Explore Courses

A Literary Odyssey: Explore PhD in English Literature Programs Abroad!

Updated on 12 December, 2023

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

For aspiring scholars of the English language, the allure of a PhD abroad is undeniable. From the hallowed halls of Oxford and Cambridge to the vibrant literary scenes of Paris and Florence, pursuing such a degree offers unparalleled access to world-renowned scholars, unique research opportunities, and a chance to immerse in a new cultural landscape. Choosing to pursue a PhD in English Literature abroad is a transformative decision indeed.

Best Countries to Study PhD in English Literature

It's important to pick wisely while pursuing a PhD in English Literature abroad since every country has its unique blend of research possibilities, academic brilliance, and cultural richness.


With some of the most prominent colleges in the world and a long tradition of literary contributions, it is a global literary powerhouse. The UK offers a favorable environment for exploring both classic and modern literature, in addition to offering access to vast literary archives and a lively academic community.

United States of America: 

The US boasts a robust higher education system, with a multitude of universities offering cutting-edge research facilities and interdisciplinary programs in English Literature. The US academic landscape encourages innovative research and provides opportunities to engage with diverse literary traditions.


Canada is increasingly becoming a preferred destination for PhD candidates in English Literature. The country's inclusive learning environments, emphasis on multicultural literature, and strong support for research endeavors make it an attractive choice. 


Birthplace of literary greats like Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce, Ireland offers a special environment for English literature doctoral study. The nation is renowned for emphasizing both classic and modern literary studies, having small class numbers, and having a supportive academic environment. . 

New Zealand: 

New Zealand offers a refreshing academic experience for PhD candidates in English Literature. With its stunning landscapes and a strong emphasis on indigenous and Pacific literature, New Zealand provides a unique perspective for literary studies.

Each of these countries presents a distinct academic and cultural landscape, allowing PhD candidates to tailor their research to specific interests within English Literature.

Best Universities to Study PhD in English Literature

According to the "Open Doors Report" by the Institute of International Education, the US alone witnessed a notable 1.5% increase in international students pursuing humanities and arts doctorate programs. Graduates can pursue careers in academia, publishing, writing, and research.  

Numerous universities are offering top-notch PhD in English Literature abroad. A few of the best universities are mentioned below:

UniversityProgram Details
Harvard UniversityThe English Department offers a PhD program in American Literature and Language.
Stanford UniversityThe university places a strong emphasis on literary theory and interdisciplinary research, fostering a diverse scholarly environment. 
University of CambridgeIt has a wide-ranging program covering literature from the Middle Ages to the present day.
University of OxfordIt provides an in-depth study of literature from the medieval period to the present, offering a rich historical perspective. 
University of California, BerkeleyThe English Department at Berkeley focuses on literary theory and interdisciplinary research, contributing to a vibrant intellectual community.
University of ChicagoPhD program in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago covers a wide range of literature from the medieval period to the present.
Yale UniversityThe English Department at Yale University offers a PhD program in English, spanning a diverse range of literature from the medieval period to the present.
Princeton UniversityPrinceton’s English Department provides a PhD program in English, covering literature from the medieval period to the present.
University of California, Los AngelesUCLA’s English Department offers a comprehensive program covering the literature from the medieval period to the present, encouraging interdisciplinary approaches.

Documents Required for PhD in English Literature Abroad

When applying for a PhD in English Literature abroad, it's essential to prepare a comprehensive set of documents to meet the requirements of the respective universities:

Writing Sample: 

The applicant must submit two 15-page papers in 12-point type with 1-inch margins, in double-spaced, 12-point type. Rather than creative writing, the writing samples should demonstrate critical writing skills directly related to English.

Statement of Purpose: 

The statement of purpose is not a personal statement, and it should not be filled with personal anecdotes. It should be no longer than 1,000 words. Admissions committees should be able to see clearly what the applicants' interests and strengths are.


All international applicants (whose primary language is not English) must submit official TOEFL (minimum score 100) and/or TSE scores via ETS.


No specific prerequisites are required for admission, but students who lack a strong language background will need to fill these gaps during their first two years of graduate study.


It is more important for a candidate to have an average of no lower than A- in literature (and related) courses.

Letters of Recommendation:  

A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required from faculty members or others who are qualified to assess the quality of the academic work and the potential for teaching. Letters of recommendation must be submitted online by the deadline for applications.

How to Apply

Applying for a PhD in English Literature abroad involves a strategic and meticulous process. Follow these essential steps:

  • Research and Choose Institutions: 

Explore universities renowned for their English Literature programs. Consider faculty expertise, research facilities, and program structure.

  • Check Eligibility Requirements: 

Review each university's eligibility criteria, including academic qualifications, language proficiency tests (such as IELTS or TOEFL), and any specific prerequisites.

  • Prepare Required Documents:

Gather necessary documents, including academic transcripts, CVs, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and any additional materials specified by the chosen institutions.

  • Take Language Proficiency Tests: 

If required, schedule and take English language proficiency tests. Ensure your scores meet the minimum requirements of the selected universities.

  • Submit Online Applications: 

Complete online application forms on the universities' official websites. Upload all required documents, paying attention to specific guidelines and deadlines.

  • Prepare for Interviews: 

Some institutions may require interviews as part of the selection process. Familiarize yourself with potential interview questions and be ready to discuss your research interests.

  • Apply for Scholarships: 

Explore available scholarships and apply for financial aid to support your studies. Check eligibility criteria and deadlines for scholarship applications.

  • Monitor Application Status: 

Keep track of your application status through the university portals. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information.

By meticulously following these steps, you enhance your chances of a successful application and embark on a rewarding PhD journey in English Literature abroad.


Pursuing a PhD in English Literature abroad promises a transformative academic journey, as evidenced by the increasing global interest in humanities and arts doctorate programs. With diverse opportunities in academia, publishing, writing, and research, graduates are well-equipped for a fulfilling future. The selection of top universities, meticulous document preparation, and strategic application steps are essential for a successful PhD application. 


What is a PhD in English Literature abroad?

A PhD in English Literature abroad is an advanced doctoral program focused on literary theory, history, and criticism. Opting for this international academic journey opens up opportunities in academia, publishing, writing, and research, offering a rewarding and transformative experience.

Which countries are considered ideal for undertaking a PhD in English Literature abroad?

The optimal countries for pursuing a PhD in English Literature encompass the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Each presents a distinctive academic and cultural setting, enabling candidates to customize their research based on specific interests in the field.

What documents are necessary to pursue a PhD in English Literature abroad?

Required documents encompass transcripts, a completed application form, a comprehensive resume, letters of recommendation, English language proficiency test scores, a statement of purpose, GRE or relevant test results, passport-sized photographs, and an outline detailing the proposed research project.

How to initiate the application process for a PhD in English Literature abroad?

To commence the application process, it is essential to research and select institutions, review eligibility criteria, compile necessary documents, complete language proficiency tests, submit online applications, prepare for potential interviews, seek scholarships, and regularly check application status through university portals to ensure a successful application journey.

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

See More

Refer Your Friend & Earn upto ₹15000

Help your friend upgrade to a Global Career and earn rewards together.