English MA Degree Requirements
Note: For students admitted into the program prior to 2001-2002, please see the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for specific degree requirements at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Coordinator 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.
All new graduate students admitted into the program will be advised initially by the Coordinator 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 Coordinator 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.
Students accepted into the program may choose from among the following three degree options:
Plan I (Thesis Option) consists of 30 credit hours, of which 27 are course work and 3 are thesis (ENGL 6399). Within the 27 hours of course work (9 courses), a minimum of 7 courses (21 hours) or 80% of the coursework must be at the 6000-level. The 3 hours of thesis work cannot be used to satisfy this requirement for work at the 6000 level. A minimum of 24 hours of the coursework must be in English, and students wishing to use courses from other disciplines for credit toward the degree must get approval from the Director of Graduate Studies in English. Students may meet the thesis requirement by either writing a scholarly work (a minimum of 65 pages in length) or a creative writing work (a collection of poems, creative nonfiction, or prose that includes a critical and/or theoretical introduction). The thesis must be approved by the student's thesis committee, comprised of the student's major professor and two other graduate faculty readers.
Plan II (Non-Thesis Option) consists of 36 credit hours (12 courses), of which a minimum of 30 hours must be in English. Students in this plan must also get approval from the Director of Graduate Studies in English to take courses outside the department. Within the 36 hours of coursework, a minimum of 9 courses (27 hours) or 80% of the coursework must be at the 6000 level.
Plan III (Capstone Option) consists of 30 hours of coursework (10 courses). A minimum of 27 hours (9 courses) must be in English, and 21 credit hours (7 courses) or 80% of the coursework must be at the 6000 level. In addition, students will complete a Capstone project over the course of their final two semesters of study either a scholarly article or a creative writing project. The scholarly article should be approximately 20-35 pages (page length dependent upon the specifications of the scholarly journal to which the student chooses to submit). The project will engage in original scholarly research and demonstrate advanced mastery of pertinent critical assumptions, methodologies, and practices in the discipline. The Creative project must be approved by the student's capstone committee, comprised of the student's major professor and two other graduate faculty readers.
Under all three plans, students must get the approval of the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for their course selections. See the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for required advisement before registering for classes each term.
Under all three plans, a reading knowledge of one foreign language (ordinarily Latin, French, German, or Spanish) is required. One may meet this requirement by one of the following: 1) completing a language course numbered 2002 with a grade of B or better during the course of study (no course or courses in a foreign language will count toward the required number of hours for the degree); 2) presenting an undergraduate transcript that indicates completion of a language course numbered 2002 (or its equivalent) with a grade of B or better within five years of the time the student enters the program; or 3) passing a standardized test administered by the testing office and the Department of International Languages and Cultures.
Students who have taken an ENGL 4XXX course as an undergraduate at West Georgia cannot receive credit toward the M.A. degree in English for the concurrent ENGL 5XXX course unless the student and/or instructor can provide evidence that the content of the course (readings, topics, etc.) is significantly different than when he/she took it as an ENGL 4XXX course. Upon completion of all course work, the candidate for the M.A. must pass a comprehensive oral exam based on a reading list given out to students at the time of their acceptance into the program. This oral examination may be retaken once. For students completing a thesis, a separate oral defense of the thesis is also required. See the Coordinator of Graduate Studies in English for details and for required advisement before registering for classes each term.
The M.A. oral examination covers three areas: British Literature (Area I), American Literature (Area II), and a Specialization field of the student’s choosing (Area III). The purpose of Area I and II is to establish a professional working knowledge of the major threads of American and British literature across periods and genres. The Specialization exam focuses on a targeted area of expertise corresponding to the student’s interests, seminar experience, training, and professional goals; ideally, the Area III/Specialization list would serve as a springboard for a capstone project or thesis.
Creation and Submission of Examination Lists
Reading lists for each area should be crafted by the candidate in consultation with his or her examiner for that area. Area I and II should consist of 20 primary works each (a selection of poems by an author, for example, counts as one text). Lists in Areas I and II should provide coverage across genres (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama) and periods; lists in Areas I and II should also include major figures along with a representative group of non-canonical authors. For Area III, at least five of the 20 texts must be critical/scholarly/theoretical in nature (a significant number of texts must be representative and formative works in the area of specialization). For example, the specialization exam (Area III) may focus on a subfield of British or American Literature, the development of a genre, a theoretical/critical school and its application to primary literature, or a professional field and its practical and theoretical discourse. There may be no overlap of texts from Area I or Area II on the specialist exam list; overlap of authors is permissible with advisor approval but should be minimal. In preparing for the exam, candidates should meet regularly with their area examiners to discuss works and themes on their respective lists; students are also encouraged to consult other faculty in the department to discuss works and periods in their respective areas of expertise.
Each exam candidate is responsible for
1. Soliciting an examiner for each area exam.
2. Crafting the lists per the guidelines above, using the approved form.
3. Getting the approval and signatures for each list.
4. Making copies of his/her signed lists and depositing them with the Director of Graduate Studies by the deadlines:
* September 15th for Fall exams.
