Skip Navigation

M.A. Handbook

Skip Side Navigation

Students will design their areas of study in close consultation with the chair of their committee. These areas of study may be selected from well-established fields of national literature and/or historical periods (e.g., British, American, Native American, post-colonial Anglophone, medieval, early modern, Eighteenth, Nineteenth or Twentieth century), Rhetoric and Writing studies, theoretical approaches (feminism/gender studies, critical race/ethnicity studies, Marxism, poststructuralism), media studies (film, graphic novel), or more recent areas of scholarly interest (transnational literature, new kinds of interdisciplinary studies, digital humanities). The committee must consist of a committee chair and two other members of the graduate faculty.

Faculty are committed to preparing graduate students through preparation in coursework, mentoring, and professional development. Students have published their work in prominent journals and presented at national and local conferences. Teaching assistantships are competitive with those of peer institutions, and financial assistance for dissertation completion and conference travel is available through the department and Graduate College. The department has been successful in helping students find employment in academia and beyond. 

Admissions Requirements:

  •  Prospective graduate students must submit an application for admission and official transcripts to the Office of Admissions.
  • A $50 non-refundable application processing fee is required of all applicants for admission to the University of Oklahoma.
  • The English Department deadline for applying to the Graduate Program for the Fall term is January 5th. New students are not accepted into the graduate programs during the Spring or Summer terms.
  • To be considered for admission into the M.A. program in English, we require the following: a Grade Point Average of 3.00 or better on a 4.00 scale (admission on probation is possible with a G.P.A. of 2.75); and a major in English or at least 15 hours of courses (6 hours must be upper-division) or the equivalent in closely related fields. Candidates are admitted on a competitive basis.
  • A Financial Aid Services packet, and information about eligibility for financial aid, can be obtained from the Office of Financial Aid at (405) 325-4521.

Application Requirements (to be submitted with online application):

  • 3 Letters of Reference: On your online application, you will be asked to provide emails for three references, who will be contacted by the University with a request for a letter of recommendation. Request your references to comment specifically upon
    (1) your qualifications as a prospective graduate student (literary judgment, writing ability, originality, diligence) and, if you are applying for Graduate Teaching Assistantship,
    (2) your qualifications as a prospective teacher (ability to organize, enthusiasm, responsibility, objectivity).
    If possible, referees should use the online reference system, but if they prefer, they may send hardcopy letters directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions (731 Elm Avenue, Room 318 Norman, OK 73019).
  • Official Transcripts: These should be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions (731 Elm Avenue, Room 318 Norman, OK 73019). Unofficial transcripts may also be uploaded to your online application, but these cannot substitute for official transcripts.
  • Statement of Goals: This statement should include your reasons for pursuing graduate work and your proposed areas of study and research (250-500 words). Upload this document to your online application.
  • Critical Writing Sample: It should be no more than 25 pages, appropriate to program and preferably in your proposed area of study. (If you are applying to the Creative Writing program, you must submit a creative writing sample as well.) Upload writing samples to your online application.

Teaching Assistantships:

  • Teaching Assistantships with stipends of $14,584 are available on a competitive basis for up to three years at the M.A. level. Prospective students interested in teaching assistantship support should indicate that interest on the application cover sheet. 
  • Two weeks before the beginning of their first semester, all students who receive teaching appointments will also participate in a workshop to help them prepare for their courses, covering topics such as reading assignments, writing assignments, paper grading and classroom strategy. 
  • Students awarded graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) positions will typically teach one to two composition courses each semester under the supervision of the First Year Composition Office (FYC).

World Literature Today

World Literature Today, the prominent University of Oklahoma journal which administers the biannual Neustadt International Prize for Literature, offers two renewable one-year assistantships for teaching and research related to the journal's mission.

  • Initial advisement should occur just prior to the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. In your admission letter you are informed of the name of the assigned faculty member from the Graduate Committee who will be your adviser for the first semester or year. As soon as possible, students should seek an advisor from among the faculty in their area of study. Until the student has found a permanent adviser, he or she should seek advisement from the assigned adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • During the first several weeks of the first semester in the program, new graduate students will meet collectively with the faculty and advanced students for an Orientation session and Q&A.
  • After the student has chosen a faculty member to serve as adviser, the adviser will thereafter help the student construct a coherent plan of study according to the regulations of the Graduate College and the structure of the M.A. program.
  • A plan of study will be prepared by the student and the Adviser, and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, before enrollment for the second semester.

LCS M.A. Program Requirements

  • ENGL 5113 Teaching College Composition Proseminar (3 Credits)
  • ENGL 5313 Literary Criticism Proseminar (3 Credits)
  • 7 Seminars (21 Credits)
  • ENGL 5980 MA Thesis Hours (3 Credits)

Total Credits = 30 Hours

RWS M.A. Program Requirements

  • ENGL 5113 Teaching College Composition Proseminar (3 Credits)
  • ENGL 5403 Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies Proseminar (3 Credits)
  • ENGL 6103 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing Proseminar (3 Credits)
  • 6 Seminars (18 Credits)
  • ENGL 5980 MA Thesis Hours (3 Credits)

Total Credits = 30 Hours

Written Requirement: 

The student chooses a seminar paper from a class taken as an MA student in this program. The student develops the paper into a publishable article working with the advice and guidance of their M.A. Thesis Committee, particularly the Thesis Chair. The thesis should be an article length project.

Masters’ Creative Writing Thesis:

The Creative Writing Thesis in Prose consists of a 50-70 page manuscript, either fiction or creative nonfiction or a combination of both, with a 5-7 page critical introduction in which the writer analyzes the influences, forms, subjects, and intentions of his or her own creative work within the literary context of the writers studied during graduate coursework. The determination of whether the student will submit a creative writing thesis or a 30-page critical paper should be made in consultation with student, his/her advisor or committee chair, and graduate faculty, especially the creative writing faculty member in the appropriate genre. Students opting for a Creative Writing Thesis can choose to be either in the LCS or RWS tracks.

