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Master of Arts in English

Apply to the MA in English Programoptional hidden text

The Department of English offers a Master of Arts (MA) in English, emphasizing balanced coursework in literature, rhetoric, composition and linguistics. This degree prepares students for a variety of jobs in teaching, writing, editing and related fields, as well as for more specialized PhD programs. The degree culminates in a master’s thesis or project that demonstrates the student’s academic achievement and preparation for professional roles or advanced study.

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.

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

  • A 1000-1200 word 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.
Students Without an Undergraduate Degree in English (or Related Discipline)

An applicant who does not have sufficient undergraduate experience in English may, at the discretion of the department, 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.

Assistantships and Work Study

Applicants to the graduate program who are also interested in an assistantship or work study should contact the Department of English for information.


The Graduate Coordinator will help students select classes for their first semester in the program. During the first year in the program, students should consult with faculty about possible areas of specialization and the design of a thesis or project that reflects the student's independent scholarship. By the end of the first year, the student should approach a faculty member to serve as advisor and chair of the student's graduate committee. The graduate advisor will mentor the student in development of the thesis or project and completion of other degree requirements.

Thesis or Project Requirements

The thesis or project is the culmination of the MA program. The decision whether a thesis or project is appropriate is made under the mentorship of the student's graduate committee. Students who complete a thesis write an extended, article-length text that demonstrates their ability to think creatively, research thoroughly, write effectively, and argue analytically at the graduate level. Independent scholarship may also be documented in an e-portfolio or other format approved by the student's committee. Additional requirements are the following:

  1. The thesis or project should focus upon, and fall within, the disciplinary specialty of 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. Students must pass an oral defense of their thesis or project proposal before they are permitted to continue thesis or project work.  The departmentally-scheduled proposal defense will occur by midterm of the semester immediately prior to the semester in which students intend to complete their thesis or project.
  3. Students must pass an oral defense of the thesis or project. The completed thesis or project should be submitted to the student's graduate committee at least three weeks prior to the defense. See the English Department for specific dates and deadlines. If the thesis or project is not submitted with adequate lead time and revisions are required, it is unlikely that the work can be completed in time to meet graduation deadlines. See the UAA Graduate School website for thesis deadlines.
  4. The thesis or project demonstrating independent scholarship requires multiple levels of approval. After a successful oral defense of the thesis or project, the work may require revision according to the recommendations of the student's committee. In addition, it must be approved by the Chair of the Department of English, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Revisions may be required at each stage. Appropriate formatting is determined by the Graduate School.

Please see the Humanities support staff for a detailed description of the procedures to follow after the thesis or project 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 core courses.
  • Receive no more than one 2.00 (C) grade in all courses.
  • Demonstrate continuous progress toward completion of the degree. 

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

Graduation Requirements Program Requirements
Core Courses
ENGL A601Introduction to Graduate Studies in English3
ENGL A614Advanced Research Writing3
ENGL A635Advanced Critical Theory3
ENGL A637Advanced Studies in Style and Stylistics3
ENGL A676Studies in Texts and Cultures3
ENGL A698Individual Research6
or ENGL A699 Thesis
Elective Courses9
With the approval of the student's graduate committee chair, electives may include:
All 600-level ENGL courses, including core courses with change of subtitle. With an appropriate subtitle, ENGL A690 may be substituted for a core course.
Up to 9 credits of approved 400-level ENGL courses
Up to 6 credits of approved coursework outside the department

A minimum of 30 credits is required for the degree.

For questions regarding the program or application process, please email Rebecca Coffin or call 907-786-4357.

For information on your thesis, graduation, graduate forms, and more, please visit the Graduate School website.