MA in English Handbook
The Master of Arts (MA) program in English Literature equips graduate students with
the knowledge and skills necessary both to the outstanding teacher and to the well-prepared
candidate for further graduate study. The graduate committee of the department accordingly
requires its master's candidates to follow a course of advanced study that leads to
a comprehensive knowledge of English and American literature. Candidates are also
given training in the principles of literary criticism and in the use of bibliographic
tools so that they will have a general competence in criticism and research. This MA in English Literature Handbook is applicable to all students who enrolled
in the degree program during or after the Fall 2019 catalog year.
The MA in English Literature is a 30 credit hour degree that can be completed in two
years. Students earn credits by completing the following coursework:
- 3 credit hours in Engl 700: Introduction to Graduate Study
- 12 credit hours in literary seminars focused on both pre- and post-20th century American
and British literature
- 9-12 credit hours in electives emphasizing a variety of research fields
- 3-6 credit hours in a capstone project, either the Master's Thesis (3-6 credit hours)
or the Master's Portfolio (3 credit hours)
Please see below for more details.
Applicants must meet the general requirements of the Graduate School, with the additional
requirement that they have a 3.000 grade point average in their previous work in English
courses. The coordinator of graduate studies in English will then evaluate the applicant's
transcript, prescribing additional undergraduate hours for those who have fewer than
24 credit hours in English and American literature or in other work acceptable to
the department of English. Courses in freshman composition, grammar, teaching methods,
journalism, speech, etc., may not be included in the required 24 hours. Exceptions
may be made for outstanding students who have majored in related fields.
In addition to Graduate School application materials, applicants to the English MA
program should submit a 500 word statement of purpose explaining their goals or reasons
for pursuing an MA in English as well as their skills, accomplishments, or experience
that suggest they will be able to succeed in the program. The English department Master
of Arts program accepts applications for admission on an ongoing basis.
Applicants who have earned degrees at institutions in countries in which English is
not the native language of instruction must score at least 600 paperbased, or 100
Internet-based on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) Examination, or
an overall band score of 7.5 on the IELTS before being admitted to the MA degree program
All MA candidates in English are advised by the Graduate Coordinator in English. The
Coordinator and student establish a plan of study that takes into account the student’s
interests and future vocational plans.The Graduate Coordinator is available to advise students regarding their degree plans
and to sign their registration materials. Graduate student registration materials
should be approved only by the Graduate Coordinator or the Department Chairperson.
Other kinds of counseling such as that related to more advanced study or career plaacement
can be arranged by appointment with the Graduate Coordinator.
Students must complete 24 hours of credit at Wichita State within the English department.
If the credit to be transferred comes from a program in which the student took a graduate
degree, the time limits imposed by the Graduate School on other transfers of credit
will not apply. Credit for transfer courses will not count toward the required number
of courses at the 700 level or above unless the transfer hours are of appropriate
level from Kansas Board of Regents institutions.
Plan of Study
In order to define a program of study for a graduate degree, students must submit
the Plan of Study form leading to admission to candidacy for the degree no later than
the semester following the completion of 12 semester hours of graduate credit or the
semester prior to the semester of graduation, whichever comes first. After approval
by the Graduate Coordinator, the Plan of Study is submitted to the Graduate School
for approval. Students may make changes by filing a Plan of Study marked “Revised
Plan,” approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate School.
Lack of Progress Towards Degree
Occasionally students become inactive in the program for a wide variety of reasons.
Although we recognize that any number of personal or professional causes might interrupt
your studies temporarily, the Graduate School expects to see students making “satisfactory
progress” toward completion of a Master’s degree within six years. Course work older
than 6 years but not 10 years from the time of graduation must be validated if the
work was done at WSU. Students who have remained inactive for a significant period
of time without remaining in contact with the Graduate Coordinator will be moved to
non-degree B status. Students also may be dismissed from a graduate degree program
if, in the opinion of the graduate faculty offering the program, they are unable to
carry on advanced work or make satisfactory progress toward their degree. Students
dismissed for this reason may be transferred to a nondegree category. Should the student
wish to return to degree-seeking status at a later date he or she would have to reapply
to the program.
The purpose of course revalidation is to certify that the student retains sufficient
competency in the subject matter to achieve a grade of B or higher (B- is not accepted
by the Graduate School) as the course is now taught to warrant crediting the course
toward a graduate degree. Appropriate requirements for course revalidation might include
producing an annotated bibliography on the topic of the original course paper and
revising the original course paper to reflect the current state of scholarship, writing
a new paper or papers on course subject matter not to exceed 5,000 words (20 pages),
and/or taking a rigorous written exam to demonstrate broad competency on the course
content as it would now be taught. If the revalidating professor knows the student
well and has strong reason to be confident that the student has current competency
in the subject matter (as, for example, in a case where the student has recently been
working with the professor on a directly related, good quality thesis), requirements
might be modified, substituting, for example, additional thesis research and/or an
oral examination for other written assignments. The faculty member and the student
should develop a written contract for the methods and standards for revalidation.
