Information for prospective graduate students

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 while providing for personal and professional enrichment through advanced study of literature. 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.

Degree Programs Apply Teaching Assistantships Submitting Your Materials

Degree Programs

There are three programs leading to the degree. Plan A, a 33-hour non-thesis program that emphasizes literature, composition, and pedagogy, is especially designed for teachers. Plan B, a 30-hour program that requires the student to submit a master’s thesis, places more emphasis on research, scholarly writing, and the independent study of literature. Plan C, a 33-hour non-thesis program, emphasizes advanced study of literature through coursework alone.

Plan A requires the completion of 11 courses for a total of 33 credit hours distributed as follows: Introduction to Graduate Study in English; two major author(s), genre, or special topics classes; two courses from British Literature before 1900; one course in American literature before WWI; one course in 20th/21st century studies—British, American, or Anglophone; one course in composition theory, rhetoric, linguistics, or pedagogy; and three elective classes in Linguistics, Literature, Composition Theory, Rhetoric, or methods of teaching English. A master’s thesis is not required.

Plan B requires the completion of 9 courses and a master’s thesis for a total of 30 credit hours distributed as follows: Introduction to Graduate Study in English; two major author(s), genre, or special topics classes; two courses from British Literature before 1900; one course in American literature before WWI; one course in 20th/21st century studies—British, American, or Anglophone; two elective classes in linguistics, literature, or methods of teaching English; and a master’s thesis.

Plan C requires the completion of 11 courses for a total of 33 credit hours distributed as follows: Introduction to Graduate Study in English; two major author(s), genre, or special topics classes; two courses from British Literature before 1900; one course in American literature before WWI; one course in 20th/21st century studies—British, American, or Anglophone; and four elective classes in linguistics, literature, or methods of teaching English. A master's thesis is not required.

Each of the three plans requires that students take a comprehensive examination based on a standardized recommended reading list approved by the graduate studies committee. Plan B also requires an oral thesis defense.

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Academic Advising

All Master of Arts candidates are advised by the Graduate Coordinator. The Coordinator and the student will establish a plan of study taking into account the student's interests and future vocational plans.

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How to Apply

University Requirements

University requirements for Master's work at Wichita State University are listed in the Graduate School Bulletin. It is assumed that all graduate students will familiarize themselves with these requirements.

Admission Requirements

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 Graduate Coordinator 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 earned their undergraduate degrees more than ten years before the time of application must be interviewed by the Graduate Coordinator before admission to the degree program.

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 in English.

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General Departmental Requirements

Transfer of Credit

Students must complete 24 hours of credit within Wichita State University's Department of English. Therefore, students may transfer up to 9 hours of credit on the Plan A or Plan C programs and up to 6 hours credit on Plans B. 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 the validity of transfer credit will not apply.

Language Requirement

The MA degree requirements include a foreign language component. Prospective MA candidates may be accepted into the program before fulfilling this requirement, but must fulfill it before receiving an MA degree. Candidates may fulfill the department's foreign language requirements in any one of the following ways:

  1. 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 the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  2. By completing the required 15 hours of undergraduate work in a single foreign language.
  3. 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.
  4. By taking at WSU or submitting a transcript showing completion of 6 hours of Linguistics with a grade of C- or better.

Application Information and Instructions

  1. Please read carefully the MA Program Description before filling out the Graduate School application.
  2. GRE results are not required by the Graduate School or the Department of English at Wichita State University.
  3. The MA program requires that applications be accompanied by a 500 word statement of purpose which addresses motivation for graduate study, degree goals, and qualifications that make the applicant likely to succeed as an English graduate student.
  4. Letters of recommendations are not required for application to the Graduate School at Wichita State University. However, applications for a teaching assistant position must submit letters of recommendation as well as an additional expository writing sample (see below for details).
  5. If you wish to apply for a teaching assistantship, you should pay special attention to the February 10th and October 1st application deadlines. You should also note that the applicant is responsible for assuring that letters of recommendation for the teaching assistant applications are promptly submitted by the recommenders.

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Application Deadlines

Applications for the MA program are accepted continuously. The deadline for applications for Graduate Teaching Assistantships are February 10 for Fall admissions and October 1 for Spring admissions. Applications for teaching assistantships will be considered after the deadlines only if the department has additional assistantships to award after consideration of those applications that arrive before the deadlines. All applicants are advised to make every attempt to submit their materials before the deadline dates. 

Applications for teaching assistantships should include letters of recommendation and a sample of expository prose. For the writing sample, either of the following is acceptable:

  • An academic paper of five or more double-spaced pages (preferably one that has been graded);
  • An essay of three to five double-spaced pages which might include the following: why you would be an effective teacher; why it is important for a person today, in the era of cell phones and e-mail, to write effectively; and how teaching expository writing might benefit you as a creative or scholarly writer.

Please note that it is the responsibility of the applicant to insure that the three letters of recommendation are sent by the recommenders. These may accompany the application if they are in sealed envelopes or they may be sent separately. Please ask those writing letters of recommendation to address your potential as a teacher.

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Teaching Assistantships in English

Except for special fellowships occasionally awarded to students already enrolled in our programs, the teaching assistantship is the only regular form of financial aid that the Department of English is able to offer. A number of assistantships are available each year and are awarded on a competitive basis. With satisfactory performance and progress toward the degree, a teaching assistant may have his or her assistantship renewed for one year.

Admission to the WSU Graduate School and, if applicable, acceptance into the MFA, MA, or MALS program is a prerequisite for teaching assistant candidates. Refer to the Wichita State University website or to the WSU Graduate Catalog for information about our programs in the Department of English and admission to the University.

Teaching assistants normally teach two sections of English Composition while taking six to nine hours of course work. All teaching assistants are required to take English 780: Advanced Theory and Practice in Composition. In addition, teaching assistants meet once a week with a syllabus leader and other teaching assistants who are teaching the same course. Because of the time demands of teaching and the support coursework required, teaching assistants may not accept additional outside employment unless they have the written permission of the English Department Chairperson.

Teaching assistants are employed for the regular school year. Summer employment is a possibility, but the opportunities to teach in the summer are fairly irregular, and a teaching assistant should not make plans that are built upon the prospect of summer teaching. In addition to a stipend, teaching assistants receive a 100% reduction in basic graduate tuition though not of other student fees. Tuition fees are not waived for undergraduate courses.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Application (PDF)

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Submitting Your Application Materials

Interested applicants must apply online through the Graduate School's online application system, CollegeNet. Start the graduate school application process

Questions about supporting documentation, including the 500-word statement of interest required for all applicants and the additional writing sample and letters of recommendation required only for teaching assistant applicants, can be directed to the Graduate Coordinator:

Dr. Rebeccah Bechtold
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English, Box #14
Wichita State University
Wichita, KS 67260-0014

We appreciate your interest in our programs.

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