PhD

Graduate Coordinators

Prof. Susan Handelman,susan.handelman@biu.ac.il
Prof. Jeffrey Perl,Jeffrey.Perl@biu.ac.il
Dr. Yael Shapira - assistant coordinator (shapira.yael@biu.ac.il)
 
 

Applying for the Ph.D. program in Literature - Instructions

If you wish to apply to our Ph.D. program in literature, here is what you should do:

First, scroll down on this page to read about the Ph.D. program.

If you wish to apply, please write to the Graduate Coordinator, Prof. Susan Handelman (susan.handelman@biu.ac.il), with a copy to the secretary for graduate studies. Mrs. Channa Redner (rednerc@mail.biu.ac.il). Your application should include the following:

  1. Documentation for your previous academic degrees, including transcripts of your grades.
  2. A separate list of all the courses you've taken in English and American literature, with grades.
  3. A writing sample of an academic essay in English -- preferably on a topic in literature. If you wrote an MA thesis in Literature, please include a chapter as your writing sample.
  4. A short (up to one page) statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue a doctoral degree in English.

Studying for a Ph.D.: Frequently Asked Questions

What is involved in studying for a PhD in Literature and where does it lead?

The student who enrolls in a PhD program at Bar-Ilan is primarily interested in completing an independent and original research project. The dissertation (approximately 150-250 pages) is the focus of this project. The seminars you take will give you time to identify and explore your own interests and meet English Department faculty members. As soon as possible, you will need to choose a dissertation director. The graduate coordinators can help you find a director who will then guide you in the preparation of a dissertation proposal. (See below for a description of how one writes a dissertation proposal.)

Given the state of the academic job market, it is realistic to assume that only a very small percentage of those who complete a PhD in English will go on to become university professors. However, graduates of our Department are now teaching at various Israeli colleges. Many of them are involved in the higher levels of administration and teacher-training in prestigious high schools and the Ministry of Education.

Click here to learn about the research that some of our Ph.D. and M.A. students are doing.

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Who is eligible for the PhD program in Literature?

In order to get accepted to the PhD. program  students need a minimum grade average of 87 in their MA degree.The PhD program normally accepts students with an MA in English Literature for which they have written an MA thesis.

Exceptions are sometimes made for students who hold an MA in a field other than English Literature, but have an undergraduate English major. Students who have never studied English literature as a major subject may also sometimes be admitted, on the condition that they make up necessary literature courses and demonstrate the high level of writing and research ability required for a Ph.D.

All applicants who do not have a BA and MA in English literature must therefore expect to take an intensive program of background courses (hashlamot). It is only on the basis of performance in these courses, as well as a research paper equivalent to an MA thesis (avoda shvat erech), that the graduate committee can decide whether to accept a student as a Ph.D. candidate.


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What are the particular strengths of our department?

The Literature division is especially strong in the areas of Early Modern British Literature (1500-1800), nineteenth-century American literature, modern British and American Literature, literary theory, and Jewish Studies. We encourage and try to accommodate interdisciplinary research. Each student constructs his or her own program in consultation with an advisor, and may include (for example) course work or independent research in psychology, history, Jewish studies, cultural studies (including art history), hermeneutics, philosophy, and gender studies. We offer a wide range of graduate-level seminars (numbers in the 7xx and 8xx-9xx range) reflecting our faculty’s diverse areas of expertise.

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Timing: How long does it take to complete a PhD?

The coordinators of the graduate programs in Literature will be happy to correspond by e-mail and/or meet with all prospective graduate students, after you've read the information on these pages. Personal contact is the best way to explore the possibilities for you in our department. You are welcome to come to campus and attend a seminar or two, and we will be happy to put you in touch with current or former students.

Work toward a PhD is normally completed within four or five years, although holders of Presidential Scholarships must finish within four years. Most students in the program hold jobs (though teachers will usually try to arrange a sabbatical to be taken when they reach the stage of writing the dissertation). To combine outside work with PhD study is very demanding, but the rewards are great. We'll be happy to put you in touch with some of our current or past students if you want to find out more about the life of a doctoral student.

Students normally finish their coursework within the first year or year and a half, and begin working on their proposal in the second semester of the first year. They are expected to submit the proposal one year after the date of acceptance to the program. Students work closely with their advisors toward this end, while reading extensively.

