Department of English

The Department of English does not offer a terminal M.A. degree.

We do, however, have a distinct Master's-phase of our graduate program. This involves 30 semester hours of coursework, including the Master's report, and indeed culminates in the formal awarding of the Master's Degree at the end of the fourth graduate semester.

The semester hours will be chosen in consultation with the Graduate English Adviser.  Students will normally focus their program of work on a particular field of study or on a combination of two fields: American Literature; Medieval Literary Studies; Renaissance Literature; 18th-Century British Literature; 19th-Century British Literature; Modern British Literature; Bibliography and Textual Studies; Digital Literacies and Literatures; Drama; Ethnic and Third-World Literature; Language and Linguistics; Poetry and Poetics; Popular Culture and Cultural Studies; Rhetoric; Women, Gender, and Literature.

Students complete the M.A. degree by completing E 398R, Master's Report. They also may take six hours of supporting  coursework outside their primary field of study either within the department or from other departments.  All minor areas of study are subject to approval by the Graduate Adviser.

Foreign Language Requirement

Two years of college credit in a foreign language, or its equivalent, is required of students who complete the M.A. degree in English.

M.A. Report

Those admitted to the English M.A./Ph.D. program must submit the M.A. Report to receive the M.A. degree by the end of their fourth semester. A seminar paper approved by the instructor of one English department graduate course, or an independent project, usually launched from a course paper, may be submitted to fulfill the Master's Report requirement. See the M.A. Report Guidelines below.

The M.A. Report supervisor must be a member of the English Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). The Report is to be formatted according to Graduate School specifications, signed by the student's M.A. committee (the supervising professor and a second reader), and submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies acccording to the OGS deadlines for the semester. MA candidates must be registered for E 398R (M.A. Report course) during the same semester in which they receive the degree.


All courses counting for the M.A. degree must be taken on a letter-grade basis.  Students must maintain a 3.0 average to remain in the M.A. program and a 3.5 to be eligible to continue in the Ph.D. program.


Students earning the Master's degree here will make normal progress by completing the M.A. requirements within four long semesters. (The Office of Graduate Studies requires that all work for the Master's degree be completed within one six-year period.) Continued financial support at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels is contingent upon timely and successful completion of coursework in each semester.

Meeting Professional Responsibilities

All students admitted into the graduate program are expected to serve as TAs or AIs (unless they have been exempted from this requirement by the Graduate Advisor at the time of their admission). In order to remain in good standing and thus continue in the program, they must therefore not only meet the requirements established by the Graduate School, but they must also successfully execute their professional responsibilities as TAs or AIs. Should a graduate instructor (a TA or an AI) fail to execute his or her responsibilities, a committee composed of the supervising professor, the GSC Chair, and the Graduate Advisor will be convened to make a binding decision about termination.

Failure to meet professional responsibilities includes, but is not limited to, such things as the following: failure to grade and return student papers and exams in a timely manner; failure to meet classes; failure to attend faculty lectures (as a TA); failure to turn in grades at the end of the semester; conducting (as a TA) a discussion section in a way that undermines the purpose of the class; compromising (as an AI) the DRW syllabus; and failure to meet staffing obligations in the UWC or the CWRL in a satisfactory manner.


1. Why write an M.A. report?

Writing a Master's Report is a requirement for the M.A. degree. It also serves as an important opportunity for intellectual engagement and professional development. Through writing a Master's Report, graduate students learn key scholarly processes such as conceiving and designing a longer project, setting goals and deadlines, interacting with faculty, receiving and incorporating feedback, and cultivating independent work habits.

2. What constitutes a successful MA report?

A successful Master's Report is a polished 7,000-10,000 word (including notes and works cited) scholarly essay. It features coherent organization, professional documentation of secondary sources (either Chicago or MLA style), and clean writing. The Master's Report should be initiated during the third semester and completed by the end of the fourth semester of graduate study.

3. Choosing a topic

The Master's Report allows graduate students to reflect back on their coursework as they prepare for the more individually directed phases of their doctoral studies. Graduate students are encouraged to undertake a revision of an essay they developed for a course in our graduate program. By revisiting, reworking, and extending projects begun in graduate seminars, students can explore what they believe to be compelling or promising avenues for future scholarly engagement. Your thesis advisors can help you evaluate which prospective projects are most likely to be successful.

4. Choosing and working with a supervisor and second reader

Learning to develop productive working relationships with faculty and to receive and incorporate feedback are important dimensions of the Master's Report. By the end of their third semester in the program, graduate students should identify and initiate relationships with a faculty supervisor and a second reader who can support the project to its successful completion. Select a combination of faculty advisors who can provide both knowledge about the fields in which you are working and some understanding of your own intellectual trajectory. It is also good practice to share a sample of your written work--ideally, the seminar paper you plan to revise--with prospective advisors. Throughout the process, both graduate students and faculty should be mindful of their mutual responsibilities to communicate expectations, limitations, and recommendations and to set and adhere to deadlines.

5. Suggested timetable for completion

By the end of the third semester, identify potential project topics or seminar papers for revision. Identify a prospective thesis supervisor and second reader who can support your potential project. Schedule an appointment with your prospective thesis supervisor and second reader. Be ready to share with prospective faculty advisors relevant writing, such as seminar papers.

At the beginning of the fourth semester, in consultation with your advising faculty, develop an informal proposal specifying your thesis writing or revising goals. Also develop with faculty advisors a schedule for completion: conception, research, drafting, revision, and filing. Remember to factor in sufficient time for faculty to read and comment on your drafts. It's a good idea to schedule regular meetings (every two weeks) with your supervisor and to prepare written comments about the work and readings you have done and plan to do.

A good rule of thumb is to allow one month for reading, researching, and planning, one month for writing a rough draft, with a complete rough draft ready by the end of spring break; one month for revisions; a couple of weeks for final feedback from faculty advisors and final revisions.

6. Additional tips for writing the Master's Report

-Remember that a revision need not be extensive to be substantial. Rather than striving for additional length or coverage, you might define your goals in terms of clarifying your argument, improving its situation within secondary literature, and more thoroughly developing its implications.

-Share copies of your schedule for completion with your supervisor and second reader.

-Keep a log of your thesis efforts each week so that you can compare your actual progress to your scheduled goals.

-For each primary or secondary source you read, write notes both summarizing the sources and specifying its usefulness to your project. These can serve as a basis for discussion with your advisor. Remember as well to keep complete citation information on each source.

-Consider forming or joining a thesis writing group to share both your process and your drafts.

-Meet regularly with your advisors to share new materials and ideas and to address any problems or questions that come up as you research and write.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street B5000
    Calhoun Hall, Room 226
    Austin, Texas 78712-1164