Graduate Program

Master of Arts

The Bucknell master of arts in English is designed for those who plan to:

  • Pursue a Ph.D.
  • Teach in high school or community colleges.
  • Seek employment in related careers such as publishing, professional writing, library science and academic administration.
  • Pursue degrees in related postgraduate programs of study, for example, in law.

The master of arts program features one-on-one mentoring and admits four to five students each year. The graduate program consists of eight seminars in English or seven seminars in English and one in another humanities discipline. Graduate students are embedded in the undergraduate seminar courses and are given an enhanced version of the syllabus, with additional readings, longer writing assignments and dedicated office hour appointments to produce graduate-level work. All seminars require the permission of the instructor. An extensive schedule of guest writers and lecturers enriches the program of study.

Admission may come with a Graduate Assistantship stipend of approximately $12,000 and a tuition remission scholarship that covers the tuition for four courses, two each semester. Summer funding support is also available on a competitive basis for students entering their second year of the program.

Admission Requirements

An undergraduate English major is strongly recommended. A writing sample is required. We encourage personal interviews by phone or in person.

Degree Requirements

  1. Eight courses, including the Seminar in Literary Theory and Criticism (ENLS 600) and the Thesis Workshop. One of the eight courses may be taken outside the department with permission of the adviser.
  2. A master's thesis proposal
  3. A master's thesis and an oral examination

Graduate students in English may not enroll in more than one independent study (ENLS 619) course without special written permission from the Graduate Committee and should propose independent studies only if the material they wish to cover is not available in regularly offered seminars.

Coursework and Timeline

Students are required to have the permission of the instructor to enroll in all English 600-level courses. The sequence of courses normally taken by master's degree candidates is as follows (timeline information is included in italics).

First year, fall semester:

  • ENLS 600: Seminar in Literary Theory (crosslisted with ENLS 300)
  • One elective
  • Begin contacting faculty in Literary Studies who you would like to consider serving on your thesis committee and introducing yourself to them formally, by enrolling in their seminars, or informally, by introducing yourself to them during their office hours.

First year, spring semester:

  • Two electives
  • Confirm thesis adviser with graduate director by the end of February.
  • Submit application for summer funding by the first week of March.

Second year, fall semester:

  • ENLS 678: Thesis Workshop (crosslisted with ENLS 378) — a course taught by the graduate director on the formulation of a thesis proposal, development of a bibliography and the writing of a scholarly thesis
  • One elective
  • By December, contact two additional faculty about serving on your thesis committee.

Second year, spring semester:

  • ENLS 680: Thesis Writing Credit (under the direction of the thesis adviser)
  • One elective
  • In January, begin familiarizing yourself with the Graduate Studies formatting guidelines.
  • Oral Defense is normally scheduled for the first week of April.
  • A final approved copy of the thesis must be delivered to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval of format on the last day of classes of the student's final semester (usually the last week of April).
  • A final, approved, copy of the thesis must be submitted online to the University library, by the last day of the final exam period (usually the first week of May).

Electives are chosen from among the 600-level English courses, courses on language in translation, appropriate courses in history or the social sciences, humanities courses (philosophy, religion, history, comparative humanities, classics or art history), or modern language literature courses. Graduate students in English may enroll in no more than one independent study (ENLS 619) course without special written permission from the Graduate Committee and should propose independent study only if the material they wish to cover is not available in regularly offered seminars.


A thesis (typically 90-120 pages, including notes and bibliography; critical, creative or theoretical) is required. A thesis proposal, developed with the approval of the adviser, should be submitted by Oct. 15 of the student's second year. The oral examination will be conducted by the thesis adviser and at least two other members of the faculty (in English or another appropriate department).

Thinking about applying?

For More Information

Jean Peterson
Director of Graduate Program, English Department

Jean Peterson is the academic adviser in the English M.A. program and graduate assistantship coordinator, and can answer questions about academic progress, the graduate program, assistantship appointments and related matters.

Graduate Teaching Assistantship Information

Contact Details

Jean Peterson

Associate Professor of English
Specialization: Renaissance literature, Shakespeare, dramatic literature