Graduate Coordinator: Prof. WIlliam Kolbrener,

The program in English literature welcomes applications from potential PhD candidates who have
an MA degree, preferably in English literature, with a research thesis that received a grade of 90 and up (for more detailed information on entry requirements, see below).
Applications are evaluated by the Graduate Committee, and decisions are based on the applicant's academic background, writing ability and critical skills, as well as on the availability of an advisor in the applicant's chosen field.

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

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

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

Before your application can go to the Bar-Ilan University Graduate Committee, it needs to be approved by the Department of English Literature and Linguistics. Therefore, you must contact us first, before applying through the university's general online system. While PhD students can be admitted at any point during the academic year, students wishing to enroll in fall courses should apply to the department no later than July 31st, while students wishing to enroll in spring courses should apply to the department no later than December 31st.

1. Step One: Applications for the PhD program are processed through the Slideroom platform. If you wish to apply, please follow this link-

You will need the following materials prepared for uploading into the application system:

  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. The introduction and a sample chapter from your MA thesis.
  4. A short (up to one page) statement of purpose explaining why you want to pursue a doctoral degree in English and describing, in general terms, your desired area of research. As part of the admissions process, we will need to make sure that we have an available faculty advisor in your chosen field.

2. Step Two: Should you receive a notice from the Department of English Literature and Linguistics recommending your acceptance, you must then apply though the university's general online system at this link: You will also be asked to pay the application fee-


Studying for a Ph.D.: Frequently Asked Questions

What is involved in studying for a PhD in English 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 Department faculty members. As soon as possible, you will need to choose a dissertation director. The graduate coordinator 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 literature 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.

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Who is eligible for the PhD program in English Literature?

In order to get accepted to the PhD. program  students need to be holders of an MA degree with a research thesis that received a grade of 90 and up. The PhD program normally accepts students whose MA in English Literature. Exceptions are sometimes made for students who hold an MA in a field other than English Literature, but have an undergraduate English major.

In rare cases, students who have never studied English literature as a major subject are also 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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Timing: How long does it take to complete a PhD?

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 Department of English Literature and Linguistics, 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 coordinator of the graduate programs in Literature (see email address at the top of page) 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.