Specific Requirements for the Emphasis in Writing Studies

English Master of Arts Program


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Red leaves and student writing

The M.A. in English with Emphasis on Writing Studies provides concentrated study of the practice and pedagogy of writing, and scholarly background in the history and theory of writing.

Two Seminars (Starting Fall 2018)

Students in the Writing Studies Emphasis will complete two 8000-level seminars beyond the required ENGL 8906 (ENGL 8171, ENGL 8181, ENGL 8191, WRIT 8500, WRIT 8902 or others with approval). (Only 1 Seminar is required for student entering the program before Fall 2018.)  Except for WRIT 8902, seminars are generally offered in the spring. 

Optional Credits in a Related Field

Within the required 32 credits, students in the Writing Studies Emphasis may complete up to 8 credits in a related field or fields. Related field courses may be at the 4000, 5000, or 8000 level and must be offered for graduate credit. A faculty member from the related field will participate in the comprehensive exam.

Language Requirement or Six Additional Hours

Candidates for the English M.A. Degree with a Writing Studies Emphasis have the option of either satisfying the language requirement or taking 6 credits of graduate work in the major beyond the minimum of 32 credits.

Under certain circumstances, the requirement may be waived for foreign students.

Comprehensive Exam

Under the supervision of an examining committee, the candidate will be given a 2-day, 6-hour written examination focusing on the individual student's course work and required supplementary readings.

The candidate will write the following:

  1. Close analysis of a text from the perspective of the writing studies discipline (e.g rhetoric, composition, critical theory, information design, linguistics, journalism and related fields) selected and approved at least four weeks before the examination (2 hours).
  2. Answers to questions based on a list of works from the perspective of the writing studies discipline (e.g. rhetoric, composition, critical theory, information design, linguistics, journalism, and related fields) to be chosen and approved at least four weeks before the examination (3 hours).
  3. Related field OR Synthetic option (1 hour): The third part, lasting an hour, may be based on the student's work in the related field or minor and on a reading list drawn up by the candidate in consultation with the related field representative on the examination committee.

Alternatively, the student may elect the synthetic option. In this option, the student will work with the Exam Committee to develop a synthetic reading list, and answer an exam question (or questions) requiring synthesis across the diverse components of the Writing Studies field, including literary, rhetorical, linguistic, compositional, and cultural-studies methods.

For details, see The Comprehensive Exam for the MA in English: The Writing Studies Emphasis.

Checklist for an English MA Graduate Degree Plan in the Writing Studies Emphasis

MA students submit a Graduate Degree Plan form in their second semester to record courses they have taken, will take, and plan on taking to ensure that they have a means to fulfill all requirements of both the English MA degree and their particular emphasis in their two years.  The following checklist summarizes these requirements for the Writing Studies emphasis. 

  • Language specified for the language requirement
  • ENGL 8906
  • 1 Seminar in addition to ENGL 8906 (can include WRIT 8902).  Starting Fall 2018, 2 seminars will be required. 
  • 2 hours of Plan B credit taken (ENGL 8094 or WRIT 8094)
  • 32 total credits minimum
  • 20 credits minimum in major
  • Course work taken to provide comprehensive grounding and advanced study in English, including
    • writing (composition, rhetoric, linguistics, studies in other language- or text-focused disciplines)
    • literature (literary periods and genre, literary criticism, theory, cultural or intellectual history)
    • media (digital and visual aesthetics, digital humanities, print culture, other form- and genre-focused studies in material and historical contexts, etc.)

Do not list lower-division courses (such as world language classes taken to fulfill the language requirement) on the Graduate Degree Plan.