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Master's Degree

M.A. Program

The English department offers four options for master's candidates. Master's students enrolling for the first time must choose one of the four options listed below.

  • Literature
  • Literature & Literary Theory
  • Rhetoric and Composition
  • English Language Studies

A GTA appointment includes a tuition waiver plus a competitive stipend. In the first year, GTA appointees teach English 101 (first year composition) and English 102 (a required reading and writing course). Third-year graduate students may have the opportunity to teach an introductory course in their field, and opportunities are available for a limited number of advanced GTAs to teach in the summer.

We do not currently offer any online degrees for the graduate program.

Tracks

  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 (M.A. or M.F.A. 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 (M.A. 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).
  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 (M.A. or M.F.A. 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 (M.A. 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).
  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 (M.A. or M.F.A. 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 (M.A. 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).
  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 (M.A. or M.F.A. 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 (M.A. 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

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 Program Coordinator 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.

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 Program Coordinator. 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.

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 Program Coordinator. 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 M.A. Thesis. "Honors" will be given to theses that are rated "Outstanding" in all or most of the categories on the M.A. thesis rubric.

Timeline

YEAR 1:

FALL SEMESTER

  • GTAs take 2 courses (801 + one), teach 2 courses. GRAs take 3 courses.
  • Visit DGS or assigned advisor once a month to update on progress and perceptions.

SPRING SEMESTER

  • GTAs take 2 courses (800 or 780 + one), teach 2 courses. GRAs take 3 courses. Pay attention to distribution requirements (pre-1700, 1700-1900, post-1900; pre-1800, post-1800, literary theory; rhet/comp; English language studies, etc.) depending on your track.
  • Visit DGS or assigned advisor at least once during the semester; discuss best advisor choices for Year 2

SUMMER SEMESTER

  • Enroll in Summer Institute if topic and/or methodology matches interests
  • Consider conferences suited to your field and schedule; choose a local one for attendance in Year 2. Simply plan to attend if you are getting a feel for future academic work; draft an Abstract for a conference paper (preferably with ideas/materials/writing drawn from one of your courses) if you are considering Ph.D. programs. Even if your abstract is not accepted, you can attend the conference without the pressure of presenting.

YEAR 2:

  • Attend at least one conference to familiarize yourself with procedures, network with other grad students and scholars in your field, and/or present a paper

FALL SEMESTER

  • Take 2 courses, teach 2 courses
  • Visit advisor in person at least once during the semester

WINTER BREAK

  • If you are considering Ph.D. programs, think about revising one of your seminar papers/independent study projects for submission to a journal. Research the journals most suited to placement of your piece. (“Research” would include talking to your advisor and the professor for whom the piece was originally written).
  • Decide whether you want to take the M.A. exam or write a thesis

SPRING SEMESTER

  • Take 2 courses, teach 2 courses.  If you have decided on the Exam, and you took one class in the summer of Year 1, these 2 courses will complete the required 9 classes for the M.A. degree.  If you have decided on the Thesis, take one conventional course to complete the required 8 classes and enroll in 3 hours of 899.
  • Visit advisor in person regularly during the semester

SUMMER SEMESTER

  • Summer teaching, if eligible
  • Enroll in Summer Institute if topic and/or methodology matches interests

YEAR 3:

FALL SEMESTER

  • Take 2 courses, teach 2 courses. Exam students: enroll in 3 hours of English 897 (exam prep). Thesis students: enroll in your second semester of English 899 hours.
  • Visit committee regularly during the semester
  • Final Oral Examination? (Thesis Defense or M.A. Exam)

SPRING SEMESTER

  • Might be necessary to complete hours/course requirements, or for additional polishing of the thesis.  
  • Final Oral Examination (Thesis Defense)

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 M.A. 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.

Graduate Contacts

Graduate Student Handbook

For department policies and best practices consult the graduate handbook.
Graduate Handbook (.pdf)