Master of Arts in English (Literature)

Dan Bivona, director

Course Requirements
Language Requirement


Applicants for admission to the Master of Arts in English (literature track) must submit the following items:

  1. Graduate application
  2. Three letters of recommendation from faculty familiar with the applicant's academic work.
  3. Resume or vita.
  4. GRE general test scores.
  5. One to two page, single spaced statement of purpose detailing the student's background, reasons for wanting to do graduate work in literature, and plans for the future.
  6. Academic writing sample relevant to the field of literary studies.
  7. Official transcript.
  8. International students must have an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS score report sent to the Graduate College. Please refer to this webpage for English Proficiency Score requirements:

The deadline is January 15th. Students must have earned a 3.00 GPA in their junior/senior years of undergraduate work and have (or be in the process of completing) a bachelor's degree in English. See Department of English application process for more information.

Those who do not have degree in English may be considered for admission if they have taken the following cluster of English courses (or equivalent) with a 3.00 GPA. Supplemental courses may include:

ENG 200 Critical Reading and Writing
ENG 221 or 222 Survey of English Literature I and II
ENG 241 or 242 Literature of the United States 1860 to present
ENG 421 or 422 Shakespeare
400-level course in English Literature before 1660
400-level course in English Literature 1660-1900
400-level course in American Literature before 1900
400-level course in 20th-century British and American Literature

Students should consult with the director of the master's in literature program for advice on nondegree and/or supplemental course work.  Applications for non degree admission can be completed online:


Specific Course Requirements

To earn the Master of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in literature, a candidate must complete at least 30 hours of graduate courses (i.e., courses that carry 500-level credit).

Included in that number must be:

Research Methods (ENG 500)
A course in literary theory
Two graduate seminars at the 600 level
Six thesis hours (ENG 599)

ENG 590 Reading and Conference will not ordinarily be used as a portion of the 30-hour M.A. in English, especially when it would duplicate study available through regularly scheduled courses.

Distribution Requirement: Each student is required to satisfy a nine-hour distribution requirement:

A course in literature before 1660
A course in literature 1660-1900
A course in literature since 1900

Electives: Nine hours may be chosen from above areas, or from other graduate-level offerings.

Note: two courses must be graduate seminars at the 600 level; course work in literature should not all be from the same national tradition.

Thesis: (ENG 599 - 6 credits)  24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of Thesis.   Under the direction of the supervisory committee (chair and two members), the student writes a master's thesis and defends it at an oral examination.

Non-thesis Option: (ENG 593) 27 hours of coursework and 3 hours of Applied Project (ENG 593 or LIN 593). Student works with an Applied Project director and one additional committee member. There will be an oral presentation of the project.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate evidence of a competent knowledge of a natural language other than modern English, to be selected by the student, subject to the approval of the chair of the thesis committee (See:

The requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  • Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher in a 400- or 500-level course in an appropriate (approved) language.
  • Demonstrating comparable proficiency by taking a language examination, administered by the School of International Letters and Cultures, in a language approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  • Demonstrating native-speaker proficiency, as determined by the School of International Letters and Cultures, in a language approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  • Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher in both ENG 530 Old English and ENG 531 Old English Literature or their equivalent.
  • Holding a bachelor’s degree in an approved foreign language.
  • For languages which the School of International Letters and Cultures does not offer or does not offer above the 200 level, two years (4 semesters) of successfully completed college level coursework at least at the 100 and 200 level with a C or better would fulfill the requirement. The coursework must have been successfully completed no more than six years prior to admission to the degree program.


Important Notice to Current International Students: In order for international students to maintain good standing for their VISAs, they must take a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester (i.e., 3 classes), 6 of which should be face-to-face classes.