MA in English

The Master of Arts in English program at Boston University provides comprehensive training in all areas of literary studies in English. Coursework is offered in historical periods, individual authors, important literary movements, literary theory, and the history of criticism. The faculty in the Department of English is large and diverse in its teaching and research interests, but the graduate program is nonetheless relatively small and intimate. Every semester, world-class scholars offer a broad range of small seminars, allowing students the flexibility to gain either a broad knowledge of literature, theory, and research across several subdisciplines in the field or an in-depth knowledge of one particular area of expertise. The skills and knowledge-base gained by our MA students can lead to future doctoral study, work in the field of education and teaching, or a wide array of careers in the not-for-profit and private sectors. The MA program is usually completed in two full-time semesters. To enter, at least a bachelor’s degree, typically in English or a closely related field, is required.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an MA in English are expected to:

  • Demonstrate advanced research and writing skills, including an ability to work productively with the critical literature and perform original critical analysis.
  • Demonstrate either a broad knowledge of literature, theory, and research across several subdisciplines in the field or an in-depth knowledge of one area of expertise.
  • Follow ethical guidelines for work in the field.
  • Write and speak effectively to professional and lay audiences about issues in the field.

Course Requirements

Eight semester courses (32 credits) are required for the degree. No transfer of credit is allowed toward fulfillment of the eight semester courses required for the degree. Course requirements are as follows:

  • At least six graduate seminars (700 or higher)
  • At least one course that focuses primarily on critical theory, critical method, or the history of criticism

All courses are chosen in consultation with the candidate’s advisor. The candidate must demonstrate, by a proposed program of courses together with a completed undergraduate program of courses, a reasonably comprehensive coverage of British and American literature across multiple historical periods. As part of the total program of eight semester courses required for the degree, candidates may, with the approval of their advisor, elect a one-semester graduate-level course in a related area.

A limited number of courses are offered in Metropolitan College (MET) under the auspices of the Department of English and are approved for graduate credit for students enrolled in the MA and PhD programs. For further information, see the Metropolitan College Bulletin.

To be awarded the Master of Arts, the candidate must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in both semesters. No grade below a B– will count toward the MA.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in English are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in one classical or modern foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated by passing a written translation test administered by the English department; earning a B or better in a noncredit foreign language reading course for graduate students (GRS LF 621 or equivalent); earning a B or better in a graduate-level (500 or higher) course in foreign literature taught in the literature’s language; or earning a B or better in a graduate-level course in Old English.