MA Writing Emphasis


Course Descriptions
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Specific Requirements

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The MA Writing emphasis is designed for students who wish to strengthen their skills as writers while deepening their understanding of literature and language. It is intended for people who are preparing for careers in writing and editing or planning to teach writing in schools or colleges. The program is centered on the craft of writing and offers elective courses in both imaginative and expository writing. Students in the program are active in professional activities of various kinds: publishing, participating in conferences, and serving as writing interns in businesses, community agencies, or educational institutions.

1. General Requirements

See the section on general master's degree requirements. In the Writing emphasis only, 19 credits must be taken at the 700 level in the Thesis Plan, or 16 credits in the Non-Thesis Plan.

2. Course Requirements

a) Required Course: English 730, The Craft of Writing, is required and should be taken at the earliest opportunity. It is customarily offered each fall semester.

b) Electives: At least 2 courses for the Thesis Plan, or 3 courses for the Non-Thesis Plan, must be chosen from the following electives: English 600A, 600B, 601B, 603A, 603B, 604A, 604B, 606A, 607B, 608B, 608C, 609A, 609C, 675B, 705, 728, 729, 731, 732, 733, 734, 735, 736, 737, 738R, 739R, 758, 778.

c) Other Electives: In consultation with the advisory committee, the student will choose at least 2 courses (Thesis Plan) or 3 courses in (Non-Thesis Plan), to complement his or her interests. No more than three courses may be taken outside the Department of English.

d) Language Studies: The student's undergraduate or graduate course work must include an advanced course in English language studies, such as English 411B/611B, 412A/612A, or 414A/614A, as approved by the advisory committee.

3. Portfolio

Each student will assemble a portfolio of ancillary work in the field of writing. The portfolio should demonstrate the student's professional involvement beyond course work and may include published writing or writing submitted for publication, syllabi of writing courses developed or taught by the student, membership and participation in professional organizations, service on school or college curriculum or writing committees, or presentation of papers at workshops and conferences. The student will discuss the completed portfolio with his or her advisory committee at the final oral examination.

4. Comprehensive Examination (written and oral)

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Working closely with the advisory committee, the student will prepare an annotated bibliography of approximately 15 important works in the field of writing. This bibliography may be prepared throughout the student's time in the program; the works to be included must be approved in advance by the advisory committee. The annotations consist of the student's response to readings and analysis of themes and issues, and they can often lead to ideas for further reading. For the comprehensive examination, the student writes a synthesizing paper on a topic approved by the committee. Alternatively, the student may elect to take a one-day written examination, prepared by the committee, over ideas and concepts represented by the student's selected reading list, as well as those the student has explored in the annotated bibliography. After the student has passed the paper or written exam, the advisory committee will conduct an oral exam, not to last more than an hour and a half. The student must register for English 795, Comprehensive Examination, one credit, the semester he or she will be completing the oral exam.

5. Thesis (Thesis Plan only)

The thesis may be a piece of empirical research, a library research project, a critical/rhetorical paper, or work in imaginative writing. After approval of a prospectus by the advisory committee, the student completes the thesis, registering for 6 credits of English 797.

6. Thesis Defense (Thesis Plan only)

The final oral exam, given by the candidate's advisory committee, will last about an hour and a half and will be a defense of the thesis. Candidates who prepare writings as a thesis project may instead present their thesis as a public reading and discussion of that work.

Click here for a checklist of degree requirements for the MA English, Writing emphasis.