Professional Development

Here you will find descriptions of the degrees the department offers, differences in the culminating experiences, some examples of excellent research proposals, including samples of prospectuses for PhD students, as well as other advice related to succeeding in your graduate program.

In ASU's Department of English, we offer several graduate programs with different degrees. It is important students understand the degree they are earning and the differences in the type of degrees offered. After students graduate, they should ensure they are referring to the correct title of their degree, especially when applying for academic and professional programs and jobs. 

ASU's Department of English Degree Types  

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): A Doctor of Philosophy is a terminal degree in the field. Students demonstrate the ability to conduct original research as well as a mastery of scholarly methodologies, theories and tools of the discipline. Candidates must demonstrate that they can address a major intellectual problem and propose meaningful hypotheses. The ASU Department of English has four PhD degree programs.
  • Master of Arts (MA): A Master of Arts degree focuses on a specific field in the humanities, preparing students academically through research and discussion based learning. These programs are not generally terminal in that students use the MA as a stepping stone to continue into a doctoral program in the same or similar field. ASU's Department of English offers several MA degree programs.
  • Master (M): A Master’s degree in a specific field is a professional degree preparing students to work in the field of that program. It is generally a terminal degree; however, students can still pursue a doctorate. ASU's Department of English offers one Master's degree program. The Master of TESOL (MTESOL) program (in-person or online) prepares students for professional jobs in teaching ESL (English as a second language)/EFL (English as a foreign language) through a combination of strong academic background in TESOL theories and practical experiences that emphasizes professional development and participation in the field. 
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA): A Master of Fine Arts prepares students for a career in a specific creative area of study. It is generally a terminal degree; however, students can still pursue a doctorate. ASU's Department of English offers one MFA degree program in Creative Writing with a focus in either Fiction or Poetry.  
  • Master of Advanced Study (MAS): A Master of Advanced Study is a professional degree with a focus on practical experience. It is generally a terminal degree; however, students can still pursue a doctorate. ASU's Department of English offers one MAS degree program in Film and Media Studies.

Each graduate program ends with a culminating experience. Some programs allow students to choose between two culminating experiences while others have one option. It is important students distinguish which one they completed in their program and use the correct title, especially when referencing it in applications for academic programs and jobs. 

ASU's Department of English Culminating Experiences

  • Dissertation: PhD students are required to write and defend a dissertation based on original and independent research/creative activity. The student works under the guidance of a dissertation director and at least two additional committee members.
  • Thesis: The MA student who chooses this option works with their faculty supervisory committee (chair and at least two members) on a 35- to 60-page paper examining a well-focused question or problem through an informed context that is critical, theoretical and/or historical. An oral presentation on the completed work is required. For more information, see our main webpage.
  • Applied Project: The MA student who chooses this option will produce a project under the supervision of an Applied Project Director (chair of the supervisory committee) and invited to present their work at the end of the semester to the public at an oral presentation. Students choose to complete either a research paper, curriculum-design project, or a professional portfolio. For more information, see our main webpage.  
  • Capstone Course: MTESOL and MA English Online students are required to complete a capstone course for their culminating experience. In a final project under the supervision of the Capstone Instructor, MTESOL (in-person and online) students will synthesize what they have learned in prior courses in a way that is meaningful and relevant to their professional goals. MA English Online students will critically reflect on what they have learned through their English Studies coursework and will be guided through a culminating project by the Capstone Instructor. 
  • Exam: MAS students are required to complete a written exam. This is a pass/fail exam. Students will choose to write on two of the three provided questions,  and questions will include assigned material from the required courses (FMS 502, FMS 504 and FMS 520). Students will be expected to write a five-page essay responding to each of the two questions. Further details can be found on the MAS in Film and Media Studies webpage.

Sample Approaches to Research Proposals

Sample Prospectuses for Dissertation Colloquy

Career Resources

Handshake is ASU's online career platform that you can use to schedule career advising appointments, view upcoming events, apply for jobs and internships and find mentors in your career interest area. You can activate your profile with your ASURITE ID and complete your profile today. To get started, visit asu.joinhandshake.com. Career Services also offers some Handshake focused videos on their Youtube channel.

The Graduate College also offers Professional Development opportunities and trainings.

ImaginePhD is a helpful career exploration and planning tool.

GPSA Mentoring Contract;   This compact is intended to help both the professor and the student create a healthy mentoring relationship, which includes open communication, clear and realistic expectations and deadlines, and a joint commitment to focus on the mentee's well-being and education.

The Graduate College also has Mentoring Resources to assist in guiding the mentoring relationship.

Looking for a local or regional professional conference to attend? Below is a list that faculty and graduate students in the department have recommended. Please contact enggrad@asu.edu with any additions to this list.

Travel Funding FAQs

In advance of a conference, you will be asked to submit a brief document describing your research. Please see How to Write a Conference Proposal to get started.

All Local Conferences: https://english.asu.edu/research/community-university-initiatives/conferences

RSA Council members resource folder  (tips for submissions and a space for students to get on going advice on the submission process)

Humanities

Creative Writing

English Education

Film and Media Studies

Linguistics, Applied Linguistics and TESOL

Literature

Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies 

Here you will find resources on preparation for going on the job market such as CVs, resumes, cover letters, interview tips and more.

PDF icon Alt-Ac Career Resources

PDF icon Going on the Job Market

Sample CVs

Sample Job Letters

For more cv and job letter examples, please see this Google Drive folder. (ASU Google Account Required)

PDF icon Statement of Teaching Philosophy Tips

PDF icon Phone Interview Tips

The Graduate College also offers Professional Development opportunities and trainings.

Handshake is ASU's online career platform that you can use to schedule career advising appointments, view upcoming events, apply for jobs and internships and find mentors in your career interest area. You can activate your profile with your ASURITE ID and complete your profile today. To get started, visit asu.joinhandshake.com. Career Services also offers some Handshake focused videos on their Youtube channel.

Purdue Owl is also a good resource for job resources and examples.

Please take a moment to watch these videos to learn about graduate student professionalization, how to choose a committee, the PhD exam process, how to create a digital presence, and more.