Master of Arts in English

The Master of Arts (MA) program provides a platform for students to develop their unique perspectives as scholars, educators, and writers. For many, the MA affords an opportunity to develop a research agenda with an eye toward pursuing a Ph.D. For others, the program is a stepping stone to a career in fields such as education, publishing, or journalism.


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Program Requirements

Program Length

Requirements for the master’s degree should be completed within two years, though the Graduate School sets a six-year maximum on completion from the date of initial matriculation. A student must complete at least one course a year until course requirements are fulfilled. Students must maintain continuous registration throughout the graduate program.

Advisory Committee

MA work is guided by a Major Advisor appointed by the Graduate Director upon matriculation. Students should consult with the Major Advisor each semester about courses to be taken and other degree policies. Forms to change the Major Advisor are available in the Graduate English Office, and students are encouraged to select the Major Advisor most appropriate for their individual professional needs.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study for the master’s degree must be signed by a student’s Major Advisor, approved by the Graduate Office, and submitted to the Graduate School by the end of the third semester for the degree. In consultation with their Major Advisor, the student must indicate the courses taken and to be taken in fulfillment of requirements. If any changes are necessary after submission of the Plan of Study, a Request for Changes form or a memo from the student’s advisor must be submitted to the Graduate School. The form may be obtained from the Graduate English Office, or from the Graduate School website.

Application for Graduation Form to receive the MA. degree must be filed with the Graduate School through the Student Administration System. Students should consult the current academic calendar for instructions and deadlines for submitting this application.

Coursework Requirements and Policy on Incomplete Grades

Visit the UConn Graduate Catalog for course requirements for the current academic year, or view requirements from a past catalog year.

Course work is normally undertaken at the UConn Storrs campus. Transfer of up to six course credits from another institution’s graduate program, or from non-degree graduate coursework undertaken at UConn, may be accepted toward a master’s degree at Storrs, provided that such credits are not used to earn a degree at the other institution.

Distribution Requirements

All graduate students (MA, MA/PhD, and PhD) are required to fulfill three distribution requirements:

  • a course in pre-1800 texts,
  • a course in post-1800 texts, and
  • a course in theory.

For MA students, these requirements ensure breadth of study to support common pathways beyond that degree, including secondary education and doctoral work. For PhD students, these seminars provide vital context for the deeper investigations required by PhD exams and the dissertation.

The 1800 pivot date of the chronological distribution requirements is not meant to signal an important shift in literary or cultural history but instead establishes a midpoint in common areas of study; in asking students to take coursework on either side of 1800, these distribution requirements ensure that students in earlier periods look forward to later developments in the field and that students in later periods trace the field backward.

Students can fulfill these requirements in the following ways:

  • Take a course that focuses entirely on the distribution requirement’s stated area of study. For example, a Milton seminar would fulfill the pre-1800 requirement, a twentieth-century literature course would fulfill the post-1800 requirement, and a lyric theory seminar would fulfill the theory seminar requirement. Often, these courses are offered under course designations (such as ENGL 5330: Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature or ENGL 6500: Seminar in Literary Theory) that make clear their ability to fulfill distribution requirements. However, at times courses listed under more general course designations can fulfill these requirements. Consult with the instructor of record and the Director of Graduate Studies if a course’s eligibility to fulfill a distribution requirement is unclear.
  • Take a transhistorical seminar or a seminar organized by a methodology or thematic concern and complete research and writing in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study. Seminars that span centuries (such as  Shakespeare on Screen) or those that focus on a methodology or theme (such as Disability Studies) can fulfill the pre- or post-1800 distribution requirement if the student completes the major writing assignment of the seminar focusing on texts or ideas from the relevant chronological period. For example, if a student enrolls in a Medical Humanities seminar, they can fulfill the pre-1800 requirement by focusing their work for the course on a pre-1800 text, such as Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, even if the bulk of that seminar’s reading is post-1800. If they enroll in a seminar on adaptation of Arthurian texts, they can fulfill the pre-1800 requirement by completing work that draws substantially on Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur in theorizing modern retellings of that text. Please consult with the instructor of record to ensure that this type of work is possible if you plan on using a transhistorical, methodology-based, or thematic seminar to fulfill a distribution requirement.
  • Complete a teaching mentorship in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study.
  • Submit to the graduate office proof that you have completed a seminar in the distribution requirement’s stated area of study (unofficial transcripts and, if available, a syllabus) in the completion of a previous degree. Note that while coursework completed in the course of earning a previous degree can be used to fulfill English Department distribution requirements, those credits cannot count toward your UConn degree on your plan of study.

Note that some seminars can fulfill more than one distribution requirement. For example, a seminar in African American Literary Theory fulfills the theory distribution requirement and can, with relevant research writing, fulfill either the pre- or post-1800 requirement.

Students should email the graduate program administrator when they complete a distribution requirement to ensure that the graduate office keeps accurate records.

Policy on Incomplete Grades

The Graduate Executive Committee strongly discourages incompletes. However, the Committee recognizes that, at times, extenuating circumstances merit offering a student additional time beyond the semester to complete work for a seminar. In that case, the student should determine with the faculty member teaching the seminar a reasonable timeline for completing and submitting seminar work — ideally no more than one month. It is the student’s responsibility to remain in communication with their professor about outstanding work, especially if the student requires additional time.

According to the academic regulations of the Graduate School, if a student does not submit all work required to resolve an incomplete within 12 months following the end of the semester for which the grade was recorded, no credit will be allowed for the course. A limited extension of the incomplete beyond 12 months may be granted by the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the instructor, but the Graduate School is not obligated to approve an extension if the instructor of the course is no longer at UConn.

If a student accumulates more than three incompletes on their transcript, they will be placed on probationary status by the Graduate Executive Committee and may be required to resolve those incompletes before being allowed to register for additional coursework. A student whose transcript includes four or more grades of incomplete may not be eligible for a teaching assistantship.

MA Writing Project

MA students must complete a final writing project in their second year.

Students submitting a scholarly project should revise a seminar paper into a professional article of between 7000 and 8000 words in consultation with an appropriate faculty advisor.

Those who have taken one or more creative writing workshops may opt to submit a revised creative project. In this case, the candidate should work with a professor specializing in creative writing. The project should include 20-25 pages of creative work, accompanied by a short project overview that includes:

  • Project description (200-250 words). Please provide a description of how this writing fits into a larger project (if relevant) and your interests and preoccupations as a writer
  • Influences (200-250 words). Please offer a sense of the tradition(s) your work follows, including a consideration of genre, process, innovation, and the authors and artists who influence your work.
  • Working process (100-150 words). Please describe your writing and revising practice as it evolved with the work you have submitted, then offer a brief plan for how you will continue to revise or develop this piece of writing.

The deadline for the submission of the final writing project is March 1. Final writing projects will be evaluated by the MA Committee. An independent study to revise the paper cannot be counted toward the coursework requirements for the degree.