English, Master of Arts

The Master of Arts program in English invites applicants from any accredited college or university who wish to pursue graduate studies in British, American, and Anglophone literatures. The M.A. in English is designed to provide a broad background in English literatures and to introduce students to methods of critical analysis and scholarship. John Carroll’s Master of Arts students benefit from a comprehensive selection of course offerings, providing in-depth study of literature. The program allows ample opportunity to improve students’ research and writing skills so that our graduates can make exemplary contributions to their chosen fields, whether that means doctoral programs, university or secondary-school teaching, or a host of other careers in which critical thinking and skillful communication are prized.

Program Learning Goals

Students will:

  1. Analyze and evaluate texts to form and articulate accomplished interpretations of those texts.
  2. Produce extended written analyses of literary texts, informed by research, that demonstrate awareness of audience, knowledge of critical theory, understanding of formal elements of language and genre, formulation of an original question of thesis within the field, sophisticated organization, and clear and persuasive argumentation.
  3. Build oral communication skills by listening to others’ ideas and articulating their own responses and questions clearly to situate themselves in a larger critical and/or theoretical conversation that begins in but extends beyond the classroom.
  4. Incorporate knowledge of cultural and historical contexts of Anglophone and translated creative works into original interpretations of those works.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master’s program in English depends on a favorable evaluation of the applicant’s undergraduate record, GRE scores (general only) for those applying for a Graduate Assistantship (applicants not applying for a Graduate Assistantship do not need to send GRE scores), two recommendations from undergraduate professors, the applicant’s statement of purpose, and a sample of scholarly writing. Applicants should normally have a GPA in their major of at least 3.0. Undergraduate studies usually must have included six upper-division courses (18 hours) in English and American literature. Although applications for admission are accepted until one month before the start of the semester in which an applicant wishes to enroll, early application is recommended. Inquiries regarding Graduate Assistantships should be made directly to the department. Applications for assistantships, along with all supporting documents and test scores, must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies by February 15.

The department offers a plan of study, for 33 credit hours, leading to the M.A., that comprises at least ten courses, together with EN 598A and EN 598B, plus a comprehensive exam.

Students have the option of including one of two specializations in their degree program: Creative Writing or Composition and Rhetorical Studies.

Program Requirements

  1. Course of Study

    Students are required to take at least three courses that examine pre-Romantic materials, and at least three courses that examine materials from the Romantics onwards. Students who have selected one of the writing tracks will substitute writing workshops or related classes for four courses in literary periods. Students may take up to two courses at the 400 level.

  2. Comprehensive Exam

    Students choose one area for the comprehensive exam from seven historical time periods. Those specializing in Creative Writing or Composition and Rhetoric will take the exam corresponding to that track. See the M.A. Reading List for the exam list in each area.

  3. Essay

    Students write an essay of 25 to 35 pages. In the semester in which the student files his/her essay, the student, upon approval, must take EN 598B. In the semester before that in which the student files his/her essay, the student, upon approval, must take EN 598A. Those completing a creative project may write a longer final project—up to 100 pages—especially if that project is in prose.

    More details can be obtained in the Master of Arts in English Handbook available in the Department of English.

Graduate Assistant Scholarships


Financial aid is available in the form of Graduate Assistantships, including Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships.

Graduate Assistants are full-time students, but they provide crucial professional services in the Department of English, and their position carries a high level of responsibility and independence. In their first year, they typically assist a faculty member in a composition course during the first semester of study and then teach one composition course during the second semester. First-year GAs also tutor in the Writing Center. Second-year GAs typically teach one or two composition courses during fall term and one course during the final, or spring, term


A Department of English faculty committee selects Graduate Assistants from among a pool of applicants. The process is competitive.

Students interested in applying for the position should request application materials from the Office of Graduate Studies (http://sites.jcu.edu/graduatestudies).

The selection committee pays special attention to these materials submitted by applicants:

  1. Academic writing sample at least ten pages in length that demonstrates an awareness of the conventions of scholarly writing.
  2. Personal statement of the candidate’s aims for graduate study.
  3. Evidence that shows preparation for or promise of effective classroom teaching.
  4. At least two letters of recommendation by former professors.
  5. GRE scores.