Master of Arts Program

The M.A. program in English offers a rigorous, personalized, project-based postgraduate experience that will prepare students to achieve their professional and personal goals. Students will have the freedom to pursue their particular interests in literary studies in a way that prepares them for an array of future plans, including admission to a doctoral program in English; admission to graduate programs in a range of disciplines, including law, library sciences, education or business; or preparation for careers in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, M.A. students will design a program of study that may include traditional course work, internships and a culminating project.

Our New M.A. Program

In 2018-19, the Department of English launched a new M.A. format to meet the changing needs of students pursuing a degree. In place of a period-based M.A. exam as the culminating experience of the degree, students may write an M.A. thesis, complete a professional project, develop a pedagogy project or combine a sequence of courses to meet their personal and professional goals.

Two Tracks to Choose From

The M.A. degree has two tracks: a thesis-based track (Plan A) and a non-thesis track (Plan B). Students will determine which track to pursue in their first semester. For students matriculating in the fall 2018 and after, the degree requirements are as follows:

Plan A Requirements

Plan A requires 30 credit hours beyond the B.A. degree, including 24 credit hours of courses plus 6 credits of an M.A. thesis. Up to 3 courses (i.e., 9 credits) may be from the 5000 level.

Required 6000-level courses (15 credits) include ENGL 6820 (3 credits) and 4 courses (3 credits each) chosen from the following:

    • ENGL 6210 (Beginnings to 1500)
    • ENGL 6215 (16th and 17th Century Literature)
    • ENGL 6220 (Studies in Shakespeare)
    • ENGL 6300 (The Long 18th Century)
    • ENGL 6400 (Studies in 19th Century British Literature)
    • ENGL 6500 (Studies in 20th Century British Literature)
    • ENGL 6700 (Studies in 20th Century American Literature)
    • ENGL 6710 (Twenty-First Century Literatures)
    • ENGL 6720 (Studies in Transatlantic Literatures)
    • ENGL 6730 (Studies in Transnational Literatures)
    • ENGL 6800 (Studies in Genre)
    • ENGL 6810 (Studies in the History of Literary Criticism)
    • ENGL 6820 (Studies in Modern Critical Theory and Practice)
    • ENGL 6830 (Studies in Literary Criticism)
    • ENGL 6931 (Topics in English)

Electives – 9 credits (a minimum of 6 credits of which need to be from ENGL Literature courses) and which can be chosen from:

    • ENGL elective courses 5000-6000-level
    • One graduate-level (cognate) course from outside ENGL, with permission from the Director of Graduate Studies
    • ENGL 6840 -Studies in Rhetoric and Composition Theory (3 credits) by consent of the Director of Graduate Studies and recommended for those students who may be considering pursuing a Ph.D. degree

ENGL 6999 Master’s thesis—6 credits

    • The thesis will typically consist of an annotated bibliography, an outline (required by the Graduate School), and a complete article-length essay between 8,000 and 10,000 words. Unlike the professional project, the M.A. thesis will most frequently be a piece of academic writing suitable for publication; however, other modes are possible.

    • The thesis carries 6 credits, as mandated by the Graduate School.  Implicitly, the student receives 3 credits for the research/bibliography portion and 3 credits for the writing portion. These credits can be taken over two semesters or concurrently.

    • The Thesis Committee has a Director and a Second Reader. The Director must be tenured (to protect the time of newer faculty); the Second Reader can hold any rank. The Director is primarily responsible for completing the necessary forms and guiding the student’s writing process. The Second Reader reads at least one draft and consults with the student on content— especially if the Director is not an expert in the subject area—but is not primarily responsible for guiding the writing process.

Plan B Requirements

PLAN B requires 30 credit hours beyond the B.A. degree, at least 21 of which must be from the English Department at the 6000 level. Up to 3 courses (9 credits) may be from the 5000 level.

Required 6000-level courses (15 credits), to include ENGL 6820 (3 credits) and 4 courses (3 credits each) chosen from the following:

    • ENGL 6210 (Beginnings to 1500)
    • ENGL 6215 (16th and 17th Century Literature)
    • ENGL 6220 (Studies in Shakespeare)
    • ENGL 6300 (The Long 18th Century)
    • ENGL 6400 (Studies in 19th Century British Literature)
    • ENGL 6500 (Studies in 20th Century British Literature)
    • ENGL 6700 (Studies in 20th Century American Literature)
    • ENGL 6710 (Twenty-First Century Literatures)
    • ENGL 6720 (Studies in Transatlantic Literatures)
    • ENGL 6730 (Studies in Transnational Literatures)
    • ENGL 6800 (Studies in Genre)
    • ENGL 6810 (Studies in the History of Literary Criticism)
    • ENGL 6820 (Studies in Modern Critical Theory and Practice)
    • ENGL 6830 (Studies in Literary Criticism)
    • ENGL 6931 (Topics in English)

Electives (15 credits) – a minimum of 6 credits of which need to be from ENGL Literature courses and which can be chosen from:

    • ENGL elective courses 5000-6000-level.
    • ENGL 6995, a culminating project to be developed in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and an assigned faculty mentor (3 credits)
    • Up to two graduate-level (cognate) courses (6 credits) from outside ENGL, with permission from the Director of Graduate Studies
    • ENGL 6840–Studies in Rhetoric and Composition Theory (3 credits)–by consent of the Director of Graduate Studies and recommended for those students who may be considering pursuing a Ph.D. degree


Financial Aid

Although assistantships are not typically available for students pursuing an M.A. degree, a number of merit-based partial tuition scholarships are available.

Additional Information

Students with questions about the M.A. program should contact Dr. Gerry Canavan, the Director of Graduate Studies in English.  Download more information here!