Preparing for ENGL 8830

Besides satisfying distribution requirements, doctoral course work enhances students' knowledge of two fields covered by the Dissertation Qualifying Exam and helps students develop a dissertation topic.


English 8830 is an independent study course that is designed to be doctoral students' final course.


English 8830 prepares doctoral students to take their DQEs, preferably the semester following English 8830, by providing them time to do the following:

  • Select a primary field of study, one that grounds the dissertation topic.
  • Select one contextual, secondary field of study, one that supports the primary field but is of broader scope. (For example, a dissertation on Toni Morrison might then have African American studies or gender studies or critical race studies as a contextual or secondary field.)
  • Read intensively in the primary and contextual/secondary fields of study.
  • Consult with their faculty advisors.
  • Construct research and writing plans for completing the DQE and the dissertation, including selecting a DQE committee.
  • Write two required documents (cf. below), during which time the students' thinking moves from posing a dissertation topic to asserting a dissertation thesis that enters an existing scholarly conversation. (Note: a thesis, of course, may be revised during the writing of a dissertation).


In 8830, students work closely with a faculty advisor and submit to that advisor by the end of the semester:

  • A dissertation outline in accordance with the Graduate School's Dissertation Outline Guidelines; this proposal includes a bibliography for the primary field of the dissertation, with the important primary and secondary texts listed.
  • An annotated bibliography in a contextual or secondary field of study, one that complements the more specific primary field. This bibliography for the contextual/secondary field covers both primary and secondary texts. Primary sources are annotated when their inclusion in the bibliography warrants explanation. All secondary sources are to be annotated.


In the semester prior to taking English 8830, students should:

  • Choose a field advisor who represents the primary field of concentration (i.e., the dissertation field). The field advisor may also serve as the dissertation director
  • Obtain a permission number from the department office in order to register.
  • Register via Checkmarq


To pass 8830, students must submit by the end of the 8830 semester and have approved by their faculty advisors completed drafts of (a) the dissertation outlines and (b) the secondary field annotated bibliographies. Faculty advisors may either pass the submitted course documents, pass them but require revisions, or fail them.

Next Step

Once a student has passed English 8830 and faculty advisors are satisfied with students' English 8830 documents, the documents should be disseminated to the DQE committee members to determine if all members agree that a DQE should be scheduled; DQEs are usually scheduled in the semester following English 8830; approval of the final drafts of dissertation outlines and secondary bibliographies comes as part of successful completion of the DQE.)