Students Studying


The master of arts program in English provides broad coverage in texts of British, American and other Anglophone literatures. Through seminar courses, students develop extensive knowledge of literature, literary critical methods and analytical writing. Students who complete the master’s program at Marquette go on to doctoral studies, pursue careers in education, or enter business, health care, journalism and other professions.


30 credits required: A master’s student is admitted to the Plan B (non-thesis) program which requires 30 credit hours of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree. At least 24 credits must be taken in English Department courses, and at least 24 credits must be graduate courses numbered at the 6000-level. Up to two courses may be taken at the 5000 level when approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in English.

Comprehensive exam: All master’s students must pass a written comprehensive examination to earn the degree.

Learning Objectives: At the completion of the English M.A. degree program, graduates are able to:



1. Period Distribution requirements (18 credits):

2. Theory and Methods requirements (3-6 credits)

3. Electives (6-9 credits, depending on whether 6840 is required)


All master’s students must pass a written comprehensive examination to earn the degree. It is offered twice annually, in March and August. The exam is a take-home written essay exam, administered over a period of three days, through which they are expected to demonstrate broad knowledge of Anglophone literary histories, works, genres, contexts and major theoretical approaches by constructing persuasive critical arguments that effectively enter into scholarly conversations about literature. The exam is divided into four sections:

A selection of questions is provided in each section and the student chooses one (per section) to answer. Responses to sections 1-3 should range from 1200-1800 words, per section; responses to section 4 should range from 800-1200 words. A list of works cited and/or consulted is also required and is not included in the essay word limits.

Reading list: This exam is based on a combination of coursework and a reading list consisting of 36 authors (12 representing each literary period). This list is created annually by the teaching faculty for the incoming M.A. cohort. Students should consider the list as a program of reading integral to their MA studies.

Preparation and evaluation of exam: This exam is prepared and evaluated by a committee of six examiners, with two members representing each literary period. A majority vote (i.e. 4 of 6) is required for a passing grade. The exam performance is judged as a whole.



English Department

Marquette University, Marquette Hall 115 (campus map)
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7179
Visit our contact page for more information.