Department of English Language and Literature

Degree Requirements, M.A in English, Literature Concentration

Plan of study

The Plan of Study is a crucial document that must be completed and submitted as part of the procedure leading to graduation. The Plan of Study form can be obtained from the Graduate School Office, from the Director of Graduate Studies, or online (Online Fillable PDF/Print Friendly PDF). The graduate school requires that the Plan of Study must be completed in the student's first semester on a provisional basis. It may need to be revised in the student's final semester after the student has taken all the required courses and electives and is ready for graduation.

Requirements for degree

The M.A. Degree (literature concentration) requires 33 hours of course work. Graduate students who are accepted into the program as Teaching Assistants are further required to take ENGL 6010: Seminar in English Instruction: Composition, an additional 3 credit course, for a total of 36 hours. Students must also submit a portfolio of work, known as the MA Portfolio, in their final semester. See below for more details.

Students working towards the Master of Arts (literature concentration) degree beginning in Fall 2019 or later must satisfy the following requirements. These requirements also apply to students who began in 2018 or Spring 2019 and opted to follow the new requirements. (For students who entered prior to Fall 2019 who elected to continue with the old requirements, see below. If you are not sure which requirements apply to you, please see the Director of Graduate Studies/Advisor for the literature concentration.) 

Required Courses

  • ENGL 5790: Approaches to Research in English (offered every Fall semester)
  • Choose at least ONE (offered alternating every Spring semester, to be taken in your first year):
    • ENGL 5750: History of Literary Criticism*
    • ENGL 5780: Contemporary Literary Theories and Criticism*
  • ENGL 6010: Seminar in English Instruction (offered every Fall semester) if holding a TAship
  • 9 additional courses (see more below)

*Please note that ENGL 5750 and ENGL 5780 are generally offered in Spring semester, one per academic year. They're often offered in rotation, but sometimes the department will offer ENGL 5780 in two consecutive years.

Additional Course and distribution Requirements

Seminar Requirement:

Student must take at least 4 seminars (6000 level courses in English excluding 6010, 6180, and 6890; seminars are usually noted as such in their course descriptions).

Distribution requirements:

Among their additional courses, students must meet the following distribution requirements. These requirements can overlap with the seminar requirement and each other; that is, a given course might satisfy more than one requirement. The Advisor for the literature concentration will advise students which courses satisfy these requirements.

Genre distribution:
  • At least one course on poetry and poetics.
  • At least one course on prose literature.
Historical distribution:
  • At least two courses that cover pre-1915 literature.
  • At least two courses that cover post-1915 literature.

Other Course Information:

  • Courses completed at other institutions: Students who have completed any of the courses required for the degree or their equivalents at the graduate level before admission to the Graduate College may petition the Director of Graduate Studies in English for substitutions.
  • Courses in other departments: Of the remaining 18 hours course work for the degree, students may take a maximum of two courses in other departments in the humanities or social sciences as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Independent study: Students may count a maximum of one independent study course toward this degree, which must meet the Independent Study Policy (which requires planning in advance) and be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Additional Requirements

Students must submit an MA Portfolio. Please see the linked page for more details.

As part of their program, students must attend or participate in at least four events relevant to their intellectual or professional development by the time they submit their MA Portfolio (and which they will detail in the portfolio). More information here.

Incomplete and Progress Grades

Graduate students with more than one Incomplete or Progress grade at the beginning of any semester may be required to take one course fewer than normal that semester. The Director of Graduate Studies may refuse to approve registration for a student who still has more than two Incomplete or Progress grades for work not completed in the stipulated time. Unless an extension has been granted, an Incomplete automatically becomes an "F" one semester after that in which the course is taken. Courses taken in Spring and Summer terms change at the end of the immediately-following Fall Semester.

Application for the Degree

The application must be filed with the Graduate College by the date set by that office. See the Graduate College website or the official University calendar distributed throughout the year. Students must be enrolled for a minimum of one credit hour in the term during which they intend to graduate. (This type of enrollment can be achieved through ENGL 6960 Master's Research if the student is not enrolled in other courses.)

Old Degree Requirements

Students who began their studies prior to Fall 2019 may still be governed by the old requirements. (If you are unsure what requirements apply to you, please see the Director of Graduate Studies.)

The M.A. Degree (literature concentration) requires 33 hours of course work. Graduate students who are accepted into the program as Teaching Assistants are further required to take ENGL 6010: Seminar in English Instruction: Composition, an additional 3 credit course, for a total of 36 hours. In addition, students must pass a written Poetry Analysis Exam and submit an MA Portfolio.

Required Courses

  • ENGL 5790: Approaches to Research in English (offered every Fall semester)
  • Choose at least ONE (offered alternating every Spring semester, to be taken in your first year):
    • ENGL 5750: History of Literary Criticism*
    • ENGL 5780: Contemporary Literary Theories and Criticism*
  • ENGL 6010: Seminar in English Instruction (offered every Fall semester) if holding a TAship
  • 9 additional courses

*Please note that ENGL 5750 and ENGL 5780 are generally offered in Spring semester, one per academic year. They're often offered in rotation, but sometimes the department will offer ENGL 5780 in two consecutive years.

Additional Courses

Student must take at least 2 seminars (6000 level courses in English excluding 6010, 6180, and 6890; seminars are usually noted as such in their course descriptions).

Students who have completed any of the courses required for the degree or their equivalents at the graduate level before admission to the Graduate School may petition the Director of Graduate Studies in English for substitutions.

Of the remaining 18 hours course work for the degree, students may take a maximum of two courses in other departments in the humanities or social sciences as approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students may count up to one independent study course toward this degree, which must meet the Independent Study Policy and be approved by the Graduate Director.

Additional Requirements

Students must pass a written Poetry Analysis Exam and submit an MA Portfolio. Please see the linked pages for more details.

Last Updated: 4/15/22