This contract should be submitted to and approve by the Graduate Coordinator. Graduate
courses should only be revalidated by graduate faculty with expertise in the course
Revalidation is a courtesy to students, not a duty. Faculty are never obligated to
agree to assist a student with course revalidation even if no other faculty member
is available. Students always have the option to request an exception to the course
time limits from the Graduate School, to retake the class, or to take a new class
to substitute for the expired one.
The MA degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework, including the successful completion
of either the Master’s Thesis (up to 6 credit hours) or Master’s Portfolio (3 credit
hours). The Master’s Thesis is intended for students interested in an intensive, independent
research experience while the Master’s Portfolio is intended for students interested
in developing documents more reflective of the diverse work they have completed while
enrolled in the degree program.
I. Core Courses (15 credits)
All students must complete the following core coursework (15 credits):
1). ENGL 700, Introduction to Graduate Study in English (3 credit hours)
2). 12 credit hours in period courses in literary seminars, of which 6 hours must
be in literature before the 20th century and 3 hours must be in literature after the
20th century. Of the 12 credit hours, students must take at least one seminar in British
and American literature each.
Our current catalog offers various literary seminars emphasizing key periods in British,
American, and Anglophone literature. For our potential offerings, see course descriptions
for ENGL 503, 504, 521, 522, 524, 526, 527, 532, 533, 703, 704, 705, 720, 721, 722,
724, 726, 728, 730, 733, and 814.
II. Capstone Projects and Electives (15 credits)
In addition to these core requirements, students must complete an additional 9-12
credit hours in electives and a 3-6 credit hour(s) capstone project, either the Master's
Thesis (3-6 credits) or the Master's Portfolio (3 credits). The Master’s Thesis is
intended for students interested in an intensive, independent research experience
while the Master’s Portfolio is intended for students interested in developing documents
more reflective of the diverse work they have completed while enrolled in the degree
program. Electives must be chosen in consulation with the Graduate Coordinator and
should reflect the student's professional and/or academic career path. Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to take Engl 780 and Engl 581. Engl 780
can apply to the degree plan as an elective; Engl 581 may not.
Option 1: The Master's Thesis Capstone Project
In addition to the above core requirements, Thesis Students select 9-12 credit hours
in elective coursework chosen in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and must
complete 3-6 credit hours of the Master’s Thesis (Engl 890); a maximum of 6 hours
of Engl 890 can be applied toward the degree. If students opt to complete only 3 credit
hours in thesis work, they will make up the additional 3 credit hours in an elective. See the section "Capstone Projects" for more details on the Master's Thesis.
Option 2: The Master's Portfolio Capstone Project
In addition to the above core requirements, Portfolio Students select 12 credit hours
in elective coursework chosen in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and must
complete 3 credit hours of the Master’s Portfolio (Engl 895); a maximum of 3 hours
of Engl 895 can be applied toward the degree. See the section "Capstone Projects" for more details on the Master's Portfolio.
III. Foreign Language Requirement
Master's degree candidates in English may fulfill the department’s foreign language
requirements in any one of the following ways:
- By submitting a transcript showing the completion with a grade of C- or better of
at least 15 hours of undergraduate work in a single foreign language or the equivalent
as defined by Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
- By completing the required 15 hours of undergraduate work in a single foreign language.
- By taking a test administered by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages
and Literature in the elected foreign language, with a successful score determined
by the English department.
- By taking at WSU or submitting a transcript showing completion of 6 hours of Linguistics
with a grade of C- or better.
The Master’s Thesis is intended to be a demonstration of the student’s ability to
formulate a problem in literary study, to pursue its solution through appropriate
scholarly, critical, and analytical techniques, and to present the results in suitable
written form. Although the essay need not be thought of as a publishable contribution
to knowledge, it should develop a new interpretation, reinterpret available information,
present a new approach to the given material, and/or refute or modify some interpretation(s)
previously appearing in print. It must demonstrate the author’s ability to assemble
and evaluate pertinent materials from primary and secondary sources. In final form
the essay must develop a central thesis. The writing must be clear, free from solecisms,
and suited to the occasion. The Master’s Thesis would normally extend to a length
(exclusive of title page, preliminaries, bibliography, appendices, etc.) of 25 to
50 pages and is frequently divided into chapters. Work on a thesis may extend up to
6 credit hours; students who take only one semester or 3 credit hours to complete
the thesis should have significant coursework in their area of emphasis. Students
are encouraged to use semester breaks and summer as needed for research and academic
enrichment, including work on a thesis. However, they should not expect that faculty
will be available to guide or evaluate projects during those times. For a suggested timeline
for a timely thesis completion, see here.
