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Master of Arts in English (Literature)

Jonathan Hope, Director

Samantha Franze, Graduate Academic Advisor


The Department of English offers instruction leading to the Master of Arts in English with a track in literature. Graduate students at ASU work closely with world-class scholars and teachers. This is an academic community that cares about its students and prepares them for successful careers in a variety of paths, including education, publishing, scholarships, and more. Students in the MA Literature program learn how to conduct dynamic new research, sharpen their analytical reading skills, argue persuasively, publicly present their work, and become professional writers. Our faculty offer seminars on exciting topics, such as Victorian Sexuality; Mysticism and the Body; American Shakespeares; Chicano Latino Autobiographies; Jane Austen's Novels, Fans, and Critics; The Sympathetic Republic; Representations of Empire and National Identity; Magical Realism; Faulkner and Morrison; and Science and Literature. In this flexible program, students may choose to write a traditional thesis or they may design creative intellectual projects connected to their individual professional goals through a non-thesis option.


The deadline for applicants wishing to be considered for Fall admission is July 22. The deadline for Spring admission is December 14th.

Note: The committee reviews applications shortly after the deadline. The application must be complete with all supporting documents before review. This is the applicant's responsibility. Please plan accordingly when submitting an application.

Applicants for admission to the Master of Arts in English (literature track) must submit the following items:

  1. Graduate application
  2. Three letters of recommendation from faculty familiar with the applicant's academic work.
  3. Resume or vita.
  4. One to two page, single spaced statement of purpose detailing the student's background, reasons for wanting to do graduate work in literature, and plans for the future.
  5. Academic writing sample relevant to the field of literary studies or related field.
  6. Official transcript.

*The GRE is not required for admission.

International students must have an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS score report sent to the Graduate College. Please refer to the English Proficiency Score requirements.

Students must have earned a 3.00 GPA in their junior/senior years of undergraduate work and have (or be in the process of completing) a bachelor's degree in English. See Department of English application process for more information. Those who do not have degree in English may consult with the graduate academic advisor for advice on their application. 

To earn the Master of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in literature, a candidate must complete the following MA requirements* (30 credit hours total):

  • ENG 501 Approaches to Research: Literature (3 credit hours)
  • One course in literary theory (3 credit hours)
  • Two distribution requirements (6 credit hours)^: one course in literature before 1800 and one course in literature since 1800
  • Electives (12-15 credit hours depending on culminating experience choice): 9 credit hours of graduate credit in the English department (ENG literature courses); 3-6 credit hours of graduate credit can consist of other ENG courses, or with prior approval, courses outside the English department.
  • Culminating Experience: Thesis (6 credit hours) or Applied Project (3 credit hours)

*At least two courses must be graduate seminars at the 600 level.

^Prior to Fall 2021, students completed three distribution requirements (one course in literature before 1660, one course in literature since 1660-1900, and one course in literature since 1900). Those admitted before Fall 2021 can follow these requirements or the new requirements. 

Thesis: (ENG 599 - 6 credits)  24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of Thesis. Under the direction of the supervisory committee (chair and two members), the student writes a master's thesis and defends it at an oral examination.

Non-thesis Option: (ENG  593)27 hours of coursework and 3 hours of Applied Project. Student works with an Applied Project director and one additional committee member. There will be an oral presentation of the project.

ENG 590 Reading and Conference will not ordinarily be used as a portion of the 30-hour M.A. in English, especially when it would duplicate study available through regularly scheduled courses.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate evidence of a competent knowledge of a natural language other than modern English, to be selected by the student, subject to the approval of the chair of the thesis committee.

The requirement may be fulfilled in any of the following ways:

  • Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher in a 400- or 500-level course in an appropriate (approved) language or a Reading Knowledge course
  • Demonstrating comparable proficiency by taking a language examination, administered by the School of International Letters and Cultures, in a language approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  • Demonstrating native-speaker proficiency, as determined by the School of International Letters and Cultures, in a language approved by the student’s supervisory committee.
  • Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher ENG 530 Old English or its equivalent.
  • Holding a bachelor’s degree in an approved foreign language.
  • For languages which the School of International Letters and Cultures does not offer or does not offer above the 200 level, two years (4 semesters) of successfully completed college level coursework at least at the 100 and 200 level with a C or better would fulfill the requirement. The coursework must have been successfully completed no more than six years prior to admission to the degree program.

