Graduate students take twelve courses over three years. One of these courses must be the departmental proseminar, usually taken in the student’s first semester; another must be an independent study course, taken in their third year.  Students also take at least one seminar focused on pre-1800 literature and one focused on global or minority literature.

The first and fourth years are typically supported by fellowship. During the second, third, and fifth years, students normally teach to earn their stipends; in the second year by serving as a teaching assistant for a lecture course, and in the third and fifth years by teaching expository writing. On some occasions, graduate students conduct undergraduate courses of their own design. Training and practice in teaching are regarded as an integral part of the graduate program.

Students are also expected to demonstrate proficiency in reading one foreign language (at the level of fluency) or two foreign languages (at the more modest level of competency). The language requirement may be satisfied either by course work (including summer courses offered at Johns Hopkins) or by written examination (for which students are expected to translate a paragraph with the aid of a dictionary).

Older Requirements

*Requirements for students who have entered the program prior to 2022 are available in the 2020-2021 Graduate Handbook.