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Summer Doctoral Institute (SDI)

The Summer Doctoral Institute offers courses during the summer school session that will enable part-time students to schedule a full-time load, which is 6 hours in the summer. Full-time students are also eligible to take courses in the institute on either a part-time or full-time basis. The SDI facilitates programmatic needs such as community building, research development, and faculty-student interaction. Therefore, the PhD program requires that online students attend two SDIs across two summers. Local students are also encouraged to register and participate, as the English Graduate Organization has extracurricular planning as part of the SDI's program.

The institute operates as follows: for each course, students participate online for two weeks, followed by two weeks of on-campus instruction, followed by two additional weeks via electronic means. The three options for completing each SDI are as follows:

  • Completing both classes offered during SDI.
  • Completing one SDI class and any other English doctoral course offered in the summer session. You may take a class outside of English only if that course satisfies specific programmatic requirements such as the Research Competency.
  • Completing one SDI class and one ENGL 897 (Independent Study) that has an on-campus study component as part of the course schedule (subject to approval)

The two-week long on-campus instruction portion typically takes place in early or mid July. During that time, students stay in the dormitories on campus. Specific information about the upcoming SDI will be emailed to students around the end of each Spring semester.

Tips for Attending SDI

On this map you will find several important locations for SDI circled (right click on the image of the map and select 'open image in new tab' if the text on the image is too small to read). Circled locations include:

  • The dormitory area where you will stay if you choose to stay on campus (leftmost circled area): The exact dorm where SDI attendees will stay each year may change, but it will be in this general area of campus.
  • Parking garage F (upper-right circled area): The nearest parking garage to the dorms. Although there are short-term parking lots closer to the dorms that you may use when unloading your car, long-term/overnight parking will require you to park in a parking garage. Contact ODU parking services for more information about summer parking passes.
  • Batten Arts and Letters (BAL) building (rightmost circled area): All SDI classes are held in this building.
  • Perry Library (directly to the left of BAL): Plenty of space to work on the first floor. You can also reserve a private room for blocks of time if you need a space to meet for group work.Einstein Bros. Bagels is located on the first floor for any caffeine pick-me-ups you might need.

A full, interactive ODU campus map can be found here.

Most students who attend SDI will stay in the dorms on campus during the two-week on-campus portion. Typically, several months in advance, the GPD will ask for all students who plan to attend SDI to respond via email their intent to attend. The GPD will then contact Housing and Residence Life at ODU and arrange for a group of rooms to be reserved together in one dorm (although sometimes SDI attendees will be on different floors or in different dorms due to other summer events on ODU's campus).

Information and pricing about on-campus housing during the summer can be found here.

The dorms are suite-style which share a common area and bathrooms. The dorms also include a kitchenette area with microwave, stove, and sink, as well as laundry facilities with coin-operated machines. Linen packages are available at an additional fee. Linen packages include a pillow, comforter/blanket, flat sheet, fitted sheet, washcloth, towel and bathmat. Linens are exchanged every seven days.

Some SDI attendees choose to forego staying in the dorms and make their own housing arrangements via local hotels or Airbnb. If you choose this option, you will be responsible for making all of your own housing arrangements.

Here are some tips from former SDI attendees on how to get the most out of SDI...and maybe how to avoid a some extra headaches.

Work/Life Balance

"Network like there's no tomorrow. Spend time with local veterans of the program, any professor you can catch for a quick minute or longer conversation, and each other. Do lunch, dinner, coffee, study gatherings, games, drinks, and other network-y things. Some of these will be colleagues who you'll collaborate with on conference panels and publications, and you never know what connection will be the one to land a future job." -D.H.

"Seek to find a balance between academic work and social events- attend some but don't feel like you have to do all of the things, try to invite someone a year or two ahead of you out to lunch to see where you should be going in the program (or pay it forward and invite someone else out), find out in advance if there are faculty members you can interview while on campus. Visit the turtle pond, go to a beach, take Old Dominion selfies." -N.H.

"Find 'your place' on campus early. I loved trekking to the top floor of the library and spending the day there with my laptop and readings. No one EVER goes up there in the summer! It has a delicious musty book smell, and you can camp right next to the bathroom." -A.H.

Dorm Life

"If staying in a dorm room, you might want to include a small fan on your packing list. SDI occurs during some of the hottest days of the year in Virginia, and the air conditioning does not always keep up." -T.H.

"I complained a couple of times last year about there being no bathmat included with linens. I had one the first year I went. They refused to give me one. I ended up buying an extra towel at Wal-Mart for a couple of bucks." -M.B.

"Fan for noise is also helpful. My room was next to the garbage dumpster, so the truck got there EARLY every morning. . . unintentional alarm clock." -T.H.

"If you are short be aware that the dorm beds are jacked up high and there are no step stools. I put the mattress on the floor and slept under the bedframe, since I have arthritis in my knees." -S.M.


Umbrellas can be used for sun or rain- and rain can = flooding." -N.H.

"I did the adjunct rolly bag thing, and will again. It carried my materials and alllllllll the sunscreen." -H.H.

"Bring a refillable water bottle. And 7-11 gives free slurpees on 7/11. Norfolk has 7-11s the way most towns have Starbucks." -N.H.

An ODU university identification card is a must for all Old Dominion University students and should be carried at all times while on campus. The card, which identifies you as a currently enrolled student, also entitles you to various other privileges and potential uses on and off campus.

University ID cards may be obtained prior to arriving for SDI by following the steps outlined on the ODU Card Center website. If you would prefer to wait until you arrive on campus, you can visit the University Card Center once you arrive. There is no cost for your first student ID card.

Uses of your university ID card include:

Whether you are a serious athlete or just love working up a good sweat, ODU provides facilities and events for everyone to enjoy and participate in physical and wellness activities. The Student Recreation Center is open 6 a.m. to midnight most days of the week so you can get your run in before class in the morning or shoot some hoops with your friends in the evening. The University Fitness Center, over in the Village on Monarch Way, offers our members a convenient, secondary fitness facility on the other side of campus.

Campus Parking

Information about parking on ODU's campus can be found here, with specific prices of summer parking passes available here. It is possible that ODU Parking Services has a cheaper, temporary option for parking passes that is not listed on the website. It is recommended that you call them directly to discuss your parking needs to learn about any possible accommodations.

The nearest parking garage to the dormitory area is Garage E on 49th St.


If you will not have access to your own car during SDI, there are several transportation options affiliated with ODU to help you get around campus and Norfolk. These include Zipcar, a bicycle sharing program, and public transportation.

Although unaffiliated with ODU, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are prevalent in Norfolk if you are unable or do not wish to bring your car to campus. Additionally, your fellow on-campus students will often offer rides to out-of-town students who do not have transportation to any social events or activities that may take place off campus during SDI.