Our advanced-degree programs in English Literature/Film and Writing Studies are designed to provide students with the training in research and teaching they need to obtain academic jobs. However, because of the very limited number of tenure-track faculty positions at colleges and universities today, especially after the 2008 economic crash, our department has pursued career development both in and beyond higher education. For more information about the declining number of tenure-track jobs since 2008, students should consult the Modern Language Association’s recent report on the topic.
Current graduate students on the job market can find detailed information on the graduate student resources page.
Academic Job Placement Services
We continue to place our literature and film Ph.D.s in tenure-track jobs in levels consistent with peer institutions and are especially pleased to report that nearly every one of our recent Writing Studies Ph.D.s has been offered a tenure-track position. Other graduates have found positions as visiting assistant professors, postdocs, lecturers and instructors. Our students succeed because of their strong teaching records and cutting-edge research.
Because academia is increasingly shifting away from tenure-track and towards temporary positions, prospective students should be aware that the academic job search is now a multi-year process for English Ph.D.s across the nation. It can therefore take some of our students up to three years to secure an academic position. To best prepare them for the academic job market, our program has crafted an extensive job placement service. A dedicated Job Placement Director helps our graduates, both MAs and PhDs, create effective applications, including services such as hosting workshops, providing individualized feedback on application materials, coordinating efforts by faculty to help job-seekers, giving advice about letters of recommendation and interviewing, arranging practice interview sessions, and so on to help our graduates in their job search. These services are generally offered to graduate students in the last year or two of their enrollment in the program (Stage III), and begin in May or June, lasting through the fall and spring semesters.
Graduate College Resources
The University of Illinois has been at the forefront of helping humanities doctoral students gain the experience necessary for jobs beyond institutions of higher education, and the guidance to apply for them. The English Department has established recurring colloquia for career trajectories outside of tenure-track teaching positions, bringing successful alumni to speak about their experiences and how they pursued them.
The Graduate College has general Career Services open to all students enrolled in our graduate programs. Our students have found the workshops tailored to those pursuing a PhDs in the Humanities especially helpful, particularly the seminar "What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?" offered periodically by Derek Attig. Humanities Without Walls, run out of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, has also become a conduit for students seeking to gain work experience and explore jobs beyond higher education.
Graduate College staff members are also involved in the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC) and helped launch Imagine PhD, a free digital career exploration tool specifically designed for PhD students in the humanities and social sciences.