MA & PhD Programs

What Can You Expect? What Do These Degree Programs Prepare You To Do?
  • MA/PhD in English: If an institution offers both an MA and a PhD in English, the MA program is often not designed as a terminal master's program, though students who are accepted to the MA/PhD program but decide not to complete the PhD can often earn an MA by fulfilling specific requirements.
  • Some schools do offer a terminal MA program: these are typically schools which do not offer a PhD program, or are offering a specialized terminal master's (such as an MFA, an MATESOL, etc.). Investigate each program carefully, bearing in mind that, in general, if a school offers an MA/PhD program in English language/literature, those who apply for an MA only will not be competitive applicants.
  • An MA typically takes two years or longer to complete on a full-time basis.
  • A PhD typically takes an additional three to five years (beyond the master's level) to complete on a full-time basis. Most schools have specific course requirements along with essay/thesis/dissertation requirements and (for some MA and for PhD candidates) exams. Most graduate programs also have foreign language requirements, which vary from school to school.
  • Graduate study is built on mentor-ship: graduate students locate faculty mentors with compatible scholarly interests (usually in a committee format) and work under their supervision.
  • MA/PhD programs in English prepare students for scholarly pursuits and college-level teaching. Those who've earned an MA/PhD are qualified to teach at the college level, though this field is extremely competitive as there are far more qualified candidates than there are jobs. Those with a PhD will obviously have an advantage over those with an MA only. In recent years, many graduates from MA/PhD programs have had to seek careers outside academia.
  • If you decide to pursue either of these programs use this as a checklist when you are going through the application process:
     MA / PhDApplication Official undergrad transcriptsStatement of purposeCritical writing sampleGRE General Test scoresGRE Eng Lit. Test scores3 letters of recommen-dationApplication fee


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