Master of Arts in English with Language emphasis

The English master's degree with a language emphasis offers a concentration in the study of the English language, with courses in linguistics, the structure and history of the English language, and literature. The range of available courses is designed to give students the latitude to design programs of study suited to their individual professional interests in the field of English language and linguistics. The student who selects the language emphasis must work closely with his or her advisor and committee in planning this program of study.

Course requirements

(Note that English 281 or equivalent course is a prerequisite for all linguistics courses).

  • Research methods: English 711 is required and should be taken at the earliest opportunity. It is customarily offered each fall semester.
  • Language courses: English 611B, 612A, 612D, and 717 are required. These course requirements may be met by similar courses previously taken at the 400 (or equivalent) level, if the student earned a B or above. In such a case, the student will take an equivalent number of credits of other language electives, chosen in consultation with the student's committee or with the approval of the linguistics faculty.
  • Language electives: For the non­-thesis option, these should include nine additional credits of courses drawing from language or linguistics-based offerings (can be taken outside the department), selected in consultation with the student's committee or with approval of linguistics faculty. For the thesis option, these electives should include six additional credits.
  • Other electives: Other courses should be selected in consultation with the student's advisory committee to complement the student's interest in language. Courses may include graduate courses in English, or in other disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, computer science, foreign languages, Basque studies, speech pathology, philosophy or in the College of Education.

Comprehensive examination (written)

At the completion of course work, the student must pass written examinations administered by his or her advisory committee. The written examination will last eight hours. Two hours of the exam will be based on the student's course work and two hours will be based on basic linguistic principles, the history and structure of the English language, and English dialects. An additional four hours is provided for breaks and time for revision. The questions will ask that the student demonstrate both specific information and a broader understanding of concepts important to the study of language.

Thesis and non-thesis tracks

Thesis plan

The student writing a thesis should submit a prospectus to his or her advisory committee before beginning to write the thesis. The thesis will be written with the guidance of the chair and committee. The student must register for six credits of English 797, Thesis.

Non-thesis plan

In consultation with his or her M.A. committee chair, each non-thesis student will complete a professional paper. No credit toward course requirements (see above) will be granted for work on the professional paper.

The professional paper is a substantial essay on a language topic. The student selects one seminar paper written in the M.A. program and revises it, ideally with the professor under whose guidance it was originally written. The revised, polished paper will be presented to the committee as an example of the student's ability to perform research and write a convincing, reasoned argument on a topic related to linguistics. The paper should be approximately 15-20 pages long and should be of professional quality.

Comprehensive examination (oral) and thesis defense

Approximately three weeks after passing the written examination, the non-thesis plan candidate will take an oral examination lasting no longer than one and a half hours, administered by the student's advisory committee. Like the written examination, the oral exam will be based on the student's knowledge of the structure and history of the language and on the student's course work, although its range may be broader. For a student studying under the thesis plan, the oral exam will be given when the thesis is completed and approved by the advisory committee. While the exam will focus on the student's own research, it may also explore areas in which the student has had course work. The student must register for English 795, Comprehensive Examination, one credit, the semester he or she will be completing the oral exam.

Please review the M.A. language checklist of degree requirements.