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English MA/MS

The master's degree in English is a great program for students who are looking for a broad education in English. Students are able to take a variety of classes and gain a broad base of knowledge to prepare them for further education or teaching. Students receive the kind of training necessary to prepare them for the professional world of academia. They are able to gain experience presenting their work at conferences and submitting for publication.

The MA degree requires students to gain proficiency in one or more foreign languages. The MS degree is identical except that it does not require foreign language study.

Literature, Culture, and Composition: This specialization is for students who wish to do advanced work in the fields of literature, cultural studies, and/or composition and rhetoric. The aim is to professionalize students, helping them to become scholars and teachers of English.

Creative Writing: This specialization allows students to do advanced work in creative writing, concentrating on poetry, fiction, and/or creative nonfiction. Students with a strong background in creative writing who desire to continue on that path are encouraged to apply. 

person writing in a notebook with pencil

Career Options

Many students pursuing a master’s degree in English have plans to go on to doctoral programs and academia. They may also teach at two-year colleges, or end up in various professions across the career spectrum as a result of the broad education received in the master’s degree program.

Admission Requirements

Students from various majors are welcome to apply; however, it is preferred that students have experience in undergraduate English courses.

Application Requirements:

  • Fill out the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Standardized tests are NOT required for this application
  • Provide a copy of your transcript
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • Submit a portfolio of writing materials with the following components:

1) Statement of intent: Applicants must submit a statement of intent that explains their reasons for seeking a master's degree in English at Utah State University. This statement should briefly describe their previous academic work, identifying central themes, areas of interest, and skills acquired, and applicants should explain how these prior academic experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter a graduate program in English. The statement of intent may also address any relevant professional experiences and explain how such experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter this graduate program. Within this statement of intent, applicants should identify some of the specific topics or areas of study they would like to focus on for their graduate work. Applicants should also make an effort to show that they are familiar with the specific requirements and features of the English program at USU.

2) Preface to Writing Sample: Applicants should write a one-paragraph preface for their writing sample that explains the following:

  • a) Context: Applicants must explain when they wrote this writing sample and for what purpose. Who was the original audience? And what were the original goals for this piece of writing?
  • b) Relationship to specialization: Applicants must explain how this writing sample demonstrates knowledge and skills that are applicable to a specialization in Literature, Culture, and Composition, or a specialization in Creative Writing.

3) Writing Sample: Applicants should submit a writing sample that reflects their intended area of focus in this master's program (Literature, Culture, and Composition, or Creative Writing), as outlined below.

LITERATURE, CULTURE, AND COMPOSITION: Applicants interested in this specialization should submit a 10-25 page sample of academic writing which demonstrates that they are ready to write at the level expected for graduate seminar assignments. Ideally, this writing sample should demonstrate the applicants' critical thinking skills, research skills, and strengths as a writer.

CREATIVE WRITING: Applicants interested in this specialization should submit a writing sample that illustrates their skills and experience in relation to fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Students interested in fiction or creative non-fiction should submit a short story or essay that is 10-25 pages or an excerpt from a longer work that is 10-25 pages. Students interested in poetry should submit 8-10 poems.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

English MA/MS:

  • Fall semester – January 15
  • Applications received after that date will be reviewed if there is still space available in the program. However, for the best chance at being offered a position as a graduate instructor, students must have their applications submitted by January 15.

Master's Degree Plan Options

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Assistance

Students can apply to become Graduate Instructors (GI). GIs teach English 1010 and English 2010, general education courses that all USU undergraduates are required to take. GIs in the English Department are currently paid $14,000 per year for two academic years. Students who are GIs might also receive tuition awards through the School of Graduate Studies, as well as subsidized health insurance. For more details about admission, financial aid, and scholarships, please see Graduate Financial Information.