Academic Programs Catalog

College of Arts and Letters

Graduate Study

Graduate study in the Department of English leads to the Master of Arts or the Doctor of Philosophy degree.  Each degree represents a different level of understanding, focus, and skill in such related areas as literary theory and history, the study of literature within historical contexts, and the study of literary authors, genres, and movements.

General Requirements for Consideration for Admission to Master's and Doctoral Degree Programs in the Department of English

To be considered for admission to a master's or doctoral degree program in the Department of English, an applicant must:

  1. Include in the letter required by the college a 750–1000 word statement giving the applicant's academic background and reasons for pursuing the advanced degree for which application has been made.
  2. Have three persons who are qualified to comment upon the applicant's ability to pursue graduate study forward letters of recommendation to the department.

Students are admitted to the master's  and doctoral programs for fall semester only.  The deadline for submitting applications for admission is December 15.

Master of Arts

Students in the Master of Arts degree concentrate on the study of literature in English; this course of study is designed to develop the skills associated with literary scholarship and criticism, as well as literary and cultural theory, thus serving persons who wish to continue beyond the master’s degree and those who wish to deepen their understanding of the critical and creative processes associated with the study of literature while pursuing or preparing for careers in other fields.



Literature in English - Master of Arts

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, of the College of Arts and Letters, and of the Department of English, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts degree program in literature in English, an applicant must:

  1. Have the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test forwarded to the department.
  2. Submit to the department a writing sample that reflects aptitude for critical and scholarly writing.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A baccalaureate degree in English or a related field.
  2. Completed a minimum of 20 semester credits in English courses, exclusive of freshman composition, with a grade–point average of at least 3.50.
  3. Completed two years of study in a foreign language at the college level.

Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Literature in English

Students must complete a total of 31 credits for the degree under Plan A (with thesis) or 30 credits for the degree under Plan B (without thesis).  The student's program of study must be approved by the Graduate Chairperson. Not more than 4 credits of ENG 890  Independent Study may be counted toward the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Literature in English.  English 890 may not be substituted for any required course.

Requirements for Both Plan A and Plan B

  1. Complete the following course within the first two semesters of enrollment in the program  (3 credits):
    ENG    802    Literary Criticism and Theory                3
  2. Complete 24 additional credits of graduate work in English or related fields with attention to issues of criticism and theory, literary and cultural history, and multinational or global literary traditions. No more than 6 credits of course work outside the department may count towards the degree. Students must complete two courses in English literatures, one from before 1800 and one after 1800.
  3. Demonstrate second-year proficiency at the college-level in a language other than English through completion of course work through the 200-level, by passing an examination of reading comprehension, or completion of a 400-level reading course for graduate students in a language other than English.

Additional Requirements for Plan A

  1. Complete 4 credits of ENG 899  Master's Thesis Research.
  2. Pass a final oral certifying examination on the thesis and course work.

Additional Requirements for Plan B

  1. Complete a graduate course within or outside the Department of English.
  2. Submit a portfolio taken from course work and pass a final certifying examination on the course work.


English - Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university, of the College of Arts and Letters, and of the Department of English, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in English, an applicant must:

  1. Have the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test forwarded to the department.
  2. Submit a writing sample, written at the master's level, that reflects the candidate's critical and scholarly abilities.

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have:

  1. A master's degree in English or in an appropriate cognate area.
  2. An academic record that reflects graduate work of high quality.
  3. Met the foreign language requirement for admission on regular status to the Michigan State University Master of Arts degree program.
  4. Students currently enrolled in the Master of Arts degree program must have completed all of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Literature in English.

Students who are admitted to the doctoral degree program in English before they have satisfied the requirements referenced in items 3. and 4. above must do so before they may take the comprehensive examinations.  Credits in courses that are used to satisfy these requirements may not be used to satisfy the requirements for the doctoral degree.

To be admitted on an accelerated basis to the doctoral degree program in English, after one year of Master of Arts course work, students must:

  1. Be enrolled in the Michigan State University Department of English Master of Arts program in Literature in English.
  2. Submit a statement of purpose of 750-1000 words describing the student’s specific area of interest(s) and desired area(s) of emphasis.
  3. Submit two letters from faculty members who support their application for accelerated admission.
  4. Completed a minimum of five courses at Michigan State University, including at least one of the required courses and two seminars in literature from different periods.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in English

The student must:

  1. Complete both of the following courses within the first four semesters of enrollment in the program (4 credits):
    ENG    802    Literary Criticism and Theory                    3
    ENG    820    Professionalization Seminar                       1
  2. Complete an additional 21 credits of graduate course work in English or related fields with attention to issues of criticism and theory, literary and cultural history, and multinational or global literary traditions with a grade-point average of at least 3.5. This course work must include a course that covers literature before 1800 and one course that covers literature after 1800.  Not more than 3 credits of independent study may be used to satisfy this requirement. All required course work must be completed before students may enroll in dissertation research credits. Any exceptions must be approved by the graduate chairperson.
  3. Complete a language requirement at the college-level to provide students with the tools they need to conduct research in languages other than English.  Each student should work in consultation with the Guidance Committee or with the Director of Graduate Studies to determine which language or languages are most appropriate for the student’s research topic, and which one of the following two options will best fulfill this objective in light of the student’s chosen area of study.
    1. Demonstrate advanced reading proficiency at the college-level in any language other than English through completion of course work in the language at the 400-level or above, or by passing an advanced reading comprehension and translation exam.
    2. Demonstrate second-year proficiency at the college-level in two languages other than English through completion of course work through the 200-level, or by passing an examination of reading comprehension.
  4. Pass the doctoral comprehensive examination.
  5. Pass an oral examination on the comprehensive examination.
  6. Complete requirements 1. through 3. above and have a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all graduate course work before beginning work on the dissertation. Students must complete 24 credits of English 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
  7. Pass a pre-dissertation examination that consists of an oral presentation based on a written proposal of the dissertation.
  8. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Academic Standards

A student who fails the comprehensive examinations, the oral examination, or the final oral examination in defense of the dissertation may repeat that examination only once.