MA Degree Requirements and Timeline
The Graduate Program in English offers a Master of Arts degree in English with three concentrations: one in English Education with and without Illinois teaching licensure, one in English Studies, and one in Creative Writing. See our People page for more information about faculty specializations.
A Master’s in English from UIC prepares you for a number of careers and vocations within and beyond the academy. Graduates of our MA in English have gone on to PhD programs at Brown University, the University of California Irvine, and the University of California San Diego, among others, and law school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. They work in publishing and at nonprofits. They teach at high schools and community colleges all over Illinois and the nation. They craft freelance writing careers in New York City.
Applications for the MA are accepted once a year for the fall semester. The deadline to apply is February 1.
Timeline to Degree, etc
When Do I...?
On average, students complete the MA program in 2 years. If you are pursuing secondary teaching certification in addition to the MA, expect to take 3 years. In addition to consulting this timeline, you should meet with your faculty advisor each semester. Take ENGL 500 - Master's Proseminar? Fall Year 1 Take seminar courses? Y1 & Y2 Write my thesis and sign up for ENGL 597? Usually Fall and Spring Y2 Find a thesis director? Spring Y1 Need to Apply to Graduate with the Graduate College? By Friday of the third week of the semester in which you intend to graduate Need to have my thesis finished and in my Director's hands? By Week 8 of the semester in which you intend to graduate Submit my signed MA Certificate of Approval Form to the DGS Office? By the final Friday of the term (before finals week) in which you intend to graduate Qualify for the granting of the MA degree? After 32 course hours and all course requirements have been completed AND your thesis has been formally approved by both readers Need Graduate College approval for a Leave of Absence? When you will be gone for more than three consecutive terms Need to petition the Graduate College for an extension of time to degree? After four consecutive years in the program
Please note: The English Department does not require MA students to defend the thesis in front of a committee; thus, Graduate College deadlines about Master’s Thesis submission deadlines do not apply to our MA students.
Each student in the Master’s Program must submit an MA Qualifying Paper (also known as the MA Project). The following guidelines are intended to serve as a general outline of procedures to be followed as students prepare their papers; more specific questions will arise which should be discussed with the thesis director.
You should begin searching for a Director for the project any time in the academic year before you write the thesis. For instance, if you are writing a thesis in the spring of the second year, you should narrow down a list of possible Directors for the project in the spring of the first year.
At the start of the semester in which you plan on submitting the MA project, you must file for graduation with the Graduate College.
You must enroll in English 597 to write your paper, but you should begin planning and discussing your project earlier. Prior to registration in ENGL 597, you should obtain written (email) permission from your Director to enroll and then you should complete the appropriate online form, including a 100-150-word summary of your project. If the required amount of credits for the Master’s Degree has been met (32), you may choose to register for zero hours of ENGL 597. NB: Zero hours requires registration; it is not the same as not registering for ENGL 597.
The Director and Reader
The MA Qualifying Paper has a Director and a second reader. The Director is a professor, usually in the English department, for whom the student has completed work related to the thesis, or with whom the student has worked previously in some capacity. The second reader should be a professor in the English department or in any other department in the university. The thesis Director and the reader review drafts of the paper and complete a Master’s Project: Certificate of Approval Form once they are satisfied that the paper has been completed in a satisfactory manner.
Content and Style
The Critical Qualifying Paper should be 25-35 pages in length, following the directions for format and annotation set forth in the MLA Style Manual, The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition), or the APA Style Manual, as the Director of the paper determines. For the purposes of archiving, papers should not be stapled or bound, rather using a folder, metal binder clip or paper clip.
NOTE: Students are not required to follow the UIC Thesis Manual, which offers the requirements for a doctoral dissertation, not an MA Qualifying Paper.
The paper should represent work done at the graduate level. It may be a revised version of one written for a 400 or 500-level course or may have originated in an independent study.
The Critical Qualifying Paper should demonstrate:
- Thorough knowledge of the text(s) selected for analysis.
- Ability to draw sound and theoretically-informed conclusions from critical analysis and scholarly research.
- Knowledge of relevant critical and theoretical works, if applicable.
- Knowledge and use of relevant scholarly tools where appropriate (including manuscript sources, standard editions, letters, biographies, and bibliographies).
