M.A. Concentration in Literature

Advisors:  Barbara Bennett, John Morillo

The graduate concentration in literature offers courses on a variety of national, regional and world literatures and literary periods, along with courses on theory (postcolonial, feminist, cultural, psychoanalytic, etc.), film, linguistics and rhetoric. The program’s distribution requirements, including a required course on research methods, ensure that you acquire a broad understanding of literary history and the tools you need to do independent scholarly work, while the electives enable you to explore widely and then to develop a specialization.

At the end of the 33-hour program, you will work with an advisor to complete a capstone research project that allows you to delve deeply into a topic of your own choosing and to showcase the knowledge and skills you have acquired through your coursework. 

How to Apply

Check Out Comments from Alumni:

Story 1

"...close-knit and active"

It's a small department that is close-knit and active. People are connected with students and it's really easy to develop relationships with professors and get opportunities to try new things and build one's CV. 

              -- William Tolbert, MA ‘16, Literature Concentration

Story 2

"...taken a chance on me."

I've been presenting at the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts (SCLA) since 2013. However, my time at NCSU has made it possible for me to become more involved in the organization. During both my years here, I've been awarded very generous funding packages. The fact that the department was willing to invest in me and my ideas has made me confident in my abilities. This has led to me chairing my first panel as well as being voted into the nominations committee, a role that grants me responsibility in the architecture of the organization for years to come. It's amazing that I've been able to do all of this as only a graduate student, but none of this would've happened if the English department hadn't taken a chance on me.

                     – Amanda Ogea, MA ‘19, Literature Concentration

Story 3

"would not trade my experiences for anything."

I enjoyed every course I took at NC State. All the professors are knowledgeable and extremely easy to work with. I have gained a tremendous amount of literary insight learning from them, and I would not trade my experiences for anything. 

                     -- MA ‘17 graduate, Literature Concentration

Story 4

"would have given the shirt off their back..."

The MA in Literature gave me the opportunity to dive deep into my areas of interest while still requiring me to think broadly across genres and periods. The faculty were available and eager to answer questions, provide a different viewpoint, complicate an argument, or write a letter of recommendation. My cohort was filled with supportive, intelligent, creative individuals, all of whom would have given the shirt off their back had someone needed it. The department has created an environment where students are challenged, but also provided sufficient support to succeed.     


              -- Mara Masters, MA ‘18, Literature Concentration

Story 5

"...the world-class faculty deeply cares about the success of their students"

NC State's Master's program in English offers a wide variety of courses in every major sub-field of the discipline ... The courses help to equip students for careers in both academia and the private sector. In addition, the world-class faculty deeply cares about the success of their students; professors are deeply invested in students' academic and career goals. The program also has national reach: NC State is a consortium school with the Folger Institute and other nationally known programs, and offers opportunities to study at nearby institutions to help enhance your graduate experience.


    -- Jesse McDowell, MA ‘16, Literature Concentration


Research Component (6 credit hours)

  • Required in the First Semester:
    ENG 669: Methods and the Profession (3 credits) 

This course will introduce you to ways of thinking and practicing in the profession of English studies. We will explore critical traditions, research methods and emerging approaches to English studies, including literary criticism, theory, global perspectives, rhetoric and composition, film studies and digital humanities. The course also prepares you to begin formulating your own academic and professional pathways. You will become familiar with faculty from the department, develop research plans, and discover resources to professionalize along trajectories that include higher education, writing, media and teaching. NOTE: You’ll find this course listed in the enrollment system under its previous title, Bibliography and Methods.

Distribution Requirements (12 credits)

Literature students take one course in each of the following four areas.  Depending on the course content, special topics courses may also be used to satisfy distribution requirements.  Please see the Course Offerings Page.

  • 1 course in British literature before 1660
  • 1 course in British literature after 1660
  • 1 course in American literature
  • 1 course in rhetoric, linguistics, composition, film studies, criticism or theory

Literature Electives (9 credits)

  • 3 additional literature courses. Students may elect to explore broadly or to focus their coursework in an area of special interest. 

Open Electives (6 credits)

  • 2 electives. Electives may be chosen from English or from complementary fields of study. TAs may count ENG 624 as an elective.

Global Perspectives Requirement (Co-Requisite)

The Global Perspectives requirement is intended to provide you with a greater understanding of language structure and a globalizing perspective on texts and culture. You may fulfill this requirement in one of two ways:

  1. Demonstrate language proficiency (by meeting one of the following options):
    1. Taking a reading exam administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. The Foreign Language Department offers optional preparatory courses for students planning to take the reading exam: FLS [Spanish] 401, FLF [French] 401, FLG [German] 401.  
    2. Enrolling in and passing with a C- or better a 300-400 level course taught in the language (not translation).
    3. Having an undergraduate major or minor in a foreign language within the past five years.
    4. Speaking a language other than English as your first language. 

        To document language proficiency via option B, C or D, contact the Graduate Services Coordinator.


  1. Take a World Literature course or an approved alternative.  This course will typically count toward the degree as a literature or unrestricted elective, but there may be some instances in which the course can fulfill a core requirement.

If you’re considering doctoral work in literary study, we encourage you to consult with your advisor. In some cases, certifying language proficiency via reading exam may help satisfy a doctoral language requirement later on.