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Master of Arts

Students admitted into our MA program can pursue a general literary degree, or can specialize in a particular area of literary, cultural, or rhetorical study.  We are not currently able to offer a concentration in Creative Writing, but students can write a creative thesis if they have faculty members willing to serve on the committee. We offer only a 36-hour non-thesis Master of Arts degree. All students must complete a capstone project, directed by a faculty member.

You can find more information in our ENGL Graduate Handbook 2023-2024

Master of Arts Coursework

All M.A. students must take ENGL 603: Bibliography and Research Methods and fulfill 12 additional hours of distribution requirements. Distribution requirements are as follows:

  • One course in any literature, pre-1800
  • One course in any literature, 1800-the present
  • One course organized around concepts, issues, or themes, rather than chronologically.
  • One course in theory (any kind of theory, including composition/rhetoric and linguistics)

M.A. students must demonstrate competency in a minimum of one foreign language. M.A. students may take up to two 400-level undergraduate courses but must first seek permission from the Director of Graduate Studies, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and the Instructor. Students can only take 6 hours of coursework in another department, and 6 hours of ENGL 685.

Graduate Certificates: M.A. students can opt to earn Graduate Certificates in Women’s and Gender Studies, Film Studies, Africana Studies, and Digital Humanities. Interested students should consult their advisor and the director of the relevant program.

Capstone Project

Option A: A paper 50-75 pages, divided into chapters. This is akin to the traditional master’s thesis and gives the student the scope to do a research project that would not fit into the 25-page seminar paper format. Such a project might require archival or other historical research, or it might suit a student’s desire to discuss a large range of primary or secondary materials. If a students wants to produce a large digital project, such as a big data, and a written account of that project, that could fit under this option.

Students pursuing Option A would register for 6 hours of 685, either in one semester or over two semesters. These students would need to have a committee in place and have an approved 685 proposal before the end of the spring semester of the first year, in order to pre-register 685 hours for the fall. Or, if the student chooses to do all 6 of the 685 hours in the spring of the second year, the proposal would need to be approved before pre-registration begins (usually early November). All proposals must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Option B: A shorter project, of 25-30 pages, not divided into chapters. Students might undertake to write an article to be submitted for publication, which would entail that the student demonstrate understanding of the difference between a seminar paper and an article. Or, the student might complete a pedagogical project, which could include syllabi along with a researched essay on teaching in the student’s field of interest. Or, the student could pursue a digital project (such as a digital edition) and produce a written account of that project’s construction.

Students pursuing Option B would register for 3 hours of 685 in the spring semester of the second year. These students should also have a committee in place by the end of the spring semester of the first year, but would not need to have the 685 proposal approved until pre-registration opens for spring of the second year (usually in November).

These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, and students might propose different kinds of projects for both the larger Option A or the smaller Option B. The MA program will culminate in a capstone defense (what GPS refers to as the “final exam”).

Other Program Requirements

  • Degree Plans: MA students should file a degree plan no later than the beginning of the second year.  The degree plan can be accessed through the GPS Degree Plan System.
  • Scheduling Final Exams: MA students must schedule final exams (capstone defense) by filling out and printing the appropriate GPS forms, getting them signed by the Director of Graduate Studies (not the Department Head), and conferring with the English Graduate Office staff, who will reserve a room for the exam.