MA in English with Literature Specialization Coursework & Program of Study


Shakespeare Class
Shakespeare class

This two-year master of arts program balances coverage with flexibility, providing high quality, personalized instruction for graduate students interested in teaching at the secondary, beginning college and university levels, and/or in pursuing further graduate study in literature. Graduate students take courses that focus on pedagogy, theory & criticism, and literary analysis to develop their knowledge of major literary trends and discipline-specific research skills. In developing courses, faculty devote particular attention to literature and film’s cultural and historical contexts, often with reference to race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and linguistic difference as cultural phenomena.

The study of literature is central to the humanities, offering us experience in assessing human behavior and motivation. Through literary study we come to understand the power of language and literature to convey and construct individual and cultural values. The study of literature makes new things familiar and familiar things new; it invites us to explore ideas, identities, times and places we do not know, and to reexamine the traditions of our literary heritage.

This program focuses on four primary concerns:

  1. Literary traditions. As an English major with a specialization in literature, you are introduced to various literary traditions and the changing nature of those traditions. Course offerings which explore a range of periods, genres, and literary movements will enable you to experience literature in some depth. In addition, you will be able to study the presence, or absence, of women and minorities in literary texts.
  2. Literature in its cultural and historical contexts. Your study of literature will inspire appreciation of the interactions between literature and culture, illustrating how literature reflects humanity’s many facets and how, in various ways, it may support, conflict with, or fragment dominant cultural values.
  3. Critical reading. Your classes will provide an introduction to literary criticism and theory, giving you insight into your own reading practices and the practices of both authors and literary critics.
  4. Critical writing. A variety of assignments in expository, analytic, and creative writing will enhance your ability to express yourself in writing as well as foster your understanding of literature.


The MA in English (Specialization in Literature) requires a total of 30 credits of coursework.

The English MA Literature specialization Program of Study Requirements

Area of CourseworkCoursesCredits

Choose one course from the following:
Engl 521
Engl 522
Engl 546
Choose the appropriate number of credits from each of the following categories below.
*Engl 523 can satisfy either the Literature course requirement (British or General) or the Language Requirement, but not both. It can, however, satisfy both an Area of Specialization elective and the Language Requirement.
3 cr. must be in literature before 1865 (523, 532, or 533; and 531, 538, 540, 541, 543, 545, 546 when appropriate)
Note: X courses may be used in the following 3 categories depending on the topic
• American Literature
Choose one course:
Engl 532, 534
When appropriate:
531, 538, 539, 540, 541, 543, 545, 546
• British Literature

Choose one course:
Engl 523, 533, 535
When appropriate:
531, 538, 539, 540, 541, 545, 546
• General Literature
Engl 521, 522, and 546 can only be used once to satisfy this requirement or the Teaching/Criticism/Bibliography requirement above, but not both.
Include pre-1865 requirement in this section if not met above in American or British Literature requirement.
Choose three (3) courses from the following:
Engl 521, 522, 523, 531, 532, 533, 534, 535, 538, 539, 540, 541, 543, 545, 546, 561, 590a, 595a
Three appropriate elective courses from English Department graduate offerings in any of the graduate majors.
TAs may count 3 credits of Engl 500 or SpCm 513.
With prior approval as a POS waiver/substitution, 3 credits of appropriate graduate Curriculum and Instruction (C I) coursework may be used.
*Engl 523 can satisfy both an Area of Specialization elective and the Language Requirement.

Courses strongly recommended for students planning to teach include:
Engl 503: Composition Theory
Engl 521: Teaching of Literature and the Literature Curriculum
Engl 699: Thesis Research
Engl 599: Creative Component
TOTAL30 minimum


Language Requirement

Knowledge of a nonnative language is required for the MA in English with a specialization in Literature or Literature and the Teaching of Reading.

Native speakers of English
All students completing the MA degree in English in either specialization must complete a requirement in the study of language. Students must do one of the following:

  • complete two years or their equivalent of college-level study in a single foreign language with an average grade of C or higher OR
  • complete, with a grade of B or higher, ENGL 523: Introduction to Old English Language and Literature* OR
  • complete, with a grade of B or higher, 3 credit hours of graduate linguistics

*NOTE: English 523 can be used to satisfy either the Language Requirement or a literature course requirement (e.g., pre-1865 British literature), but not both. It can, however, satisfy both an Area of Specialization elective and the Language Requirement.

Nonnative speakers of English

To satisfy the language requirement, nonnative speakers of English must pass the English Placement Test (EPT) as a graduate student or qualify for one of the EPT exemptions listed below; if students fail the English Placement Test (for nonnative speakers), they will be required to take English classes.