Program Requirements

Program Requirements: M.A. in English

Designed as a two-year program, 33 credits are required for the degree. These 33 credits include coursework and research credits toward the final research project.


Students begin the program by taking coursework. Nine credits per semester is considered a full-time load. At least 24 of the total 33 credits must be earned in the Department of English at the University of Idaho. Of these, no more than 9 credits earned at the Grace Nixon Summer English Institute may be applied to the degree. Included in the total credits required, at least 3 credits are to be taken in a theory course (which may include ENGL 506, ENGL 511, ENGL 495, or a theory course approved by the director of the M.A. program) and at least 3 credits in pre-1900 literature. Coursework for the M.A. in English is normally at the 500s level; however, up to six credits of work at the 400s level may be included, with the approval of the director of the M.A. program. Teaching practica are rarely permitted, and can contribute 3 credits, at most, toward the degree.

We typically offer three 500-level courses in literature and one or two 500-level courses in rhetoric and composition each semester; graduate students may also take up to six hours of 400-level English courses over the time of their studies.


Students have a choice of final project for the M.A. One option offers the chance to conduct sustained original research in a field, the other more emphasizes the rigors of scholarly writing. Projects may address topics in literature and literary theory and criticism or composition and rhetorical theory.

The thesis option requires 27 credits of coursework and 6 research credits (ENGL 599). Students choose a thesis director, who will help the candidate form a thesis committee and prepare a program of study, research, and writing leading toward a finished thesis of 60-100 pages in length. Upon completion of the project, the student must successfully complete an oral defense conducted by the thesis committee.

The non-thesis option requires 30 credits of coursework and 3 research credits (ENGL 599). The student works with a faculty member to revise--meaning extensively rewrite--a seminar paper until it’s suitable to be submitted for publication. The student also writes an abstract for the paper, a concise explanation of initial and additional research and revisions (3-5 pages), and an annotated bibliography of work in the field. Upon completion of the project, the student must successfully complete an oral defense conducted by the major professor.


Candidates for the master’s degree in English are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in one of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Latin, Classical Greek, Spanish, or Russian. Students may do this in one of the following ways:

  • Successfully completing a course of study (with a final grade of C or P or higher) in one of the required languages at the undergraduate level through the intermediate year (i.e., four semesters or six quarters). Students who have accomplished this as undergraduates, as reflected on official transcripts, will be considered to have satisfied the language requirement; 
  • Passing a reading and translation exam on a primary text in an approved language (as arranged through the director of the M.A. program); 
  • Completing 12 semester hours (or 16 quarter hours) of the upper division undergraduate and graduate level courses in linguistics and the history of the English language. At least three credits (four quarter credits) must be at the graduate level, and no more than three credits can be counted toward the degree; 
  • Native speakers of other languages are considered to have met the language requirement.