The Master's Degree in English is awarded to students who have acquired extensive knowledge of literature in English and who have demonstrated skill in writing on various components of this field in courses and seminars. The program offers broad coverage of the major texts of English and American literature while making room for an expanding and shifting canon. Students who earn the M.A. at Marquette are well prepared for doctoral studies.
Course-credit hours: The candidate for the M.A. degree is required to complete 30 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 in graduate courses at the 6000 level.
The candidate's combined undergraduate and graduate course of study must include at least one upper-level or graduate course in each of the following groups:
Purpose: The M.A. exam encourages students to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the British and/or American literature, based on the M.A. Reading List.
Exam Format: M.A. candidates must take a 6-hour written comprehensive examination in two historical fields chosen from the following three: British Literature to 1660; British Literature after 1660; and American Literature. Each field exam takes three hours and is divided into two parts, as follows:
Scheduling of Exam: The M.A. comprehensive exam is offered twice a year, in the spring and summer.
Preparation and Evaluation of Exam: The comprehensive exam is prepared and evaluated by a committee of four examiners, consisting normally of two members representing each field. A majority vote (i.e., 3 of 4) is required for a passing grade. The exam performance is judged as a whole.
Test-taking Tips: Faculty offer the following advice for taking the M.A. exam. In addition, resources for studying for the M.A. exam are available in a SharePoint site, accessible to all M.A. students.
The department awards an M.A. degree after a student has demonstrated the ability to perform well in the prescribed courses and has passed a comprehensive examination. Graduate coursework in English provides students opportunities to develop in-depth knowledge of specific literary issues. The comprehensive exam provides students opportunities to extend their knowledge of literary studies and, more importantly, to develop independently their abilities to contextualize, analyze, and synthesize literary studies. While coursework certainly helps students prepare for the comprehensive exam, it is the students' independent study in preparing for the comprehensive exam that most determines success on the exam.