistantships must pass the Teaching Practicum in their first semester of teaching in the Writing Program.

B. Independent Studies

Only two courses numbered EGL 615, Independent Study, will be permitted to count toward the total courses required for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English. EGL 615 cannot be elected during the student’s first semester of work toward the doctoral degree. EGL 615 may be elected during the second semester only if the student has a B+ average in the first semester and has no Incompletes at the time of registering for EGL 615. A proposal for an EGL 615 course should be submitted in writing to the faculty member under whose direction the student plans to study. This proposal must be submitted before the end of the semester previous to that in which the student will register for EGL 615. The proposal must be approved in writing by both the directing faculty member and the graduate program committee of the English Department before the student registers for EGL 615.

C. Language Requirements
Students must demonstrate the ability to translate writings of moderate difficulty in one language other than English appropriate to the area of study and hence the ability to make use of relevant literary and scholarly writings in this language. Students can satisfy this requirement in three ways:

Option I: By obtaining a grade of B or higher in a 500-level reading/translation course or other  graduate course offered in a foreign language or literature. Language courses offered at other institutions will need the approval of the Graduate Program Director to fulfill this requirement.

Option II: By passing a translation exam (from the foreign language into English). Students may use a dictionary for this exam; passages will be set by examiners from other departments or from English. Contact the Graduate Program Director to arrange an exam.

Option III: By conducting research in, and translation of, a foreign language in the course of writing a seminar paper submitted in any 600-level course (including EGL 600, the Pro Seminar). Students who select this option must complete the appropriate form before submitting the paper, and their plan must be approved by both the instructor of the seminar and the Graduate Program Director.

The following languages are automatically accepted for fulfilling the language requirement: Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish. Other languages relevant to a student’s graduate program may be approved upon petition to the graduate program director.

Students will not be permitted to take the General Exam without first satisfying the language requirement.

D. Award of MA Degree to PhD Students

Students who enroll in the Doctoral Program in English who do not already have an M.A. degree are eligible to earn an M.A. in English. To receive an MA, the student must complete:

  1. 10 three-credit graduate courses with a 3.0 overall grade point average. At least one of these courses must be on a literary historical period before 1800. Only one may be an independent study (EGL 615).
  2. The language requirement for the doctoral program, described below.
  3. An MA thesis. Typically, the thesis will be a revision and expansion of a seminar paper, in response to the thesis advisor’s feedback. The student will not enroll in EGL 598: Thesis Research. Otherwise, the thesis requirements correspond to those for the MA program, described above.

E. General Examination
The general examination is a three-part, three-hour oral with three examiners. It must be taken by the end of the fifth semester in the program. The examination committee should be formed no later the fourth semester. The committee is composed of a chairperson selected by the student and two other faculty members appointed by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the chairperson.

Two parts of the examination must focus on different literary periods of approximately 100 years each, and the third will either address another literary period or engage a problem or area of special interest (e.g., a genre, issues, or a line of theoretical inquiry).

In consultation with their examiners, students will offer reading lists for this examination that outline the area of inquiry for each part of their exam. Because one of the purposes of the exam is to give students the opportunity to make sense of their lists, the period lists may or may not vary from the traditional literary historical divisions of the anthologies. Whereas one student may follow traditional texts for a literary period, another may choose to study noncanonical texts within a traditional chronological range, while another may redefine the range (e.g., 1750-1850 or 1850-1945 instead of the 18th century, 19th century, or 20th century).

In consultation with his or her chairperson, the student may choose to take this exam in two parts. All three committee members must sign all three of the reading lists at least one month prior to the examination. The student must submit to the Graduate Director the signed reading lists along with a memo, stating the names of the members on the committee, one month before the exam.

Taking this examination brings students a step closer to entering a profession in which one writes and publishes scholarship and constructs and teaches courses. To promote this kind of professional development, to facilitate students’ focus, and to enhance the conversations that make up the examinations:

1. For the first part, the student will submit to his or her committee, at least two weeks prior to the exam, a 15-30 page paper related to a particular period or problem area. In most cases, this will be a revised seminar paper, and will include a bibliography. The paper is not intended as additional work, but rather as a way for the student to organize an approach to one of the lists. During the exam, the paper will serve as a springboard for discussion of the entire period or area being examined.

