MA Program

Introduction

The MA program is a two-year program with 30 hours of coursework, including at least 15 hours in graduate seminars at the 8000-level. Coursework builds on a student's Bachelor’s-level knowledge of her or his field to provide a broad perspective on literature and culture while allowing for specialization and advanced research work.

Funded students receive tuition benefits and stipend each year. In their first year, funded students receive teaching training in their first semester, and teach one section of English 1000 while taking three courses per semester. In their second year they teach two sections of English 1000 each semester, complete coursework, and write an MA Thesis.  (Note: Admission to the funded MA program is temporarily suspended.)

Self-funded students may also be admitted to the MA program if they can provide external funding, either paid by themselves or by another organization. The self-funded MA provides students with the opportunity to complete coursework within a more adaptable, individually personalized timeline; students may attend courses full-time or part-time and have the option of completing a low-residency program. The part-time option is especially convenient for working professionals.

In the low-residency program, students attend in-person classes in Columbia for 1-2 semesters to satisfy the 8000-level course requirements. In subsequent semesters, students may shift to completing their remaining course requirements by taking 7000-level courses online and by completing their thesis hours by working remotely with an advisor. This second phase of the low-residency program can be completed either full-time or part-time. (Note: during COVID many of our 8000-level courses are being offered online)

Students can pursue the MA either part time or full time, but all students must complete the MA program in the eight-year time limit mandated by the Graduate School.

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Degree Timelines
Full-time MA

Year One:

All students:

  • Take 8005: Introduction to Graduate Study
  • Take three 3-credit courses each semester, covering depth and breadth as required (see “Course Requirements” tab for details)
  • Choose an advisor and consult with them about forming a thesis committee  

Students with teaching assistantships:

  • Take 8010: The Theory and Practice of Composition
  • A ¼-time assistantship in the fall with training to teach composition through shadowing in the Composition program and through tutoring in the Writing Center. 
  • Teach one section of English 1000 in spring

Year Two:

All students:

  • Complete coursework
  • Enroll in thesis hours
  • Write MA thesis

Students with teaching assistantships:

  • Teach two sections of ENGL 1000 each semester

 

Part-time self-funded MA

Note: the timeline below outlines three years of study, but per the Graduate School’s requirement, students may take up to 8 years to complete the MA degree.

Year One:

  • Take 8005: Introduction to Graduate Study
  • Enroll in at least one 3-credit course each semester, including the fall, spring, and summer semesters, covering depth and breadth as required (see “Course Requirements” tab for details). Please note that graduate level summer course offerings are limited.
  • Choose an advisor

Year Two:

  • Enroll in at least one 3-credit course each semester, including fall, spring, and summer semesters. In some cases, 3 thesis hours can be taken in the summer, after the second year.
  • Consult with advisor to form MA thesis committee.

Year Three:

  • Enroll in at least one 3-credit course each semester, including fall and spring semesters
  • Enroll in thesis hours during fall and spring semesters
  • Complete MA thesis

 

Full-time low-residency MA

Year One:

  • Take 8005: Introduction to Graduate Study
  • Complete all 8000-level courses, including one critical theory course and one literature course/each in two of the three historical periods listed in “Course Requirements”
    • 8000-level courses are typically only available in person
    • Depending on course offerings, you may be able to fulfill all in-person requirements during the fall semester
  • Choose an advisor and consult with them about forming a thesis committee

Year Two:

  • Complete coursework by taking 7000-level courses online
  • Enroll in thesis hours
  • Write MA thesis

 

Part-time low-residency MA

Note: the timeline below outlines three years of study, but per the Graduate School’s requirement, students may take up to 8 years to complete the MA degree.

Year One:  

  • Take 8005: Introduction to Graduate Study
  • Complete all in-person 8000-level courses, including one critical theory course and one literature course/each in two of the three historical periods listed in “Course Requirements”
    • In order to complete all 8000-level requirements in person, students should plan to spend their first year of the program taking at least 4-6 units/semester before shifting to part-time online study in subsequent years
  • Choose an advisor

Year Two:

  • Enroll in at least 3 online credit hours each semester at the 7000-level, including fall, spring, and summer semesters, covering depth and breadth as required
  • Consult with advisor to form MA thesis committee

Year Three:

  • Enroll in at least one 3-credit course each semester at the 7000-level, including fall and spring semesters
  • Enroll in thesis hours during fall and spring semesters
  • Complete MA thesis
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Course Requirements

30 hours total of coursework of which 15 hours must be at the 8000 level. These 15 hours at the 8000 level may include up to 6 hours of English 8090 (thesis hours) and, in special circumstances and by permission of the DGS, 3 hours of Independent Study (English 8095). The remaining hours may be either 7000 or 8000 level.

