Curriculum & Courses

Degree Requirements
(Click on a course title for a description of that course. For a list of all graduate English courses, refer to our Course Descriptions page.)

The English M.A. is designed as four-semester/two-year program. 
  1. Satisfactory completion of:
    • 30 credit hours in English graduate level courses with a GPA of at least 3.00.
  2. A written comprehensive examination covering the required reading as listed on the M.A. Comprehensive Exam Reading List. This is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.
  3. An oral comprehensive examination. The oral comprehensive exam serves as the thesis defense. The oral comprehensive exam is also graded on Pass/Fail basis.
  4. Learning/Teaching Fellows - Students who are awarded Learning/Teaching Fellowships are required to meet on a weekly basis with the composition director. The meetings will be a mandatory condition of their award, but Fellowships will not be a curricular requirement. The meetings will provide intensive pedagogical training for tutoring or teaching.

Requirements for Pre-professional Academic Track

The following program of study is required for all Learning/Teaching Fellows, and it is recommended for all English M.A. students planning to continue their graduate work at the Ph.D level.

  • All general requirements for the M.A. in English (described above).
  • Three contact courses (9 credit hours) in one of the three designated areas of concentration. Students may choose from the following areas of concentration:
    • Early British (inception – 18th century: inception to 1799)
    • Modern British (Romantic – Contemporary: 1800 to present)
    • American
  • At least one course in each of the three designated areas of concentration
  • At least one course in literary criticism/theory
  • ENG 504. Composition Theory 
  • ENG 505. Teaching Practicum 
  • Thesis project required (i.e. the 36-hour degree is composed of 30 credit hours of contact-taught course work and 6 credit hours of ENG 699: Master’s Thesis, an independent research course). University Assistants and other Academic Pre-professional Track students not holding a Learning/Teaching Fellowship may petition to write a thesis. See the current Graduate Catalog for information on the petition process.
  • Teaching is required for all learning/teaching fellows - this includes active participation in the mentoring program carried out as part of ENG 504 and ENG 505. University Assistants will be required to maintain tutoring hours within the department. This includes active participation in practicum meetings. 

  • Based on these requirements, students will use the following program of study to direct their completion of the degree requirements for the Academic Pre-Professional Track:
Requirement  Courses Needed  Credit Hours 
Bibliography 1 3
Composition Theory 1 3
Teaching Practicum  1 3
Concentration (British/American) 3 9
Distribution Courses (British/American) 2 6
Literary Theory/Criticism 1 3
Thesis Research Hours (ENG 699*) 2 6
Elective 1 3
TOTAL  12  36 


Comprehensive Exams

Written Comprehensive Exam

  • All English graduate students must pass the Written Comprehensive Examination to complete their degree requirements.
  • The Written Comprehensive Exam is a three-hour pass/fail test concerning the periods of English and American literature represented on the M.A. Comprehensive Exam Reading List supplied by the department.
  • Students should plan on taking the Written Comprehensive Exam in their final semester of the program.

Oral Comprehensive Exam/Thesis Defense

  • All English graduate students must pass the Oral Comprehensive Examination to complete their degree requirements.
  • Students who have completed a thesis will fulfill the Oral Comprehensive Examination with a one-hour thesis defense.
  • Both the Oral Comprehensive Exam and the thesis defense are graded pass/fail. Students should plan on taking the Oral Comprehensive Exam/Thesis Defense in their final semester of the program.

       Details on the comprehensive exams and thesis defense can be found in the graduate catalog.

    Thesis Requirements

    Students completing the thesis requirement will work under the direct guidance of an English Department graduate faculty member and a thesis committee consisting of three English department graduate faculty members: a thesis adviser and two faculty readers. The thesis adviser should be a professor working in the area of the thesis topic.

    Students should begin to formulate their thesis topic early on in the program and engage in critical discussions with English department faculty members to refine the topic before submitting the project title and outline to the thesis adviser.

    Students must enroll in three credit hours of ENG 699: Master's Thesis in each of the final two semesters of their graduate program. Credit for the course will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of the thesis and passing the thesis defense.

    In the final semester of the student’s graduate program, he/she must register for the thesis defense with the associate director of graduate studies and schedule the defense with his/her thesis committee.

    The graduate catalog provides detailed information about the exam and thesis requirements.