Learn more about how to apply to the PhD in Literature at Ball State or request more information

Doctoral students in this program are encouraged to develop expertise in literature as both a historical and an evolving practice. 

Faculty have a wide range of interests and expertise, spanning the traditional historical periods and cross-disciplinary fields like queer and feminist theory, film studies, disability studies, and literary biography.

Because specializations are delineated by students, recent doctoral students have concentrated in a variety of fields, including transatlantic modernism, United States ethnic literatures, and the long 18th century.

The doctorate in English with a concentration in literature prepares mature scholar/teachers to enter college or university teaching or to accept professional positions in business, industry, or allied fields where the highest levels of analytical and communications skills are required. Relevant master’s course work may be transferred to the degree.

Degree Requirements

PhD in English with Concentration in Literature, 90 credits

ENG 601 Research in English Studies (literature) 3
ENG 605 English Teaching of English in Higher Education (taken once as "Composition" and a second time as "Literature") 6
ENG 606 Literary Theory 1
ENG 607 Literary Theory 2 3
ENG 693 Writing in the Profession 3
DISS 799 Doctoral Dissertation 18


3 credits in each of the following areas—must include at least 3 credits of American literature:

British literature to 1500


British/American literature 1500-1700
British/American literature 1700-1800
British/American literature 1800-1900
Literature 1900-present

One course in one of the following areas:

American ethnic studies


Gender studies
International studies

Directed electives:

At least 15 hours of electives in courses chosen in consultation with advisor 15
Electives: 24
Total Credits 90

Comprehensive Examinations
At the completion of coursework, students take written comprehensive examinations. Oral examinations follow the written exams.

Candidates for the PhD must complete a dissertation on an original topic under the guidance of a committee of faculty. The dissertation requires 18 hours of credit in DISS 799.

Foreign Language
Before writing their comprehensive examinations, candidates must establish competence in one language other than English relevant to their research.


Recent Dissertations

Carrie Duke

Gardens in the Margins: Spaces of Healing in American Literature and Culture

Abdullah Hasan

Trespassing Borderlines: Gender and the West in North African Literature

Jason Parks

“A Kind of Higher Journalism”: Eugene Jolas, the New Mythos, and transition (1927-1938)

Nichole Peña

“Subject to all passions”: Representing Women’s Emotions in Early Modern English Drama

Kathleen E. Champlin

The Body in Heaven and Hell: Capitalism and Embodied Difference in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, Marge Piercy’s He, She and It, Octavia Butler’s Parable Series and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of the Dead

Imad Khawaldeh

Subversive Yet Redressive: Recalling the Past in Postcolonial Drama

Rachel Burke

The Spaces of Sex: Perversion, Performance, and Place in Literature Between the Wars