In order to fulfill the basic requirements for the program, a student must:
1. Complete twelve courses – six courses with at least one grade of Honors and a maximum of one grade of Pass by July 15 following the first year; at least twelve courses with grades of Honors in at least four of these courses and not more than one Pass by July 15 following the second year. One of these twelve courses must be The Teaching of English (ENGL 990). Courses selected must include one Medieval, one Early Modern, one eighteenth- and/or nineteenth-century, one twentieth- and/or twenty-first century.
2. Satisfy the language requirement in one of three ways by the end of the second year (see details below).
3. Pass the oral examination before or as early as possible in the fifth term of residence. The exam consists of questions on five topics, developed by the student in consultation with examiners and subject to approval by the DGS.
4. Submit a ten-page dissertation prospectus, normally by January 15 of the third year.
5. Teach a minimum of two terms.
6. Submit a dissertation.
Upon completion of all predissertation requirements, including the prospectus, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. Admission to candidacy must take place by the end of the third year of study.
Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program may receive the M.A. upon completion of six courses with at least one grade of Honors and a maximum of one grade of Pass, and the passing of two of the languages by departmental examinations.
Students enrolled in the terminal Master’s degree program must complete either seven term courses or six term courses and a special project within the English department (one or two of these courses may be taken in other departments with approval of the director of graduate studies). There must be at least one grade of Honors, and there may not be more than one grade of Pass. Students must also pass examinations in two languages, ancient or modern. Full-time students normally complete the program in one year.
The Yale English Department maintains more rigorous language requirements than many other graduate programs, based on the belief that all students (with few exceptions) should have basic knowledge of one of the classical languages and sufficient reading knowledge to be able to conduct international research in their subjects of specialization. Latin or Greek is considered necessary for students specializing in periods before 1750. The language requirements should be completed by the end of the second year in one of three ways:
1. Two languages, by course and exam: one language to be completed by passing an advanced literature course at Yale (graduate or upper-level undergraduate course taught in and requiring papers in the language in question) with a grade of Honors or High Pass; the other to be passed by departmental exam (reading knowledge with dictionary).
2. Two languages by exam: strong reading knowledge of one language, as demonstrated by passing a departmental exam without use of a dictionary; reading knowledge of a second language, demonstrated by passing a departmental exam with dictionary.
3. Three languages by departmental exam or, in the case of an ancient language, by satisfactory completion of two terms of introductory Latin or Greek (GREK 110-111 or LATN 110-111): Languages to be selected from the following: (a) Latin or Greek; (b) French or German; (c) one of the preceding languages or Biblical Hebrew, Italian, Russian, Spanish, or another language agreed upon by the director of graduate studies (DGS). Students specializing in periods after 1750 may, with the permission of the DGS, substitute a third language for selection (a). Two terms of Old English (or one term of Old English and one of the History of the Language) may be substituted for selection (c). The three-language requirement is to be completed by passing two exams by the end of the first year and the third by the end of the second year.