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University of Utah    
  Feb 20, 2018
2017-2018 General Catalog

English, M.A.

Click HERE for Learning Outcomes


Masters studies is an integral part of the English Department at the University. To learn more about the programs offered, choose from the following:

American Studies MA

British & American Literature

Rhetoric and Composition

Admission Requirements


Students applying for the M.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D. degree programs must hold a B.A or B.S. degree from an accredited college or university, and have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 or higher. Students holding an M.A. or M.F.A. in English are eligible for admission into the Ph.D. program.

The B.A. to Ph.D. direct track option is available to applicants to any program who do not hold a master’s degree in the field. A candidate with a B.A. will submit application materials at the same time as other candidates (December 15). If accepted, the student receives a teaching assistantship for the first year.

Applicants who do not meet the above criteria may, in some cases, be admitted to the program on either a regular or probationary basis. Those denied admission into the Ph.D. direct-track program may instead be offered admission into the M.A. or M.F.A. program.

Instructions for Application Submission

Please read the following instructions carefully and submit a complete application by the English Department deadline of December 15 each year for the following fall semester. Since there is now only one application period each year, all applications will be considered for funding.

Please be sure to indicate in the appropriate places your name, address, and the specific program to which you are applying. If you are applying for admission to our doctoral program but will not have a master’s degree in the field of English upon entering our program, please choose “English-PHD,” and in the section labeled “Additional Information” indicate that you are applying for the B.A. to PHD track. Applicants who do not hold an M.A. or M.F.A. in English will automatically be considered for admission to the appropriate master’s program if they are not admitted to the doctoral program.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The application software permits applicants to list up to three areas of interest. These areas are in fact discrete tracks in our graduate program. The English Department graduate admissions committee treats applications that list multiple areas of interest as separate applications to different tracks. The graduate committee will consider applications only in the first two areas listed. If you want to apply to a third track in our program, you must submit a separate application, and pay a second application fee. 

Applications that are not submitted by the department deadline date of December 15th, will not be considered. Student portions of applications that are not complete by the appropriate deadline, or that are filled out incorrectly, will also not be considered. Please be sure to put your name on all application materials.

1. All applications must include a completed electronic University of Utah Graduate Application Form; there is no separate English Department application.
The English Department will not accept any applications that are mailed in; all application materials must be submitted and/or uploaded via the online application which can be found at: .

2. All applications must include a substantial critical writing sample (at least six pages). The critical sample should demonstrate your ability to elucidate the critical issues pertinent to a text and to conduct a sustained reading of a text or texts.

3. Applications for creative writing must include, in addition to the critical sample, a creative writing sample, either poetry, fiction, or non-fiction (approximately 10 pages). For the poetry sample, a small collection of poems is acceptable. For fiction or non-fiction samples, a short story, or a chapter or selection from a novel, a memoir, or an essay is acceptable. If your fiction and/or non-fiction samples are short, you can submit more than one piece. If you are applying to one creative genre only, please do not submit samples of different genres.

4. These writing samples must be uploaded into your electronic online application which can be found at: .

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you are submitting both a creative and a critical writing sample, please note that the application software allows applicants to our program to submit two files. Upload one critical and one creative file. If your creative sample, for example, consists of a few short pieces, be sure to incorporate them into one file. 

5. All applications must include three academic letters of recommendation from faculty who can assess your ability to do English graduate work; most recommendations, therefore, will come from faculty who know your work. You must submit the email addresses of your three recommenders via the online application which can be found at .

6. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  All applicants must include a statement of purpose explaining professional interests and goals. Please indicate what issues are raised in the criticism or writing of literature. What is the task of criticism? Or, what does creative writing seek to accomplish and how does it achieve effects?

7. International applicants who are not native speakers of English should note that they must demonstrate proficiency in English before they can receive financial assistance that involves teaching English Composition. Proficiency is partly demonstrated by a TSE or SPEAK score (40 on the TSE, 180 on the SPEAK). In addition, when considering international students for financial aid, the graduate program will attend carefully to the prose applicants submit.

