In 1994, the English Department and the Program in Women's Studies created a new joint PhD designed to serve the needs of students whose interests combine both disciplines. Building on the strengths and resources of the English Department and Women's Studies, students have the opportunity to work out an interdisciplinary approach to a research problem from an early point in their training, and benefit from the kind of interdisciplinary mentorship that is necessary to develop and complete an interdisciplinary dissertation.
The curriculum is structured similarly to the English Language and Literature PhD, but with the substitution of several core and other Women's Studies courses for English requirements. These include a course on Theories of Feminism and one on Approaches to Feminist Scholarship, plus at least three additional Women's Studies courses. In the first term of the second year, the student's career will be reviewed to provide direction, counseling, and an early professional orientation. By the end of their second year, students are required to meet a foreign language requirement of reading knowledge in one relevant language at an advanced level, or of two languages at a basic level. During the third year, students complete their preliminary examination, an oral exam based on two reading lists which define the student's fields of professional expertise. An Interdisciplinary Program Committee approves a student's four-member dissertation committee, comprised of at least one faculty member from each discipline, and the dissertation prospectus. The fourth through sixth years of the program are spent writing the dissertation.
All applications to the joint program are reviewed by both the English Department and Women's Studies. Application materials should be sent to the Program in Women's Studies. The GRE English subject test is not required for joint applicants. Financial support is a six-year package similar to that for English PhD students, which includes full tuition for six years, a first and fifth year fellowship free of teaching duties, and appointments as a Graduate Student Instructor in English and/or Women's Studies in years two through four. A sixth year of funding is provided through a range of competitive dissertation fellowships or a GSI appointment.