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Department of English & Language Arts

The Master of Arts in English

Program Overview

Morgan State University's Master's program in English offers training in all traditional fields of literary study, as well as in composition, expository and technical writing, creative writing, screenwriting, visual and digital storytelling, film, and multicultural and gender studies. The program is designed for students who want to pursue graduate work beyond the bachelor's degree to prepare for or advance careers in secondary school teaching, community college teaching, creative writing, screenwriting and digital story production, and various writing fields, including technical writing. The program also serves students who are seeking a foundation for later Ph.D. degree work.


To be eligible for admission to the Master's Program in English, an applicant must:

• Have earned a bachelor's degree in English or in a closely related discipline from a regionally accredited college or university. For applicants who hold degrees in fields other than English, substantial coursework in English fields above the first-year (freshman) level is required.
• Have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better in their bachelor's degree program. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 2.7 to 2.9 and whose application file is otherwise considered exceptional by the department Admissions Committee may be considered for conditional admission (see the Graduate Catalog, Regulations and Procedures for information on conditional admission).
• Submit an application for admission (online) to the School of Graduate Studies.
• Submit a Statement of Purpose regarding the applicant's academic and professional plans and the reasons for selecting Morgan State University.
• Submit a recent resumé or curriculum vita.
• Submit copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate coursework. Official copies of these documents must be submitted directly to the School of Graduate Studies by the previous university or college before an applicant can be officially admitted.
• Use the online application system to arrange for three letters of recommendation to be placed with the application. These letters should be from individuals who can speak to the applicant's ability for graduate study.
• Submit an academic writing sample of 10-15 pages that showcases the applicant's ability and readiness to begin graduate level work.
• Submit, if applying for the Creative Writing concentration, a creative sample of 10-15 pages. A minimum of nine (9) credit hours of undergraduate coursework in creative writing is strongly preferred for students applying for the creative writing concentration.
• Submit, if applying for the Film and Visual Storytelling concentration, an overview of the applicant's previous coursework or experience in the field. A minimum of nine (9) credit hours of relevant undergraduate coursework is strongly preferred for students applying for the Film and Visual Storytelling concentration.
• All required documents must be submitted as directed by the School of Graduate Studies prior to program review and admission decision. Students should upload all application documents electronically, even in cases where hard copies are also submitted, to the School of Graduate Studies.

Application Deadline: The MA program application deadline is May 1 for domestic students and April 1 for international students. The Department of English usually grants admission into the Master's program for Fall semesters. However, admission for Spring semesters is occasionally granted.

Areas of Concentration

Our faculty members have strengths in a variety of areas including American and British literature and literary theory, African American literature, Black diasporic and Caribbean literature, post-colonial and multicultural literatures, feminist literature and poetics, gender and sexuality studies, popular culture, rhetoric and composition, technical writing, linguistics, creative writing, screenwriting and visual/digital storytelling, and American cinema and film theory. The majority of our courses weave in our program's emphasis on the Black Diaspora.

Our Master of Arts program in English offers the following major areas of concentration:

• Literature and Language
• Creative Writing
• Film and Visual Storytelling

General Requirements

Candidates for the Master's in English degree must complete a minimum of thirty (30) academic credit hours, fulfill course requirements according to their selected concentration, pass a written comprehensive examination, and submit an acceptably-written thesis.

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 for all graduate courses attempted at MSU. Students whose GPA falls below the minimum 3.0 for two consecutive semesters will be dismissed from the program. A course assigned a grade of C or lower cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements.

Full-time is nine (9) credit hours per semester; however, students must remain enrolled for a minimum of three (3) credit hours in Fall and Spring semesters until the completion of their program and the awarding of the degree, unless a leave of absence has been granted by the School of Graduate Studies. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment may result in dismissal from the program.

All courses required for the MA degree program must be taken at Morgan unless the student receives approval from the School of Graduate Studies to transfer courses completed at another university. A maximum of 6 credits hours (two courses) of transfer credits can be applied toward the Morgan degree.

Required Courses

All MA students are required to complete successfully the following four courses:

ENGL 501: Methods and Materials of Research in Literature and Writing
ENGL 561: Introduction to Linguistics
ENGL 581: Advanced Expository Writing
ENGL 799: Thesis Seminar

The student will complete at least 12 credit hours (4 courses) in their Concentration area. The student can choose elective courses in any concentration area to complete the remainder of the required credit hours.

Foreign Language Proficiency
There is no formal second language requirement for the MA degree; however, reading knowledge of a second language will be required of students for whom such knowledge is considered a necessary tool.

Reading Lists

The Reading List for the MA in English comprises four sections: World Literature, British Literature, American Literature, and the Concentration Areas. Each literature area list has 35 entries. The concentration area lists each have 30 entries. Students will test in their concentration area and in two of the three literatures areas. Students will select the two literature areas in which they test. The reading list will be provided to students during their first semester of graduate coursework.

Masters Comprehensive Examination
The Master's written comprehensive exam is based on the MA Reading List. The exam is divided into three sessions of two (2) hours each on a single day. Students who do not pass all sections of the exam within three attempts will be dismissed from the program.

Thesis Prospectus
The thesis prospectus should be roughly 30-45 pages in length, and after any required revisions, often serves as the introduction to the thesis. Students must complete a thesis appropriate to the concentration in which they have completed their coursework and program requirements. After the student's thesis committee approves the prospectus in written form, the student can proceed with drafting the thesis.


The student, under the guidance of the thesis committee, must complete the thesis within three years of passing the written comprehensive examination. The thesis must be appropriate to the concentration in which the student has completed coursework and program requirements. The length of the thesis varies based on the focus of the project.

Creative Thesis

While most Master's students in the Department of English and Language Arts write a thesis of a traditional, research-oriented nature, a student with an officially declared Creative Writing or Film and Visual Storytelling Concentration Area may choose to write a creative thesis, which may take the form of a novella, a collection of short fiction or collection of poetry, creative non-fiction, or a hybrid/experimental form (including but not limited to performance/performativity/screen play, digital/new media, the lyric essay).

In addition to the "creative" part of the thesis, such a thesis must also contain a substantial scholarly introduction that frames the creative text and/or locates the work in its literary and historical contexts. This introduction will demonstrate the correspondence between the candidate's academic studies and the creative project. The precise nature of the scholarly research component should be determined by the candidate in consultation with the student's thesis committee and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. Students wishing to submit a creative thesis must officially be completing the Creative Writing or Film and Visual Storytelling concentration and must complete all departmental requirements demanded for the research-oriented Master's degree.

Timeline to Degree & Sufficient Progress
Students must defend their thesis and complete their degree within five years of entering the Master's program. If the student is not progressing satisfactorily toward the completion of their degree, the Department's Director of Graduate Studies may recommend to the School of Graduate Studies that the student be dismissed from the program. The decision to dismiss will be made only with the advice and consent of the majority of the members of the Departmental Graduate Committee.

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