Important Notice to Current International Students: In order for international students to maintain good standing for their VISAs, they must take a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester (i.e., 3 classes), 6 of which should be face-to-face classes.

Joni Adamson - Environmental literature and film, critical environmental justice studies and ecocriticism, global indigenous studies, transnational american literature, cosmopolitics, american southwest literature and film, food justice/sovereignty, ethnobotanical knowledges and oral narratives.

Cajsa Baldini - 19th-century British literature and culture, European Romanticism, textual criticism, technological applications to the humanities.

Lee Bebout - Chicana/o studies, American Studies, critical race theory.

Dan Bivona - Victorian literature; history of the novel; theory; colonialism and culture; travel literature; Director of the CLAS Learning Community Institute.

Robert E. Bjork - Medieval English literature; modern Scandinavian literature; medical writing.

Ron Broglio - Criticism-History and Theory, Science and Literature, Art History + Museum Studies, Environmental Humanities, British Literature – Romantic.

Lois Brown - African American literature and culture.

Gregory Castle - Irish and British Literature, Literary and Cultural Theory.

Deborah Clarke - Twentieth century American fiction, Faulkner.

Jeffrey Cohen - medieval studies, monster theory, posthumanism and ecocriticism.

Taylor Corse - Restoration and 18th-century literature; Classics and Literary translation.

Larry Ellis  - Native American Oral Traditions; American Folklore; Legend Studies; Tricksterism; Mixed Blood Identities in American Ethnic Literature; Western American Literature.

Steve Farmer - Nineteenth-Century British Literature.

Cora Fox - Renaissance; intertextuality, representations of emotion, the body, Elizabeth I, poetry, iconography, genre theory, cultural studies.

Melissa Free - Victorian literature and culture; twentieth-century British literature and culture; postcolonial studies; women, gender, and sexuality studies; genre studies.

David Hawkes - 17th Cen British Literature.

Christine Holbo - Nineteenth and early twentieth century American literature and culture; the novel and the theory of the novel, American and transatlantic; literature and the social sciences; the construction of everyday life; pragmatism as philosophy and aesthetics.

Jonathan Hope - intersection of language and literature, digital humanities 

Elizabeth Horan - Comparative literature, especially between English and Spanish; literary theory; translation; poetry.

Bradley Irish - Tudor political and cultural history; emotions in early modern culture; Henrician literature and culture; Renaissance poetry, especially Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, and Spenser; the Elizabethan courtier poets; Renaissance drama, including Shakespeare; the revenge tragedy tradition;  the stoic tradition in Renaissance literature; early modern manuscript culture; paleography and archival research.

George Justice - Eighteenth-Century British literature, History of the Book/History of Publishing, Digital Humanities, Jane Austen, Frances Burney, Samuel Richardson, Samuel Johnson.

Neal A. Lester - African American literature, black women writers, African American folklore, popular cultural African American studies.

Joe Lockard - Nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature; African American literature; antislavery literature; Internet culture and theory; electronic English.

Devoney Looser - eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, women's writings, the history of the novel, feminist studies, aging studies, and Jane Austen studies.

Mark S. Lussier - English literature, 1660-1850; William Blake; critical theory; science and literature.

Edward Mallot - postwar British literature, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, and contemporary global/Anglophone literature.

Heather Maring - Old and Middle English language and literature, oral tradition, and poetics.

Richard Newhauser - Middle English Literature, especially Chaucer and the Gawain-Poet; Moral Thought, especially in Latin and English; Intellectual History.

Angelita Reyes - Comparative literature, vernacular architecture and material culture.

Bradley Ryner - Renaissance literature; Drama; New Economic Criticism.

Claudia Sadowski-Smith - Contemporary U.S. Literatures, Literatures of the Americas, Border Writing, Literatures of the Southwest, Cultural Studies.

Robert Sturges - Medieval literature, especially Chaucer; comparative literature; the Bible as literature; critical theory; gay/lesbian/queer studies.

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