M.A. Program

Course Requirements for Lehigh University’s Masters of Arts Program in English

All candidates for the master's degree will take a minimum of eleven courses (33 credits). M.A. students select their courses from a broad array of traditional historical literary periods and theoretical areas and others contribute to our Literature and Social Justice emphasis (although historical courses and L&SJ courses are not distinct from each other and most of our courses are both). This distribution is to assure some balance in students' course work and to bolster their appeal as job candidates by providing the basis for teaching survey courses in more than one area as well as potentially developing a unique specialization in L&SJ. Students may substitute a thesis for one of their courses (3 credits).

To ensure that all students develop a well rounded scholarly basis, they are required to take:

  • Two courses before 1830 (6 credits)
  • Two courses after 1830 (6 credits)
  • ENGL 482, Theories of Literature and Social Justice (3 credits)
  • One additional theory course (3 credits)
  • Electives (15 credits)

Teaching fellows will take, in addition to these eleven courses, English 485, Issues in the Teaching of Writing (2 credits), and English 486, Teaching Composition:  A Practicum (1 credit), in the first semester in which they teach a composition course.  English 485 and 486 are not counted in the 33 credits toward the M.A. but will be counted later toward the Ph.D., even if they are taken during the M.A. program.

Whenever possible, students should take courses at the 400-level; however, students may take up to three of the eleven courses at the 300-level. If special circumstances apply, students may petition the departmental graduate committee to be allowed to take a fourth course at the 300-level.

In addition to the distribution courses stipulated in the distribution list above, students may roster one course each in Supervised Teaching and/or Independent Study.

A graduate student who can arrange with a professor to serve as his or her apprentice in one of the department's survey courses or, with the approval of the graduate director, in one of the other department courses, may roster English 400, Supervised Teaching (1 credit). The apprentice will not have major responsibility for the course but will assist the regular professor in most aspects of the course: lecturing, leading discussion, holding office hours, making up and grading quizzes or exams, and assisting students with their writing. If a student takes both 400 and 486 (Teaching Writing: A Practicum), only one of these courses will be counted by the department as fulfilling the course requirement for the degree; the second course can count in lieu of 1 dissertation credit for P.D. students. The purpose of English 400 is to give students experience teaching literature or composition. Students who have not served as teaching fellows are encouraged to take English 400.

M.A. students may take one Independent Study (English 495) in order to supplement the normally scheduled courses. See Policy on Independent Study.

Students may take any of the other graduate courses offered by the department or an approved course in another department to fulfill the remainder of their course requirements.

Thesis Option for Master of Arts Program in English

To fulfill the thesis option, students write one "thesis paper," aimed either at conference presentation or at publication in an appropriate journal. The purpose of the thesis is to help master's students get some experience in scholarly research and gain the skills and experience necessary to function in a doctoral program or in a profession where they may be expected to contribute new knowledge.

The thesis is typically around 35 double-spaced pages. This paper must be certified by a faculty member as ready for submission to a session-organizer as a conference presentation or to a journal for possible publication.

The paper should both build on and add to the work done by others in the field. It should present new information, a new approach, a new idea, or a new interpretation and should show appropriate familiarity with the theoretical basis of that new information, approach, idea, or interpretation. Although most thesis papers will begin as course papers, not all course papers will count as thesis papers. They will require revision and will need to be certified by a faculty member as ready for submission to a conference-session-organizer or to a journal. Note that the faculty does not certify them as "publishable" but as "ready for submission."

Students must roster English 490, Master's Thesis, near the end of their master's work. To receive credit, students must complete work on the thesis paper they will submit. The supervising professor assigns the grade for the course.

The final draft of the paper should be accompanied by an appropriate sample cover letter to a conference-organizer or to a journal editor. Instructions about how to submit the thesis papers in proper format are available from the graduate coordinator.