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Academics + Programs Master of Arts in English

Master of Arts in English

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Program description

The Master of Arts program in English includes emphases in language, literature, and creative writing, and regularly offers courses dealing with rhetoric/composition that are particularly useful for those interested in community college and high school teaching. New critical theories and new approaches to the study of texts and languages are brought to bear on both canonical and non-canonical works, and on the practices of teaching, research, and writing.

What can you do with this degree?

With a Master of Arts in English, students are able to pursue careers in writing, editing, teaching, publishing, advertising, public relations, business, or pursue further education.

Program of study

Students in the MA program in English may elect to follow one of three courses of study - in literature, creative writing, or community college/high-school teaching. Candidates complete 33 or 34 hours of course work and, in the literature option, may elect either a thesis or a non-thesis option. While some specific courses may be required, depending on the emphasis elected, students must take at least 60% of their course work at the 700- and 800-levels.

Degree requirements

Regardless of the emphasis selected (see below), all graduate students in English take Introduction to Graduate Study (EG 810). Designed to provide the tools and background necessary to undertake scholarly research in English, this course is offered every fall semester.

Beyond EG 810, there are no specific course requirements. However, to ensure a balance of course work, each MA student is required to fulfill an 18-hour area requirement:

  • Area A: two courses in literature written before 1830,
  • Area B: two courses in literature written after 1830,
  • Area C: two courses in language/rhetoric/criticism.

These requirements may be met with a broad variety of courses; specific detailed course descriptions are available each semester before the registration period begins. To complete the remaining course work, students select one of two options:

Option A: 9 hours of elective courses plus a scholarly thesis (4 credit hours), normally 40-50 pages incorporating significantly more research than customarily expected of a graduate course paper or a creative thesis (4 credit hours), a minimum of 40 pages, in which the student places the creative portion of his or her work within a critical or theoretical framework.


Option B: 12 hours of elective courses, plus either

1) an independent research project (minimum length: 20 pages), customarily derived from previous course work;


2) a 20-minute scholarly paper, customarily derived from previous course work, presented to the public.

Portfolio assessment

At the end of the final term of study, the candidate will submit a portfolio of work, consisting of (1) an introduction to the contents of the portfolio, including the contexts in which each of the pieces was written (class, semester, instructor, course emphases, etc.); (2) a copy of the writing sample submitted upon application to the program; (3) three papers written for courses in the student’s MA program, representing, as nearly as possible, the first, middle, and final semesters of coursework; (4) a copy of the final thesis or project paper completed for Option A or Option B; and (5) an analysis of the portfolio’s contents.

Admission requirements

All applicants should submit the following: 1) a letter of application stating the applicant's reasons for requesting admission and his or her future plans; 2) three letters of recommendation written by persons with knowledge of the candidate's potential for success in graduate school; and 3) a writing sample that consists of a critical research paper and a creative work or works from applicants pursuing the creative writing emphasis. Applicants should send GRE scores if they are available, but the GRE is not required.

Applicants who have earned degrees at institutions in countries in which English is not the native language must score at least 575 on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Examination before being admitted to the MA program in English.

If you have questions, contact the Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism at 620-341-5216.


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