Department of English

Graduate

PhD Program

Policies for Extra Credit and Courses

  1. Language Courses. PhD students are permitted to take an undergraduate language course (100 level or 200 level) at the University of Rochester to help them prepare for the Language Exam. This course will not be a part of the program of study, but will, once approved, be covered by tuition scholarship. To request the use of tuition scholarship for these language preparation courses, you must submit an Add/Drop form to the Graduate Studies Office (because these are undergraduate courses, you cannot register for them on-line) with an explanation that these courses will be used for preparation for the Language Exam. This will allow you to enroll in the undergraduate course without having to pay for the credit. These credits will be in addition to the graduate credits allowed (90 total graduate credits) and required (60 graduate course credits for English).
    1. This also applies to summer undergraduate language course offerings.
    2. Remember that your dissertation in any particular language course is always at the discretion of the instructor or (in Modern Language and Cultures) the faculty assigned to sort through your level of language proficiency.
  2. Bridging Courses. If you and your advisor agree that a 100-level undergraduate course outside of the English Department is necessary to support your graduate program of study, please forward a short rationale to the Director of Graduate Studies in English (with your advisor’s email or paper mail signature); the Director will apply to the Arts, Sciences and Engineering Dean of Graduate Studies for “Bridging Course” approval. This will allow you to enroll in the undergraduate course without having to pay for the credit. These credits will be in addition to the graduate credits allowed (90 total graduate credits) and required (60 graduate course credits for English).
    1. This also applies to summer undergraduate course offerings.
    2. Please remember that a Bridging Course is specifically for another department’s undergraduate offerings at the 100 level when you would not qualify to enroll in that department’s graduate courses.
    3. This is likely to be a very unusual request, given the nature of graduate study in English, but might be attractive to a small number of students whose dissertation work in English requires instruction outside of the humanities (for instance, introductory computer expertise for a digital humanities emphasis in our department).
  3. Total Number of Course Credits. 60 graduate course credits is the minimum required by English but not the maximum. What does this mean in practice? You may take courses beyond the usual 60 graduate course credits required by English (and Cindy will explain how you swap them out for some of the 30 research credits that generally kick in after you complete your regular course taking; your program of study typically lists 60 course credits and 30 research credits).
    1. Bottom line: You and your advisor should decide what is best for your program of study; the added paperwork is our problem (the dean’s office, the department office) and should not affect your decision-making.
    2. This also means that you are allowed to continue to take courses, if you and your dissertation director think it makes sense, after you have completed the Qualifying Exams. This is not an option that everyone will find attractive, and, yes, for some it could turn into a distraction from dissertation writing. But you and your advisor know best what is in your intellectual interests. For instance, if there is a course from time to time that is particularly relevant to your developing dissertation emphases, that wasn’t offered during your first few years of graduate study, or that is offered by a newly hired or visiting faculty member, you might keep this option in mind.
  4. Exceeding the 90 Total Credits. You may petition to receive tuition scholarship beyond 90 credits. This would tend to happen fairly late in your graduate career, during your dissertation writing, if you want to enroll in a graduate course after using up your 90 total credits. In some departments, this also occurs when students opt for an internship; that doesn’t seem likely in our case. You and your advisor will need to submit a short rationale to the Director of Graduate Studies who will then forward a request to the Arts, Sciences and Engineering Dean of Graduate Studies. This request for additional tuition scholarship typically will be approved if the additional course credits will enhance your current program of study. Tuition scholarship for these additional course credits will not be approved if you are using those credits to obtain an additional degree.
  5. Exceeding the 16-credit per Semester Cap. You may request permission from the Dean to enroll in more than 16 credits per semester. If approved, you will not incur additional fees for these additional credits. I caution that, as you know, graduate seminars are quite demanding in their reading and semester-end papers. In most cases, the 16-credit cap is quite reasonable. But, again, you and your advisor are best able to assess what makes sense from semester to semester. You also should keep in mind that 16 credits is already an overload for students who are teaching; the dean is aware that teaching requires a significant time commitment and is not likely to approve more than 16 credits for a student who is teaching.

Please remember that we are adhering to rules long in place in our department’s Graduate Handbook. We expect you to complete the Language Exam no later than the end of your second year of study and the Qualifying Exam no later than the end of your third year of study. The course taking options outlined above should not interfere with this schedule. You and your advisor simply have even greater flexibility to craft throughout your years as a graduate student the program of study that serves you best.