UMKC Catalog


Discipline Coordinator
Anthony Shiu Contact Information, (816) 235-5205,

Click here to see English faculty who are members of the doctoral faculty.

English is a discipline in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program administered by the School of Graduate Studies.

Note: The discipline-specific requirements listed here are in addition to the requirements listed in Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application Procedure and Minimum Criteria for Admission and Minimum Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements.

Discipline-Specific Admission Requirements

For new students selecting English as a discipline, admission will normally be for the fall term. Application dossiers must be complete by Jan. 15.

Applicants who select English as their primary discipline will be expected to have the M.A. in English or equivalent coursework as determined by the English department doctoral committee. Applicants who select English as a co-discipline should have completed a master's degree or equivalent coursework. In most cases, students will be expected to have completed, with a grade of B or better, 12 hours of English courses at the 300- or 400-level (or appropriate equivalents) that are approved by the English department doctoral committee.

An applicant who plans to pursue a degree with English as a discipline is required to provide the English department doctoral committee with the names of three individuals who are academically or professionally qualified to assess the applicant's ability to pursue doctoral work. References submitted to the School of Graduate Studies for admission to doctoral studies may be judged by the English department doctoral committee as sufficient evaluation, but the department reserves the right to request further information.

Applicants also are required to submit samples of written work to the English department doctoral committee. The applicant's narrative statement, submitted with the application form, should provide a well-focused justification of the proposed course of study that is compatible with the department's resources. Applicants should consult with the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. coordinator in English for advice on the preparation of the narrative. Applicants may also seek advice on the narrative from doctoral committee members with special expertise in the applicant's chosen fields of study.

Applications will be evaluated by a committee of the doctoral faculty in the English department; the committee will recommend to the department chair and dean of the School of Graduate Studies whether the applicant should be admitted. These English-specific requirements apply to all applicants intending to have English as primary discipline or co-discipline.

Students who expect to write a dissertation that draws primarily on research in English must apply for English as their primary discipline.

In cases where an applicant has not yet met the foreign language requirement or GRE scores are still pending, provisional admission may be recommended.


Alternate Admission Criteria

The department's required GRE score is independent of, and takes precedence over, the School of Graduate Studies' minimum of 1500 points.


Qualifying Requirements for Full Admission

In addition to the below criteria, the committee considers the applicant's writing sample, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and the overall viability of the applicant's proposed dissertation project.

English as Primary Discipline

GRE scores

Either (1) a general verbal score in the 60th percentile or better; or (2) a score in the 60th percentile or better in the English subject examination.

Relevant Foreign Language Skills

Applicants must demonstrate facility in a foreign language relevant to study in English. The language requirement will ordinarily be met by two years of satisfactory college-level language study. Students may be required to demonstrate additional language skills to undertake or complete their dissertations.

English as a Co-discipline

GRE scores

A general verbal score in the 60th percentile or better.

Foreign Language Skills

Demonstrate foreign language competence in the same manner as students with English as the primary discipline.


Suggested Compatible Co-disciplines

Curriculum and instruction, religious studies, and history.


Core Program Requirements

All students who list English as a discipline, whether as primary discipline or co-discipline, are required to take ENGLISH 5500, Introduction to Graduate Study in English or its equivalent.

Students admitted with English as the primary discipline are subject to the following requirements:


  • Only English courses numbered 400 or above will be accepted for the Ph.D. degree. Courses taken in other disciplines may be taken at the 300-level or above.
  • No grade below B in any course will be accepted to apply toward the Ph.D. degree.
  • In most cases, no more than one-third of coursework in English, exclusive of credit for dissertation work, that is classified as independent study will be accepted for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Students will be expected to complete the majority of their coursework at UMKC.
  • In certain cases, exceptions to these requirements may be allowed.

Other Discipline-Specific Special Requirements

For foreign language requirement, see "Qualifying Requirements for Full Admission" for this discipline.


Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

Before advancing to Ph.D. candidacy, students whose primary discipline is English will take three examinations: a written general examination, an oral interdisciplinary subject examination and a co-disciplinary examination. The examinations must be taken within a year of completing coursework. Prior to taking exams, students must have an assigned supervisory committee, an approved plan of study on file with the School of Graduate Studies and completed all required coursework. See Comprehensive Examination guidelines from the School of Graduate Studies for full details.

The general examination is a six hour exam, written in two three-hour sittings. This exam is administered by the English faculty on the supervisory committee, led by the chair of the committee. The subject examination is a two-hour oral interdisciplinary exam that is administered by the entire supervisory committee, led by the chair of the committee. The co-disciplinary exam will be administered by the co-disciplinary faculty on the supervisory committee.

Exam areas shall be designated at the time of the submission of the program of study. These may be changed only with the consent of the entire supervisory committee. Exam questions shall not be distributed in advance for either the general or subject examination. At least six months before the student plans to take his or her exams, the student shall notify committee members of his or her choice of areas/periods and submit a tentative reading list of primary and critical works for all examinations. The supervisory committee shall then meet to approve the areas, review the proposed reading list and address any oversights or imbalances.

The general examination consists of two parts, each covered in a three-hour sitting and each receiving equal weight. The examination is designed to test the breadth of the candidate's knowledge in the fields in question. The student will choose two areas in which he or she wishes to be examined, whether periods of literary history (e.g., British 19th century, American literature from 1865, British and American literature since 1945) or other areas of expertise (e.g., linguistics, history of the language, rhetoric, genre studies, literacy studies). The reading list, which is subject to the approval of the supervisory committee, should consist of works from the selected periods or areas of expertise which have achieved broad recognition or influence.

For the oral interdisciplinary subject examination, the student will prepare in advance, in the period specified above, a tentative reading list on the subject of the proposed dissertation for approval or revision by the supervisory committee. The subject examination will deal with current scholarship and methodology as well as with primary sources and other standard works in the field. The exam will be administered in a single two-hour sitting.

For students whose co-discipline is English, a single three-hour written examination will be designed in consultation with the coordinating discipline.

Doctoral Dissertation Requirement

The dissertation defense will be a one and a half hour discussion of the dissertation that includes all members of the Supervisory Committee. The majority of the committee must vote for approval of the dissertation in order for the student to graduate. See the School of Graduate Studies guidelines for further procedures and deadlines.