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. . . about Graduate Studies in Composition and TESOL

What is the cost?

Please refer to the IUP Bursar’s office for up-to-date information on tuition and fees for graduate students.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Academic-year students may apply for a graduate assistantship. GA awards are decided in the Spring for the following academic year. Awards are decided according to program, academic performance, and background. Full assistantships carry a tuition waiver and a stipend of around $6,800 in return for assisting a professor with research or academic work for twenty hours per week. Most assistantships are awarded to entering Ph.D. students on a competitive basis (with a probability of a second-year award). Some international students are awarded a partial tuition waiver by the Office of International Affairs; students seeking this partial tuition waiver must contact the Office of International Affairs at 724-357-2295. Student loans are also available. To reach the Financial Aid Office, call 724-357-2218 or e-mail To read about support for C&T graduate students, please visit Financial Resources for C&T Students.

What accreditations are awarded to IUP?

IUP is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, IUP holds over twenty-five additional accreditations for specific programs.

Are graduate assistantships available for summer?

No, we do not offer assistantships in the summer.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. degree at IUP?

The School of Graduate Studies and Research (SGSR) allows students seven years from the date of matriculation to complete the Ph.D. The average length of time to complete the program is five years.

There are two options for attendance that effect the duration of your study. Students have the option of attending solely in the Summer semesters, or attending solely during the academic year (Fall and Spring semesters). Please refer to residency requirements.

What if I need more time?

As a basic rule, the seven-year timeline is not to be extended. Only under exceptional circumstances are one-year extensions permitted. Official documentation of the reason for the extension may be required. Students who have not successfully passed their three-chapter defense and earlier requirements will not be considered for a one-year extension. A student may contact the C&T program director prior to their seven-year time expiration limit if exceptional circumstances require the student to be considered for an extension. Extensions are discouraged, rare, and never automatically granted.

What is the dissertation registration policy?

All Ph.D. students who are beyond Qualifying Portfolio for Composition and TESOL and finished with coursework must register for at least one dissertation credit (ENGL 950) each Fall and Spring until graduation. Once you complete course work, you need to begin working on your dissertation and register for at least one credit of Dissertation each Fall and Spring semester (but not summer). Twelve hours of dissertation credit must be in place by the time you defend the dissertation. You will be able to register for any remaining credits in the semester you graduate. Tuition applies to all credits, but fees are reduced.

The policy may be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Be sure to check the official IUP Graduate Catalog for any updates to this policy.

Following completion of all course, language, and skill requirements and of the comprehensive
examination requirement where applicable, doctoral and M.F.A. students must enroll for at least one credit of dissertation or thesis each semester (Fall/Spring).

Once the student has registered for the number of dissertation credits required by their program of study (typically nine or twelve), or the number of thesis credits required by their program of study (typically three to six), she or he must register for one extended credit each semester (Fall and Spring) annually through the graduation of the student or until the time limit is exceeded (See Time Limitation Policy for doctoral or master’s students). For this period, the student will be considered a full-time doctoral or M.F.A. student.

Until the dissertation or thesis is successfully defended, a grade of “R” will be assigned to each registered credit. Upon successful completion of the dissertation or thesis, the grade assigned by the dissertation or thesis director will apply to all registered dissertation or thesis credits, including the extended credits. Students must pay tuition and mandatory university fees for all credits (equal to the part-time mandatory fees), and may choose to pay the Wellness Fee.

Grades earned for dissertation and thesis credits will remain part of the cumulative grade calculation; however, grades posted for extended credit registration will be excluded from the cumulative grade calculation.

Note: The Continuous Dissertation policy has been in place since 1990. Students failing to register as directed by this policy will be registered by their program coordinator and billed accordingly. If it is the doctoral or M.F.A. student’s intent to “quit” the program, he/she should schedule an appointment with the graduate coordinator as soon as possible to avoid any further registration and subsequent assessment.


Are any tests required for admission, like the GRE or TOEFL?

We do not require the GRE examination. International applicants are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) taken no more than one year prior to the expected date of enrollment. TOEFL scores are required even when the student has earned a master’s degree from a college or university in the U.S.

We look for a minimum TOEFL score of 600 paper-based (PBT), 250 computer-based (CBT), or 100 internet-based (iBT) and a minimum TWE (Test of Written English) score of 5.0. IELTS score must be at least 6.0 to be considered and a 6.5 to be competitive.

Do I need to be proficient in a foreign language?

The Ph.D. program in Composition and TESOL does not have a foreign language requirement.

How many courses do I have to take?

The Ph.D. Program in Compostion and TESOL requires 36 credit hours of course work. After course work is completed, students must enroll for 12 hours of dissertation. Ph.D. students must enroll for at least one credit hour of dissertation each semester until they graduate.

For what courses should I register in my first semester?

Students should follow the guidelines of their specific programs before registering. For the Composition and TESOL program, these courses are ENGL 800: Introduction to Research, ENGL 825: Second Language Literacy, and ENGL 833: Theories of Composition. If you encounter any difficulties registering for these three courses in your first semester, please contact the program director for a possible registration override.

How many courses can I take each semester?

Our graduate programs are full-time, and students are advised to take nine semester hours (three courses) each semester. This totals 18 credit hours for the academic year. In the summer, a full load is six hours in each five-week session. This totals 12 credits each summer. Please refer to residency requirements.

May I combine the C&T and L&C doctoral programs?

While there are open electives built into each program to allow students to customize their program to fit their needs, each program has limited numbers and courses that can be taken outside of the program. Any open electives should be approved by the program director.

May I transfer courses?

The Composition and TESOL Ph.D. program does not accept transfer credits.

Are there any online courses?

At this time, only ENGL 724/824 Second Language Acquisition is offered online.

How do I fulfill the residency requirement?

Only the Ph.D. programs have a residency requirement. Essentially, there are two ways to fulfill the residency requirement: 1) three consecutive full-time academic-year semesters OR 2) two consecutive full-time summers. Please refer to residency requirements.

How does the summer residency work?

Each student who elects to meet his/her residency in the summers-only program must register for 12-15 credits per summer for two consecutive summers. The summers are divided into two four-week sessions. Students must register for two courses in each four-week session. In order to complete all course work, a student may elect to take a third summer, transfer one or two courses (depending on the progam), and take up to two independent seminars (depending on the program). A combinations of these options is also allowed.

What are the dining options?

Graduate students have a variety of choices for meals on and around campus. We recommend that you consider at least a partial meal plan on campus if you are coming for our summer program. Studying in the summer is intense; not having to shop, cook, and clean can help with time management. There are many restaurants within walking distance to campus. Meal plans are affordable, and some plans allow you to use your I-card for restaurants near campus. More information about meal plans can be obtained from the Housing and Residence Life Office: 724- 357-2696 or by e-mail at

For information on meal plans, consult the IUP Bursar’s office.

Where do graduate students live?

Graduate students may choose to live on campus, but most prefer to live off campus. Surrounding campus are a number of accommodations ranging from dorm-style living to apartment living (both furnished and unfurnished). Information about housing, both on campus and off campus, can be obtained from the Housing and Residence Life Office at 724-357-2696 or by e-mail at There is also a link to off-campus housing available at the Office of Housing and Residence Life website. English Department graduate students may also contact the Graduate English Office secretary for a list of housing options.

How will my transcript describe the degree?

When a Ph.D. in English – Composition and TESOL degree is awarded, the transcript will show the following (this is an example only):

Degree/Certificate Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy dd-mm-yyyy
Major: English
Maj/Concentration: Composition and TESOL