Program Overview

Program Overview

Through the study of writing, literature, culture, and media, the English MA at KU prepares students for success on their terms. Students have the flexibility to:

  • Build a broad knowledge of literature, culture, and theory;
  • Cultivate essential skills in analysis and advanced critical judgment;
  • Master the craft of inquiry and research;
  • Hone writing and communication skills;
  • Bridge disciplines and practice critical reading and writing strategies;
  • Develop advanced pedagogical techniques;
  • Prepare for further graduate studies;
The Master of Arts Degree builds on three required courses intended to provide a foundation for advanced study of English:
English 502—Introduction to Graduate Study in English explores both the opportunities and the challenges of careers in writing, teaching, and scholarship.
English 575—Literary Criticism examines the questions and problematic assumptions readers bring to texts.
The Pre-1900 requirement offers a variety of courses intended to ground students in the deep history of English language and literature.

For the remainder of their coursework, students select from 38 regularly offered classes in an array of exciting subjects. Students are welcome to include three hours of coursework from a discipline outside English Studies.

Shaping their program of study to their needs, students choose between 400-level surveys and 500-level seminars. Our 400-level foundations classes are designed to either broaden students’ exposure to key literary fields or hone skills in writing and pedagogy. In these classes, graduate students work alongside advanced undergraduates. By contrast, 500-level seminar courses are planned to bring students into deep examination of defined subjects. These courses emphasize sustained inquiry and culminate in significant writing projects.

Graduating students will complete either a thesis or a capstone portfolio. Continuing a proud tradition, the thesis is a polished intellectual accomplishment showing mastery of a subject. By demonstrating a student’s command of both primary material and the critical history, the thesis is ideal for students who intend to pursue advanced graduate study in a doctoral program.

Alternatively, the portfolio option asks students to identify and reflect critically on the intellectual connections between projects composed for previous classes and revise those projects substantially. While this option may serve students set on doctoral study, it is an ideal complement for teachers and writers because it allows students to define their scholarly identity while they extend their studies. Whether choosing the thesis or the portfolio option, a student will work closely with a team of faculty mentors who will oversee the scholarship and help the student navigate the research and writing process.

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