8. The University must receive scores on the general GRE exam directly from ETS. The English graduate program sets no minimum cut-off score on this exam, but we are interested in applicants’ performance overall, especially on the verbal portion of the general exam. Please note that GRE scores tend to arrive approximately three weeks after the date of the exam. Therefore, if one is submitting an application for the December 15 deadline, the exam should be taken by the middle of November at the latest. If the exam is taken in December, your scores may not arrive in time, incurring some delay as we wait for scores to arrive. To expedite the arrival of your GRE scores, please use the University of Utah institution code (#4853) and the English Department code (#2501 for literature programs or #2503 for creative writing tracks).

International applicants must upload the appropriate fee, one official set of transcripts, and TOEFL results to: .

Applications will be distributed to members of the English Department graduate admissions committee soon after the application deadline. The English Department should be able to inform students of its decisions via email in the second week of March. The University of Utah Graduate Admissions Office will send official confirmation of this decision later. 

Deadlines for Application Submission:

The following deadlines may differ from the general University admission deadlines. Please follow the deadlines listed below if you are applying to the English graduate program.·         Beginning September 2011, the English Graduate Program will no longer have two application deadlines for the following fall semester; there will be one application deadline ONLY each year: December 15th for the following fall semester (i.e., December 15, 2014 for entry fall of 2015). Applications for admission to all programs, with or without funding, will be reviewed only once each year. All application materials must have been entered into the Apply Yourself system no later than December 15 for fall semester admission ( Note: If a deadline falls on a holiday or weekend, applications will be accepted through the following business day.

Applicants who apply for admission by the December 15 deadline will, by the end of February, be notified by mail of their admission status.

Please also note that there is NO Spring Semester admission to the English Department! 

General Program Policies And Requirements

Fulfilling the Foreign Language Requirement

Students in all programs, except the MFA, must demonstrate proficiency in one or more foreign language. MA students are required to demonstrate standard proficiency in one language; PhD students are required to demonstrate either standard proficiency in two languages or advanced proficiency in one language. See the policies section of the Graduate Handbook for each program for definitions of the specific levels of proficiency required for the degree.

There are three ways to fulfill the language requirement: 

  1. Students may take a language placement test; contact the Department of World Languages and Cultures for instructions and authorization.
  2. The language requirement may be fulfilled through coursework; please see the specific requirements of each program for details on this option.
  3. The language requirement may be fulfilled through a written translation exam administered by the department. Departmental examinations will be based on one or two passages (roughly 500 words total), typically nonfiction or critical prose of above average difficulty. Students will be evaluated on the correctness and fluency of their translation, and on the amount they translate. The exam will last 90 minutes, and students can use a dictionary; no other notes or resources are allowed. Student and examiner will both remain anonymous. For additional information, contact the Graduate Advisor.

Degree Requirements: M.A. American Studies

Candidates in the field of American Studies follow an interdisciplinary curriculum in American literature, history, art, and thought, making use of resources in various departments of the university. Library and faculty resources furnish opportunities for special emphasis on the culture of the American West. The English Department offers its own interdisciplinary courses, but students may also take courses in other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, communications, visual arts, folklore, and sociology.

Students will select a program of study either in Western American Studies (two courses would be taken from departmental offerings that focus on the region’s literature, history, etc.) or in another discipline (two courses would be taken in other disciplines). The student should meet early in his or her career with the chair of the American Studies Committee to plan a program of study. No thesis is required. Students will pass a four-hour in-house exam as well as a weekend take-home exam. The application deadline for entry into the M.A. program with or without financial aid is December 15 for the following fall semester.