The candidate may select an essay which he/she has written in an English course granting
graduate credit and which he/she feels is worthy of further development, or he/she
may select another topic altogether. With the Graduate Coordinator and/or a chosen
thesis director (first reader), the candidate will discuss the possibilities of converting
such a paper or another topic into a thesis. The Graduate Coordinator is available
for consultation regarding the choice of an appropriate faculty director (first reader)
for the project. Normally the student should choose a director from whom he/she has
taken courses or who is otherwise familiar with the student’s work. The student approaches
the prospective director, and if that person agrees to serve, the student and the
director determine a potential second reader drawn from the English department faculty
and third reader drawn from another department of the university. The student approaches
and obtains agreement from these two additional readers. Prior to enrollment in English
890 (thesis hours) but after obtaining agreement from a second reader, the candidate
will submit to the Graduate Coordinator a prospectus—devised in cooperation with his/her
director and second reader—which contains the following information: the name of the
student, the director and the second reader, the tentative title, and a 3-5 page research
statement explaining a) the research problem, including a clear delimitation of the
subject and definitions of important terms; b) the hypothesis or main idea (may be
under development at this stage); c) the relations between the project and published
scholarship or criticism; and d) a sense of the importance of the project. A preliminary
bibliography of primary and secondary sources, including recent and important scholarship
must be attached.
After examining the proposal, the Graduate Coordinator will approve or disapprove
the project. He/she may also offer specific suggestions about the future development
of the essay.
The Director and the Second Reader
The candidate and his/her director will work together to fulfill the requirements
for the essay. When the director feels that the essay has been adequately completed,
the candidate will submit it to the second reader. Depending on candidate, director,
and reader preference, the second reader may review the essay in parts (such as after
completion of each chapter) or as a whole. The second reader is empowered to make
suggestions which he/she thinks will improve the thesis in terms of any scholarly
form, style, content, and/or organization. When the candidate has appropriately addressed
the suggestions of the second reader, the essay is ready to be submitted to the third
reader, who is also empowered to make suggestions which he/she thinks will improve
the scholarly form, style, content, and/or organization of the thesis. Each reader
individually may decide whether the defense needs to wait until suggestions are addressed,
or whether the defense can go forward while revisions are being completed.
The Full Committee and the Oral Examination
When the director and the second reader accept a version of the essay, the student
may apply for a date for his/her final oral examination (though completion of revisions
may be required before the defense takes place). The final date to submit a request
for an oral defense date is normally a month before the end of the semester. Final
dates for completion of the oral examination are available from the Graduate Coordinator,
and usually fall approximately two weeks before the end of the semester. No oral examinations
will be given during summer session.
Upon receipt of the student’s application for an examination date, the Coordinator
will confirm a committee to be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee
consists of the student’s Director, the second reader, and the third reader. The examination
is open to all members of the faculty and to graduate students in English. The Graduate
Coordinator will notify the Graduate School of the date, time, and location of the
At least ten days before the scheduled date for the oral examination, the student
must submit a typewritten copy of his/her thesis incorporating all revisions to date
to each member of his/her committee. (See the Graduate School Bulletin for mechanical
requirements). The copies of a thesis presented to the orals committee should be “printer
ready,” including free from errors. The thesis director will be responsible for the
enforcement of this rule.
The candidate will be expected to defend the thesis and to demonstrate knowledge of
the areas of learning related to the subject of the thesis. Such knowledge would include
extensive acquaintance with appropriate primary and secondary sources such as works
of the author(s) studied, biographical and historical detail, the topic’s position
in literary and intellectual history, and the criticism and scholarship on the topic.
If two members of the committee accept the thesis and approve the candidate’s performance
in the oral examination, he/she will be granted up to three hours of credit. A unanimous
committee vote shall be required before a thesis can be awarded “distinction.” Votes
by members of an oral examination committee may be cast by secret ballot, if requested
by any member of the committee.
Regulations Concerning Rejection of an Essay
If an essay is rejected, the candidate will be advised by his/her committee to carry
out one or more of the following suggestions:
- Do further research and re-write the essay (form and content unacceptable).
- Re-write the essay (content is satisfactory, but not form).
- Do further reading in areas related to his/her essay (paper is acceptable, but oral
examination is weak).
