Master of Arts in English

The Department of English offers a Master of Arts in English, emphasizing balanced coursework in literature, rhetoric, composition and linguistics. This degree prepares students both to pursue a more specialized PhD program and to take a variety of jobs in teaching, writing, editing and related fields. Students take three required courses: ENGL A602ENGL A689 and ENGL A699. Teaching assistants (TAs) also are required to take ENGL A683. Otherwise, students enjoy significant flexibility in designing their degree. The degree culminates in the master’s thesis, a thoroughly researched and carefully argued article-length work that demonstrates the student’s academic achievement and enables students to take on a variety of professional roles or to pursue advanced study.

Competitive teaching assistantships are also available. Contact the English Department for details, deadlines and applications.

Admission Requirements

Satisfy the Admissions Requirements for Graduate Degrees.

Admission to the MA in English requires a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States (or foreign equivalent) as defined by the Council of Higher Education, with at least a 3.00 undergraduate GPA. Complete application packets are due by May 1 for fall enrollment and November 1 for spring enrollment. Late applications will be reviewed for the following semester. TA applications for fall semester are due to the department by February 1.

At the time of application, students must submit the following documents to the Master of Arts program, Department of English:

  • A three- to five-page application essay that addresses the student’s background in English, reasons for applying to the Master of Arts program, specific area(s) of interest, learning goals and professional objectives.
  • A recent sample (from within the past five years) of the applicant’s academic or professional writing.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty who know the applicant’s academic work (or professional writing, when appropriate).
  • Admission to the program is based upon the evaluation of the entire application packet in conjunction with the applicant’s undergraduate GPA.

Under-Prepared Students/Admission for Students Without an Undergraduate Degree in English (or Related Discipline)

An applicant who does not have sufficient undergraduate experience in English, at the discretion of the department, may be required to take up to 9 credits of additional coursework at the undergraduate level. These preparatory courses do not count toward the MA and must be passed with a grade of B or better.

International Students

The department reserves the right to require TOEFL scores above the university requirement for graduate admission.

Teaching Assistantships

Applicants to the graduate program who are also interested in an assistantship should contact the Department of English for an application packet. Students selected for teaching assistantships are required to attend all training and informational and evaluation sessions, and to meet the academic and professional standards set by faculty members. If these requirements are not met, students risk forfeiting their assistantships.


Students shall acquaint themselves with different faculty members during the first year and approach a faculty member to serve as a mentor for the duration of the student’s program. It is also expected that the mentor will assist the student in course selection and should advise the student in selecting a thesis committee and thesis advisor. Students are advised to complete the required MA courses in the following sequence:

ENGL A602Contemporary Literary Theory3
ENGL A689Advanced Research and Professional Practices3
ENGL A699Thesis (final semester)1-6

The thesis proposal, a requirement of ENGL A689, must be approved by the graduate English coordinator; students will not be allowed to enroll for ENGL A699 without completing ENGL A689 and having an approved thesis proposal.

Thesis Requirements

The thesis is the culmination of the MA program. It is an extended, article-length writing project that demonstrates MA students’ ability to think creatively, research thoroughly, write effectively and argue analytically at the graduate level. Students are expected to have conversations with faculty members about possible thesis topics during their coursework, and the thesis committee and thesis chair should be chosen in conversation with the graduate English coordinator. Additional thesis requirements follow:

  1. The thesis should focus upon, and fall within, a disciplinary specialty covered by a tenured or tenure-track UAA English Department faculty member. (See the faculty profiles on the English Department webpage for descriptions of faculty members’ fields of expertise.)
  2. The thesis should primarily address recognized disciplinary specialties (literary, rhetorical, linguistic, cinematic, or electronic texts, concepts and perspectives) and methodologies (literary critical and rhetorical analysis, qualitative or quantitative research). Secondarily, the project may incorporate cultural studies approaches, popular culture topics or extra-canonical texts, if pertinent and approved by the thesis advisor.
  3. The thesis should articulate a critical approach to the topic according to a clearly defined literary theory, rhetorical approach or linguistic consideration (a key question, idea, concept, theorist or school of thought).
  4. The thesis may be an extension of coursework; however, under no circumstances is it permissible to turn in the same paper for both a course and the thesis.
  5. The thesis must be developed out of the thesis proposal required in ENGL A689 and approved by the graduate English coordinator.
  6. The completed thesis should be submitted to the thesis committee at least two weeks prior to the thesis defense. See the English Department for specific dates and deadlines. If the thesis is not submitted with adequate lead time, and revisions are required, it is unlikely that the thesis can be completed in time to meet graduation deadlines. See the UAA Graduate School website for thesis deadlines.
  7. Students must be aware that after the thesis defense is completed, and before the degree can be awarded, the thesis must also be:
  • Revised according to the instructions of the thesis defense committee (if any).
  • Submitted, reviewed and approved by the chair of the Department of English.
  • Revised according to the chair’s instructions (if any).
  • Submitted, reviewed and approved in the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office.
  • Revised according to the CAS Dean’s Office’s instructions (if any).
  • Submitted, reviewed and approved by the Graduate School.
  • Revised according to the Graduate School instructions (if any).
  • Submitted to the Graduate School for binding and archiving (required), and copyrighting (optional) according to current requirements.

Please see the English Department support staff for a detailed description of the procedures to follow after the thesis defense. The degree can be posted, and a student can officially graduate, only after meeting all additional paperwork and administrative requirements as determined by the Graduate School. The Office of the Registrar completes the final degree check to ensure that all degree requirements have been met, including the resolution of any incomplete (I) or deferred (DF) grades.

Academic Requirements

Students enrolled in the program must:

  • Achieve at least a 3.00 (B) in each of the program’s required courses.
  • Receive no more than one 2.00 (C) grade in all elective courses.
  • Demonstrate continuous progress toward completing the degree by completing a minimum of 9 credits per semester of coursework applicable to the program, or 3 credits per semester for part-time students.
  • Complete the thesis project within two semesters after completion of coursework. Students who take more than two semesters to complete the thesis may be required to make alternative arrangements for thesis supervision.
  • TAs must also abide by the specific terms of their contracts.

Noncompliance with academic progress expectations will result in probation and possible dismissal from the program. See academic standing for more information.

Graduation Requirements

  • Satisfy the General University Requirements for Graduate Degrees.
  • Complete the program requirements below.
  • Application for graduation deadlines are on the Friday before finals each semester. Late or incomplete applications are processed the following term, and students who apply for graduation but do not complete the requirements must reapply with the appropriate fee in a subsequent semester.

Program Requirements

In general, the MA in English should follow the guidelines below.

A tentative course rotation schedule is available from the English Department.

Core Courses
ENGL A602Contemporary Literary Theory3
ENGL A689Advanced Research and Professional Practices3
ENGL A699Thesis3
Distribution Requirements
Studies in Literary Periods and Movements
Studies in Genre
Studies in English Linguistics
Rhetoric and Composition3
Studies in Rhetoric and Composition
Elective Courses *18
Electives may include, with the approval of the committee chair:
All 600-level ENGL courses, including courses that count for distribution requirements with change of subtitle
Up to 9 credits of 400-level ENGL courses
Up to 6 credits of approved coursework outside the department
Total Credits36

TAs are required to take ENGL A683.

A minimum of 36 credits is required for the degree.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a Master of Arts in English will be able to:

  • Address precisely articulated critical questions.
  • Demonstrate deep familiarity with print and electronic scholarship.
  • Apply detailed evidence to support claims.
  • Utilize field-appropriate theories and methodologies effectively.
  • Write analytically according to disciplinary conventions.
  • Document fully according to disciplinary stylesheets.