Tracks

Option 1a—Literature

  1. A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. No more than 6 hours may be taken at the 600 level. At least 6 hours must be taken at the 900 or seminar level. ENGL 998 does not count as a seminar or 900-level class. Exam option students will take 9 conventional courses (27 hours), plus 3 hours of ENGL 897 or another elective course. Thesis students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 899Portfolio students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 898.
  2. 3 hours (1 course) on Methods or Theory appropriate to different areas of focus in Literary Studies: ordinarily 708, 709, 800, or another course appropriately designated by the Graduate Director. A 998 (Directed Reading) directly focused on questions of methods and theory can fulfill this requirement if approved by the Graduate Director.
  3. 3 hours (1 course) on Pedagogy: the 801-802 sequence (required for TAs), 780, or other appropriate course as approved by the Graduate Director.
  4. 18 (6 courses with thesis or portfolio option) or 21 (7 courses with exam option) distribution hours to be selected in consultation with advisors (Graduate Director during first year and thereafter advisors with whom students plan to move toward exam or thesis options). At least one course must be pre-1700; at least one must be 1700-1900; and at least one must be after 1900. Two courses (6 hours) outside the department may be included in the 18 distribution hours with approval of the Graduate Director.
  5. Exam option (3 hours): the student will generally enroll in 3 hours of ENGL 897 (exam preparation hours) and must pass a 90-minute oral exam based on a 30-item exam list of literary and / or theoretical texts, including at least 6 items from before 1700; at least 6 items from 1700-1900; and at least 6 items from 1900-present. The student may opt to enroll in one additional 3-hour elective course instead of ENGL 897.
  6. Thesis Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 899 (MA or MFA thesis hours) over 2 semesters of thesis work: (1) a first semester of work with the thesis director leading to polished proposal with a bibliography; and (2) a thesis semester of writing leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the finished thesis (30-40 pages or the digital equivalent).
  7. Portfolio Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 898 (MA portfolio) over 2 semesters of work: (1) a first semester with the portfolio director, deciding on the shorter scholarly pieces to be included in the portfolio and drafting the cover essay (3-5 pages); and (2) a writing semester for crafting and revising the scholarly pieces, leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the polished portfolio (40-50 pages or the digital equivalent).

Option 1b—Literature and Literary Theory

  1. A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. No more than 6 hours may be taken at the 600 level. At least 6 hours must be taken at the 900 or seminar level. ENGL 998 does not count as a seminar or 900-level class Exam option students will take 9 conventional courses (27 hours), plus 3 hours of ENGL 897 or another elective course. Thesis students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 899Portfolio students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 898.
  2. 3 hours (1 course) on Methods or Theory appropriate to different areas of focus in Literary Studies: ordinarily 708, 709, 800, or another course appropriately designated by the Graduate Director. A 998 (Directed Reading) directly focused on questions of methods and theory can fulfill this requirement if approved by the Graduate Director.
  3. 3 hours (1 course) on Pedagogy: the 801-802 sequence (required for TAs), 780, or other appropriate course as approved by the Graduate Director.
  4. 18 (6 courses with thesis or portfolio option) or 21 (7 courses with exam option) distribution hours to be selected in consultation with advisors (Graduate Director during first year and thereafter advisors with whom students plan to move toward exam or thesis options). At least one course (3 hours) must be pre-1800; at least one (3 hours) must be post-1800. At least two courses (6 hours), besides the course used to fulfill requirement 2 (Methods or Theory) must focus primarily on Literary Theory. Two courses (6 hours) outside the department may be included in the 18 distribution hours with approval of the Graduate Director.
  5. Exam option (3 hours): the student will generally enroll in 3 hours of ENGL 897 (exam preparation hours) and must pass a 90-minute oral exam based on a 30-item exam list of literary and / or theoretical texts, including at least 6 items pre-1800; at least 6 items post-1800; and at least 12 items in theory. The student may opt to enroll in one additional 3-hour elective course instead of ENGL 897.
  6. Thesis Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 899 (MA or MFA thesis hours) over 2 semesters of thesis work: (1) a first semester of work with the thesis director leading to polished proposal with a bibliography; and (2) a thesis semester of writing leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the finished thesis (30-40 pages or the digital equivalent).
  7. Portfolio Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 898 (MA portfolio) over 2 semesters of work: (1) a first semester with the portfolio director, deciding on the shorter scholarly pieces to be included in the portfolio and drafting the cover essay (3-5 pages); and (2) a writing semester for crafting and revising the scholarly pieces, leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the polished portfolio (40-50 pages or the digital equivalent).

