Department of Languages and Literatures

M.A. Program in English, with Emphases in Literature, English Studies, Creative Writing and TESS

About the Program

The Master's degree in English offers students intensive training in the close-examination of texts, a range of writing experiences and the opportunity to explore a variety of literary genres, periods, cultures and styles. In workshops and small seminars, students work closely with faculty and have individualized mentoring while working on research papers and theses. Our graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs and careers in teaching (in high schools, middle-schools, talented and gifted programs, dual enrollment classes and community college courses), publishing, professional writing and educational administration.

Notes for Applicants

  • The M.A. in English is available on the thesis and non-thesis options, and degree applicants choose one of four emphases (see below).
    • Both the thesis and the non-thesis options require a minimum of 30 or 36 semester hours, depending on the emphasis chosen. 
    • A minimum of 15 hours of 6000-level course work is required for each option.
  • The four emphases are the following:
  1. Literature Emphasis, minimum 30 semester hours - available on both thesis and non-thesis options
  2. English Studies Emphasis, minimum 30 semester hours - available on both thesis and non-thesis options
  3. Creative Writing Emphasis, minimum 36 semester hours - available on thesis option only
  4. Teaching English in Secondary Schools-Middle/Junior High and Senior High (TESS), minimum 33 semester hours - available on non-thesis option only
  • Students interested in this program must submit a completed Application for Admission to Graduate Study and should refer to their MyUNIverse Student Center To-Do list or contact the Department of Languages & Literatures for other application requirements. Graduate information and application for graduate admission can be found at

  • In addition, the Department of Languages & Literatures requires a statement of purpose, an official transcript showing a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, transcripts from any other college or university attended after earning a Bachelor's degree, two letters of recommendation on letterhead, and a writing sample.
    • For applicants to the literature and English Studies emphases, the writing sample should be a research paper of at least seven pages.
    • For applicants to the creative writing emphasis the writing sample should consist of 20 poems and/or 30 pages of fiction.
    • Click here for requirements for the TESS emphasis.
    • These materials should be sent to: Ms. Kris Knebel, Secretary, Graduate Office, Department of Languages & Literatures, 1001 Bartlett Hall, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0502.
  • The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) is not required for admission to the program.
  • Only graduate courses (course numbers 5000 or above) will apply to a graduate degree, even if the undergraduate course number (4999 or less) is listed. No exceptions will be made.
  • Graduate students are required to meet with the English Graduate Coordinator each semester for planning and approval of the courses within one's program of study.
    • The department may require an applicant to complete course work in addition to the minimum hours specified for the selected option and emphasis. More information about this program approval process is available from the English Graduate Coordinator.
  • Successful completion of a final written and oral comprehensive examination is required for both the thesis and non-thesis options.
  • In addition, students pursuing the non-thesis option are required to submit a Graduate Student Portfolio and complete an approved research paper. See the English Graduate Coordinator for details.
  • Native speakers of English must demonstrate proficiency in another language by earning at least a C grade in a second-semester, college-level course or by passing a specially designed examination. Course work taken to satisfy this foreign language requirement does not count toward the number of hours required for completion of the degree major.
  • For full admission, non-native English speakers must have achieved a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600 (paper-based)/250 (computer-based), or the equivalent IELTS score, in order to demonstrate their proficiency in English.
    • A student may be required to take additional English language improvement courses at the discretion of the English Graduate Faculty. Work taken to satisfy the language proficiency requirement does not count toward the minimum of 30 to 36 semester hours required to complete the selected emphasis.
  • Individuals teaching in Iowa community colleges are not required to hold state-issued teaching licenses. However, graduate course work in postsecondary education may strengthen one’s qualifications for teaching at a community college. Contact individual colleges to determine the requirements for teaching appointments at each institution. 

Click here for the program of study for the M.A. in English with a Literature Emphasis (Word document). 

Click here for the program of study for the M.A. in English with an English Studies Emphasis (Word document). 

Click here for the program of study for the M.A. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis (Word document).

Click here for more information about the M.A. in English with a Teaching English in Secondary Schools (TESS) Emphasis. Note:

  • The M.A. in English with a TESS Emphasis is offered primarily as an outreach or distance education program to cohort groups of practicing teachers; students in each group proceed through the program together over a period of about three years.
  • Teacher licensure is a prerequisite (and a secondary English/Language Arts endorsement is a prerequisite or corequisite) for completing the program approval process for this emphasis. A licensed teacher who lacks a secondary English/Language Arts endorsement should consult at once with the English Graduate Coordinator in order to plan appropriate coursework, which may include one or more courses in addition to the minimum requirements for the emphasis. Each student's program of study for this emphasis requires the approval of the English Graduate Coordinator.

Click here for information on assistantships within the Department of Languages & Literatures.

Click here for information and applications for graduate funding, both scholarships and stipends, via the Graduate College.

Questions regarding admission, funding, and program requirements may be directed to Dr. Anne Myles, Graduate Coordinator, at