M.A. in English

Barbara Schapiro
English Department
Craig-Lee Hall 355
(401) 456-8667
(401) 456-8028

The English Department at Rhode Island College prepares its graduate students to read, write, and think critically about literature and culture on an advanced level. We expose students to a variety of theoretical and pedagogical approaches, and we promote their ability to pursue independent research by presenting current resources and methodologies in the field. By offering a broad range of courses, we allow students to expand their knowledge about literature, theory, and criticism; by working with students individually on directed studies, exams, or theses, we give students the opportunity to explore a subject in depth and to develop expertise in a particular area. The Creative Writing program allows students to expand their knowledge of and proficiency in the crafts of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. All of the graduate programs in English prepare students to function as literary professionals, whether as teachers, writers, or scholars.


  • Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct advanced research in a literary, linguistic, or theoretical/critical area.
  • Students will produce effective critical, analytic writing that situates an argument within a larger critical or theoretical context and that correctly incorporates secondary sources according to MLA guidelines.
  • Students in the M. A. literature program will demonstrate expertise in one or two specific areas through substantial critical writing, either in the form of a thesis or a comprehensive examination.
  • Students in the M. A. Creative Writing program will demonstrate a mastery of the theories and techniques of poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction by producing a thesis of original, publishable quality work in one or more of these genres.

Admission Requirements

  • A completed application form accompanied by a fifty-dollar nonrefundable application fee.
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate records.
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in 24 credit hours of upper-level courses in English language and literature.
  • An official report of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • An official report of scores on the Graduate Record Advanced Literature in English Examination (optional).
  • Three letters of recommendation, with at least two from English professors.
  • A 1-2 page Statement of Intent outlining your goals for the program and your relevant background.
  • A plan of study approved by the advisor and appropriate dean.

Course Requirements

English M.A. Course Requirements

Note: The M.A. program in English does not lead to teacher certification. Students interested in certification to teach English in the secondary school should see Secondary Education in the section titled Feinstein School of Education and Human Development.

Thesis Plan

Under the thesis plan (optional for M.A. in English; required for M.A. in English with concentration in creative writing), students take ENGL 592: Master's Thesis in their final semester of study toward the M.A. degree, during which time they complete research for and write a master's thesis on a subject of their choice that has been approved by the departmental graduate committee. Students may also, as an option in a previous semester, take ENGL 591: Directed Reading in preparation for the writing of the thesis. The thesis will be written under the direction of a faculty member of the student's choice and will be read by that faculty member and by a second reader appointed by the departmental graduate committee. For M.A. in English students, the thesis will normally be a substantial critical or research paper (though different kinds of projects are possible) of approximately fifty to seventy pages in length. For M.A. in English with concentration in creative writing students, the thesis will consist of a substantial body of poetry, fiction, nonfictional prose, or drama. A defense of the thesis before a faculty committee is required in all cases.

Examination Plan

Under the examination plan and upon completion of at least 24 credit hours of graduate course work, the student writes a take-home (48 hour) essay examination prepared and administered by the Department of English. The examination is based on reading lists in two of the following four categories: (1) British literature before 1800, (2) British literature since 1800, (3) American literature, and (4) theory or genre. Prior to the examination, the student, in consultation with faculty advisors, will prepare reading lists for the two categories selected. Guidelines for preparing reading lists are available from the departmental graduate advisor.

Page last updated: November 9, 2015