- Good writing and scholarly form appropriate to the subject matter.
The Creative Qualifying Paper:
- Students in the Program for Writers submit a substantial collection of the student’s work, such as a volume of poems, a novella, a portion of a novel, or a collection of stories. A miscellaneous volume, containing, for example, poems, critical essays, and short stories, is also acceptable and the nature of the project will dictate the length of the manuscript (prose manuscripts usually run 50-75 pages; poetry manuscripts usually run 25-50).
Forms & Submission of Project
If you are planning to graduate in a given semester, you must submit a PDF of your project and a hard copy of the signed MA Certificate of Approval form to the Office of Graduate Studies at least one week before the end of finals week in that semester.
To submit the project PDF: send the completed, approved project as a PDF attachment (not in the body of the email) to our Master’s Upload Box folder. The file should be named LAST NAME,FIRST NAME.pdf. So a student named Susan Taylor would submit a project named TAYLOR,SUSAN.pdf.
The program code for MA students in the English Department is: 20FS0311MA.
Students are given a grade of “S” or “satisfactory” after having completed English 597. If the project is not complete, they are given a grade of “DFR” or “deferred” the student must complete work to receive the satisfactory grade and their degree.
Students who are on track with their project and intend to graduate need to file online with the Graduate College.
Gender and Women’s Studies
Students earning a graduate degree in this department may complement their courses by enrolling for a concentration in gender and women’s studies after consulting with their graduate advisor. Students pursuing this concentration must apply to the director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and obtain approval from a gender and women’s within the department of the degree, who becomes the student’s gender and women’s studies advisor. Students should enroll in a total of 16 hours of graduate course work, including GWS 501 and GWS 502, plus eight additional hours of gender and women’s studies or cross listed courses at the graduate level. Up to four of these hours can be directed study or thesis research on an appropriate topic approved by the student’s gender and women’s studies advisor.
For more information, please contact Professor Judith Keegan Gardiner.
Latin American and Latino Studies
Students earning a graduate degree in this department may complement their courses by enrolling for a concentration in Latin American/Latino studies. Students must take at least 16 hours of course work approved by the student’s advisor for the concentration, of which 4 hours must be the core seminar LALS 501. The remaining 12 hours may come from courses offered by the Latin American/Latino Studies Program or cross-listed courses, departmental offerings with Latin American or Latino content, or independent study courses chosen in consultation with the advisor. Up to 8 hours may be taken in the home discipline, although students are encouraged to take advantage of the multidisciplinary nature of the concentration. Doctoral students may not apply dissertation credit (ENGL 599) toward concentration electives. Doctoral students are encouraged, but not required, to elect a dissertation topic related to Latin America or Latinos in the United States.
For more information, contact Professor Ralph Cintron.
This concentration offers Masters and Ph.D. students a unique opportunity to complement the graduate coursework in their home department with interdisciplinary training. It is designed to provide graduate students a deeper understanding of scholarship and research methods in Black Studies and to foster participation in an interdisciplinary community of young scholars engaging with faculty experts. The concentration will enable researchers and practitioners with a wide range of intellectual and professional interests to develop expertise in race, culture and politics before they embark on their careers.
Black Studies is a robust interdisciplinary area of study that is informed by traditional disciplines including history, literature, sociology, philosophy, political science, and psychology, as well as newer and emerging fields including gender studies, postcolonial studies, disability studies, and Asian American, Latinx, and indigenous studies. Drawing on hybrid and innovative methodological and theoretical approaches, the department provides courses across historical periods and locations—from a focus on the city of Chicago to black cultures and communities in the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, as well as North America.
For more information, contact African American Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Language Teaching
The Interdepartmental Concentration is intended for those graduate students whose primary research and teaching interests lie in literary, cultural and linguistic studies in English, Spanish, French, German, and other languages. It will provide them with advanced education in the processes of language learning and approaches to language teaching, including the teaching of composition.
The concentration is an option in addition to the candidate’s regular course of study and is not intended as a replacement for requirements in individual degree programs. It consists of four courses that are chosen from particular areas of study useful to the development of the candidate’s knowledge and skill in language teaching. These areas are Introduction to Language Teaching, Foundations in Second Language Acquisition, and Specific or Special Topics in Language Teaching.
