Literature Ph.D.


The UC Santa Cruz doctoral program in literature offers an innovative multilingual and multidisciplinary approach to literary studies, involving the use of more than one language literature. The program is relatively small, and students work closely with faculty throughout their graduate careers. They are encouraged to take advantage of the rich array of intellectual and cultural events, research clusters, and lectures offered on campus.

The doctoral program combines critical and independent thought with global perspectives. Working across linguistic, national, and period boundaries, students blend critical approaches, literary traditions, and/or cultural archives in comparative and interdisciplinary projects.

A creative/critical writing concentration within the Ph.D. program is available, for which students apply during the admissions process. Creative/critical applicants submit additional creative writing samples of poetry, prose fiction, creative nonfiction or hybrid/cross genre. Students in the creative/critical concentration complete all the requirements for the literature Ph.D. with the addition of a creative/critical degree component in the form of coursework, original creative work with a critical introduction and, if desired, work in poetics, translation, form and/or critical writing focused on creative practices.

Students may apply for a designated emphasis on the literature doctoral diploma in programs and departments such as Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Education, Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, Latin American and Latino Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Sociology, and the History of Art and Visual Culture. Applications and requirements are available at the respective department offices.

Advancement to Candidacy

Course Requirements

  • LIT 200, Proseminar, to be taken in fall quarter of the first year;

  • LIT 201, Pedagogy of Teaching/Teaching Assistant Training, to be taken prior to or in conjunction with the first teaching assistant appointment;

  • Twelve additional courses leading to the definition of an area of concentration. At least two of these must be in a second-language literature; at least one must focus on pre-modern literature and culture. A minimum of six courses must be regularly scheduled Literature seminars;

  • LIT 291F, a two-credit advising course, each quarter.

LIT 200Proseminar


LIT 201The Pedagogy of Literature


LIT 291FAdvising


Second Language Requirements

The program requires significant literary work in two languages. All students are required to complete the Literature Department's intensive three-week Graduate Summer Language Program or its equivalent and a minimum of two graduate courses in a second-language literature in which 50 percent or more of the reading is done in the original language. The second literature must serve as a component of the qualifying examination.

Teaching Requirements

Students must complete at least three quarters of supervised teaching experience.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination must be taken by the first quarter of the fourth year. It consists of three components: 1. a portfolio with a field statement and comprehensive bibliography, a topic statement, a paper of publishable quality, and a dissertation sketch; 2. translation examination; and 3. oral examination.

Post-Qualifying Requirements

Students must submit a prospectus outlining and defining the dissertation project within a quarter following the qualifying examination, but no later than the end of the fourth year. The prospectus identifies the research problem, methodologies, and case studies, with chapter outlines, footnotes, and bibliography.

Non-Terminal Master’s Degree

A master of arts (M.A.) degree is conferred upon request to doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) candidates who have successfully completed the literature Ph.D. qualifying examination or who have completed the coursework required for the doctorate (teaching assistant training and supervised teaching experience exempted) and elect to write a master’s thesis under the supervision of a faculty advisor.



The dissertation is a substantial piece of original research in the field of literature, akin to a monograph.

A dissertation submitted for the Creative/Critical Concentration may take alternative forms:

  1. A book-length original creative project--novel, novella, collection of poems, collection of stories, creative nonfiction, or a hybrid/experimental form (including but not limited to digital/new media, performance/performativity/screenplay, the lyric essay) with a critical chapter or chapters totaling at least 75 pages exploring the historical, methodological, and/or theoretical foundations of the creative work; or
  2. A dissertation on theory, form, poetics or literary history; a translation of a creative work with a 30-50-page, substantive, critical introduction; a critical edition.

The dissertation committee is composed of three members, with the dissertation advisor acting as chair. The majority of the membership of a dissertation committee shall be members of the Santa Cruz Division of the Academic Senate.

Detailed instructions for the preparation of the dissertation are available on the Graduate Division website.

Academic Progress

To maintain satisfactory academic progress and eligibility for fellowships and other benefits, students must:

  • complete required coursework in the first two to three years;
  • satisfy the department’s second-language requirement;
  • pass the qualifying examination (QE) during the third year or fall quarter of the fourth year;
  • complete a dissertation prospectus and advance to candidacy by the end of the fourth year; and
  • complete the dissertation by the end of the seventh year.

Applying for Graduation

For information on how to apply for graduation, visit the Graduate Division website.

Further Information

Additional detailed information for prospective graduate students, including procedures for application and admission to graduate studies, examinations, and requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree, is available from the Division of Graduate Studies and on the department website.