Option 2a—Rhetoric and Composition

  1. A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. No more than 6 hours may be taken at the 600 level. At least 6 hours must be taken at the 900 or seminar level. ENGL 998 does not count as a seminar or 900-level class. Exam option students will take 9 conventional courses (27 hours), plus 3 hours of ENGL 897 or another elective course. Thesis students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 899Portfolio students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 898.
  2. 3 hours (1 course) on Methods or Theory appropriate to different areas of focus in Rhetoric and Composition, ordinarily 780 (Composition Studies), or another course appropriately designated by the Graduate Director. A 998 (Directed Reading) directly focused on questions of methods and theory can fulfill this requirement if approved by the Graduate Director.
  3. 3 hours (1 course) on Pedagogy: the 801-802 sequence (required for TAs), 780, or other appropriate course as approved by the Graduate Director.
  4. 18 (6 courses with thesis or portfiolio option) or 21 (7 courses with exam option) distribution hours (6 courses) to be selected in consultation with advisors (Graduate Director during first year and thereafter advisors with whom students plan to move toward exam or thesis options). At least 6 hours in Rhetoric and Composition courses (including at least one seminar) beyond the courses used to fulfill requirements 2 (Methods and Theory) and 3 (Pedagogy).
  5. 6 hours of elective courses
  6. For students selecting the exam option, 6 hours in second exam area (rhetoric and composition specialty, English language studies, literature, literary theory), including at least one seminar
  7. Two courses (6 hours) outside the department may be included in the 18 distribution hours with approval of the Graduate Director.
  8. Exam option (3 hours): The student will generally enroll in 3 hours of ENGL 897 (exam preparation hours) and must pass a 90-minute oral exam based on two lists developed in consultation with advisors: a) a 15-item exam list of works in rhetoric and composition, and b) a 15-item exam list of works in a second area: literature, literary theory, English Language Studies, or specialty within rhetoric and composition. The student may opt to enroll in one additional 3-hour elective course instead of ENGL 897.
  9. Thesis Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 899 (MA or MFA thesis hours) over 2 semesters of thesis work: (1) a first semester of work with the thesis director leading to polished proposal with a bibliography; and (2) a thesis semester of writing leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the finished thesis (30-40 pages or the digital equivalent).
  10. Portfolio Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 898 (MA portfolio) over 2 semesters of work: (1) a first semester with the portfolio director, deciding on the shorter scholarly pieces to be included in the portfolio and drafting the cover essay (3-5 pages); and (2) a writing semester for crafting and revising the scholarly pieces, leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the polished portfolio (40-50 pages or the digital equivalent).

Option 2b –English Language Studies

  1. A total of 30 hours in English courses carrying graduate credit. No more than 6 hours may be taken at the 600 level. At least 6 hours must be taken at the 900 or seminar level. ENGL 998 does not count as a seminar or 900-level class. Exam option students will take 9 conventional courses (27 hours), plus 3 hours of ENGL 897 or another elective course. Thesis students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 899Portfolio students will take 8 conventional courses (24 hours), plus 6 hours of ENGL 898.
  2. 3 hours (1 course) on Methods or Theory appropriate to different areas of focus in English Language Studies: 785 or 787, or another course appropriately designated by the Graduate Director. A 998 (Directed Reading) directly focused on questions of methods and theory can fulfill this requirement if approved by the Graduate Director.
  3. 3 hours (1 course) on Pedagogy: the 801-802 sequence (required for TAs), 780, 781, or other appropriate course as approved by the Graduate Director.
  4. 18 (6 courses with thesis or porfolio option) or 21 (7 courses with exam option) distribution hours to be selected in consultation with advisors (Graduate Director during first year and thereafter advisors with whom students plan to move toward exam or thesis options). At least 6 hours in English Language Studies courses (including at least one seminar) beyond the courses used to fulfill requirements 2 (Methods and Theory) and 3 (Pedagogy).
  5. 6 hours of elective courses.
  6. For students selecting the exam option, 6 hours in second exam area (rhetoric and composition, literature, literary theory), including at least one seminar.
  7. Two courses (6 hours) outside the department may be included in the 18 distribution hours with approval of the Graduate Director.
  8. Exam option (3 hours): The student will generally enroll in 3 hours of ENGL 897 (exam preparation hours) and must pass a 90-minute oral exam based on two lists developed in consultation with advisors: a) a 15-item exam list of works in English Language Studies, and b) a 15-item exam list of works in a second area: literature, literary theory, or rhetoric and composition. The student may opt to enroll in one additional 3-hour elective course instead of ENGL 897.
  9. Thesis Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 899 (MA or MFA thesis hours) over 2 semesters of thesis work: (1) a first semester of work with the thesis director leading to polished proposal with a bibliography; and (2) a thesis semester of writing leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the finished thesis (30-40 pages or the digital equivalent).
  10. Portfolio Option (6 hours): The student must enroll in 6 hours of ENGL 898 (MA portfolio) over 2 semesters of work: (1) a first semester with the portfolio director, deciding on the shorter scholarly pieces to be included in the portfolio and drafting the cover essay (3-5 pages); and (2) a writing semester for crafting and revising the scholarly pieces, leading to the oral defense (90 minutes) of the polished portfolio (40-50 pages or the digital equivalent). 

