Graduate Program Overview

The Graduate Program in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers the MA and PhD for students interested in Literature Studies, Creative Writing, and Composition and Rhetoric. Competitive assistantships at the MA level give students the opportunity to work with the Prairie Schooner, The Walt Whitman Archive, or the Cather Project, or to assist faculty who are planning national conferences or working on research projects. Teaching Assistantships, which are available to Ph.D. and 2nd-year MA students, give students the opportunity to teach first-year and other classes. See Financial Aid section below for highly information on assistantships.

PhD Program

The PhD program offers a highly individualized program of study. Early in their studies, students choose a Supervisory Committee of four Graduate Faculty Fellows to advise them and help them shape their programs. With their committee members, students develop a program of course work, two reading lists for their comprehensive exams, and plans to meet foreign language requirements. The Supervisory Committee also guides students in choosing and developing a dissertation topic and writing the dissertation. The PhD program consists of 90 hours beyond the BA. The usual program is 24-30 hours of course work beyond the MA, plus a maximum of 30 hours of dissertation credit. The department accepts up to 36 hours of MA credit as part of the PhD degree.

PhD in Creative Writing

As is true of all PhD students, those in Creative Writing develop a program of coursework, reading lists for two comprehensive exams, and plans to meet foreign language requirements in consultation with a self-selected Supervisory Committee. Students in Creative Writing do a creative dissertation which can be a book of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novel, a collection of essays, or a multi-genre work.

For more detailed information about the PhD Program, download the PhD Handbook.

The Department of English also offers interdepartmental graduate certificates at the PhD level in the following areas of specialization: Ethnic Studies, Great Plains Studies, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Nineteenth-Century Studies, Teaching of Writing, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Financial Aid DEADLINE:

December 9 is the deadline for admission and assistantship consideration for the following academic year (August through May).

There are no additional materials required to apply for departmental assistantships. Simply check the box on the admissions application! All of our assistantships provide tuition remission, health insurance, and a competitive stipend.

PhD

Department Assistantships:

Students who are admitted directly into the PhD program with a BA are eligible for up to 6 years of funding. The funding for the first year will normally be a Reading Assistantship as described above on the MA page of the website. The second and succeeding years of funding will be a Teaching Assistantship.

Students who enter the PhD program with an MA or MFA are eligible for up to 5 years of funding as Teaching Assistants. Teaching Assistants teach 2 sections of first-year composition each semester during their first year of teaching. We support new TAs with a required weeklong teaching workshop the week before classes begin, and a seminar in Composition Theory and Practice during the fall semester. After their first year, some TAs also get the opportunity to tutor in the Writing Center, while others are eligible to teach literature or creative writing courses. There are some opportunities for summer teaching as well.

PhD students also have the opportunity for special assistantships with the Walt Whitman Archive, the monograph series Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, or as Associate Coordinator of the Writing Center.

Students who do not receive department assistantships on admission can compete for Renewable Teaching Assistantships after their first year in the program. Many students are supported on Renewable TAs for the remainder of their academic programs. Stipends and benefits are the same as for other TAs. Please note that the number of Renewable Teaching Assistantships we are able to award varies from year to year and that in a typical year not all PhD students who apply for Renewable Teaching Assistantships are awarded them.

Assistantship Package:

For 2011-2012, the TA stipend is $16,000 plus tuition remission (either out-of-state or in-state) for the regular academic year and summer. Each year, some of our incoming students are awarded $8000 Othmer Fellowships on top of their TA stipends, some are awarded $4000 Chancellors Fellowships, and some students receive Summer Graduate Research grants for $3000 each. The TA award includes health insurance, but does not cover books and student fees.

Other Assistantships and Fellowships:

Each year the English Department awards several fellowships to graduate students. PhD students are eligible for the following recruitment fellowships: Othmer Fellowships, Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellowships, Centennial Fellowships, Card Fellowships (awarded to students in composition and rhetoric), Pulos Fellowships (awarded to students in nineteenth-century British literature), Stuff Fellowships, McPhee Fellowships, and Edgren Tuition Fellowships. PhD students are also eligible for the Van Sickle Fellowship in creative writing, Stuff Retention Fellowships, and Stuff Dissertation Fellowships (which award the student a one course release from their TA duties). In their second year PhD students are eligible for fellowships through Graduate Studies.

Our PhD students have also obtained assistantships which provide tuition remission plus a stipend in Women’s and Gender Studies, Graduate Studies, Student Involvement, the Great Plains Quarterly, and the journal Great Plains Research. Others teach at local community and 4-year colleges.