M.A. students will take ten courses of at least three credit hours each at the 6000- and 7000- level. Teaching colloquia do not count toward this requirement; nor does 6910 (Independent Study) unless approved by the Graduate Director. The coursework will fall into three categories, and a single course may not be used to meet requirements in more than one category:

Literary History (courses that emphasize broad knowledge of a particular period, whether or not course rubrics conform to conventional period divisions):

At least 3 courses (with two courses focusing on literature before 1900, one of these courses focusing on colonial or early national literature)

Topics in Literary, Cultural, and Interdisciplinary Study: At least 3 courses (includes two courses in other disciplines or designated interdisciplinary courses within the English department)

Theory and Critical Problems: At least 2 courses, including English 6480 (Foundations of Literary Theory–Overview)

(Other possibilities for meeting this requirement include seminars in critical theory and designated coursework in Rhetoric and Composition, Folklore, and Film Studies.)

The M.A. degree in American Studies requires a total of ten courses, of which at least three are electives.

M.A. Exam

This examination is administered during the spring semester, the open book examination will be in three parts:

  1. a two-hour long literary problem assuming a close knowledge of a selected list of readings in American literature,
  2. a two-hour problem in American thought and culture based on selected readings in American intellectual history, and
  3. a weekend take-home problem involving a library experience in scholarship and criticism. This problem will be designed to complement the student’s coursework in either another discipline or in Western American studies.

Students have three chances to pass the exam, and must be registered for at least three hours during the semester the exam is taken.


Degree Requirements: MA British & American Literature

The British and American Literature MA is designed to help students achieve advanced knowledge of the periods and genres of literature written in English. It also offers scholars a command of issues in literary criticism and literary history. The department has particular strengths in early modern and nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, as well as narrative theory and contemporary criticism.

M.A. students will take ten courses of at least three credit hours each. Students must earn a final grade of “B” or better in these courses. In addition, M.A. students must pass a comprehensive six-hour exam. Courses in allied fields may be included in the program of study if approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Studies, as long as a minimum of 24 hours in English courses is completed. No thesis is required.

The application deadline for entry into the M.A. program with or without financial aid is December 15 for the following fall semester.


Students will take ten courses of at least three credit hours each at the 6000- and 7000- level. Teaching colloquia do not count toward this requirement, nor does 6910 (Independent Study) unless approved by the Graduate Director. Students must complete Foundations of Literary Theory–Overview, English 6480. Students must also complete at least two 7000-level seminars. Courses in allied fields may be included if approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, as long as students complete a minimum of 24 hours in English courses. No more than two courses may be transferred from another university.

Coursework Requirements:


Five courses in literary history at the 6000- or 7000 level, including at least one covering literature before 1830, and one covering literature before 1700, as well as at least one course focusing on American literature, and one focusing on British literature

At least two 7000-level seminars (both may count toward the historical requirement)

Four electives chosen from the 5000-, 6000-, or 7000-level. Students register for 5000-level courses as 6910, and only with prior approval or the Director of Graduate Studies

M.A. Exam:

This is a six-hour comprehensive open-book exam which is given in the spring. Students are asked to explicate a poem and write essays on specific questions about previously assigned texts in poetry, fiction, and drama. Students’ anonymity is preserved during grading of the tests by faculty. Scores of “fail,” “pass,” and “honors” may be awarded; students have three chances to pass the exam in order to graduate. Students must be registered for at least three hours during the semester in which the exam is taken.

Degree Requirements: M.A. Rhetoric & Composition

Masters’-level study in Rhetoric and Composition is designed to help students understand theories of persuasive discourse and related pedagogical, public, and scholarly practices. Through coursework in the University Writing Program and its allied departments, especially English, students will have opportunities to develop their knowledge of rhetoric and writing as they interact with faculty members and fellow students in a range of fields, including literary studies, communication, education, and linguistics.


Total of ten courses distributed as follows:

  2. Three core courses in rhetoric and composition selected from:



  3. Three courses selected from 6000- or 7000- level courses in ENGL
  4. Three courses selected from 6000- or 7000-level courses in COMM, ECS, ENGL, and/or LING, to be approved by the UWP Director and the ENGL DGS
MA exam - two parts:

One question that addresses perspectives on rhetoric and composition from allied disciplines, including English/literary studies, communication, education, and linguistics (timed)

One question exploring a topic that arises from the student’s core courses in rhetoric and composition (take-home)