After much consultation and reflection, Rice University’s School of Humanities has decided to pause admissions to all five of its Ph.D. programs for one year. We do so as a robust response to the challenges of COVID-19, which has interrupted Humanities research in libraries, museums, and archives and all research travel.

This step will also allow us to offer additional financial support to our continuing Ph.D. students as they contend with these same challenges. Our commitment to graduate education in the Humanities remains unwavering. This one-year pause is, in fact, an expression of that commitment. We also recognize that the study of the Humanities is now, in the face of the multiple crises our society must confront, more relevant than ever.

We will reopen our application cycle in September 2021 for the class of 2022. Please feel free to correspond with us regarding your interest in our Ph.D. programs. We very much look forward to reviewing your application materials next year.


This page provides prospective students with an overview of the Graduate Program in English. Specifically, prospective students looking to learn more about program details, as well as resources and opportunities beyond the program, may find the following information helpful.

Course of Study

Students entering the program will generally have before them two full years of coursework, will take their preliminary exams and selected courses in their third year, and will spend the fourth and fifth years writing their dissertations.

In addition, students are required to provide service to the department as part of their program: in their first year, entering students will serve twice as research assistants to departmental faculty; in their second year, they will serve twice as teaching assistants for departmental courses; in their fourth year, students will teach a section of an introductory departmental course.

Year 1

Three courses and a research assistantship per semester

Year 2

Two-three courses and a teaching assistantship per semester

Year 3

ENGL 605 (Professional Writing), ENGL 510 (Pedagogy), and preliminary exams

Year 4

Dissertation prospectus and candidacy (by December) and independent teaching (one semester)

Year 5+

Dissertation work


Mentored Teaching Program

The Mentored Teaching Program is designed to provide support and resources for graduate student teaching at all stages of the program. Student move from teaching under direct faculty supervision to designing and teaching independent classes. Discussions on pedagogy are integrated into the curriculum at key moments.

While the department requires that students teach only one independent course, students can take advantage of competitive teaching opportunities inside and outside the department (extradepartmental opportunities are noted below in italics). By the time of graduation, most students will have served as the instructor of record for 3-4 courses.

Year 1

Students serve as Research Assistants (RAs) to faculty both semesters. Research assistantships are governed by the department's RA Rights and Responsibilities policy. Issues on the place of pedagogy in the university are addressed in English 600 and 610.

Students are eligible to serve as tutors in the Program in Writing and Communication (PWC). This is independent of the English department, although they employ many of our students. The PWC trains all of its tutors, TAs, and instructors (see below).

Year 2

Students serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) for undergrad courses (one each semester). Teaching assistantships are governed by the department's TA Rights and Responsibilities policy, which frames the TA experience as a learning experience for the student, and not, primarily as a grader for the faculty. TA supervisors are required to fill out an evaluation at the end of the semester; this goes into the student file and becomes part of the decision-making process about future competitive teaching opportunities. We also ask for special TA evaluations from the students. After a review of the evaluations, the graduate committee can require more supervised (TA) experience before the student can move on to independent teaching.

Students are eligible to TA for the PWC first-year seminar (FWIS) courses. Students, regardless of field of interest, may also apply to serve as Diana Hobby Editorial Fellows for the SEL (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900).

Year 3

Students teach an independent departmental course, usually ENGL 175, “Global Literatures in English.” Students have also taught “Literature and Medicine” and “Introduction to American Literature,” for example. A Faculty Teaching Mentor visits classes, provides feedback, and takes notes for a possible future teaching letter.

Students are eligible to TA for the PWC first-year seminar (FWIS) courses. Students, regardless of field of interest, may also apply to serve as Diana Hobby Editorial Fellows for the SEL (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900).

Year 4

Students teach an independent departmental course, usually ENGL 175, “Global Literatures in English.” Students have also taught “Literature and Medicine” and “Introduction to American Literature,” for example. A Faculty Teaching Mentor visits classes, provides feedback, and takes notes for a possible future teaching letter.

Students are eligible to TA for the PWC first-year seminar (FWIS) courses. Students, regardless of field of interest, may also apply to serve as Diana Hobby Editorial Fellows for the SEL (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900).

Year 5

No department teaching or research obligations. Depending on availability, the department may offer competitive co-teaching or replacement teaching opportunities.

Students are eligible to teach independent first-year seminar (FWIS) courses for the PWC. These are topical communication-intensive seminars; students and faculty propose courses in the spring for the following year. The PWC provides required training for graduate students in the form of a week-long late summer workshop.

Students can also apply for teaching opportunities through the Humanities Research Center (HRC).

Students may be invited to compete for replacement teaching opportunities, should the occasion arise. Students/faculty pairs might also be able to propose (usually unpaid) co-teaching opportunities. Both the replacement and co-teaching selection is the responsibility of the Graduate Committee.

Year 6

No department teaching or research obligations. Depending on availability, the department may offer competitive co-teaching or replacement teaching opportunities.

Students are eligible to teach independent first-year seminar (FWIS) courses for the PWC. These are topical communication-intensive seminars; students and faculty propose courses in the spring for the following year. The PWC provides required training for graduate students in the form of a week-long late summer workshop.

Students can also apply for teaching opportunities through the Humanities Research Center (HRC).

The PWC also offers competitive postdoctoral fellowships for those who their degrees by the end of the spring semester.


Financial Support

All students entering the Rice graduate program in English receive a five-year fellowship package, which includes an annual stipend and a tuition waiver. Continued support is contingent upon satisfactory progress in the program. Students still enrolled in the program after the fifth year pay reduced tuition, which can continue to be waived if a student secures additional fellowship funding, or a research or teaching assistantship.

Students also have a variety of opportunities for competitive sixth-year funding, based on teaching and research interests. Additionally, funding is available for travel to conferences and for summer research. Our students are regularly selected to receive additional support from interdisciplinary centers and programs.

Additional Funding Opportunities