3 hours in critical theory (English 8050, English 8060, or English 8070)

Introduction to Graduate Study (English 8005): 1-credit class required in Fall semester of the first year

3 hours are required in 2 of the following 3 areas of literature at the 8000 level. However, for students concentrating in literature, 3 hours are required in each of the following 3 areas:

  • pre-1700
  • 1700-1900
  • 1900-present

Under special circumstances and with the approval of the DGS, for literature students one of these three areas can be fulfilled with a 7000-level class.

9 hours at the 8000 level are required in one of the following concentrations (7000 level courses can be substituted with the approval of the DGS):

  • Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Language and Linguistics

Students can take up to 9 hours outside the English Department with approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

The MA Thesis includes up to 6 hours of English 8090. Students generally take 3 hours in the fall and then 3 more in the spring semester.

English 8010: The Theory and Practice of Composition is required in the fall of the first year for students who will teach English 1000.

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Selecting a Thesis Committee

A student's thesis committee provides the broad academic advising that will ensure success in the field. Committee members should be chosen in conjunction with the faculty advisor. Students should begin approaching potential faculty committee members by the end of their first year in the program. The committee is registered with the Graduate School with the M-2 form. The M-2 form, for an MA thesis committee, should be filled out by the end of the first year in the program.

The MA committee contains at least three members. Students may choose either three faculty members from the English department or two faculty members from the English department and one MU faculty member from outside of the English department.

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MA Thesis

The thesis requires independent research at the graduate level in a sustained consideration of a critical or creative project. The MA thesis may build on work produced in coursework but must also include significant new work.

Students present and defend their theses to a committee (composed of two members in the department and one outside member) in an oral defense. 

Required length: 40-60 pages

The successful thesis in Literature will:

  • support an argument with insightful textual analysis.
  • show a command of clear academic prose.
  • demonstrate an awareness of current critical, theoretical trends and/or historical contexts relevant to the project.
  • use library resources to locate and select critical and/or historical sources, and connect them meaningfully to the central text(s).
  • show proficiency in documentation and bibliography.

The successful thesis in Creative Writing will:

  • constitute a polished piece or collection of creative work in the candidate's genre of specialization.
  • demonstrate a nuanced understanding and practice of the genre and/or form in question.
  • by including an annotated bibliography of at least 10 entries or a critical introduction of no more than 15 pages, demonstrate a critical engagement with the practice, history, and/or theorization of creative writing.

The successful thesis in Language and Linguistics will:

  • identify and investigate a problem or question that is relevant to current debates in the field.
  • situate the investigation within the relevant scholarship with appropriate citation of the literature.
  • demonstrate command of methodological and analytical tools suitable for the investigation.
  • demonstrate command of effective writing in an appropriate academic register.

In their first year, students should discuss possible thesis topics with the Director of Graduate Studies and faculty members likely to constitute the student's MA Thesis Committee.

The MA Thesis includes up to 6 hours of English 8090. Students generally take 6 hours of thesis credit in one semester while doing research and writing. Some will take 3 hours in the fall and then 3 more in the spring semester if they are working closely with an advisor at the outset of the second year. Students may apply up to 6 hours of 8090 towards the 8000-level course requirement.

For instructions on how to format your thesis see the grad school.

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MA/PhD

The MA/PhD program is intended for especially well-prepared students who have BA degrees and know they wish to pursue the PhD. It offers enhanced financial support and an accelerated time to degree. In their first year in the program, students take three courses per semester. In their first semester, they receive teaching training through shadowing in the Composition Program and through tutoring in the Writing Center and in their second semester, they teach one section of English 1000, receiving a substantial stipend to ensure that they complete their work in a timely manner. In their second year, while writing the MA thesis, and seventh year, while writing the dissertation, and one additional year of their choice, MA/PhD students teach a reduced schedule of two classes in the fall and one class in the spring without a reduction in pay from our regular PhD package. Students complete MA requirements and begin taking PhD coursework in their second year in the program. Academic requirements for the two degrees are identical with the academic requirements for the separate MA and PhD degrees.

Contact

Emma Lipton
Director of Graduate Studies for Advising and Admission
liptone@missouri.edu