Graduate Literature Handbook - MA Requirements

The MA in English is designed to provide a broadly inclusive course of advanced study in English and American Literature together with preparatory training and scholarly background for  the PhD.  Candidates for the MA degree must take a total of 30 units (10 classes) of graduate coursework (of which 24, or 8 classes, will be in regularly scheduled literature courses unless otherwise approved by the Program Director), demonstrate reading knowledge of a foreign language, and pass a final examination based on reading lists approved by the faculty.

The MA Examination

The MA examination is designed to develop students' general knowledge of the history and diversity of literatures in English, encouraging a broad, structured understanding of the discipline while allowing room for considerable individual choice. Acknowledging literary-historical traditions as an important ground of knowledge, the examination also recognizes the increasing diversity of canonical texts and the changing nature of literary canonicity. Combining British, American, and Anglophone texts, the reading list for the examination reflects renewed disciplinary emphasis on the transatlantic relationship of British and American literatures as well as the rise of "global English" and its literary manifestations. The examination should benefit both students pursuing a terminal MA degree and those going on for the PhD.
 

The MA Examination
as of Fall 2016

 

In Spring 2016 the Literature Faculty approved a new structure and timetable for the MA Examination. Students currently in the program, and those beginning the program in Fall 2016, may select either the old or the new examination structure. Students beginning the program in Fall 2017 and thereafter will take the new examination.

Both the old and new MA examinations are based on the same master reading list of 186 works, and in both the student is examined on a selection of texts from that list, chosen by the student in consultation with, and with the approval of, the examining committee. Both examinations have historical distribution requirements designed to insure broad preparation and knowledge.

Here are the key differences between the two exams:

Selections from the 186 work reading list:

  • the old examination requires that the student be examined on an approved reading list of 62-65 texts
  • the new examination requires that the student be examined on an approved reading list of 42 texts

Timetable:

  • the old examination must be taken no later than the student’s 6th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress
  • the new examination must be taken no later than the student’s 4th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress

Phase in for those selecting the new examination:

  • Students who entered the program in Fall 2014 must take the new examination no later than their 6th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress
  • Students who entered the program in Fall 2015 must take the new examination no later than their 5th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress
  • Students who enter the program in Fall 2016 or thereafter must take the new examination no later than their 4th semester in the program to maintain satisfactory progress

 

Here are the rules and procedures shared by the old and new examinations

The examination consists of a four-hour written examination followed by a one-hour oral. The examination will be graded pass or fail; in keeping with Graduate College rules, a 3-0 vote is required for a pass on the Oral Examination.  The Literature program also requires a 3-0 vote for a pass on the written examination. (This vote may be taken via email; in cases where the vote is not 3-0 in favor of proceeding to the oral examination, the email vote shall be treated as a straw ballot; in such cases a face to face meeting of the committee will take place, consisting of discussion of the written examination and a formal ballot.) A candidate who fails the written portion of the examination may, upon the recommendation of the committee and the Graduate Literature Director, be granted a second written examination, the results of which are final. A candidate who fails the Oral Examination may also, upon the recommendation of the committee and Graduate Literature Director, be granted a second examination.  The results of the second oral examination are final.

 

(new) MA Examination
(beginning Fall 2016)

In order to be making satisfactory progress toward the degree, students must take the MA Examination no later than their fourth semester in the program.

Procedure

From the 186 selections on the MA Reading List, you should choose 42 as the basis for the M.A. Exam, including the required number of selections from each area on the list.   For the number of selections required in each area, see the table below and the instructions included with the lists.  In the process of developing a final individualized list you should consult closely with the members of your committee, all of whom must approve your list before it can be filed.

 

Field

Total number of selections

Required number of selections to be chosen by student

Medieval

8

4

Renaissance/Early Modern

15

7

Early American

23

2

The Long 18th Century

14

5

19th Century American

23

3-7*

19th Century British

23

3-7*

20th Century American

40

3-7**

20th Century British

21

3-7**

World Literature

19

4

Totals

186

42

      

*In the case of 19th-Century American and British lists, a total of 10 selections are required, including a minimum of 3 from each category.

**In the case of 20th-Century American and British lists, a total of 10 texts are required, including a minimum of 3 from each category.

Allowable modifications of the reading list:

With the approval of the student’s committee, a total of up to 10 selections not on the MA Reading List may be substituted for 10 selections from the MA Reading List; no more than 2 substitutions may be made for any single section of the reading list.

Here's another link to the 186 work MA Reading List.

 

The Old MA Examination
 

Through consultation with your committee and other faculty advisors, you will identify a minimum of 62 selections, including the required number from each area. This individualized list will serve as the basis for your MA Examination. In the process of developing a final individualized list you should consult closely with the members of your committee, all of whom must approve your list before it can be filed.

