The following is from the 2007 edition of SMU Research Magazine

English Ph.D. fully funds candidates

As the English Department welcomes its first class of Ph.D. students, it is providing all of them something few other universities can: full funding for up to six years.

“Our financial packages may be, in real dollar terms, the most generous in the U.S.,” says Ezra Greenspan, English chair and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities. “Most programs don’t guarantee every student a fellowship, and certainly no tone that lasts the duration of the program.”

Dennis Foster, director of Graduate Studies, says the English Department could provide a model for funding other Dedman College graduate programs with its stipends, which demonstrate the University’s strong commitment to research.

 “Because these candidates won’t have to worry about finances, they’re going to have a moment unlike any other in their lives to read, write, research and take huge strides toward becoming professionals in this discipline,” says Foster, also the D.D. Frensley Professor of English.

The program’s structure and curriculum, which follows a “generalist” philosophy, Greenspan says.
That means students are starting out broadly with core courses in American and English literary criticism and practice and a teaching practicum, and will specialize in seminars as they begin work on formal examinations and dissertations.

“The seminars will be based on the expertise of the faculty, and that’s where students will learn how to be scholars in their chosen fields,” Foster says. Because only six candidates will be admitted each year, faculty will closely monitor their progress.

In developing the program over the past several years, the department looked at numerous other universities, worked with a consultant from Tulane, and carefully weighed its own strengths, which include close working relationships among faculty and undergraduates, says Greenspan. And although the process has demanded a lot of input from everyone, he says, it also has invigorated the department for the changes ahead.

For more information, visit the English Department’s Web site:

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