2. For the second part, the student will submit to his or her committee, at least two weeks prior to the exam, a syllabus and bibliography of background reading for an advanced undergraduate course in a particular period or problem area. Questions regarding pedagogical and theoretical approach, as well as inquiries into criteria of selection and content, will help to initiate and focus discussion of the entire period or area being examined.

3. For the third part, the student may simply invite questions without using one of the above devices, or may submit another paper or syllabus (or some other piece of writing agreeable to the committee) as a means of generating and directing discussion of the entire list.

Each of the three parts will be judged separately as either pass or fail. Each failed part may be retaken one additional time, no later than a year after the original examination.

It is the responsibility of the examination committee chairperson to inform the Graduate Office in writing of the date, time, and place of the examination two weeks before the examination.

F. Dissertation Prospectus and Dissertation Prospectus Meeting 

The dissertation prospectus meeting is a discussion between the student and a three member faculty committee, including at least two members of the English department, chosen by the student. 

To schedule the meeting, the student must submit a form to the Graduate Office three weeks prior to the meeting date. The Graduate Office will then schedule a place for the meeting. 

At least three weeks before the meeting, the student must submit to the committee and the Graduate Office a written statement (the prospectus) of 1500-3000 words (i.e., 7-10 double-spaced pages) describing the dissertation project, with a bibliography of 5-10 double-spaced pages including a preliminary list of the primary and secondary texts that will form the foundation of the dissertation. 

The focus of the meeting will be the topic that the student has chosen for his or her dissertation along with the proposed plan for advancement to completion of the degree. Thus, the prospectus should embrace the various kinds of texts and the overarching method that the student will engage in order to begin writing the dissertation. The prospectus should not be thought of as a contract; both the prospectus and the meeting work toward the demonstration of a well-wrought initial account of the argument, methods, architecture, scope and scholarly contribution of the project, as it will be realized in the dissertation.

In order for the student to advance to candidacy, the prospectus must be approved by the committee and the student must submit to the chair of the committee a summary of the conversation at the dissertation prospectus meeting, highlighting the committee’s suggestions. The chair must approve this summary and forward it to the Graduate Office to be placed in the student’s file. If the prospectus is not approved, the student must schedule another dissertation prospectus meeting for a later date.

All the doctoral requirements described above must be completed before a student is allowed to schedule the prospectus meeting.

G. Advancement to Candidacy
After the approval of the prospectus and the summary of the meeting, the student is recommended to the dean of the Graduate School for advancement to candidacy.

H. Dissertation

The dissertation is a scholarly monograph of extended scope, written with the guidance of a committee composed of a Director and three readers. At least two of the committee members must be from the English department, and at least three must be from the University. One, the outside reader, must be from a different department at the University or from a different university.  

In order to establish the working arrangement between the student and the committee members, the semester after the Prospectus Meeting the student should have the director and the readers sign a contract supplied by the Graduate Office. On this contract, each Committee Member indicates whether he or she will read and comment on individual chapters or only on the completed dissertation. When the outside reader is identified, he or she should add his or her signature to the document or send an e-mail message indicating the method of response. 

At some point during the writing of the dissertation, the dissertation director will call a meeting of the student and all members of the committee with the exception of the outside reader. This meeting can serve to discuss specific chapters, the student’s overall progress, and any other issues as necessary. It will serve as a crucial opportunity to provide clear direction and advice. Either the student or the director can call additional such meetings, but one meeting is required by the program.

The Dissertation Committee must recommend acceptance of the dissertation before it can be approved by the Graduate School. Students will present the results of dissertation research at a colloquium (the Defense) convened for that purpose by the Department of English, which will be open to interested faculty and graduate students.

