Department of English Graduate Program

The English M.A. program at Marshall University caters to the diverse needs of today’s graduate students. We encourage students to approach their studies from the perspective that aligns with their academic goals and career plans. Whether it’s Literary Studies, Composition/Rhetoric, or Creative Writing, our program offers flexibility at all levels.

A Closer Look @ The Graduate Program

Applicants should follow the admissions process described in this catalog or at the Graduate Admissions website at All admission materials must be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office.

In addition, to be admitted to the English department, an applicant must have:

  • an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for all previously completed undergraduate university work (otherwise strong candidates may be fully admitted with a 2.75 GPA);
  • a letter of interest/ personal statement identifying the applicant’s reasons for pursuing an M.A. and how the degree will contribute to the applicant’s broader plans (1-2 pages);
  • a writing sample of 8-12 pages (scholarly essay, creative writing, or language study), prefaced by a brief explanation of why this work has been selected;
  • at least three professional letters of recommendation regarding the applicant’s academic ability, at least two of which must be from college instructors. Applicants who are not able to obtain letters from college instructors may submit letters from other professional sources with a brief note of explanation.

International students and applicants who have earned a degree from a non-English institution must provide proof of English proficiency as follows: minimum of 80 on TOEFL IBT (or 550 paper based); IELTS 6.5; Duolingo 105.

Conditional Admission

The English M.A. program may admit applicants conditionally for one term, on a limited basis, at the discretion of the program.

Provisional Admission

The English M.A. program may admit applicants provisionally, on a limited basis, at the discretion of the program.

Upon completion of the program students will be able to:

  • articulate core issues in Literary Studies, Composition/Rhetoric, and/or Creative Writing from diverse perspectives; critique the major figures, works, and ideas in one or more of the above areas;
  • apply the research methods and approaches to inquiry used in Literary Studies, Composition/Rhetoric, and/or Creative Writing;
  • articulate recent developments in these fields as influenced by other disciplines;
  • elucidate major critical and cultural theories in Literary Studies, Composition/Rhetoric, and/or Creative Writing, and assess sources on those thoeries in relation to the field;
  • prepare a capstone project that demonstrates advanced knowledge and applied learning in Literary Studies, Composition/Rhetoric, and/or Creative Writing.

To earn the master’s degree in English the candidate must:complete 36 hours of coursework;

  • All students must take ENG 630 in their first fall semester.
  • Teaching Assistants must take ENG 560 in the fall semester and ENG 640 in their first spring semester.
  • Students are encouraged to select courses that best serve their academic purposes or career plans.
  • Students may take up to six graduate hours for credit outside the English Department as part of their coursework. In order to count toward credit for graduation, these courses must be relevant to the degree and be approved by the Department Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • complete a capstone project from one of the following options:
    • Thesis (6 credit hours of ENG 681)
    • Portfolio (ENG 682 plus a 600-level course of the student’s choosing)
    • Comprehensive Exams (ENG 683 plus a 600-level course of the student’s choosing)
  • maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average
  • earn six credit hours in a language other than English. Requirement may be fulfilled by:
    • documenting previous undergraduate coursework;
    • taking undergraduate courses while enrolled in the M.A. program (however, undergraduate courses do not count toward the M.A. degree)
    • demonstrating language ability to the satisfaction of the English Department.

Before registering for the 12th credit hour, students are required to file a Plan of Study with the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate College. The Plan of Study is a student’s blueprint for graduation.

In addition to the requirements in the Graduate College’s standards for Good Standing, a student pursing an M.A. in English will
1) earn no more than two grades of C or lower in any graduate course.