Oral Requirement (Oral Defense of the M.A. Thesis):

The student turns in and defends the thesis in their fourth semester at the M.A. level.

M.A. Committee:

The M.A. Thesis Committee must consist of 3 members of the English faculty.

Language Requirements: one language at reading proficiency level. Options:

  1. Two undergraduate courses in the language (must have received at least a B in each class)
  2. A translation exam offered by the Department of Modern Languages or other appropriate department.
  3. A graduate level reading class offered in Modern Languages (this class is offered each summer and only Spanish or French are offered).
  4. Native proficiency

*Before the department informs the Graduate College that a graduate student has met the requirement for language proficiency, the student’s chair must determine whether the student has met the necessary proficiency level for the student’s particular area and research project. Some fields require greater language proficiency than the first three options above may allow for.

**The graduate level reading course does not count for the degree credits nor do any other language courses taken during degree time count for credits toward the degree. Students can petition the graduate college for extra waivers to take language classes.

With permission, students may avail themselves of all three options. However, these options will only be approved in exceptional circumstances:

  1. Directed Readings (3 Credits): When a student cannot proceed with their main course of study without taking a directed reading, the student and their chair can petition the graduate committee for permission to replace a seminar with a directed reading. Students may petition to take up to one directed reading at the M.A. level and one directed reading at the Ph.D. level. The student and faculty must also fill out a directed reading contract specifying required assignments, readings, and meetings.
  2. Students may take up to one graduate 4000 level course (3 Credits) when that course is truly necessary for the student’s course of study with the approval of the graduate committee and the student’s chair. This course must result in a 20+ page research paper. Students may petition to take up to one 4000 level course at the M.A. level and one at the Ph.D. level.
  3. Students may take up to one graduate level seminar (3 Credits) in another department when that course is truly necessary for the student’s course of study with the approval of the graduate committee and the student’s chair. Students may petition to take up to one seminar in another department at the M.A. level and one at the Ph.D. level.
  • Each graduate student will be evaluated formally and collectively at the end of each academic year during a meeting of the faculty. The annual evaluation of each current graduate student will be an occasion for a careful (re)assessment of his or her scholastic progress, accomplishments, and prospects of continuation in the program. Students are evaluated upon their timely progress in the program and the quality of their work.
  • In the spring semester, students will submit a self-assessment to their Adviser on the Annual Student Progress Report (ASPR), sent through email by Sara Knight, with the required information for that academic year. The Adviser will submit the ASPR with his or her written evaluation of the student’s work based on a review of the student's grades, performance in courses, and timely progress toward degree. At the end of the Spring semester, the full graduate faculty meet to discuss each student’s performance and consider whether or not the student’s progress is satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
  • If a student's annual evaluation indicates that he or she is not making satisfactory progress in the program, the Graduate Committee will review the case and make an official recommendation to the Graduate College. If a student receives an “Unsatisfactory” on an annual review, thereafter, he or she will be evaluated every semester. The Graduate College automatically disenrolls students who receive two “Unsatisfactory” reports. Unless there are extenuating circumstances approved by the advisor, students are automatically disenrolled by the Department if their cumulative GPA falls below 3.0.

Revised policies and practices to be implemented for Spring 2022 and subsequent graduates:

4 weeks prior to the last day of finals (and at least 10 working days prior to the defense): Deadline to submit a reading copy of the dissertation to the committee and to submit the Report of Reading Copy Submission and Request for Authority to Defend to the Graduate College.

  • Explanation: Students will now be required to submit a full reading copy to the committee and to report to the Graduate College that they have done so as part of the process of requesting authority to defend. 

3 weeks prior to the last day of finals (and at least 5 working days prior to the defense): Deadline for committee members to sign the Report of Reading Copy Submission and Request for Authority to Defend.

  • Explanation: Committee members will affirm that they received the reading copy as reported by the student and will provide their assessment of whether the thesis or dissertation is ready to defend. The timeline provides committee members with one week (5 working days) to make this assessment. 

2 weeks (10 working days) prior to the last day of finals: Deadline to defend the thesis or dissertation.

  • Explanation: This deadline allows the student to spend one week making limited revisions and still graduate during the current semester. Academic units may wish to encourage or require earlier defenses if more extensive revisions tend to be needed, or to encourage committees to provide feedback earlier in the process.  

1 week (5 working days) prior to the last day of finals: Deadline to submit the thesis or dissertation to SHAREOK in order to graduate during the current academic term.

  • Explanation: A large proportion of theses and dissertations require formatting adjustments or other corrections after initial submission to SHAREOK. This deadline allows these issues to be resolved by the end of the semester for graduation and timely degree clearance. 

Two additional changes in policy and practice will accompany these timelines.

  1. The Request for Degree Check will be due during the first two weeks of the semester. This will enable the grad college to identify and address any potential barriers to graduation early in the semester and facilitate processing of the Request for Authority to Defend once all signatures are received. The Request for Degree Check is easy to submit, and there is no penalty for requesting a degree check but not graduating that semester. In addition, requiring it early in the semester will encourage students and committees to confer about the plan for completion. 
  2. The grad college will enforce the requirement to enroll in the subsequent semester if degree completion requirements are not met in accordance with the above timelines. Students will be eligible to graduate without repeating the defense if they submit their thesis or dissertation to SHAREOK within 60 calendar days after the defense, but they will be required to enroll in the following semester if their submission occurs after the final day of classes. (The grad college will continue to entertain petitions to waive the enrollment requirement if serious exigent circumstances are present, but the grad college will not approve petitions in the absence of such circumstances.)