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. 

Job Placement Services

We continue to place our literature and film Ph.D.s in tenure-track jobs in levels consistent with peer institutions. We are especially pleased to report that nearly every one of our recent Writing Studies Ph.D.s has been offered a tenure-track position. Because academia is increasingly shifting away from tenure-track and towards temporary positions, other graduates of our program have found positions as visiting assistant professors, postdocs, lecturers and instructors. Students succeed because of their strong teaching records and cutting-edge research, and we help them pursue academic careers through our extensive departmental job placement service. Prospective students should be aware, however, 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.

The English graduate program offers a Placement Service designed to meet the needs of graduates seeking college teaching jobs. A dedicated Job Placement Director helps our graduates, both MAs and PhDs, to create effective applications. They provide individualized feedback on application materials, coordinate efforts by faculty to help job-seekers, give advice about letters of recommendation and interviewing, arrange practice interview sessions prior to the annual Modern Language Association Convention in the fall semester, and in all other ways help our graduates in their job search.

Graduate College Resources

The University of Illinois has been at the forefront of helping humanities doctoral students gain the experience necessary for jobs both in and beyond institutions of higher education, and the guidance to apply for them. The English Department has also established recurring colloquia for careers beyond the search for a tenure-track teaching position, bringing successful alumni back to describe their careers 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 aimed at Ph.D.’s in the Humanities especially helpful. Run out of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, Humanities Without Walls has become a conduit for students seeking to gain work experience and explore jobs beyond higher education.