The MA Program
The MA requires 24 semester hours of coursework and a written examination. The program is designed so that a full-time student can complete these requirements within one calendar year of study - Fall, Spring, and two Summer sessions with a degree conferrel in August. Part-time students must complete all requirements for the degree within four years.
A. Program Requirements:
- English 400 (Introduction to Graduate Study).
- English 402 (Teaching College Composition) (required for the teaching track only)
- At least three courses in literary studies. At least one course must be in literature before 1800, one in literature after 1800.
- At least one course in critical theory (courses numbered 410-429).
- One course in textual studies or digital humanities, or (for the teaching track) pedagogy.
- Two elective courses, for a total of twenty-four hours.
If you are required to take certain undergraduate courses as a condition of admission, they have priority over all other program requirements. Undergraduate courses (those on the 300-level) cannot satisfy the distribution requirements outlined above (for example, English 340, Victorian Literature, cannot fill the post-1800 requirement but it can be an elective in literature), and only one undergraduate course may count toward the MA.
B. The MA Qualifying Examination:
Immediately after the regular exam period for the second Summer term ends, all students will take a four-hour written examination at the end of their course work. The exam is given during the last week of second summer term in August, and the first day of exam week in December and May. The exam will be prepared and graded by a four-member M.A. examining committee using a standard set of questions, each testing a particular skill. Faculty teaching graduate seminars in any one year will submit a short list of required readings (literary, critical, and theoretical) from their courses. From that list, the examining committee will form a master list of major texts to be used by students in answering the exam questions. The short lists will be shared with students prior to the exam, the master list will not.
The exam will be graded as High Pass, Pass, Low Pass or Fail. The minimum requirements for the M.A. degree will be a Low Pass on the exam and a B average in all course work. M.A. students who fail the exam may retake it once, at the conclusion of the Fall semester in the same year. Ph.D. students who fail the exam may also retake it once, but only to complete the M.A. degree: they will not be allowed to continue in the program. Ph.D. students who receive a Low Pass will have their exams forwarded to the Committee on Graduate Programs, which will review their exams and their performance in course work in order to determine whether or not they should be permitted to continue, and if so under what probationary conditions, if any.
The M.A. exam serves as both a requirement for the Master’s degree and a qualifying exam for students intending to proceed toward the PhD. The Committee on Graduate Programs will consider the performance of such students in all facets of the M.A. program; however, the M.A. exam is designed as a key indicator of students’ ability to continue work toward the Ph.D. The exam is given at the end of second summer term for an August degree and (for those completing the degree in more than one year) at the end of December for a December degree and the beginning of May for a May degree. All candidates must take the examination at one of these times.