MA in English

A Master’s program that focuses on future applications, not just history

Unlike traditional MA programs, which prioritize literary history, the IU MA in English focuses on applications of English studies, with emphases on pedagogy and editing. Our MA program gives you flexibility in fashioning a course of study: we require only eight credit hours of core courses with the remaining hours electives, tailored to your interests and goals. Choose either a thesis (36 credit hours) or a non-thesis option (40 credit hours), and concentrate on literature, writing, or linguistics. Our program will prepare you for many kinds of professions—editors, teachers, professors, arts administrators, writers, and scholars. One recent graduate is now a staff writer for the New York Times. Another works as an acquisitions editor at Random House. Recent graduates of our MA programs have gone on to professional positions as journal editors, managing editors, marketing, communications specialists, and other positions with major publications and companies. At least nine recent alumni are currently pursuing Ph.D. or M.F.A. degrees.

Course Requirements

Even if you are already enrolled in the English MA Program, you may select one of the two options outlined below after consulting with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in English and/or other faculty advisors in English. You will then submit a brief written statement to the DGS that presents a rationale for their choice. As can be seen in the description of the two alternative courses of study below, if you choose not to write a thesis you will be required to take eight additional credit hours of course work, for a total of 40 credit hours.

The three core courses, which carry 4 credit hours each, introduce three major areas in the discipline of English: language (G500 Introduction to the English Language), writing (W509 Introduction to Writing and Literacy Studies), and literature (L506 Introduction to Methods of Criticism and Research). Students are required to take two of the three core courses, preferably at the beginning of the graduate program.

The M.A. in English requires 36 or 40 credit hours, depending on the option you choose:

Core Courses

At the beginning of your graduate career, you will take two core courses that introduce major areas in the discipline of English:

  • Language: ENG-G 500, Introduction to the English Language, 4 credits
  • Literature: ENG-L 506, Introductory Methods of Criticism/Research, 4 credits
  • Writing: ENG-W 509, Introduction to Writing and Literacy Studies, 4 credits

Thesis Option:

  • Required Courses: Students must take two of the program’s three core courses for a total of 8 credit hours
  • Electives: Students choose six courses in consultation with a faculty advisor for a total of 24 credit hours. These 24 hours may include a third core course and up to 8 credit hours of Internship.
  • Required: MA thesis. 4 Credit hours.

Total: 36 credit hours

Non-thesis Option:

  • Required Courses: Students must take two of the program’s three core courses for a total of 8 credit hours
  • Elective Courses: Students choose eight courses in consultation with a faculty advisor for a total of 32 credit hours. These 32 credit hours may include a third core course and up to 8 credit hours of Internship.

Total: 40 credit hours

Download the Non-Thesis Proposal form here [PDF].

No more than eight credit hours may be transferred from another institution. Degree requirements (including transfer credits) must be completed within five consecutive years of beginning graduate study that ultimately counts toward the M.A. degree.


M.A. students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B).

MA in English Degree Requirements

Admission Requirements

  • Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the student’s undergraduate major, documented by an official transcript. Applicants are expected to have been English majors, but admission also is considered for those who otherwise demonstrate the competency necessary for successful graduate work in English.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Personal Statement (500-750 words): As part of your graduate application, you will be asked to upload a personal statement.  Please use the following outline in writing your statement:
    Describe your reasons for applying to graduate school in general and our program in particular.  What aspects of our program do you see as being a good fit for you and your objectives?
    What has prepared you to do graduate work in English Studies?  These qualifications might include academic degrees (BA in English or a related field), work-related or teaching experience, study or travel abroad, significant research or writing projects, etc.
    In what area or areas of the program (writing, literature, creative writing, linguistics, TESOL) do you see yourself doing the bulk of your coursework? Do you plan to complete any certificates along with the MA?  Do you plan to study full or part-time?  Do you see yourself writing a thesis, and if so, on what topic?
    What are your long-range career and/or personal goals, and how do you see your MA degree helping you to achieve those goals?
    Describe any specific opportunities you want to be considered for, including fellowships, assistantships, study abroad opportunities, etc.
  • Follow the IU Indianapolis application procedure.  Note: If you have already submitted an application for a graduate or certificate program in English at the IU School of Liberal Arts, you will need to use a new pin and password. If this is the case, please contact The Graduate Office so your application fee can be waived.

Foreign Language Requirements

There is no foreign language requirement, but M.A. students going on for the Ph.D. are encouraged to validate their reading proficiency in a foreign language according to University Graduate School standards.

For more information contact:

Karen Kovacik
Director of Graduate Studies
English Department