Before completing the program, MA students must demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language. This requirement may be waived for students whose first language is not English, provided that the native language is one in which there are materials related to the study of English, such as source or pedagogical materials or criticism. We ask that students try to meet the language requirement early in their graduate studies. The foreign language requirement may be met by passing a non-credit reading course, by passing a translation exam, or by having earned at least a B in literature courses taught in a foreign language. In most cases, the department will accept foreign language proficiency recently demonstrated at another university.
As they near the end of their course work, MA students take a written examination covering three or four areas of the department’s MA Reading List. There are seven areas in literature, with additional areas available in Literary Theory, English Linguistics, Rhetoric and Composition, and Technical and Professional Communication. Thesis option students take a 90-minute exam over each of the three areas they have chosen; non-thesis option students take a 90-minute exam over each of four chosen areas. Non-thesis students who pass the exam and have completed all other degree requirements graduate that semester. Thesis-option students turn to the preparation of their theses. A student who fails all or part of the examination may retake the unsatisfactory portion(s) once, usually the next semester.
Additional Requirements for the Thesis Option
- Prospectus: Thesis-option students write a 4-5 page prospectus for the thesis at the outset of their project, which must be approved by the student’s advisory committee and submitted to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies.
- Thesis: The MA thesis is an original scholarly study, usually not more than 50 pages. It may be a substantial expansion of a paper done for a graduate course, or it may be a new project. An MA candidate who has completed at least two courses in creative writing at the graduate level may submit a creative thesis in prose fiction or poetry, but this option must be approved by the thesis director before beginning to write the thesis.
- Final oral examination: After the student’s advisory committee approves a draft of the thesis, the student takes a final one-hour oral examination covering the methods and conclusions of the thesis and the issues it raises.
Duration of the Program
The department expects most MA students to satisfy all degree requirements within two calendar years. The University requires that all graduate work toward a master’s degree must be completed within a period of five calendar years.
Progress toward the Degree
In order to ensure that students make reasonable progress toward their degrees, students in the MA program may hold a GTA for no more than two years. Reappointment for the second year is contingent upon satisfactory teaching and satisfactory academic standing. Students who complete all degree requirements in less than two years may not continue to hold an assistantship.
Questions about this program
Last updated October 12, 2004