MA in English

Admission Contact Information

Victoria Thorp
114A Tate Hall, Department of English
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-4676

Admission Criteria

Fall deadline: January 1

Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
80 550
  • Minimum GRE score: not set
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 overall, higher in courses in major
  • Majored in English as an undergraduate, with at least 18 hours in upper division courses in literature or linguistics. Students with other undergraduate majors may be admitted provided their background in English studies is suitable and provided they complete an appropriate course of preliminary study. Promising students who do not meet one or more of these criteria may at the discretion of the director of graduate studies be encouraged to enroll as non-degree graduate students.

Required Application Materials

To the Office of Graduate Studies:

  • All required documents

To the English Program:

  • English Department application form
  • GRE scores; The general test is required. Students are also welcome to submit subject test scores, and strongly encouraged to do so if their previous work is in a field other than English.
  • 3 letters of recommendation (use departmental form)
  • Official transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • 2 10-20 page critical/scholarly papers (1 for creative writing applicants)
  • Creative writing applicants: also submit a sample of your fiction (30 pages) and/or poetry (20 pages) or a one-act play
  • Supplementary information sheet (for MA/PhD and PhD track applicants only)

Financial Aid from the Program

Some programs require an extra form or statement from those who wish to be considered for internal assistantships, fellowships or other funding packages. Check the program website or ask the program contact for details.

Plan of Study

The MA is a 4-semester (2-year) program with 30 hours of course work (at least 15 hours at the 8000-level) in English.

  • MA students may take up to 6 hours (7000-level or above) outside the English department.
  • In addition to literary study, students may also select from among the 6 emphasis areas to accompany the program in British and American Literature: African Diaspora Studies, Creative Writing, Critical Theory, Folklore and Oral Tradition, Language and Linguistics, and Rhetoric and Composition.
  • A foreign language is not required for the master’s degree.

Final Assessment Options

A student may elect to write an MA thesis (while taking 6 hours of ENGLSH 8090), to present a portfolio and take an oral exam, or to take a written comprehensive exam based on a reading list.


Students who choose the MA thesis (50-75 pages) should, at the outset of master’s work, discuss possible thesis topics with the faculty member or members who seem most likely to constitute the student’s MA Thesis Committee (two English department members and one outside member). Students present and defend their theses to this committee in an oral examination.

Portfolio/Oral Exam

Students electing this option will chose two faculty members to work with in revising two essays previously written during their M.A. work. The Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the student, will chose a third faculty member to serve on the student’s portfolio committee. Students will defend the two revised essays, as well as those not chosen for revision, in a two-hour oral exam. The committee may pass or fail the examinee on any part(s) of the portfolio. In the case of partial or total failure, the student will retake the oral portions that were failed and may need to revise further one or both of the revised essays.

Written Exam Based on Reading List

The exam consists of three questions answered over a four-hour time period. Students in Literature and in Literature with a Creative Writing Emphasis are assigned to a three-member M.A. Comprehensive Exam Committee and write on three literature-based questions. Students with emphases in African Diaspora, Critical Theory, English Language & Linguistics, Folklore & Oral Tradition, or Rhetoric & Composition are assigned to a committee that includes two members from literature and one member from the emphasis area. They write two literature-based questions and one emphasis-area-based question.

Satisfactory Progress

The Department of English expects all candidates to make satisfactory progress toward completing their graduate degrees. The MA should be completed within three calendar years after matriculation. No grades of C will be counted toward the completion of the required number of hours for the MA.

MA/PhD Track

The department also offers an MA in an MA/PhD program intended for especially well-prepared students who have BA degrees and know they wish to pursue the PhD. It offers enhanced financial aid and an accelerated time to degree. Students complete MA requirements and begin taking PhD course work in their second year in the program. Academic requirements for the two degrees are identical with the academic requirements for the separate MA and PhD degrees.