M.A. in English

The Master of Arts program is designed to give students broad exposure to the current state of English studies: its history, its methodologies, its ever-changing canon, and its production of new knowledge. Students in the program have opportunities to take classes in literature, literary studies, linguistics, rhetoric, and composition.

Many successful M.A. graduates have been accepted to well-regarded Ph.D. programs throughout the country, including Cornell, Notre Dame, Princeton, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of California-Davis, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Minnesota, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Washington. Others have found the program valuable for enhancing their credentials and opening opportunities for advancement in a variety of fields, including teaching, publishing, writing, law, and business.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Master of Arts program will be prepared to

  • identify and describe the historical and cultural contexts of representative works of English and American literature, including works in new and emerging genres
  • identify and describe generic conventions, thematic and rhetorical strategies, and representational features of such works
  • identify and apply a variety of critical and analytical methodologies in order to analyze such works
  • construct original written and oral arguments about such texts and ideas and conduct appropriate research to develop and provide support for those arguments
  • observe disciplinary conventions regarding intellectual dialogue and interaction with the work of other scholars

Curriculum, effective Fall 2010

All students earning the M.A. in English must complete the M.A. core curriculum (below), pass the M.A. comprehensive examination, and satisfy the M.A. language requirement. All students in the program must complete thirty semester hours of coursework. The coursework described below is required of all students in the program. Courses may not be counted twice to satisfy M.A. requirements.

  • ENGL 5103: Proseminar

The proseminar, required for all first-year master’s students and those doctoral students not holding a Master’s degree in English, will introduce students to the history and current scholarly practices of English studies. The proseminar will survey theoretical, methodological, and institutional issues in the development of the discipline; introduce students to the research of the English department’s graduate faculty; and provide opportunities for the practice of key components of scholarly production, including formulating research questions, using databases, conducting literature reviews, and writing and presenting scholarship in common formats other than the long research paper, such as conference proposals, oral presentations, and book reviews.

  • Two “Theories and Methods” courses

Theories and Methods courses include seminars in any area (literature, film, rhetoric, composition, linguistics) that are organized primarily around one or more theoretical or methodological approaches, practices, or questions.

  • One course in each of the following literary areas:
    • Medieval through early Renaissance (to 1600, including Shakespeare)
    • 17th Century (including Milton)/Restoration/18th Century (including Early American literature)
    • 19th Century/20th Century
  • Two Rhetoric or Composition courses
  • Two electives

Students are encouraged to satisfy these basic requirements as part of an individual program developed in consultation with a faculty advisor. For example, a student may focus on Rhetoric, Composition, American Literature, British Literature, Literature and Writing, or Literature and Linguistics.

For complete information on requirements for and policies in the Master’s degree programs, please consult the English graduate booklet published by the Graduate School  (PDF format).