May 27, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog Archived Catalog

English, M.A.

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Dr. Christopher Stuart, Department Head
(423) 425-4238
Dr. Rebecca Jones, Director of Graduate Studies in English
(423) 425-4608


“Unless you are at home in metaphor,” Robert Frost once wrote—unless you are able to deal with the complexities, implications and surprises of figurative language, a language that surrounds us even in the worlds of advertising and science—then “you are lost.” The English Department teaches students both to read and write maturely and correctly on the literal level and also to interpret and use figurative language. In the classroom, that role is carried out through studies in composition; language, rhetoric and writing, literature, criticism; and creative writing.

Every aspect of the English Department’s program attempts to communicate a sense of wonder and excitement about our written culture and to engage the student’s imagination. We make students aware that whenever they read or write, complex and sometimes contradictory elements—factual, emotive, logical—must be apprehended, held in balance, and accorded appropriate weight. We want them to be able to identify and order intricate responses to arrive at a sound understanding of a written text or to produce clear and forceful writing of their own.

What students learn in the English Department adds to their inventory of competencies and enriches their experience of life. We recognize that the ability to understand and produce good writing is an invaluable mental resource.

  • Students will develop advanced skills in reading, writing, and thinking analytically and critically in a variety of genres.
  • Students will gain advanced experience and preparation in their field of concentration: literature, rhetoric and writing, or creative writing.
  • Students will contribute to the development of knowledge through scholarly research, presentation, publication, and creative writing.
  • Students will be adequately prepared to enter the job market and/or pursue further graduate or professional studies.
Areas of Concentration
  • Literary Study - Emphasizes literary study, criticism, and research. This concentration is designed for those who wish to teach literature, pursue doctoral work in literature, or enter such fields of employment as public relations, advertising, professional (e.g., technical, industrial, magazine) writing, publishing and the like.
  • Rhetoric and Writing - Emphasizes composition and rhetorical studies, the history of these areas of study, research, and rhetorical criticism. This concentration is designed for those who wish to teach writing and rhetoric, pursue doctoral work in composition studies and rhetoric, or enter such fields as public relations, advertising, professional (e.g., technical, industrial, magazine) writing, publishing and the like.
  • Creative Writing - Emphasizes creative writing, i.e., poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. The concentration is designed for those who wish to further their skills in these arts, to publish their creative work, to add a creative element to their writing in such fields as advertising or public relations, to work in the creative side of the publishing industry, or to prepare to teach or enhance their present teaching of creative writing. The concentration itself has two tracks, poetry and prose

Concentrations in Literary Study and Rhetoric and Writing

In addition to meeting the standards for admission to The Graduate School, applicants should have a minimum of 18 hours in English beyond Freshman composition, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for those hours.  All applicants should submit:

  • A 1000-15000 word statement of purpose.  This statement should address your goals for graduate study and describe your personal, academic, and personal, academic, and professional interests and experience.  Explain how this program is appropriate for your research/creative interests and career goals.
  • An 8-10 page writing sample of academic work that reflects your research and writing potential.
  • Two letters of recommendation that can speak to your academic and/or professional career.

Concentration in Creative Writing 

In addition to meeting the standards of admission to the Graduate School, applicants for the M.A. in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing should have a minimum of 18 hours in English beyond Freshman composition, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for those hours.  Applicants must also submit:

  • A manuscript of 12-15 poems or 25 pages of creative prose
  • A 1,000-1,500 word statement of purpose describing the candidate’s intellectual and creative background, interests and goals.
  • Two letters of recommendation that can speak to your academic or creative work.

Although the Graduate School and the English Department do not require applicants to submit scores from the GRE, applicants are encouraged to submit scores to the English Department if they have already taken the exam or feel that the scores will strengthen the application.

Program of Study

Students must submit a Program of Study during the first semester of graduate coursework. The Program of Study consists of all core courses and any electives and establishes the courses the student must take for partial fulfillment of the degree requirements. The Program of Study must list all core courses and electives, if known at the time, the student will take. The Program of Study form is located at

Admission to Candidacy

Students admitted to the MA degree program in any of the three concentrations must file an Application for Admission to Candidacy form. Students in the literary or rhetoric and writing concentrations must have completed ENGL 5000 and ENGL 5140 or ENGL 5050 with a grade of B or higher in each before filing for candidacy. The Application for Admission to Candidacy is typically filed in the semester prior to a student’s anticipated graduation semester and should list all courses not listed on the Program of Study and any changes in coursework. Please refer to “Academic Policies for Graduate Students ” Admission to Candidacy section. The appropriate form may be obtained from the Graduate School Web site at



Requirements for Degree

Literary Study (33 hours)

Degree Requirements:

Rhetoric and Writing (33 hours)

 Degree Requirements:

Creative Writing

 Degree Requirements:

Poetry Track - 33 Hours

Prose Track -33 Hours


Thesis is required for Creative Writing: The creative thesis should consist of original poetry single spaced, no more than one poem per page (Poetry Track), or of prose (Prose Track); either option should include an 8-10 page introduction that discusses the poetics or influences behind the thesis (this is not a self-examination or analysis of the work in the thesis). The student will be assigned an advisor for the thesis when 9 (nine) hours of course work are completed. The thesis itself is a cumulative document, not confined to work done during the registered 6 hours. Students normally register for the thesis during the last two semesters.

Oral Comprehensive Exam

 An oral comprehensive examination is required of all students, including the defense of a writing project of the student’s choosing either an ENGL 5998 research project, an ENGL 5999 thesis, or a revised class research paper.

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