 

Guidelines for submitting a Ph.D. Proposal
More on How to Write a Ph.D. Proposal 
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Proposal Submission

After the proposal is approved by the advisor the student first submits three hard copies and one electronic copy to the department and fills out the accompanying form. The proposal is then sent out to two readers suggested by the advisor, one a Bar-Ilan faculty member and one from another university. If corrections are required, the proposal is returned to the student, who revises it and writes a letter to the PhD committee referring to the revisions requested and how they were done, one by one. A short email is written by the student's advisor to the effect that the revisions were made to his or her satisfaction. The student then submits one copy and a CD with the proposal as an MS-Word file to the department. If there are two advisors, a letter of explanation is required by the Chair off the Department. The proposal, reader evaluations, accompanying form, student’s letter addressing any required revisions, and an email from the advisor approving them are then forwarded to the Humanities Faculty, which must approve it as well. Once the proposal is approved, the Faculty forwards it with all accompanying materials to the PhD Committee for final approval. The student, the advisor, and the department will receive a letter from the PhD Committee informing them of its approval or of further requests for changes.

Please note that if the proposal is based on the student’s master’s thesis, two copies of the thesis have to be submitted as well.

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Ph.D. Dissertation

The Ph.D dissertation, when completed and approved by the advisor, is then submitted for approval to the university’s PhD committee. The committee solicits anonymous reviews from two outside reviewers. This process usually takes from two to six months.

Format Guidelines

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What are the course requirements?

PhD students take a total of five graduate seminars including 829 -- Literary Conversations: Introduction to Advanced Studies in Literature and 919 -- Advanced Academic Reading and Writing, if this was not already taken as part of their MA degree,

A number grade is required in two seminars, and in 829 and 919 if taken; the rest can be “pass” grades. According to the university regulations, the minimum grade counted towards a degree is 60. PhD Students in the English Department, however, must maintain an average of 80 to remain in the program.

All PhD students must sign up for at least one seminar each semester until their proposal is submitted, even if they have fulfilled the requirement of five seminars as specified above.

 

University requirements in Basic Jewish Studies

Students who have their BA and MA degrees from Bar-Ilan are not required to take any further Jewish Studies courses. Students who have only one of their previous degrees from Bar-Ilan are required to take one further course (two yearly hours or four hours one semester = two credits), and students who have never studied at Bar-Ilan must take two courses (double the above)  in Jewish studies.

 

What are the writing requirements?

PhD students must write seminar papers in two of their courses. A seminar paper is between 17 and 20 pages in length, and provides evidence of a student's ability to do independent research. Expectations will differ for different courses, and students are expected to consult with instructors on topics and approaches. The instructor sets the due date for the paper and the grading criteria. Permission to submit a late paper is not automatic. Both the instructor and the PhD Committee have to agree.

In their other courses, students are expected to participate fully and meet the instructor's requirements. At the end of the course, they will receive a "pass" grade without being required to write a final paper (though some instructors may ask for certain kinds of work to be done in the course of the semester).

Students are responsible for keeping track of how many long papers they owe.

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Financial Aid and Assistantships

Every year one or two of our best students are supported by Presidential Fellowships, which provide four years of support plus a remission of tuition fees. Students who accept this scholarship must commit themselves to full-time study. Extra work is limited to no more than four hours a week, with permission of the fellowship committee. Candidates can only apply before submitting applications to the PhD committee.

The University Scholarship committee grants awards on the basis of academic merit and financial need. Unfortunately, these awards are not announced until after enrollment and  first payments are made.

 

Can I talk to someone about possibilities?

The graduate coordinators (see e-mail addresses at the top of this page) will be glad to correspond with you about your individual issues. If you have the time, they would be glad to meet you on campus where you can sit in on some classes and talk to currently enrolled students.

 

How do I apply?

The English Department will want to see a copy of your MA thesis while considering the application for a PhD.

Students can register online on the Bar Ilan website.

Applications for the PhD program are also available at the Vaada l'Toar Shlishi, Bldg. 403 Sunday-Thursday from 9:00 to 13:00 (closed Wednesdays ). They will mail the packet to you upon request (call the office: 03-531-8556). . Application forms can be purchased as well at Academon the University book store.
 

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