Candidates interested in the Interdepartmental Concentration in Second Language Teaching must take a total of four courses to be distributed in the following way:
- one course from Category A: Introduction to Language Teaching
- one course from Category B: Foundations in Second Language Acquisition
- one course from Category C: Special or Specific Topics in Language Learning and Teaching
- one additional course from either Category B or C
Course Requirements for the MA
|English Studies (ENG)||Creative Writing (CW)||English Education (MA only)||English Education w/license (MA with IL secondary ELA teaching license)|
|Minimum Total Credit Hours||32||32||32||53|
|Minimum Credit Hours in English||24||24||24||40|
|Minimum Credit Hours at 500-level (non-research)||12||12||12||12|
|Proseminar (Fall Year 1)||4 hrs - ENGL 500||4 hrs - ENGL 500||4 hrs - ENGL 500||4 hrs - ENGL 500|
|Bridge Course Requirements||8 hrs (may fulfill Dist Reqs) - Two courses from 507, 517, 527, 537, 547, 557, 567||8 hrs (may fulfill Dist Reqs) - Two courses from 507, 517, 527, 537, 547, 557, 567||8 hrs - ENGL 557 plus one of the following: 507, 517, 527, 537, 547, OR 567||8 hrs - ENGL 557 plus one of the following: 507, 517, 527, 537, 547, OR 567|
|Distribution Requirement (ENG and CW only); Students must concentrate in either pre-1914 or post-1914 by taking 2 courses in one time period and 1 course in the other. May be fulfilled by Bridge or 400-level courses w/DGS approval.||*Distribution I Requirement: minimum 1 course in British and American Studies - Beginnings-1914, 2 courses if concentrating *Distribution II Requirement: minimum 1 course in British and American Studies - 1914-Present, 2 courses if concentrating||*Distribution I Requirement: minimum 1 course in British and American Studies - Beginnings-1914, 2 courses if concentrating *Distribution II Requirement: minimum 1 course in British and American Studies - 1914-Present, 2 courses if concentrating||N/A; see Literature Requirement||N/A; see Literature Requirement|
|Literature Requirement (ED only--may be fulfilled through Bridge series or 400-level ENGL courses)||N/A||N/A||4 hrs - Literature Requirement: One literature course||4 hrs - Literature Requirement: One literature course|
|Teaching methods or education courses (ED only)||N/A||N/A||8 hrs - Methods Course Requirements: Two classes from ENGL 481, 482, 486, 489, 555||28 hrs - English Methods Courses: ENGL 486, 489, 481 AND Education Methods Courses: ED 402 or 403; ED 421 or 445; ED 425; SPED 410|
|Other required courses or electives||N/A||12-16 hrs - Workshop Requirement: ENGL 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575, 576||8 hrs - Elective Requirements: At least two courses||8 hrs - Elective Requirements: At least two courses, which may include Education courses (like ED 402 or 403, and ED 421 or 425) that are required for licensure|
|Student Teaching Requirement (ED w/license only)||N/A||N/A||N/A||12 hrs - ENGL 498, 499|
|Research Project||0-4 hrs - ENGL 597||0-4 hrs - ENGL 597||0-4 hrs - ENGL 597||0-4 hrs - ENGL 597|
Distribution requirements may be fulfilled through Bridge Series work and 400-level offerings in the department. Bridge Series and advanced undergraduate courses with a grade of B or better may be counted toward these distribution requirements with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. No more than two undergraduate courses can be used to fulfill distribution requirements. Credit toward the MA is not given for any course in which the student receives a grade of less than B.
“Zero Hours” for ENGL 597
Registering for zero hours of ENGL 597 is not the same as not registering for the course. Students must register for ENGL 597 in order to graduate.
Students may sign up to work independently with one of our faculty. No more than four hours of credit taken in ENGL 596 may be counted toward the 32-hour degree requirement, but you may enroll in more than 4 hours of independent study if you wish. You can find the Independent Study form on our Forms page.
You may perform a self-audit using the MA Progress to Degree Checklist found on the Forms page. If you have questions or want to double-check your self-audit, contact the Graduate Studies Program Coordinator to schedule a meeting.