Master of Arts in English

Major: ENGL
Degree Awarded: MA
Unit: GA
Program Webpage:

Program Information

Mission Statement

The M.A. in English provides graduate training in literatures written in English, creative writing, and rhetoric and composition. Goals for the M.A. are that students will 1) gain advanced knowledge of British, American, and other literary traditions, and 2) write a thesis or culminating project in which they initiate and complete specialized research addressing a significant question in literary studies or rhetoric and composition, or produce a significant body of creative work.

Admission to the MA Program


*Note: Applications must be complete with all supporting materials, official transcripts, and GRE scores by the deadline to be considered for admission.

M.A. admission with application for Graduate Teaching Assistantship: January 5

M.A. without funding: 1 month prior to the first day of classes for the semester in which they wish to enroll.

All M.A. degree applicants should present the following documents:

  1. Complete official transcripts (transcripts sent directly from the institution to the University of Louisville, transcripts uploaded or sent by the student will not be accepted as official) of previous undergraduate and graduate work;
  2. Two academic letters of recommendation (that is, actual letters attached to the evaluation form from faculty members who can address the applicant's academic performance and potential);
  3. Score reports on the Graduate Record Examination General Test (from within the last five years);
  4. A sample of critical writing (at least ten pages);
  5. Applicants who plan to focus on creative writing may submit a sample of their creative work in addition to the required critical essay;
  6. International students must also submit reports of the TOEFL or IELTS examination;

Above documents should be submitted to:

School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies
Office of Graduate Admissions
Houchens Building, Suite 105
Louisville, KY 40292

or submitted via the online application:

  1. Any applicant who wishes to be considered for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship must also submit a GTA application (PDF).
GTA application should be submitted to:
Annelise Gray
Department of English
University of Louisville
Bingham Humanities Building RM 315

Louisville, KY 40292


Via Email: Annelise Gray

Successful applicants for M.A. admission typically present the following credentials, though meeting these minimum requirements is no guarantee of admission:

  1. A "B+" or better average in the major from an accredited college or university;
  2. A "B" or better average overall from an accredited college or university;
  3. A score in the 50th percentile or better on the GRE Verbal section;
  4. Letters of recommendation that give promise of success in the program;
  5. A writing sample that promises success in the program;
  6. International students must also present scores of at least 600 on the TOEFL Examination (paper test) or at least 210 on the TOEFL Exam (computer test); IELTS scores are also accepted for consideration in lieu of the TOEFL.

The Director of Graduate Studies in English reviews all applications and, in consultation with the English Graduate Committee, makes all admission decisions. Complete applications to the Master’s program are considered throughout the academic year, though applicants who wish to be considered for Graduate Teaching Assistantships must present all credentials, including the GTA application, by January 5. Applicants with a B.A. in a field other than English, or with fewer than 24 credit hours for an English major, may be eligible for admission to the M.A., but the Graduate Committee may require that such students make up deficiencies on an individual basis.

In extraordinary circumstances, an applicant with incomplete credentials may petition the English Graduate Committee for admission in provisional status. Admission in non-degree status is at the discretion of the English Department Director of Graduate Studies as governed by School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies policies.

All applicants must fulfill the general requirements of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. Apply Now


The Master of Arts in English requires 30 credit hours of academic work at the graduate level. In addition to fulfilling the core requirements, students may take additional work in literary studies, creative writing, or rhetoric and composition.

Required Courses 15 credit hours:

  1. English 601: Introduction to English Studies
  2. English 691: Contemporary Theories of Interpretation OR English 692: Topics in Interpretive Theory
  3. One course in literature before 1700
  4. One course in literature from 1700-1900
  5. One course in literature after 1900

Electives – 9-15 credit hours:
Students may take no more than three 500-level courses. Creative writing courses (including up to six (6) credit hours of thesis guidance) may total no more than 15 credit hours.

Students may count one elective outside the department of English toward their degree.

Language Requirement
Students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. (See the Graduate Program Guidelines for more information.)

Admission to Candidacy
Students are admitted to candidacy for the M.A. after they have completed coursework and met the language requirement; they remain master’s degree candidates until they complete a thesis or culminating project.

Thesis Option: 24 credit hours of coursework + 6 credit hours of Thesis Guidance
Students who choose this option will be expected to write a critical or creative thesis that is a genuine contribution to the field, shows an awareness of current academic practice, and employs methods appropriate to an extended academic project. Students must submit a prospectus and have it approved at least three months before the thesis oral examination is held. Guidelines for writing a prospectus are in the English department's Graduate Program Guidelines.

Non-Thesis Option: 30 credit hours of coursework + a culminating project
Students who choose this option may, as a culminating project, select one of their strongest seminar papers or creative writing projects to revise; the purpose of the project is to give students the opportunity to revise a seminar paper with publication in mind. To this end, students will write a brief prospectus (2-3 pages plus bibliography) detailing the types of revisions they will make to the paper. A screening committee will evaluate the prospectus and, upon its approval, the student will make the necessary revisions under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

Time Limit and Residency for Masters
All work for the M.A. must be completed within six years of admission to the program. The student must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours at the University of Louisville.


David R. Anderson

Associate Professor

S. Matthew Biberman


Dale B. Billingsley

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs

Beth Boehm

Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

Brenda Brueggermann

Director of Composition

Thomas B. Byers

Professor Emeritus

Karen M. Chandler

Associate Professor

Amy Clukey

Assistant Professor

Geoffrey A. Cross

Professor Emeritus

Julia C. Dietrich

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Lucy M. Freibert

Professor Emerita

Alan C. Golding


Susan M. Griffin

Distinguished University Scholar

Paul F. Griner


Karen C. Hadley


Dennis R. Hall

Professor Emeritus

Suzette A. Henke

Professor Emerita

Bruce M. Horner
Endowed Chair in Rhetoric and Composition

Director of Thomas R Watson International Conference on Rhetoric and Composition

Aaron Jaffe


Timothy Johnson

Assistant Professor

Debra S. Journet

Professor Emerita

Karen Kopelson
Assistant Professor

University Distinguished Teaching Professor

Min-Zhan Lu

Professor Emerita

Deborah Lutz

Morton Chair

Carol J. Mattingly

Professor Emerita

Kristi Maxwell

Assistant Professor

Fran McDonald

Assistant Professor

Robert Miller

Professor Emeritus

Karen Mullen

Associate Professor Emerita

Andrea Olinger

Assistant Professor

Kiki Petrosino
Associate Professor

Director of Creative Writing

Andrew Rabin
Associate Professor

Vice Chair

Harold E. Richardson

Professor Emeritus

Mary Ellen Rickey

Professor Emerita

Glynis Ridley

Department Chair

Mary I. Rosner

Associate Professor

Susan M. Ryan

Associate Professor

Stephen Schneider
Associate Professor

Director of Graduate Studies

Mary P. Sheridan


Jeffrey T. Skinnery

Professor Emeritus

Hristomir Stanev

Assistant Professor

Ian Stansel

Assistant Professor

Joseph Turner

Assistant Professor

A. Elizabeth Willey
Associate Professor

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Bronwyn T. Williams

Director of University Writing Center

Elaine O. Wise

Assistant Professor

Thomas A. Van

Professor Emeritus