The Master of Arts in English focuses on the interconnectedness of writing, teaching, and literary studies. At the heart of the program is a concern for the integrated interests of students and teachers in all branches of the field. Teachers, scholars, and writers in the program gain a better understanding of their own practices by seeing the extent to which each writer is also a literary critic, each teacher is also a writer and reader of literature, and all critics and readers are teachers and writers. The program is designed to extend and deepen the intellectual rigor of customary approaches to literature by examining issues these approaches often leave unaddressed, such as the history and institutionalization of the discipline, the relationship between theory and the practices of writing, teaching, and textual studies; and the processes by which knowledge in the field of English has been and is constructed.

The program responds to changing perspectives in the humanities and expands the professional options of its graduate students through a broadly conceived course of study and an integrated curriculum providing instruction in the four areas of literary criticism, teaching writing and literature, rhetoric and composition, and literary history. The program also allows students flexibility to design part of their program in consultation with the graduate advisor.

English 510, 530, and 540 have been created to serve as the core of each graduate student's program and are required. These courses give students a "state of the art" map of the field, and the additional options give them the flexibility to move in the direction of their interests.

The Master of Arts degree requires 30 credits. Students will select one of two options, either the professional paper or the thesis. The first option involves 24 hours of course work and 6 hours of professional paper, the latter 20 hours of course work and 10 hours of thesis. Students are expected to have completed the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree in English. Students with undergraduate degrees other than English are encouraged to apply; however, they may be required to take additional English courses as a condition of their acceptance.

In every area of the program, students work closely with excellent teachers who are active scholars and whose research interests range widely, from Anglo-Saxon studies to contemporary critical theory, innovative pedagogy, creative writing, linguistics, and western American literature. Three interdisciplinary journals based in the department offer graduate students additional opportunities for professional experience.