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Department of Languages and Literatures

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

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.

The M.A. Major in English is available with thesis and non-thesis options and degree applicants choose one of three emphases. The thesis option requires a minimum of 30-36 semester hours, depending on the emphasis chosen; the non-thesis option requires a minimum of 30-33 semester hours, depending on the emphasis chosen. A minimum of 15 hours of 200-level course work is required for each option. The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) is not required for admission to the program.

The four emphases are the following:

(1) Literature Emphasis, minimum 30 semester hours, download .pdf
 available with both the thesis and non-thesis options;

(2) English Studies, minimum 30 semester hours, download .pdf
available with both the thesis and non-thesis options;  

(3) Creative Writing Emphasis, minimum 36 semester hours,download .pdf
available with the thesis option only;

(4) Teaching English in Secondary Schools-
Middle/Junior High and Senior High (TESS),
minimum 33 semester hours, available with the non-thesis option only.

Successful completion of a two-part (written and oral) Comprehensive Examination is required of all students pursuing the M.A. in English, whether with the thesis or the non-thesis option. In addition, students pursuing the non-thesis option are required to submit a Graduate Student Portfolio and to complete an approved research paper.

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 an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7.0 (the equivalent of 600 on the TOEFL). A student may be required to take additional English language improvement courses at the discretion of the Coordinator. 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.

Students interested in pursuing the M.A. in English must submit a completed Application for Admission to Graduate Study to the Office of Admissions. General information about the Graduate College and an application for graduate admission may be found at:

In addition, the English department 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

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