Women’s Studies and English

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Recommended Progress


Language Requirements

Third Term Review


WS 891

Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal

Transferring Credits

Faculty of the Women’s Studies and English Doctoral Program

Recommended Progress

Please Note: This timeline notes typical progress through the program. Your schedule may be slightly different depending on when certain courses are offered.

First Year


  • WS 501—Proseminar in Women’s Studies
  • WS 601—Approaches to Feminist Scholarship
  • ENG 520—Introduction to Graduate Studies
  • 2 Electives in ENG or WS


  • WS 530—Feminist Theory
  • 2 Electives in ENG or WS
    • By the end of this term, you should also:
    • Complete at least one language requirement
    • Complete at least one WS elective
    • Complete at least one English 800-level

Second Year


  • Third-term Review
  • ENG 695—Pedagogy (may be continued)
  • 2 Electives in ENG or WS

English MA requirements should be met:

  • 30 total credits (GPA of B or higher)
  • 24 English credits (grades of B- or higher)
  • 6 WS credits (grades of B- or higher—cannot bring GPA below a B) (Women's Studies courses count as "cognates" toward the English MA)
  • Language requirement started (one advanced or one basic)


  • 3 Electives in ENG or WS
  • ENG 695 — Pedagogy (if continued from fall term, no registration required)
  • Prelim reading list due May 1

Candidacy requirements should be met by the end of August before year 3 begins:

  • Language requirement (one advanced or two basic)
  • 2 800-level English courses (of the 3 required)
  • Completed required coursework in both Women's Studies & English as outlined above
  • GPA of B or higher
  • 36 credits

Third Year


  • ENG or WS 990 (for pre-candidates) / 995 (for candidates)
  • ENG 993 — Pedagogical Training (1 credit)
  • One additional ENG or WS course (could be final 800-level course or WS elective)


  • ENG or WS 995
  • WS 891
  • Complete required courses (4 800-level courses incl. WS 891)
  • Prelim: oral exam (preferably by Jan. 31; no later than April 1)
  • Pre-prospectus due to English by April 1

Fourth Year

  • ENG or WS 995
  • Prospectus and bibliography due Sept 15
  • Register for and defend WS 891 by December 15

Fifth Year

  • ENG or WS 995
  • Continue work on the dissertation

Sixth Year

  • ENG or WS 995
  • Jobseekers program and job search
  • Complete dissertation


The Women's Studies Director of Graduate Studies is the primary advisor for first-year Joint PhD students. It is recommended that first-year students consult with the Graduate Director at least once a term. The DPC liaison is considered a secondary advisor for first-year students. This person is familiar with both sets of requirements and should also be helpful in constructing a joint program.

In English, students choose an advisor their first year. The English 520 (Introduction to Graduate Studies) instructor is also considered to be an English advisor.

All fourth and fifth year students will be advised by their dissertation chairs. In all years, the WS Graduate Director continues to be an important resource.

Language Requirements

PhD students in English & Women's Studies cannot advance to candidacy without meeting the language requirement for their program.

Students must demonstrate either a basic proficiency in two foreign languages or an advanced proficiency in one. These requirements may be satisfied by doing coursework here or by passing a departmental examination (graded on a pass/fail basis). If a student's native language is one other than English, but English is the student's primary language (i.e., the language of schooling), that student may take either a basic or an advanced examination in the native language. If a student's primary language is not English, the English Department can waive the advanced examination, thus fulfilling the language requirement for that student.

Basic proficiency is equivalent to four semesters of college course work; advanced proficiency is equivalent to six or more semesters of college course work.

The language requirements must be satisfied on campus by the end of the student's second year of study. You may not transfer language credits from another institution or from an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan to satisfy your graduate language requirement(s).

Third Term Review

Students in English and Women's Studies are reviewed in their third term. The main purpose of the third term review is to provide helpful advice about the student's course of study and professional goals. A sub-committee is constituted of 4 faculty, including the English Third Term Review Committee Chair, at least one person affiliated with English and Women's Studies, one affiliated with English and one affiliated with Women's Studies. Consultation between the graduate chairs of English and Women's Studies will determine the appointed committee members. This sub-committee meets individually with each joint student. Then this sub-committee meets with the entire English Third Term Review committee; lingering issues are discussed and a report is sent to the student. Students are invited to discuss the report with either or both grad chairs.