 

Field

Total number of selections

Required number of selections to be chosen by student

Medieval

8

5

Renaissance/Early Modern

15

9

Early American

23

3-6*

The Long 18th Century

14

6

19th Century American

23

5-10**

19th Century British

23

5-10**

20th Century American

40

10-15***

20th Century British

21

5-10***

World Literature

19

4

Totals

186

62-65*

 

         

*Students may choose up to 6 Early American selections, but must choose a minimum of 3. The total number of selections will vary accordingly.

 

**In the case of 19th-Century American and British lists, a total of 15 selections are required, including a minimum of 5 from each category.  Thus, for example, students could choose 5 British and 10 American, 10 British and 5 American, 7 British and 8 American, and so on.

 

***In the case of 20th-Century American and British lists, a total of 20 texts are required, including at least 5 British selections and at least 10 American ones.  Thus, for example, students could choose 10 American and 10 British, 15 American and 5 British, or 12 American and 8 British, and so on.

Here's another link to the 186 work MA Reading List.

 

OTHER REQUIREMENTS

Foreign Language Requirement

Before taking the MA examination, you must meet the language requirement. Students are strongly advised to come to the program with a reading knowledge of a second language, and to satisfy the language requirement as soon after entering the program as possible.

You may satisfy the foreign language requirement in one of three ways:

                By receiving a grade of Pass on the departmental translation exam

                By earning an A in one senior-level or graduate literature course in the language

By earning a grade of A in one of several graduate-level translation courses, generally offered each spring.

Literature students who elect to take the departmental exam are limited to two attempts. Students who fail the exam a second time must register for a graduate translation/reading course in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement. Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Italian automatically qualify as acceptable languages for fulfilling the requirement; other languages must be approved by the Graduate Literature Program Director.  Language exams are administered at the beginning of each semester.  See the Program Assistant for details and sample exams.
 

Time Limit

Graduate credit applicable with full value toward a MA degree should have been earned not more than six years before the completion of the requirements for the degree. Graduate courses taken more than six years and not more than ten years prior to the completion of degree requirements will be counted for half credit toward the degree. Work more than ten years old is not acceptable for meeting degree requirements.
 

Transfer of Credits

Students who have taken graduate literature courses from another accredited college or university may apply for transfer credit of no more than six units of the total coursework taken toward the degree. The Graduate Literature Program Director and the Graduate College will determine whether the coursework may be applied to the student’s degree program.
 

Paperwork

Prior to taking the MA exam you should file four forms: three are under your GRAD PATH forms on your UAccess:  Responsible Conduct of Reseach; Plan of Study; Master/Specialist Committee Appointment form -- and one with the Department of English: “Master’s Examination Study Program”   All are due at the end of completion of 30 units, no later than the end of the 5th semester.
 

Timetable

MA

Year One:

Complete at least twelve units of course work.  Pass or prepare for language exam.

Year Two:

Complete at least 12 units of course work. Select MA exam committee and prepare reading list.  Complete Graduate College GradPath forms in UAccess

Year Three:

Fall semester: Complete six units of course work and study for MA Exam. File departmental MA Exam Study Plan

Spring semester: Study for Exam and prepare Qualifying Exam paper. Take exam no later than mid-April; submit Qualifying Exam paper before the end of the semester.

Each year:  Develop your teaching skills, using student and peer evaluations as guides. Become familiar with journals and conferences in your field.  Join the MLA and explore other professional organizations in your fields of interest.  Select at least one paper to revise as a conference presentation and/or article during the summer. Consider attending and/or submitting a conference paper.
 

MA Checklist

MA Program Checklist

Year

When

Course Units

What

Done

1

1st semester

6

Meet with Director to develop Study Plan

 

 

2nd semester

6

Pass foreign language exam

 

 

3rd semester

6

Choose new faculty advisor, if needed

 

2

 

 

Select MA committee members

 

 

 

 

Draft MA exam reading list

 

 

4th semester

6

Take MA exam (if taking new exam)
Complete GradPath forms in UAccess

 

 

 

 

Finalize MA reading list

 

 

5th semester                                                                                                            

6

File MA Examination Study Plan form

 

3

 

 

at the beginning of the semester

 

 

 

 

Prepare for MA exam

 

 

6th semester

6

Take MA exam (if taking old exam)

 

 

 

 

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam: submit paperwork

 

Please note: these are representative deadlines associated with satisfactory progress in the program.  Some students will make more rapid progress.  The deadline for some requirements -- e.g. the language exam or the comps -- is somewhat flexible; see program descriptions.

       

  

 

 

 

 

 

Program(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences