University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Berkeley English Department offers a wide-ranging PhD program, engaging in all historical periods of British and American literature, Anglophone literature, and critical and cultural theory. The program aims to assure that students gain a broad knowledge of literature in English as well as the highly-developed skills in scholarship and criticism necessary to do solid and innovative work in their chosen specialized fields.

Please note that the department does not offer a master’s degree program or a degree program in Creative Writing. Students can, however, petition for an MA in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing upon completion of the PhD course requirements (one of which must be a graduate writing workshop) and submission of a body of creative work.

Students interested in combining a PhD in English with studies in another discipline may pursue designated emphases programs in Film Studies, Medieval Studies, and Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Visit Department Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements


The general goal of the first two years of the program is to assure that the student has a broad and varied knowledge of the fields of British and American literature in their historical dimensions, and also is familiar with a wide range of literary forms, critical approaches, and scholarly methods. A coherent demonstration of this knowledge is the aim of the course requirement, the breadth requirement, and the system of regular advising and evaluation of student work.  At the end of the two‑year period, the student's record is reviewed in its entirety in order to ascertain whether he or she is able and ready to proceed to the qualifying examination and the more specialized phase of PhD study.

Students will complete twelve graduate-level courses, and remove all incomplete grades, before taking the qualifying examination. (A required thirteenth course in reading and composition pedagogy may be taken later.) If a student has not previously completed a college course in Shakespeare, such a course (graduate or upper division) must be taken at Berkeley. If the Shakespeare course has been taken prior to enrollment at Berkeley, credit for this course counts as one of a maximum of three classes for which a student can get graduate level course credit (see page 3 of the Graduate Study in English handbook, PDF). The distribution of the 12 courses is as follows:

Problems in the Study of Literature [4]
Medieval through 16th-Century (British)
17th- through 18th-Century (British and/or American)
19th-Century (British, American and/or Anglophone)
20th-Century (British, American and/or Anglophone)
A course organized in terms other than chronological coverage (special problems, theory, minority discourse, etc.,)
Electives: Six courses



Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


+ Elizabeth Abel, Professor. Feminist theory, psychoanalysis, Virginia Woolf, race and gender.
Research Profile

Charles F. Altieri, Professor. Literature and the visual arts, Wittgenstein, Modern American poetry, Contemporary American poetry, history of aesthetic philosophy.
Research Profile

Oliver Arnold, Associate Professor.

Stephen Michael Best, Associate Professor. Film, English literature, African American literature, literary culture, legal culture.
Research Profile

C. D. Blanton, Associate Professor. Modernism, modern poetry, 19th- and 20th-century British literature, aesthetic and critical theory.
Research Profile

+ Mitchell Breitwieser, Professor. American literature, philosophy and religion.
Research Profile

Mark D. Danner, Professor. Central America, politics, Balkans, foreign affairs, journalism, Haiti, documentaries.
Research Profile

+ Kathleen Donegan, Associate Professor. Colonial America, early America, Native America, early Caribbean.
Research Profile

+ Ian Duncan, Professor. English, the novel, British literature 1750-1900, Scottish literature, history and theory of fiction, Scottish enlightenment/romanticism, Scott, literature and the human sciences, Darwin.
Research Profile

Nadia Ellis, Associate Professor. Black diaspora literature and culture, queer studies, the city.
Research Profile

Eric Falci, Associate Professor. 20th-Century Irish and British literature, contemporary Irish and British poetry, poetry and music.
Research Profile

Catherine Flynn, Associate Professor. Modernism, Irish, British, comparative literature, critical theory, Avant-Gardes, James Joyce, Flann O'Brien.
Research Profile

Anne-Lise Francois, Associate Professor. Popular culture, English, comparative literature, the modern period, comparative romanticisms; lyric poetry; the psychological novel, novel of manners; gender, critical theory; literature, philosophy; fashion.
Research Profile

Joshua Gang, Assistant Professor. 20th- and 21st-century British literature, literature and the sciences of mind, literature and the history of philosophy (especially mind and language), modernism, contemporary literature, literary history, literary theory and criticism.
Research Profile

Cecil S. Giscombe, Professor.

Mark A. Goble, Associate Professor.

+ Steven Goldsmith, Professor.

Amanda Jo Goldstein, Assistant Professor. Poetry, 18th- and 19th-Century British Literature, Critical Theory.
Research Profile

Marcial Gonzalez, Associate Professor. Chicano and Chicana literature, twentieth-century American ethnic literatures, theory of the novel, marxism, critical theory, farm worker social movements.
Research Profile

+ Kevis Goodman, Associate Professor. 18th-century and Romantic British literature, Milton, literature and the history of science, especially medicine.
Research Profile

Dorothy J. Hale, Professor. English literature, American literature, the novel, narrative theory, critical theory, Henry James, William Faulkner, the modern novel of consciousness.
Research Profile

Kristin Hanson, Associate Professor. Linguistics, English, poetry, meter, rhyme, and alliteration, phonological theory, English grammar and usage.
Research Profile

Robert L. Hass, Professor. English, poetry, poetry writing, American poetry, history of the short poem in English, contemporary literature, translation, environmental writing, literature and the environment, the natural history tradition in American writing.
Research Profile

Lyn Hejinian, Professor. English, American literature, poetry writing, translation, modernist and postmodern literature, American postwar experimental literature, Gertrude Stein, the objectivists, language writing, Soviet Russian poetry, small press publishing, feminism.
Research Profile

Abdul R. Janmohamed, Professor. Critical theory; theory of subjection; postcolonial literature, culture, and theory; African American fiction; and minority discourse.
Research Profile

Donna V. Jones, Associate Professor. Critical theory, English, modernism, literature and philosophy, literature of the Americas, literature of the African Diaspora, postcolonial literature and theory, narrative and historiography.
Research Profile

Steven Justice, Professor. English, late medieval literature, medieval Latin, Chaucer, hagiography, Latin religious thought, literary criticism.
Research Profile

Victoria Kahn, Professor. Rhetoric, comparative literature, Renaissance literature, poetics, early modern political theory, the Frankfurt School.
Research Profile

+ Jeffrey Knapp, Professor. Religion, nationalism, theater, English literature, Shakespeare, English renaissance, Spenser, drama, imperialism, epic poetry, authorship, mass entertainment.
Research Profile

David Landreth, Associate Professor. English Renaissance literature 1500-1660.
Research Profile

Celeste Langan, Associate Professor. English, romantic poetry, 19th century literature, Wordsworth, Carlyle, Hardy, Rousseau, the French Revolution, Marxist theory, literature and the social sciences.
Research Profile

Grace Lavery, Assistant Professor.

Steven Sunwoo Lee, Associate Professor. Twentieth-century American literature, comparative ethnic studies, diaspora, Soviet and post-Soviet studies.
Research Profile

Andrew Leong, Assistant Professor. Asian American and Transnational Asian Literatures and Cultures.

Colleen Lye, Associate Professor. Postcolonial theory, critical theory, cultural studies, Asian American literature, 20th and 21st century literature, world literature.
Research Profile

David Marno, Associate Professor.

Jennifer Miller, Associate Professor. English, philology, paleography, hagiography, medieval literature, literature in old and middle English, historiography, medieval rhetorical culture, insular political relations, multilingualism, translation and textual transmission, dialectology.
Research Profile

Maura Bridget Nolan, Associate Professor. Chaucer, drama, Middle English literature, Gower, Lydgate, medieval, 16th century, literary form, style.
Research Profile

Geoffrey O'Brien, Associate Professor. Modernism, Creative Writing, 20th and 21st century poetry and poetics.
Research Profile

Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, Professor. Old English language and literature, textual criticism, Medieval Studies.
Research Profile

Samuel Otter, Professor. English, African American literature, 19th century American literature, 17th and 18th century American literature, Herman Melville, race in American culture, literature and history, discourse and ideology, close reading.
Research Profile

Genaro M. Padilla, Professor. American literature, Chicano/Latino literary and cultural studies, American autobiography.
Research Profile

+ Joanna M. Picciotto, Associate Professor.

+ Kent Puckett, Professor. English, the novel, nineteenth-century British literature and literary theory, sociability, psychoanalysis and affect.
Research Profile

Poulomi Saha, Assistant Professor.

Scott Andrew Saul, Professor. English, African American studies, 20th century American literature and culture, performance studies, jazz studies, histories of the avante-garde.
Research Profile

+ Susan Schweik, Professor. Feminist theory, cultural studies, English, American poetry, disability studies, 20th-century poetry, literature and politics, war literature.
Research Profile

C. Namwali Serpell, Associate Professor. Theory, aesthetics, affect, ethics, uncertainty, the novel, film, 20th and 21st century Anglophone fiction, the face.
Research Profile

Katherine Snyder, Associate Professor. 19th- through 21st-century Literature in English, narrative and the novel, gender studies, post-traumatic and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Research Profile

Janet Linda Sorensen, Professor.

George A. Starr, Professor. 18th-century English literary, social and intellectual history; prose style; bibliography and textual criticism, literature of California and the west.
Research Profile

Elisa C. Tamarkin, Associate Professor. American literature to 1900.
Research Profile

James G. Turner, Professor. Gender, sexuality, English, 16th-18th-Century English, Italian and French literature, art and literature, 17th-Century political writing, landscape and the city, Enlightenment materialism, sexuality in Renaissance Italian art and Antiquity.
Research Profile

Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor. Critical theory, African American literature, historiography.
Research Profile

Hertha D. Sweet Wong, Associate Professor. English, American literature, native American literature, autobiography, ethnic American literature.
Research Profile

Dora Zhang, Assistant Professor. Critical theory, linguistics, narrative and the novel, 20th and 21st century Britain.
Research Profile


Melanie Abrams, Lecturer.

Vikram Chandra, Senior Lecturer SOE.

Thomas Farber, Senior Lecturer.

+ Georgina Kleege, Lecturer SOE.

John Shoptaw, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Joel B. Altman, Professor Emeritus. Rhetoric, Shakespeare, English renaissance, Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, history of literary theory.
Research Profile

Julia Bader, Professor Emeritus. Comedy, English novel, modern American literature, women writers, feminist criticism.
Research Profile

Ann Banfield, Professor Emeritus. Virginia Woolf, English, the novel, literary and linguistic theory, the industrial novel, recent French literary theory, literature and philosophy.
Research Profile

John Bishop, Professor Emeritus. Psychoanalysis, English, the novel, modernism, 20th-Century literature, Joyce, experimental fiction.
Research Profile

Robert Bloom, Professor Emeritus.

+ Stephen Booth, Professor Emeritus. English, aesthetics, Renaissance literature.
Research Profile

Carol T. Christ, Professor Emeritus.

+ Frederick Crews, Professor Emeritus.

Richard Feingold, Professor Emeritus.

+ Donald M. Friedman, Professor Emeritus.

Catherine Gallagher, Professor Emeritus. English, 19th century British literature, British novels, victorian non-fiction prose, British women's literature, history and literature of the victorians, history of the novel, Victorian popular culture.
Research Profile

Richard Hutson, Professor Emeritus. Literature.
Research Profile

Maxine Hong Kingston, Professor Emeritus.

Ojars Kratins, Professor Emeritus.

Donald McQuade, Professor Emeritus. English, advertising, 20th century American literature and culture, theory and practice of non-fiction, literature and popular culture, the American Renaissance, the essay as literature.
Research Profile

D.A. Miller, Professor Emeritus. The novel, gay and cultural studies, classic cinema, Hitchcock.
Research Profile

Alan H. Nelson, Professor Emeritus. English, history of drama, medieval and Renaissance English literature, English Corpus Christi plays, English morality plays, medieval art and literature, history of staging in the middle ages and renaissance, medieval and early Renaissance paleography.
Research Profile

John D. Niles, Professor Emeritus.

Raymond Oliver, Professor Emeritus.

Morton D. Paley, Professor Emeritus. British Romanticism, William Blake, literature and art.
Research Profile

Carolyn Porter, Professor Emeritus. English, American literature, American intellectual history, American Renaissance, Faulkner, James, Fitzgerald, Henry Adams, American Literature of the 1930s.
Research Profile

Ishmael Reed, Professor Emeritus.

+ Hugh M. Richmond, Professor Emeritus. Shakespeare, Theatre, Comparative Literature (European).
Research Profile

Peter Scott, Professor Emeritus.

Robert Tracy, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of English

322 Wheeler Hall

Phone: 510-642-3467

Fax: 510-642-8738

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Steven Justice, PhD

323 Wheeler Hall


Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Ken Mahru

319 Wheeler Hall

Phone: 510-643-2494


Back to Top