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. 


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, 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 taking a reading exam administered by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, enrolling in and passing with a C- or better a 300-400 level course taught in the language (not translation), having an undergraduate major or minor in a foreign language within the past five years, or speaking a language other than English as your first language. 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.  To document language proficiency via undergraduate coursework, 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.