MASTER OF ARTS IN ENGLISH
The Master of Arts in English is a broad program of study designed to help students develop professional-level skills in research, reading, writing, and editing in a range of language-related areas. The Department of English offers the MA degree with both thesis and non-thesis options. Both options require an oral Final Examination. Full-time graduate students normally complete the program in two years. The program must be completed within five years of entrance into the program.
The courses you select as an MA degree student should help you attain a broad and well-grounded knowledge of the major literary genres of English and American literary history. They should also help you achieve competence in critical approaches and scholarly methods. Non-thesis-option students take 30 hours of course work. Thesis-option students take 24 hours of course work plus 6 hours of Thesis Research (ENGL 8000). (Note: students who plan to enter a PhD program should be aware that MA thesis hours may not count toward the course-work requirements for a PhD program. They do not count toward the 48 hours of course work required for our own PhD, for example.) In general you will take your courses within the English Department at the 7000 level. You may also take:
• A very few English courses at the 4000 level with the consent of both your advisor and the DGS (e.g. some courses in linguistics and Old English).
• Related graduate courses in other departments (6 hours maximum) with the consent of your advisor and the DGS.
In no case can more than half of the course work counted toward the degree come from courses below the 7000 level.
At the MA level, there are three tracks with different course requirements for each track. Every student entering at the MA level will be required to take the Graduate Proseminar (ENGL 7020) and period distribution requirements, which refer to the following five historical periods of Anglophone literature and culture: 1) before 1500, 2) 1500-1660, 3) 1660-1800, 4) British after 1800, 5) American after 1800. Students who wish to teach English composition courses must take ENGL 7915 during the semester they are assigned their first composition course.
Track 1: Literary Studies
Graduate Proseminar (ENGL 7020), two graduate courses from different periods not included in the area of concentration, three graduate courses from an area of concentration (British, American, Ethnic & Postcolonial, Southern Studies, African-American Studies, or Medieval and Renaissance Studies). Students who choose Literary Studies as their track must thus take at least one course in three of the five designated periods. For a useful Program of Study form to fill out and keep track of your requirements, please click here.
Track 2: Writing & Culture
Graduate Proseminar (ENGL 7020), two graduate courses from different periods, three graduate courses from an area of concentration (Cultural Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, Rhetorical Studies, or Composition Studies). For a useful Program of Study form to fill out and keep track of your requirements, please click here.
Track 3: English Linguistics
Graduate Proseminar (ENGL 7020), two courses in historical views of the English Language (ENGL 4711 and ENGL 7711), and at least 3 courses in Linguistics. (If a student has taken ENGL 4711 as an undergraduate, he or she can take ENGL 7711 twice when the topic varies, or get permission from the DGS to take a different course.)
Special Note for MA Students Interested in Pursuing a PhD at LSU: For students going on to the PhD Program, the PhD Qualifying Procedure (described below) will take the place of the MA Final Examination. In practice, there is no difference between the MA Examination and the Qualifying Procedure except that the Qualifying Procedure Committee will review past coursework and recommend further coursework as well as determine foreign language requirements for the student who passes. For a useful Program of Study form to fill out and keep track of your requirements, please click here.
1. Non-Thesis (or Portfolio) Option requires 30 hours of coursework
Non-Thesis MA Final Examination: Students will present a portfolio that includes a selection of three to four essays from their MA coursework, at least three of which should be term projects of average article length. This selection should represent the student’s best written work and may be revised, under the direction of a professor, before submission to the committee. All course syllabi should be included. The portfolio should be submitted to committee members at least two weeks in advance of the actual examination.
The student will give a presentation that is identical to the student presentation in the PhD Qualifying Procedure. Discussion in the examination can refer to material covered in the student’s graduate coursework as well as to material deemed important in determining the student’s general competence. The exam should be scheduled for two hours.
The Examining Committee shall comprise three faculty members chosen by the student and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies; the student should have taken courses with at least two of the committee members.
The examination committee will conduct an oral Final Examination of one to two hours. You may take this exam no more than twice. If you fail your second attempt, you are considered terminated from the program at the end of the examination semester. You have the right to petition for reconsideration.
2. Thesis Option
In addition to your 24 hours of course work and in conjunction with your 6 hours of English 8000 (Thesis Research), you must write and defend a thesis. The members of your Thesis Committee supervise and assist you in your work and approve the final draft of your thesis, which should be a substantial work of original scholarship and criticism, typically 50-100 pages in length. Visit the Graduate School office the semester before the semester you plan to graduate for deadlines and procedures concerning requests for a Final Exam and submitting the thesis to your committee.
An oral Thesis Defense before your committee constitutes your Final Exam. Theses may be formally submitted to the Thesis Committee no more than twice for defense. All members of your committee must agree to pass your thesis. If your thesis is not approved at the second submission, you are considered terminated from the graduate program at the end of the examination semester. MA thesis students may not petition for a third submission.
Thesis MA Final Examination: This procedure is exactly the same as the Non-Thesis Masters Examination except that instead of a portfolio of essays from coursework, the student will submit a thesis. Thesis students should also submit their course syllabi.
After your successful thesis defense, submit the approved and corrected thesis (including any corrections required by the Graduate School) to the Graduate School. Note the often surprisingly early deadlines in the LSU General Catalog's Academic Calendar.
Students may switch options (thesis or non-thesis) only once. Since the decision on approval of such a change may be affected by financial-aid regulations, the English Department's Graduate Committee must review students' financial aid credentials. Regardless of whether students stay in one option or move to another, they have a total of only two chances to be passed by their committee(s) for the MA degree. For example, a student whose thesis is rejected by his or her committee may subsequently request to switch to the non-thesis option, but such a student is expected to pass the oral examination the first time; if not, he or she will ordinarily be terminated from the program.