- Take additional course work in prescribed areas (he/she is not yet prepared to do
the essay properly).
The candidate must wait at least ninety days before re-submitting the essay or retaking
his/her oral examination.
A FINAL NOTE: It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and to comply with
all deadlines, including the deadline to file for degree, which normally falls very
early in the semester in which the degree is to be awarded.
The Master’s Portfolio is designed for students interested in developing documents
more reflective of the diverse work they have completed while enrolled in our degree
program. The portfolio should present the student’s best work and be reflective of
their course of study. The final portfolio must be ready for faculty review by December
1st for a fall enrollment or May 1st for a spring enrollment.
Each portfolio must include a title page, a “table of contents” page, and the following
- Self-reflective statement: The self-reflective statement is a 2-3 page, double-spaced narration of the student’s
trajectory in the program and serves as an introduction to the contents of the portfolio.
This statement should include an explanation of the critical practices, disciplinary
knowledge, and professional skills the student has gained while in the degree program
as evidenced in the material presented within the portfolio.
- Academic Essay: Often a revision of a seminar paper or other written essay produced in prior coursework,
the academic essay should be reflective of the writing standards associated with our
discipline; it should therefore also offer evidence of the student’s familiarity with,
and experience in, components of advanced scholarly research. The length of the academic
essay will depend on each student’s individualized project but must be ten pages (double-spaced)
at minimum, including notes and citations. Students who opt to revise a longer academic
essay (i.e. the “seminar paper”), typically 15-30 pages double-spaced, may submit
a less robust individualized project. Students are encouraged to seek out additional
guidance from the faculty mentor(s) if they so choose.
- Individualized Project: The individualized project should be representative of the student’s professional
and/or academic interests and should reflect work begun, or methodologies explored,
in prior coursework. As with the academic essay, the individualized project may vary
in content and substance; students thus are encouraged to think carefully about what
sample work they select for inclusion, consulting with both the Graduate Coordinator
and the faculty mentor(s) before submitting the "Portfolio Checklist." A few examples
of potential projects can be found here.
Portfolio Assessment: The "MA Portfolio Committee"
The “MA Portfolio Committee”—comprised of the graduate coordinator and two faculty
mentors (designated as “primary” and “secondary” readers)—will formally review the
portfolio, assigning a grade of S/U. The primary and secondary readers should represent
faculty whose research areas most closely align with the portfolio’s emphases; the
primary reader serves as main mentor and can offer guidance regarding the portfolio’s
completion if the student so chooses. When suitable, the Graduate Coordinator can
also serve as primary reader; in such circumstances the remaining faculty mentors
both become “secondary readers.” Students submit “Portfolio Checklist” prior to registering for Portfolio hours which identifies which graduate English
faculty will assess the portfolio’s contents. The student must confirm with the designated
faculty mentors their willingness to assess the portfolio. The assessment rubric is used to guide faculty in their review of the Portfolio but will be used primarily
for collecting department assessment data.
- Register for portfolio hours prior to the start of the fall or spring semester after
an advising session with the graduate coordinator; “Portfolio Checklist” is due during advising session. This checklist is a contractual agreement between
student and the program regarding the final portfolio’s structure; the checklist also
identifies which graduate English faculty will assess the portfolio’s contents. The
student must confirm with the designated faculty mentors their willingness to assess
- Meet with the Graduate Coordinator before or by the 20th day of classes during the semester the student has enrolled in portfolio hours to
discuss the portfolio’s progress.
- Complete portfolio due to the Graduate Coordinator by December 1st for a fall enrollment
or May 1st for a spring enrollment; electronic submissions are preferred when possible.
- The MA Portfolio Committee evaluates the portfolio, communicating S/U decision to
the portfolio student and registrar by the end of the final grading period. In special
circumstances a grade of “Incomplete” may be recommended for a marginal portfolio
that requires minor revision for a satisfactory grade.
English 850 is intended for the qualified student as an opportunity to do further
work beyond the regular courses in the Department of English.
In order to undertake a Directed Reading, the student should first discuss with the
Graduate Coordinator the suitability of the directed reading for the student’s plan
of study. If appropriate, the student then solicits the efforts of an instructor who
is willing to direct the course. In consultation with that instructor, the student
develops a syllabus that includes a statement of purpose, the method of evaluation,
and a preliminary bibliography. The student submits the completed syllabus, signed
by the proposed instructor, to the Graduate Coordinator for approval. The syllabus must
be approved prior to the student’s enrollment in English 850 (preferably during the
semester preceding the one in which the student intends to enroll). Under most circumstances,
no more than one directed reading would be approved as part of a student degree plan.