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Graduate programs

Master of Arts, English

Rhonda Stanton, Graduate Director
Siceluff Hall, Room 209
Phone 417-836-6511


The MA in English seeks to impart advanced skills in writing, critical reading, and the analysis of language, as well as a broad, general knowledge of literature. Varying with students' interests, the MA prepares graduates for doctoral study and for careers in writing, teaching, and other professions.

Program description

Students complete a core of 18 hours and specialize in one of three tracks: (1) literature, (2) creative writing, or (3) TESOL.

Admission requirements

Due Dates: Admission applications are reviewed year-round, but applicants who are also applying for Graduate Assistantship positions in the English Department should make sure to submit all required application materials, for both admission and an assistantship, by March 1. (Review of English Department assistantship applications typically takes place in March, and the assistantship awards themselves typically begin during the following August.)

Admission to the program is based on the following components and Application Requirements/Deadlines:

  1. A bachelor's degree with undergraduate preparation in English or, in the case of applicants interested in TESOL, course work in language and linguistics;
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.00 overall;
  3. A completed Missouri State University Graduate Application; and
  4. The following materials must be submitted:
    • A personal statement (a 200- to 250-word description of the reasons and goals behind your interest in English graduate studies);
    • At least two letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak of the applicant's academic achievements and potential;
    • A 10-15 page writing sample or a set of writing samples totaling 10 to 15 pages;
    • Graduate Assistantship Application if the prospective student would like to be considered for this award (submitted directly to the English Department).

Applicants will be notified by mail once their application is complete. Students who do not meet 1 and 2, above, but show high promise, may be admitted conditionally. As conditions of admission, they may be required to take extra courses to address deficiencies (including weaknesses in writing) or they may have other requirements stipulated.

Accelerated Master's requirements (Accelerated Master's option available only for the Literature Track)

Admission Requirements:

  1. Junior standing, with an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher;
  2. Undergraduate major in B.A./B.S.-English, Literature Track;
  3. A minimum of 9 hours in Literature with no grade below B in these courses;
  4. Letters of recommendation from two Literature faculty members.

Once accepted, students may take up to 12 credit hours at the 600 level that will apply to both their B.A./B.S.-English, Literature Track and their M.A.-English, Literature Track. Before enrolling in a course to be counted as both undergraduate and graduate credit, undergraduate students must be accepted into the accelerated Master's program and complete a Mixed Credit Form. Acceptance into the program and all approvals must be completed before the end of the Change of Schedule Period for the course(s) to apply to the accelerated degree.

Core requirements (18 hours)

All students in the MA program in English must complete the following 18-hour core:

Additional degree requirements (minimum of 15 hours)

  1. Track Options & Requirements. The different tracks described below outline 15 additional hours of graduate-level course work. Students should choose electives with an awareness that at least half the credit hours applied toward the 33 hour requirement must be in courses numbered 700 or above.
  2. Language Proficiency. The language requirement may be met through one of the following options: (a) completion of 12 hours of undergraduate course work in a foreign language with at least a "C" average; (b) completion of the second intermediate foreign language college course with a grade of "C" or higher; (c) completion of 6 hours of undergraduate course work in one foreign language with at least a "C" average and completion of 6 hours of undergraduate course work in a second foreign language with at least a "C" average; (d) passing a reading competency test equivalent to the level of the second intermediate foreign language college course administered by the Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions; or with advisor's permission; (e) completion of an additional 3 hours of graduate-level linguistics course work (raising the student's degree minimum to 36 hours). M.A., English student in the TESOL track must meet this requirement through a, b, c, or d above. Any M.A., English student whose native language is not English will be considered to have met the language requirement.
  3. Research Requirement.
    Thesis: The thesis will ordinarily involve research on an original subject or an original approach to a subject. When appropriate, the thesis may be a creative work. Credit for the thesis (ENG 799), up to 6 hours, may apply to the minimum 33 hours required for the degree. A student must submit, and have approved, a formal thesis proposal before embarking on a thesis project and enrolling in ENG 799, Thesis.
    Degree Papers: The paper may be a critical, interpretive, or investigative study of an original topic or an original treatment of a subject, based on primary sources. When appropriate, the paper may be creative work. The project must derive from a course taken to satisfy a degree requirement
  4. Colloquia. Students are expected to attend and participate in academic and professional activities. These may be scheduled by the department or may include university and community events (scholarly conferences, professional workshops, lectures, and presentations).
  5. Comprehensive Examination. The graduate student in English takes the comprehensive examination during the last semester of course work or later.
    The comprehensive examination for the MA in English is based on reading lists that reflect the student’s particular degree emphasis. Each student will prepare for two examination areas, and write two, two-hour essays. Students should begin preparing for the examination early in their graduate studies.

Creative Writing track

In addition to the core and degree requirements listed above, students choosing the graduate track in creative writing must complete the following courses:

Literature track

In addition to the core and degree requirements listed above, students choosing the graduate track in literature must complete the following courses:

  • 9 Hours - Electives in literature, linguistics, theory, writing
  • 6 Hours - ENG 799 Thesis or alternative 700-level course work and a degree paper

TESOL track

Students choosing the graduate track in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) must satisfy the following course work as part of their core requirements: ENG 688, 691, 695, 793 and 796. In addition to the core and degree requirements listed above, these students must also complete the following courses:

For descriptions of the TESOL graduate certificate program and the Missouri DESE ELL (English Language Learners) K-12 Endorsement requirements, see the TESOL Certificate website. Students may also consult with the Coordinator of the TESOL program, Dr. Yili Shi.