Exam Options

Oral Exam 

If the student elects to take the final oral exam rather than write a thesis, they will ask a member of the graduate faculty of the Department (preferably his/her advisor) to be the chairperson of the examining committee. The other two members of the committee will be chosen in consultation with the committee chair. To be eligible for the examination, the candidate must have completed coursework or be scheduled to complete coursework the semester of the exam.

At least three weeks before the examination, the student must submit to each member of the examining committee the list of 30 texts, prepared in consultation with the chair of the examining committee, on which they wish to be examined. At the same time, the Graduate Secretary should be given a copy of the student’s list. Failure to meet this deadline will necessitate rescheduling the defense.

Students with committee members who plan to attend the defense via remote technology must be aware of college policy on teleconferencing/remote participation of committee members.

If a student wants to have as a committee member a person outside the university, or a person who is not in a full-time tenure-track professorship at KU, the student must contact the graduate secretary as early as possible. Applications for special graduate faculty status must be reviewed by the College and Graduate Studies. Requests for exam/defense approval will not be approved unless all committee members currently hold either regular or special graduate faculty status.

The exam room is reserved for two hours to allow for committee deliberation. The exam itself is limited to no more than ninety minutes.

Portfolio Exam 

If the student elects portfolio option, they will ask a member of the graduate faculty of the Department (preferably their advisor) to be the chairperson of the portfolio committee. The other two members of the committee will be chosen in consultation with the committee chair.

The portfolio is comprised of shorter scholarly pieces, as agreed upon by the committee, plus a brief cover essay of 3-5 pages, all totaling 40-50 pages of writing (or the digital equivalent).

At least three weeks before the examination, the student must submit the final draft of the portfolio to each member of the examining committee and inform the Graduate Secretary. Failure to meet this deadline will necessitate rescheduling the defense.

Students with committee members who plan to attend the defense via remote technology must be aware of college policy on teleconferencing/remote participation of committee members.

If a student wants to have as a committee member a person outside the university, or a person who is not in a full-time tenure-track professorship at KU, the student must contact the graduate secretary as early as possible. Applications for special graduate faculty status must be reviewed by the College and Graduate Studies. Requests for exam/defense approval will not be approved unless all committee members currently hold either regular or special graduate faculty status.

The exam room is reserved for two hours to allow for committee deliberation. The exam itself is limited to no more than ninety minutes.

Thesis Exam 

If the student elects the thesis option, they will ask a member of the graduate faculty of the Department (preferably their advisor) to be the chairperson of the thesis committee. The other two members of the committee will be chosen in consultation with the committee chair.

At least three calendar weeks prior to the defense date, the student will submit the final draft of the thesis (no more than 40 pages in length or the digital equivalent) to all the committee members and inform the Graduate Secretary. Failure to meet this deadline will necessitate rescheduling the defense.

Students with committee members who plan to attend the defense via remote technology must be aware of college policy on teleconferencing/remote participation of committee members.

If a student wants to have as a committee member a person outside the university, or a person who is not in a full-time tenure-track professorship at KU, the student must contact the graduate secretary as early as possible. Applications for special graduate faculty status must be reviewed by the College and Graduate Studies. Requests for exam/defense approval will not be approved unless all committee members currently hold either regular or special graduate faculty status.

The exam room is reserved for two hours to allow for committee deliberation. The defense itself is limited to no more than ninety minutes.

Although compelling arguments have been presented for eradicating the designation of "Honors" altogether, “Honors” on the written thesis is necessary for that work to be nominated for CLAS's annual competition for Outstanding MA Thesis. "Honors" will be given to theses that are rated "Outstanding" in all or most of the categories on the MA thesis rubric.

