English, M.A.

Saint Louis University’s Master of Arts in English provides students with scholarly training in a variety of literary fields and in the study of rhetoric and composition.

Students in our program receive training in pedagogy, research, writing and theory. The M.A. is a prerequisite for SLU's Ph.D. program, and it also prepares students for careers in fields including publishing, editing, and secondary education. SLU's English M.A. program is also offered at Saint Louis University's Madrid campus.

Curriculum Overview

The non-thesis option for the Master of Arts in English degree requires 30 credits of coursework beyond the B.A. The article option permits students to submit a polished, article-length essay for three of the 30 credits of coursework. The thesis option permits students to substitute a thesis for six of the 30 required credits of coursework. All three options are typically completed in two years.

M.A. students planning to teach at Saint Louis University are required to take a class in the teaching of writing and all must take courses in the methods of literary research and critical theory, as well as courses in four out of five required areas.

At the conclusion of their coursework, students take a one-and-a-half-hour oral exam. Students pursuing the essay and thesis options select a topic in consultation with a director, and have their completed thesis reviewed by a board consisting of the director and two other faculty members. 

Graduate Handbook

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

Saint Louis University's English department is affiliated with the Walter J. Ong Center for Digital Humanities. In addition to participating in various writing programs, including University Writing Services, English faculty and graduate students participate in departmental research colloquia and reading groups. SLU also hosts the journal African American Review.

Admission Requirements

Most admitted students meet the following criteria:

  • High levels of academic distinction at well-regarded colleges and universities with rigorous B.A./M.A. programs.
  • High GPA (3.7 and above in English).
  • Identified fields/areas of intended study, possible thesis/dissertation topics, and specific faculty in the department with whom students might wish to work.
  • Professional goal statement that aligns well with the curricula the department offers. The statement should be no more than 750 words and should lay out professional and intellectual goals as well as the interest in graduate studies in English. While plans may change, this statement will help the department assess the grasp of the field and the ability to describe ideas coherently and compellingly. The statement should address:
    • The specific field of English studies of interest to students 
    • How students would like to contribute to existing research and criticism in the area of interest
    • The critical and scholarly approaches to literature students have found most productive
    • The faculty members with whom students would prefer to work 
  • Sufficient TOEFL score (for international students).

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation assessing potential in graduate studies
  • Résumé
  • Writing sample (10 pages demonstrating competence in analyzing literary texts; this can be an excerpt taken from a longer piece)
  • Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Financial documents are required to complete an application for admission and be reviewed for admission and merit scholarships. 
  • Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include:
    • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
    • Practical laboratory work
    • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
    • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
    • Any honors or degrees received.

WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Application Deadline

Completed applications are due by Jan. 13. Students cannot begin the program in the spring semester or a summer session. 1818 instructors seeking a graduate degree should consult with the director of graduate studies in English.

Please do not forward any application materials directly to the Department of English. All application materials must be submitted through the Office of Graduate Admission.

For application forms and more information, contact the Office of Graduate Admission.

Review Process

The department’s graduate committee members examine applicants' materials and make admission and funding recommendations.

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

For more information, visit http://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  1. Graduates will be able to demonstrate a foundational knowledge of literary/rhetorical histories, aesthetics, cultures and emerging areas of inquiry, including an awareness of cultural diversity within literary traditions.
  2. Graduates will be able to demonstrate knowledge of research expectations, and of theoretical approaches, requisite for advanced study in English, including appropriate research resources and tools.
  3. Graduates will be able to demonstrate an ability to engage productively with relevant critical debates through written and spoken argument.
Required Courses
ENGL 5000Methods of Literary Research3
ENGL 5110Literary Theory3
Teaching Requirement
Required of those who teach writing classes offered by the Department.
ENGL 5010Teaching Writing3
Distributive Requirements
Select one course in four of the following five fields:12
Medieval Literature
Early Modern Literature (ca. 1500-1800)
Literature of the Long 19th Century (ca. 1789-1914): British, American, African American, or Transatlantic
Modern and/or Contemporary Literature: British, Irish, American, African American, Transatlantic, or Postcolonial
Rhetoric and/or Composition
Elective Courses
Select one of the following options: 9
Thesis Option
English Electives
Thesis Research
Essay Option
English Electives
Graduate Reading Course
Non-Thesis Option
English Electives
Total Credits30

Exclusive of ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr)

Students who do not take ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr) will take 12 hours of electives.

Non-Course Requirements

Oral Examination

At the conclusion of their coursework, all master’s students must take a one-and-a-half-hour oral examination on works drawn from a list they make in consultation with three faculty members. Students who choose the thesis option will also be examined orally on their thesis in a separate one-hour defense.

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Students must select one of three degree completion options:

  1. Non-Thesis Option: 30 credits of coursework and a final oral exam in the final semester.
  2. Essay Option: 27 credits of coursework and ENGL 5980 Graduate Reading Course (1-3 cr), in their final semester.
  3. Thesis Option: 24 credits of coursework and six credits of ENGL 5990 Thesis Research (0-6 cr), either in their final semester or divided between the third and fourth semesters.

Non-Thesis Option 

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Critical course:  ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing 3
ENGL 6XXX6000-level English Elective 3
 Credits9
Spring
Critical course:  ENGL 5110 Literary Theory 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Year Two
Fall
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits9
Spring
Completion of final oral exam  
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
 Total Credits30

Essay Option

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Critical course:  ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits9
Spring
Critical course:  ENGL 5110 Literary Theory 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Year Two
Fall
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits9
Spring
Completion of essay AND completion of final oral exam  
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5980 Graduate Reading Course 3
 Credits6
 Total Credits30

Thesis Option

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
Critical course:  ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research 3
Critical course:  ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits9
Spring
Critical course:  ENGL 5110 Literary Theory 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
 Credits6
Year Two
Fall
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5990 Thesis Research 3
 Credits9
Spring
Completion of thesis/essay AND completion of final oral exam  
ENGL 5XXX or 6XXX5000-level or 6000-level English elective 3
ENGL 5990 Thesis Research 3
 Credits6
 Total Credits30

Program Notes

Students must take both ENGL 5000 Methods of Literary Research (3 cr) and ENGL 5110 Literary Theory (3 cr), as well as 12 credits in four of the following five fields:

  1. Medieval Literature (three credits)
  2. Early Modern Literature (c. 1500-1800) (three credits)
  3. Literature of the long 19th century (c. 1789-1914): British, American, African American or Transatlantic (three credits)
  4. Modern and/or contemporary literature: British, Irish, American, African American, Transatlantic or Postcolonial (three credits)
  5. Rhetoric and/or Composition exclusive of ENGL 5010 Teaching Writing (3 cr)

For additional information about our program, please contact:

Rachel Greenwald Smith
Coordinator of Graduate Studies in English
rachel.g.smith@slu.edu