Specific Requirements for the Emphasis in Writing Studies

English Master of Arts Program


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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.

One Seminar

Students in the Writing Studies Emphasis will complete one 8000-level seminar (ENGL 8171, ENGL 8181, ENGL 8191, WRIT 8500, WRIT 8902). Note that most of these seminars are normally offered only in spring semesters.

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:

I. 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).

II. 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).

III. 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.