* January 15th for Spring exams.
* May 1st for Summer exams.
5. Consulting regularly with each area advisors concerning his/her progress toward the exam.
Scheduling the Examination
After the examination lists are approved, each student must set an examination date that works for his/her full examination committee and make arrangements with Jonette Larrew for appropriate space. Should it become necessary to defer the examination, the examinee must do so in writing to the full examination committee, copying the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, at least a week prior to the set exam date.
The oral exam lasts 75 minutes, with approximately 25 minutes devoted to each area exam. Students may choose to cover one area at a time or do a more open (“round robin”) format, with examiners taking turns asking questions and making connections between the different areas. At the end of the exam, the candidate will briefly leave the room for the examiners to consult and fill out the oral exam assessment form. After this brief consultation period, the committee will immediately apprise the candidate of his/her performance. Students who do not pass any or all areas of the exam may retake it once. Second attempts are comprised of all three areas.
For a complete description of the M.A. program in English, including details on the thesis, foreign language requirement, and oral examination, view The Graduate Student Handbook for English online.
The Capstone Project
The capstone project presents an opportunity for students to complete their Master of Arts in English degree by engaging deeply in a scholarly, creative, or professional work that contributes in innovative ways to an established field in English, Film, Creative Writing, Pedagogy, or Professional Writing/Editing and, as such, is worthy of publication in a national venue. Students are encouraged to submit their capstone project as a manuscript for publication, but submission and publication are not required for completion of the degree program.
- For the scholarly article capstone, students will engage in original research, ideally connected to one of their graduate seminars and their exam specialty area, demonstrating mastery of pertinent critical assumptions, methodologies, and practices in the discipline. The final article should be approximately 20-35 pages in length, depending upon the submission guidelines of a suitable scholarly journal. The scholarly capstone/article should conform to all MLA style conventions, unless the capstone director identifies a different style manual required by a potential journal.
- The creative or professional writing/editing capstone involves students crafting a project in a particular genre or field. These projects may also include a brief critical/theoretical introduction. Given different genre requirements, the project’s length, formatting, and potential publication venue are determined by the capstone director.
The capstone project is drafted and carefully revised usually during the final two semesters of study, culminating in a rigorous defense. The final product must be approved by the student’s capstone committee, comprised of the student’s capstone director and two other graduate faculty readers, and submitted to the graduate director by the established deadline.
Given the robust nature of this project, a successful capstone process requires careful planning and management. As such, each student is responsible for
- soliciting a capstone director and two other graduate faculty readers.
- submitting the signed capstone declaration form to the graduate director by the appropriate date.
* September 1st for a Fall defense.
* January 5th for a Spring defense.
* May 1st for a Summer defense.
- consulting regularly with the capstone director who will set firm revision deadlines in consultation with the student.
- turning in all required revisions.
- scheduling the capstone defense meeting.
- submitting a finalized draft and signed approval form to the graduate director.
The Drafting Process
Students should meet with the capstone director in the first week of the semester (or earlier) that he/she plans to complete the work. During that meeting, the student should develop a timeline for completing the project, including building in a comfortable window for necessary revisions. Multiple revisions of the work may be necessary and are at the discretion of the project’s director. During this phase of the process, each student is working solely with the capstone’s director. It is the director’s responsibility to determine when the piece is ready to be shared with the full committee; it is usually the polished, defense-ready draft. The second and third readers will bring their feedback and any editorial corrections they have to the defense. Any substantive revisions, however, should be communicated to and made by the student in advance of the defense.
Scheduling the Defense
Each student must set a capstone defense date that works for her/his full capstone committee and make arrangements with Jonette Larrew for appropriate space. Please keep the following calendar points in mind:
- The defense must occur a minimum of two weeks before that term’s graduation date. If the student is defending in the summer term, keep in mind that faculty may be traveling for research and plan accordingly.
- The final, revised capstone paper must be approved by the capstone director and distributed to the second and third faculty readers at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date to allow for full faculty review.
- The student must bring two copies of the capstone signature sheet to the defense. The capstone signature sheet template may be found here: [insert link to form].
- Immediately upon the successful completion of the defense, the capstone director must submit one signed copy of the signature sheet to the director of graduate studies. NB: this step is of crucial importance, as the director of graduate studies must enter the completion of the capstone in the Wolfwatch degree audit system on time for graduation. The student should attach the other signed copy to the revised version she/he submits to the graduate director (see below).
FYI—Should it become necessary to defer the defense, the student must do so in writing to the full capstone committee, copying the director of Graduate Studies, at least a week prior to the originally scheduled defense date.
Submitting the Finished Project
Once the project has been successfully defended and the final editorial corrections have been incorporated, the student should submit the following to the director of graduate studies electronically by the last day of final exams for the term:
- An electronic copy of the finalized project. The electronic document should be one PDF document that contains the signed signature page, a 150-200 word abstract, and the actual project.