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M.A. Program

Our two-year M.A. program enables students to develop a critical framework for understanding and evaluating the ethical, political, and formal aspects of texts within and across diverse historical and cultural contexts. 

  • M.A. coursework is designed to create a broad foundation of knowledge of English and U.S. literature. We conceive of this breadth both in terms of literary history (i.e., students must take courses from a  range of time periods and genres) and methodology  (i.e. courses in gender theory, public humanities, digital humanities, etc). Additionally, first year  M.A. students are required to enroll in the seminar “Theories of Literature and Social Justice.” While individual courses vary widely, they all reflect our department’s commitment to literature and social justice, exploring how texts serve as sites of intervention into vital social, cultural, political, and ethical issues. M.A. students also have the option of writing a longer thesis that enables them to deepen their expertise in a specific field of interest. 
  • Students who complete our M.A. program go on to pursue a range of educational and career paths. Many of our M.A. graduates go on to Ph.D. programs in English, some here at Lehigh and some at other institutions including Princeton University, Emory University, UT-Austin, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, among others. Other M.A. graduates go into various fields such as secondary education, academic administration, publishing, and law.

Course Requirements 

All candidates for the master's degree will take a minimum of eleven courses (33 credits), distributed as follows:

  • 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.

In addition to the distribution courses listed above, students may roster one course each in Supervised Teaching and/or Independent Study, and one course for the M.A. thesis.

Thesis Option for Master of Arts Program in English

All students who wish to may write a thesis paper in their last year (and typically last semester). 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. 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. In many (though by no means all) cases, a final paper completed in coursework serves as the base of a thesis. Students work with a faculty advisor to significantly expand and revise their initial project. 

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.