Written evaluations are collected from each instructor who has taught the student. The student is asked to submit:

  • An unrevised seminar paper
  • A statement about progress and future interests

Any recommendation that the student not continue in the joint program must be approved by both the English Department Third Term Review Committee and the Women’s Studies Doctoral Programs Committee.


The student composes an interdisciplinary committee consisting of four members with at least:

  • One faculty member affiliated with Women’s Studies
  • One faculty member affiliated with English
  • One faculty member with relevant expertise from any department

Joint WS and English students follow the guidelines for English Language and Literature prelims, which consist of two parts: a 2-hour oral exam on two fields, taken preferably by January 31 and no later than April 1 of the third year; this is followed by WS 891 (which counts as the fourth 800-level course and replaces ENG 992, see English Dept Handbook), defended in Fall term of the fourth year.

Fields are considered two broad areas in which students are committed to doing major research and teaching, which take the form of a reading list. They are areas in which the candidate:

  • will do research during and after the dissertation period
  • will consider an area of expertise as a teacher
  • will be proficient in order to interview for jobs

WS 891

WS 891 is an interdisciplinary seminar paper meant to integrate learning in English and Women’s Studies and focuses on a topic pertinent to the dissertation. It also serves as an 800-level seminar. The student writes the paper under the guidance of a committee (which may be the same as the prelim committee) composed of at least 3 members:

  • One member affiliated with Women's Studies
  • One member affiliated with English
  • One member with relevant expertise from any department

WS 891 is complete when it has been defended in a 2 hour oral examination.

Winter term of the third year, the student registers for 3 credits of WS 891 and drafts a seminar paper. The student signs up under the INDI (individual instruction) number of the committee chair and receives a "Y" ("extended course").

Fall term of the fourth year, the student registers for an additional 3 credits of WS 891 and the seminar paper is revised. By the end of the term, it is defended in a two hour oral exam with the whole committee. The "Y" is converted to a grade.

The prelim oral exam in English must be completed preferably by January 31st (but no later than April 1st) of the third year and WS 891 by December of the fourth year.

Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal

The prospectus is a student's proposal or plan for dissertation research and writing. Please file a copy of your prospectus with the Women's Studies Graduate Office. In English, the prospectus is typically a typed document of 10 to 20 double-spaced pages. It defines the subject, central question and methodological approach to the dissertation topic, including the importance of the proposed work to advancing the understanding of the discipline. It should relate the proposed research project to previous literature on the question and include a bibliography. It might also include a chapter plan and/or a tentative timetable. The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation chair and turned into the English Graduate Office by September 15 of the fourth year.

See also: Department of English website

Transferring Credits

All proposals to satisfy program requirements using coursework from a program outside University of Michigan must be discussed with the Director of Graduate Studies in both Women's Studies and your department. Graduate credits may be transferred to Master's degree programs only. However, although course credits cannot be transferred to your PhD program, graduate work done elsewhere may be used to satisfy certain requirements but will not appear on the University transcript.

In English, you may transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours for English courses taken at other institutions, not used as credit toward another degree. These credits may not satisfy 800-level seminar requirements unless approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in both Women's Studies and the English department. Transfer credits may not be used to satisfy the language requirement. Students may not transfer credit prior to posting their MA at Michigan. Paperwork to transfer credits should be submitted at the same time as the application for the Michigan MA is submitted.

Faculty of the Women’s Studies and English Doctoral Program

The faculty listed below are all eligible to serve as representatives of Women’s Studies for purposes of advising and graduate student committee service.  If you have any questions about a faculty member’s eligibility, please consult the Director of Graduate Studies.


Sandra Gunning
David Halperin
Anne Herrmann
June Howard
Petra Kuppers
Adela Pinch
Sidonie Smith
Valerie Traub
Patsy Yaeger

Associate Professors

Cathy Sanok
Megan Sweeney
Ruby Tapia
Andrea Zemgulys

Assistant Professors

Victor Mendoza

Other Unaffiliated Gender Studies Faculty

Anita Norich
Alisse Portnoy
Johanna (Yopie) Prins
Anne Ruggles-Gere
Terri Tinkle

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