College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

Department of English

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MA in English

Students initially admitted to the MA degree complete 27 hours of course work and a written examination. Students take three courses in the first semester and two per semester for the balance of the degree. All MA students take English 510: Research Methods; English 400: Composition and the Teaching of Writing; and English 487: Literary and Critical Theory (or an equivalent course in theory). Students must also take at least one and no more than four from each of the following areas:

  1. British Literature to 1800
  2. British Literature since 1800
  3. American Literature
  4. Other Departmental offerings at the 400- or 500-levels, including linguistics, rhetoric, critical theory, film, and creative writing. (Note that some of these courses are by permission of the instructor.)

In normal circumstances, students take the MA Comprehensive Examination in their third semester (fall of the second year). The examination is a week-long take-home exam covering a reading list of approximately 15 works ranging across genres, historical periods, and national traditions.

(Download the 2014 MA Exam List)

In exceptional cases, students may be able to write a Master’s thesis. Students pursuing the Thesis Option complete 21 hours of course work and write a thesis over the course of the second year that reflects 6 credits of writing and research. While there is no comprehensive examination for students pursuing the Thesis Option, students must nevertheless earn a unanimous “pass” on the thesis and the thesis defense from a supervisory committee.

Beginning in 2015-16, the Department expects to offer a three-semester MA for students admitted directly from the BA to the PhD degree. Requirements remain the same, though the timetable for course completion is slightly accelerated.