Department of Languages and Literatures

English M.A.

About the Program

Hearst OpeningThe M.A. in English provides the opportunity for students with diverse backgrounds and interests to develop their strengths and explore a range of intellectual and career possibilities. Students select one of three tracks to apply to: a traditional concentration in Literature, including film studies; the Creative Writing track, which includes both creative writing and supporting literary study; and an innovative track in English Studies, where students develop an individualized plan of study in which they may choose coursework from Literature, Creative Writing, and/or Professional and Technical Writing, according to their interests. All creative writers are required to do a creative thesis (6 credits); students in the other tracks may select thesis or non-thesis options.

The program is small enough to foster a lively integrated community across the different tracks, yet graduate students have access to a wide range of course options. They work intensively with advisors of their choosing as they develop their research or creative interests. The Department of Languages & Literatures is home to the nation’s oldest literary magazine, the North American Review, and literary readings and open mics regularly take place in the community. Assistantships in various roles in the Department also give many students applied learning opportunities and a chance to further hone professional skills.

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.

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Instructions for Application

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.

Click here for information about the M.A.-TESS (Teaching English in Secondary Schools).


What Our Alums Say

Alissa Cornick
UNI’s English MA program taught me how to turn curiosity into knowledge and thoughts into narratives through critical, creative engagement with literature and invaluable instruction in research and writing processes. The skills I gained, as well as the resume-building opportunities, have given me an edge at every job I have had since graduating the program, from college teaching to copy writing to librarianship. I enjoyed the sense of community that faculty and staff fostered---as a cohort, we felt comfortable exchanging perspectives and ideas, and those conversations led to friendships that I have to this day.

---Alissa Cornick
   Youth Librarian, Des Moines Public Library 


Darek BeneshMy time in UNI’s MA English program allowed me the space to explore and discover. It was one of the most creative and productive times in my life so far and opened many doors for my future. The faculty are top-notch and deeply care about your development and success, both professionally and as a person. The depth of insight that is fostered through the study of literature, through writing, and through reading as a writer has enabled me to better understand and communicate with others.
---Darek Benesh
   Associate Dean, Global Learning & Past Professor of English, Kirkwood Community College 


Tracey ToenjesDuring my time in UNI’s English MA program, I was surrounded daily by people who believed in me, and because they believed in me, they continued pushing me to work and grow, even after I thought I had reached the finish line on most things. Additionally, because of the work I went through to earn the MA, I know I can hold myself to a higher professional standard when it comes to meeting the demands of my teaching job. Nothing in teaching (so far) is quite as consuming as writing my thesis or preparing for the field exam, but because I conquered both of those, I know I can meet the challenges of my teaching job, especially when it comes to new ways of approaching a unit or lesson.

---Tracey Toenjes
   English Teacher, Tripoli IA High School 


Kathryn WohlpartUNI’s MA in English allowed me to expand my career by introducing me to new ways of communicating. The program fosters a sense of community, allowing you to grow your writing circle and your professional connections. I currently work for the UNI Graduate College where I assist students with the thesis and dissertation process. I also work on special projects to aid in the recruitment and retention of students. These projects range from redesigning websites to conducting interviews and writing articles to highlight the university. With an assistantship opportunity at the North American Review, I learned directly from some of the biggest names in literature and acquiring transferable skills that I took on to the job market.
---Kathryn Wohlpart

   Thesis and Dissertation Services Coordinator, UNI 


Bola King-RushingThe English MA program at UNI prepared me for success in teaching and tutoring. I was both grounded and inspired as I learned how to engage students and create a dynamic and effective classroom environment. The program’s rigor ensured that my academic skills and knowledge were up to the challenge when I went on to doctoral studies at the University of California. In my time at UNI, I received supportive mentoring that gave me the confidence to start my own business. The UNI English MA provided the foundation that helped me grow into the successful teacher, researcher, and leader I am today. I will be forever grateful to role the faculty and staff played in putting me on an amazing life path!
---Bola King-Rushing
   Owner, Zeno Effect Media & English Instructor, College of the Canyons


Holly MalmI feel UNI’s English MA program laid the ground work for my current career path. The writing process itself maps quite easily to software development. Though the central concern of software development is to get your code working, the second greatest concern is to make sure your code is readable. UNI also prepared me to be humble and to accept criticism of my work. Being able to divorce yourself from your work, hear constructive criticism, and be open to learning from others is imperative. I’m so grateful to have developed that mindset during my time in the program.

---Holly Malm
   Software Engineer, Documoto

Questions regarding admission, funding, and program requirements may be directed to Dr. Karen Tracey, Graduate Coordinator..

(Content last updated Summer 2020)