Program goals

The Department of English offers an M.A. degree for students seeking study beyond a bachelor’s degree which prepares graduates to pursue a doctorate, to teach in secondary or higher education or to obtain other positions in the public and private sector. The M.A. in English is designed for students pursuing advanced English studies, and students may choose to focus their course work in either literature or writing and rhetoric. The M.A. in English with a research concentration is designed for students pursuing advanced English studies with an emphasis on research, criticism and methodology.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Develop advanced reading and writing skills
  2. Engage in theoretical and/or textual/bibliographical scholarship
  3. Conduct original research and advance an original argument under faculty direction
  4. Explain and defend original research in a formal presentation or defense
  5. Survey the professional and academic work to which the degree leads

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Admission requirements
Degree:Semester(s) of entry:Deadline dates:Test requirements:
M.A.FallMar 1GRE-General
SpringOct 1

In addition to the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School, the following requirements represent the minimum acceptable standards for admission:

  1. A baccalaureate degree in an area appropriate to the study of literature or writing
  2. A GPA that indicates the applicant can successfully pursue a graduate degree
  3. Three letters of recommendation from former instructors
  4. Completion of the GRE
  5. A writing sample, optimally ranging from 10-15 double-spaced pages

Should students wish to be considered for a possible graduate teaching assistantship, they must also complete a separate graduate teaching assistantship application, which can be found on the program’s website. This separate/additional application also requires an undergraduate, graduate or professional paper, as well as a brief personal essay (two to three pages) in which applicants discuss their relevant teaching experience, educational background and particular interest in a graduate degree, suggesting where their education seems to be leading.

Applicants may also indicate whether they intend to write a thesis and with which faculty members they hope to study.

Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, students are required to complete course work in core and elective courses and to conduct significant research.

  1. Credit hour requirements: Students in the M.A. in English program are required to earn a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours beyond the baccalaureate. At least half of the credit hours presented for graduation must be at the 600 level or higher.
  2. Other requirements: Students must complete one of two final projects: either a directed study, under the supervision of a faculty member with a public presentation; or a thesis in consultation with a faculty committee, which culminates in an oral defense. Students must obtain approval for their final projects from their supervising faculty and the M.A. committee.

Curriculum requirements

Course requirements
ENGL 501Introduction to Graduate Studies in English1
ENGL 605Introduction to Scholarship in English Studies3
ENGL 606Literary Criticism3
ENGL 799Thesis (credit hours variable; may be repeated)6
Recommended electives
Select 17 credit hours of the following:17
Children's Literature II
Applied English Linguistics
Studies in Linguistics
Teaching English as a Second Language
Studies in British Literature and Culture
Special Topics in American Literature and Culture
Young Adult Literature
Introduction to Scholarship in English Studies
Literary Criticism
Cultural Discourses
Texts and Contexts
Form and Theory of Poetry
Form and Theory of Fiction
Form and Theory of Creative Nonfiction
Community Writing
Teaching Writing
Theories of Rhetoric and Composition
Responding to Writing
Studies in Writing and Rhetoric: ____
Themes in Interdisciplinary Studies
Creative Writing: Fiction
Creating Writing: Poetry
Creative Writing: Drama
Literary Editing and Publishing
Film and Television Scripts
Writing Nonfiction
Independent Study
Internship in Writing
Total Hours30

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 30.

Les Harrison, Ph.D.
Associate professor and graduate program director
(804) 828-1331

Additional contact
Thom Didato
Graduate programs adviser
(804) 828-1329

Program website: