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Programs of Study: MA
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Degree Requirements
Note: For students admitted into the program prior to 2001-2002, please see the Director of Graduate Studies for specific degree requirements.

Academic Standing

Students admitted into the program are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 while enrolled. In addition, students are expected to make no grade lower than B in any course taken as part of the degree program. If a student's GPA falls below 3.0 or if the student makes a grade of C or lower, the student will be placed on academic probation and have one semester to raise the GPA. If a student makes a second grade of C or lower or fails to raise the GPA to at least a 3.0 and to maintain it at that level, the student will be dismissed from the program for one academic year (two semesters).

At the end of the dismissal period, the student may apply for reinstatement, but such reinstatement is not guaranteed. All decisions on reinstatement into the program will be made by the members of the Graduate Program Committee in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. If the student is reinstated, specific expectations regarding the level of performance necessary to remaining in the program will be stipulated at the time of reinstatement by the Director of Graduate Studies. Should the student, at any point, fail to meet the stipulated expectations, he or she will be permanently dismissed from the program.

Course Registration and Advisement

All new graduate students admitted into the program will be advised initially by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). After the completion of your first semester, students may choose another designated faculty member to serve as your major professor and advisor. You must choose a major professor (an English faculty member who teaches in our graduate program) for your advisor by the time you have completed 18 hours of graduate course work. The DGS can help you with identifying a major professor. Your major professor will serve as your thesis director (if you decide to write a thesis) and/or serve as chair of your oral examination committee.

NOTE: All graduate students must get the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies for their course selections prior to registration each semester.

Your advisor is one of the most important faculty members you will work with during your program of study. Your advisor can help you decide what courses and seminars will best meet your professional goals and will give you some idea of the coverage and requirements of different courses. You need to meet with your advisor regularly during the year to discuss your academic progress. If you do not meet with your advisor regularly, you may miss important deadlines or requirements that will keep you from graduating on time.

Degree Tracks (Thesis and Non-Thesis Options)

Students accepted into the program may choose either a thesis (Plan I) or nonthesis (Plan II) option. Students enrolled in the M.A. English degree program must take at least 80% of their coursework at the 6000 (graduate seminar) level.

Plan I consists of 30 credit hours, of which 27 are course work and 3 are thesis (ENGL 6399). A minimum of 24 hours must be in English. Of the 27 credit hours (9 courses), 21 credit hours (7 courses) must be at the 6000 level.

Plan II consists of 36 credit hours, of which a minimum of 30 must be in English. Of the 36 credit hours (12 courses), 27 credit hours (9 courses) must be at the 6000 seminar level.

The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all courses taken outside of English or they will not count toward the degree. Students must provide an acceptable rationale for courses taken outside of English that indicates how the courses relate to their overall professional goals in completing the degree.

Language Requirement

Under both plans, a reading knowledge of one foreign language (ordinarily Spanish, Latin, French, or German) is required. A student may meet this requirement in any of the following ways:

  • completing a language course numbered 2002 with a grade of B or better during the course of study (each course or courses in a foreign language will not count toward the required number of hours for the degree)
  • presenting an undergraduate transcript that indicates completion of a language courses numbered 2002 (or its equivalent) with a grade of B or better within five years of the time the student enters the program
  • passing a standardized test administered by Learning Support/Testing and evaluated by faculty in the Foreign Languages department.

Comprehensive Oral Examination (Both Tracks)

Upon completion of all course work, the candidate for the MA must pass a comprehensive oral exam based on a reading list given out to students at the time of their acceptance into the program. For students completing a thesis, a separate oral defense of the thesis is also required.

Your decision as to which option – thesis or non-thesis -- to choose is an important one. To some extent, your choice should be guided by your professional goals and what you plan to do once you have completed the MA. If you are considering entering a Ph.D. program, then it is in your best interest to write a thesis, since most doctoral programs will want to see evidence that you have the ability to complete a fully developed work of scholarship. If you are planning to teach at the secondary level or have plans to do graduate work in another academic field, then it is probably a good idea to take additional courses, so you will be fully prepared as a teacher of English literature. If you are not certain what your professional goals are at this point, then take your own personal preferences into consideration. Do you enjoy attending classes and working with professors and other graduate students in a collaborative learning environment, or do you enjoy the solitary rewards of independent research? Are you sufficiently self-disciplined and motivated to complete a thesis, or do you require established deadlines and structures to complete academic assignments? Is there a particular writer, genre, literary movement, or critical perspective that you would like to explore at length? Your answer to these questions may provide you with an indication of which option is best for you.

Before you decide, discuss your goals and concerns with your advisor as well as with other faculty members and graduate students. They will be able to provide you with other insights that will help you make an informed decision.

Plan I: Thesis Option

A candidate for the MA who chooses this option is required to take a minimum of 27 hours in course work (9 courses). Of the 27 credit hours, 21 credit hours (7 courses) must be at the 6000 level. A minimum of 24 hours must be taken in English. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all courses taken outside of English or they will not count toward the degree. Also, you must take 3 credit hours for your thesis (ENGL 6399). Thesis hours cannot be included in the required minimum of 27 hours for course work. Your advisor will assist you in choosing courses that best meet your own professional goals and that ensure a broad coverage of different fields of literary study.

Requirements (see the Graduate Catalog for a specific description of each):

  • 27 hours of course work (9 courses)
  • 7 of these courses must be at the 6000 level
  • A minimum of 24 hours must be taken in English. Courses outside of English must be approved by the DGS in advance.
  • Passing the oral examination
  • Completing the language requirement
  • Thesis (ENGL 6399) for 3 credit hours. Cannot be included in the 27 hours of course work.
  • Passing the Thesis examination
  • An overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Plan II: Non-Thesis Option

A candidate for the MA who chooses this option is required to take a minimum of 36 hours (12 courses). Of these 12 courses, 9 must be completed at the 6000 level. A minimum of 30 hours must be completed in English. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all courses taken outside of English or they will not count toward the degree. Your advisor will assist you in choosing courses that best meet your own professional goals and that ensure a broad coverage of different fields of literary study.

Requirements include (see the Graduate Catalog for a specific description of each):

  • 36 hours of course work (12 courses)
  • 9 of these courses must be at the 6000 level
  • A minimum of 30 hours must be taken in English. Courses outside of English must be approved by the DGS in advance.
  • Passing the oral examination
  • Completing the language requirement
  • An overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher.


For a complete description of the MA program in English, including details on the thesis, foreign language requirement, and oral examination, view The Graduate Student Handbook for English online.

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1-23-2006 -- Email Susan Holland with problems or questions about the site.