Time to Degree

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences lists maximum time to degree on their website. They are intent upon enforcing these time limits. University policy on MA program time constraints is here. Students should not expect the department to grant extensions of the above limits. Students who wish to request a leave of absence should begin the process with a discussion with the DGS. The DGS and Graduaes will file the request with the College Office of Graduate Affairs; leaves must be renewed on a yearly basis.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

To apply to the Ph.D. program, M.A. students must submit the materials required of any new applicant, including a new application form and fee. The student need not resubmit transcripts that were included in the M.A. application, but the applicant must submit a current KU transcript that shows all M.A. coursework.

Best Practices

The M.A. Oral Exam

Students preparing to take an MA exam should meet regularly with all of their committee members to discuss progress made on the exam reading list, which must consist of 30 texts. Informal conversations about the selected texts can help committee members to assess the candidate's readiness for the exam.

The oral examination is normally one and a half hours long. It is based on the student’s reading lists and assesses the student’s understanding of the works on it and their ability to make analytical, critical, synthetic, and historical judgments. The candidate should regard the examination as an opportunity to demonstrate their highest scholarly achievement.

The procedure of the exam usually allows for rounds of questions from each committee member. The chair generally divides the ninety-minute period into two sections of sixty and twenty minutes, leaving the final ten minutes for committee deliberation. In the first hour, each of the three committee members has twenty minutes to pose questions. The second round provides five to eight minutes for each committee member to pursue follow-up questions or ask about new material. The candidate usually consults with the chair and committee to determine the order of committee members and so forth. Note that this procedure is a matter of tradition and experience, but not a formal requirement. If the candidate and committee agree on an alternate procedure, they may pursue it. For the student’s official University record, the examiners will report one of two grades: Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory.

Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the exam. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student exams but not others.

The M.A. Portfolio

While the thesis consists of a single, scholarly piece of writing, the portfolio includes several shorter pieces, as agreed upon by the committee, plus a cover essay of 3 – 5 pages, all totaling 40 – 50 pages of writing (or the digital equivalent). The work should be of publishable or submission quality. Examples of scholarly pieces that might be included are a formal grant proposal; papers from the student’s coursework, substantially revised; a review essay; or a digital project. The cover essay explains how those scholarly pieces fit together theoretically or methodologically, and, for revised coursework, what changes were made.

A portfolio defense includes both questions about the topics, arguments, and methodologies of the various pieces of writing, as well as questions that discuss the unifying principles, and the significance of the writing within larger contexts in the field(s).

The work in the portfolio should be of publishable or submission quality. Examples of scholarly pieces that might be included are a formal grant proposal; papers from the student’s coursework, substantially revised; a review essay; or a digital project. The cover essay explains how those scholarly pieces fit together theoretically or methodologically and, for revised coursework, what changes were made. The portfolio will be accompanied by a 90-minute defense.

Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the portfolio defense. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student exams but not others.

The M.A. Thesis

After their graduate program is well-launched, normally at the start of their third semester of coursework, a student should confer with the Graduate Director about the way in which they expect to carry on the independent investigation that the Department and the Graduate School consider to be an essential feature of the M.A. degree.

If the student elects to write a thesis, which consists of a single, scholarly piece of writing, they will ask a member of the graduate faculty of the Department (preferably his/her advisor) to direct the thesis and be the chairperson for the thesis defense. Thesis committees consist of three faculty members: a chair and two other committee members, selected in consultation with the committee chair.

The other two members of the committee and the topic for the thesis will be chosen in consultation with the thesis during the start of the semester prior to that of the student’s anticipated graduation. At this time, the roles of the readers should be agreed upon. During this penultimate semester, the student should submit to all members of the thesis committee a short (1-2 page) prospectus and initial bibliography that makes clear the contribution of the thesis to the field. Students preparing their thesis should show writing selections to all of their committee members as they go along, for feedback and revision suggestions. They should also meet periodically with committee members to assess their progress.

The thesis itself requires substantial research and original argument and is written with the aspiration toward eventual publication. Although there is no set page requirement for the thesis, the length should be 30-40 pages or the digital equivalent.

A thesis defense includes both questions about the thesis topic, argument, and methodology, as well as questions that discuss the thesis within larger contexts in the field.

Students cannot bring snacks, drinks, treats, or gifts for committee members to the defense. Professors should avoid the appearance of favoritism that may occur if they bring treats to some student exams but not others.


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