Students admitted to graduate study in the Department of English follow a 30-credit program (ten courses or the equivalent) leading to the Master of Arts degree. The program is designed to promote breadth and depth of knowledge in British and American literature. The curriculum combines a core of period-based courses with a changing roster of topics courses reflecting current developments in the field.
The department offers optional concentrations in Composition and Pedagogy, Creative Writing, Gender and Literature, and Poetry and Poetics. English M.A. students may also pursue the interdisciplinary concentration in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, offered by the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.
The degree provides valuable training for teachers of English in high school and community colleges, and a solid preparation for doctoral work in the field. In the scheduling of its courses and in the scope of the comprehensive examination, the Department presents a substantial and coordinated curriculum of graduate study. The English Department is home to the National Poetry Foundation, which regularly hosts international conferences on modernist and postmodernist poetry, and publishes the scholarly journal Paideuma: Modernist and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics as well as many books of and on poetry. To these enterprises graduate students have sometimes contributed editorial assistance as well as articles, and the NPF offers a graduate work-study assistantship providing experience in the practical side of scholarly publishing.
Applicants normally are expected to have at least a 3.0 grade-point average in English from an accredited institution, a GRE verbal score of at least 550 (on the previous scale) or 156 (on the current scale), and a GRE Writing score of at least 5.0. The GRE Subject Test in Literature in English is recommended but not required.
Applicants who wish to complete one of the concentrations should indicate this on their application forms. All applicants must submit a 10-20 page sample of formal literary analysis. Applicants to the creative writing concentration must also submit a 10-20 page sample of creative work. In addition, those wishing to be considered for teaching assistantships will include a response to a teaching exercise provided by the department.
The department offers 21 teaching assistantships, of which about half are awarded to incoming students in a typical year. Applicants wishing to be considered for an assistantship beginning in September should have their complete application materials (transcripts, test scores, writing samples, three letters of recommendation, and teaching exercise) on file with the department by the previous January 15th . The English program accepts applications for graduate studies on a rolling basis; however, applicants for teaching assistantships and other financial aid must submit their materials by January 15th.
Of the usual 30 hours of coursework, at least 24 hours must be in English courses numbered 500 or above, including up to six hours of thesis credit (ENG 699). Students with teaching assistantships normally take two years to complete the program; other full-time students sometimes finish more quickly. Typically, six or seven graduate courses are offered each semester and two to three each summer.
A 48-hour take-home, comprehensive, written examination, graded “Pass” or “Fail,” is required of all students. Based on the department’s M.A. Reading List, the examination is offered annually in January. Thesis candidates, including creative writers, also do one-hour defenses of their theses.
Thesis candidates take 3-6 credits of thesis work. All students in the creative writing concentration produce a thesis consisting of a substantial body of original work (e.g. a novel, a collection of stories, a collection of poems). The thesis is optional for students in other concentrations.
At least five of the ten courses normally required for the degree must be graduate literature courses. Graduate teaching assistants are required to take ENG 693 Teaching College Composition during their first semester of teaching.
Specific requirements for the concentrations are as follows:
Concentration in Composition and Pedagogy: 9-12 credits in courses exploring current theories about writing, the teaching of writing, and the contexts of writing - including linguistics, critical theory, and discourse analysis. ENG 579 Theory of Composition, ENG 693 Teaching College Composition, and an additional six credits which may include courses in literacy or rhetoric outside of the department, as approved by the student’s advisor.
Concentration in Creative Writing: 9-12 credit hours in creative writing, typically including six credits of workshop and three to six thesis credits.
Concentration in Gender and Literature: 9-12 credits in courses exploring the interrelationships of gender, language and literature, normally to include two offerings of ENG 549 Studies in Gender and Literature. One course may be taken outside the department, as approved by the student’s advisor.
Concentration in Poetry and Poetics: 9-12 credits in poetry and poetics, emphasizing theoretical approaches within an overall context of historical survey. Normally this includes two offerings of ENG 580 Topics in Poetry and Poetics, and additional courses focused on poetry and/or theory, which may include three credits in creative writing.
To learn more about graduate study in English, go to
Carla Billitteri, Ph.D. (SUNY at Buffalo, 2001), Associate Professor. Literary theory; feminist theory and gender studies; poetry and poetics; nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American Literature; drama.
Tony Brinkley, Ph.D. (Massachusetts at Amherst, 1979), Professor. Romanticism, critical theory,poetry and poetics, translation, fascist studies, renaissance studies.
Richard T. Brucher, Ph.D. (Rutgers, 1978), Associate Professor and Department Chair. British and American drama, technical writing.
A. Patricia Burnes, Ph.D. (St. Louis University, 1977), Associate Professor and Director of College Composition. American literature, the development of writing ability.
Laura Cowan, Ph.D. (Princeton, 1988), Associate Professor . Modernist literature, poetry, nature literature.
Charlsye Smith Diaz, Ph.D. (Texas Tech, 2004), Associate Professor and Coordinator of Professional Writing. Professional and Technical Communication.
Dylan B. Dryer, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007), Associate Professor. Composition studies.
Steven R. Evans, Ph.D. (Brown, 1999), Associate Professor, Director of the National Poetry Foundation, and New Writing Series Coordinator. Postmodern American poetry, critical theory.
Benjamin Friedlander, Ph.D. (SUNY-Buffalo, 1999), Professor. Poetry and poetics; nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature.
Sarah Harlan-Haughey, Ph.D. (Cornell University, 2011). Assistant Professor. CLAS-Honors Preceptor. Medieval literature, folklore, oral traditional studies, and literature and the environment.
Gregory Howard, Ph.D. (University of Denver). Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Fiction writing, American fiction, postmodern literature.
Naomi Jacobs, Ph.D. (Missouri, 1982), Professor. British and American fiction, women’s literature, utopian literature.
Harvey Kail, Ph.D. (Northern Illinois, 1977), Professor and Director of the Writing Center. Composition theory and practice; American poetry and poetics; maritime literature.
David Kress, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State, 2002), Associate Professor. Creative writing, fiction, critical theory.
Margaret A. Lukens, Ph.D. (Colorado, 1991), Professor. Nineteenth-century American literature, Native American literature, multi-cultural studies, theatre. On leave spring 2008.
Jennifer Moxley, M.F.A. (Brown, 1994), Professor. Creative writing, poetry & poetics, translation.
Elizabeth Neiman, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2011). Assistant Professor. Romanticism, 19th Century British fiction, and gender studies
Kenneth W. Norris, Ph.D. (McGill, 1980), Professor. Canadian literature, creative writing.
Deborah D. Rogers, Ph.D. (Columbia, 1982), Professor. Restoration and eighteenth-century English literature.
John R. Wilson, Ph.D. (Kansas, 1969), Associate Professor. Victorian literature, Religion and literature, Liberal Studies.