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Master of Arts - English

This program is designed to include two options: either twenty-four hours of course credit plus six hours of thesis credit, or thirty hours of course credit with no thesis. In either case the candidate must take comprehensive exams either in the last semester of course work or during the following semester.



Admission requirements are the same as those for entry into other master’s degree programs in the Graduate School at Gardner-Webb with these additions:


  1. Applicants for the MA in English are required to submit a writing sample. This sample must be a documented research essay of 2000 or more words on a literary subject, be presented in MLA format, and incorporate at least three works beyond the primary work. This essay can be something the applicant has written previously for an academic assignment. The essay must be submitted electronically in Rich Text Format.
  2. Students without substantial undergraduate coursework in English should expect to be required to take undergraduate courses prior to admission in order to obtain background needed to be successful in graduate study in English. Students without substantial undergraduate coursework in English will be evaluated on an individual basis. Typically, 12-15 hours of literature coursework are expected to be completed prior to admission.
  3. Applicants must also submit a 250-word Statement of Purpose that addresses the following: your interest in pursuing a graduate degree in English; any areas of study or intellectual interests that excite you; and your particular interest in the Gardner-Webb M.A. in English program. The Statement of Purpose must be submitted electronically in Rich Text Format.



The purpose of the program is to offer capable students an opportunity to advance their skills in literary analysis and to expand their knowledge in literature, writing, and literary theory. The program will prepare students to be scholars who have not only mastered a body of knowledge in the field but who have also developed the research skills to be self-educating learners. In addition, a Master’s degree in English can prepare a student for doctoral studies or for being an instructor at the community college level. Students seeking NC Teaching Licensure, either initial or graduate, should consult the Graduate Coordinator for the MA in English Education program.



The Master of Arts in English program is designed to meet the following goals:


  1. Graduate students will master important texts in British, American and World Literature.
  2. Graduate students will become conversant in both older and more current theories and methods of literary criticism.
  3. Graduate students will master the skills necessary for scholarship as each class will emphasize the development of research skills and familiarity with secondary sources in the content area.



ENGL 671Literary Theory 3 hrs.
27 additional hours selected from the following:
ENGL 555Special Topics 3 hrs.
ENGL 611Seminar in British Literature 3 hrs.
ENGL 613British Literature: Selected Authors 3 hrs.
ENGL 631Seminar in American Literature 3 hrs.
ENGL 633American Literature: Selected Authors 3 hrs.
ENGL 651Literature: A World Perspective 3 hrs.
ENGL 673Contemporary Trends in Literature 3 hrs.
ENGL 675Young Adult Literature 3 hrs.
ENED 683The Teaching of Writing 3 hrs.
ENGL 690Thesis Prospectus 3 hrs.*
ENGL 691Thesis 3 hrs.*


*Students selecting the thesis option take 690 first, and then 691. If the thesis is not completed and signed in the first semester the student takes 691, the student will repeat 691 in successive semesters until the thesis is signed (repeating during the summer term is at the discretion of the student and advisor). The grade for 691 is pass/fail in semesters in which the thesis is not completed. The grade for 691 in the semester in which the thesis is signed is A, B, C, or F. Students who choose not to complete a thesis cannot use credits
awarded for English 690 or 691 towards the degree.


Seminar and topics courses may be repeated with the approval of the coordinator of the program.



A prospectus must be approved by the candidate’s thesis committee before work on the thesis proper can begin. The thesis committee will consist of the thesis director and two other English faculty members. At the end of the program, candidates who have selected the thesis option will submit a master’s thesis which must be approved by the candidate’s committee.


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