I. The Dissertation Defense
At least eight weeks before the Graduate School’s deadline for submitting the completed dissertation, the student will submit to his or her readers what is intended to be the final draft of the dissertation. No more than four weeks after that, if the readers have agreed that the dissertation is ready to be defended, the director will schedule the defense. (This is distinct from the actual acceptance of the dissertation, which can take place only at the defense itself.)

The defense is a formal presentation by the student of the results of the dissertation research at a colloquium convened for that purpose by the Department of English. It will be open to all interested Stony Brook University faculty and graduate students. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be present at the defense; outside readers may participate via videoconference.

J. Teaching Program
Training in teaching is stressed by the department, and every student should expect to teach as part of the doctoral program. Teaching assistants instruct in a variety of courses, introductions to poetry, fiction, drama, and composition, and assist in large lecture courses. An important part of the teaching experience is the Practicum in Teaching, required of all teaching assistants.

K. Residency Requirement
The Graduate School requires at least two consecutive semesters of full-time graduate study beyond the baccalaureate. Students will be considered in full-time residence during any semester in which they (1) are taking at least one 500-level course or 600-level seminar or are, in the opinion of the graduate program committee, properly preparing for the special field oral examination; (2) are holding no position other than that required under the teaching program; or (3) are registered for EGL 699 Dissertation Research or EGL 690, Directed Reading for Doctoral Candidates, for three, six, nine, or 12 credit hours, depending on the number of other courses being taken, and the teaching assignment. The total of all these credits and teaching hours is to be no more than 12 for G3, 9 for G4, and 6 for G5 students.

L. Time to Degree
Students are expected to complete the PhD in six years or less, meeting the benchmarks stipulated in the PhD Handbook, including:

  • By the end of second year
    • Required course work must be completed with a 3.50 GPA or better
    • Language requirement must be fulfilled
    • Three lists for General Exam must be submitted
  • By end of third year
    • General Exam completed (Fall)
    • Prospectus Meeting completed (Spring)
  • By end of sixth year
    • Dissertation defended

M. Advising and Review of Student’s Progress
Each incoming student will meet with an assigned advisor before the start of classes to plan his or her first semester’s coursework. The student will also meet with his or her advisor in November and May before pre-registration for each semester’s courses. Students will meet at least once each semester with advisors to plan their coursework.

Each spring semester, the graduate program committee will review each student’s progress and determine whether the student may proceed with doctoral studies, may continue if certain requirements are met, or may not continue in the doctoral program because of unsatisfactory work. In order to retain financial support, teaching assistants must maintain a 3.5 GPA, in addition to satisfying the program requirements described above.

Matters Pertaining to All Advanced Degrees in English

A. Extension of time limits: Extensions of time limits are granted at the discretion of the graduate program director of the department and the dean of the Graduate School and are normally for one semester at a time.

B. Incompletes: Faculty may choose to grant graduate students an Incomplete.  However, the Incomplete must be made up--the work must be submitted to the faculty member--on or before the beginning of the next semester.  Students who take Incompletes in the fall must finish their work before the first day of class in January, and those who take Incompletes in the spring must finish their work before the first day of class in September. Students who have special circumstances that justify having more time to make up the Incomplete should meet with the Graduate Director, then file a written request for an extension. The Graduate Director will make a decision on each case in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee.  

C. Graduate courses in the 500 series are open to all graduate students. Courses in the 600 series are normally open only to students admitted to study for the Ph.D. degree, although M.A. students with adequate preparation and background can sometimes be admitted with the permission of the instructor. All graduate courses normally carry three credits. Each course in the 500 and 600 series to be offered in a given semester will be described by the instructor in some detail in a special departmental announcement prepared and distributed toward the end of the semester prior to that in which it is to be offered. None of the courses numbered 690-699 (except for EGL 698, which is A-F), can be taken to satisfy the requirement of seven seminars as stated in the sections outlining course requirements for the English Department. Courses run through the School of Professional Development are not accepted for the requirements of the degree, except by prior approval of the Graduate Program Director. 

D. Advising: There are a number of problems that the preceding explanations make no attempt to cover; students are encouraged to raise individual questions about the graduate program with the graduate program director in English.