English

Graduate Program HeadMark Morrisson
Program CodeENGL
Campus(es)University Park (Ph.D., M.A., M.F.A.)
Degrees Conferred

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and African American and Diaspora Studies

Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and Visual Studies

Dual-Title Ph.D. and M.A. in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Integrated B.A. in English and M.A. in English

The Graduate Faculty

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Candidates for the M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. in English may choose from a variety of courses in English literature and language, rhetoric and composition, and theory/cultural studies. The M.F.A. in English helps prepare candidates for professional careers as writers of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, or for careers in academia.

The department offers an excellent college-level teacher-training program, and all graduate students in English have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants. Students usually begin by teaching basic composition courses, but there are opportunities for advanced students to teach courses in business writing, technical writing, fiction writing, poetry writing, literature, and humanities, and to serve as tutors in the Writing Center.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Applicants should have a junior/senior grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale), although exceptions may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests. Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Aptitude Tests (verbal and quantitative) are required for admission. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation, a writing sample indicating their ability to do analytical or original work, and a statement of their professional goals.

For admission, M.A. students should have strong backgrounds in English courses: 18 credits beyond freshman composition are a minimum, but the department prefers at least 24 credits.

For admission into the M.F.A. program, students must have a baccalaureate degree (with substantial work in English), a portfolio of publishable student writing, and the intention to pursue a career as a professional writer.

To be considered for the doctoral program, students must have completed an M.A. in English, M.F.A. or its equivalent. The records of potential students should indicate promise of superior work in doctoral study.

Degree Requirements

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

M.F.A. candidates are required to take 48 credits, distributed as follows:

Required Courses
ENGL 501Materials and Methods of Research3
12 credits of the following, at least 9 of which must be in the student's area of specialization : 112
The Writing of Fiction
The Writing of Poetry
The Writing of Nonfiction
Electives
9 credits in electives (400 or 500-level courses)9
12 credits in literature at the 500-level12
Culminating Experience
ENGL 596Individual Studies (for the final project) 212
Total Credits48

Master of arts (M.A.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

Candidates for the M.A. take at least 30 credits of course work, with a minimum of 18 credits of 500-level courses, including:

Required Courses
ENGL 501Materials and Methods of Research3
1 course in literary theory or rhetoric3
2 courses in literature in English prior to 18006
2 courses in literature in English after 18006
Electives6
Culminating Experience
ENGL 596Individual Studies (in which students complete their culminating master's paper)6
Total Credits30

In addition, M.A. candidates must demonstrate reading knowledge of one of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Latin, and Classical Greek. Other languages may be substituted with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

The Ph.D. degree does not require a specific number of credits although all students are required to have completed:

  • ENGL 501 (or the equivalent),
  • one course in rhetoric or theory,
  • two courses in periods before 1800,
  • and two courses in periods after 1800.

With the help of departmental graduate advisers, students select a program of seminars or reading courses. To complete their programs, students must pass a Ph.D. qualifying examination and pass a comprehensive examination (consisting of both written and oral components); and write a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Titles

Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and African American and Diaspora Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

In addition to the admission requirements set forth by the Graduate Council and the Department of English, students will be admitted to the dual-title degree program in African American and Diaspora Studies by an admissions committee of African American and Diaspora Studies faculty. Students enrolled in the English Department can apply for admission to the dual-title degree prior to taking the qualifying exam.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in English. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in African American and Diaspora Studies, listed on the African American and Diaspora Studies Bulletin page.

Foreign Language Requirements

As required by the Department of English, students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one foreign language no later than the third semester of residency (not including summer semester).

Qualifying Examination

The dual-title field must be fully integrated into the qualifying exam for the doctoral program. The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the African American and Diaspora Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. In addition, students in the dual-title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in African American and Diaspora Studies which includes:

  • a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests,
  • a program plan,
  • and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions taken up by scholars of African American and Diaspora Studies.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of an English and African American and Diaspora Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee representing English is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in African American and Diaspora Studies, then the committee member representing African American and Diaspora Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

The African American and Diaspora Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student’s Ph.D. committee is responsible for developing and administering the African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the student’s comprehensive exam. The exam must incorporate written and oral components in African American and Diaspora Studies based on the student’s thematic or regional area of interest and specialization in African American and Diaspora Studies. The African American and Diaspora Studies portion of the exam will include the following components:

  • broad history of the field,
  • contemporary theory and debates,
  • and either sexual and gender politics or a topic related to the student’s specific area of interest.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

The candidate must complete a dissertation on a topic that reflects their original research and education in both English and African American and Diaspora Studies. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Title Ph.D. in English and Visual Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admission Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and the Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Visual Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Visual Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Visual Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the Ph.D. in English. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Visual Studies, listed on the Visual Studies Bulletin page.

Foreign Language Requirements

As required by the Department of English, students must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one foreign language no later than the third semester of residency (not including summer semester).

Qualifying Examination

The dual-title field will be fully integrated into the qualifying exam for the doctoral program. The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Visual Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. In addition, students in the dual-title Ph.D. in Visual Studies will be required to present to their committee a portfolio of work in Visual Studies, including:

  • a statement of the student’s interdisciplinary research interests,
  • a program plan,
  • and samples of writing that indicate the student’s interest in questions related to the Visual Studies.

Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

Ph.D. Committee Composition

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of an English and Visual Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Visual Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the committee chair does not represent Visual Studies, the committee member representing Visual Studies must be appointed as co-chair.

Comprehensive Exam

The Visual Studies Graduate Faculty member on the student's committee is responsible for developing and administering the Visual Studies portion of the student's comprehensive exam. The exam must incorporate components addressing Visual Studies based on the student’s areas of interest and specialization in the Visual Studies.

Dissertation

The candidate must complete a dissertation on a topic that reflects his or her original research and education in both English and in Visual Studies in order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination.

Dual-Title M.A. and Ph.D. in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

Admissions Requirements

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in English and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies prior to taking the qualifying examination in their primary graduate program.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for the dual-title degree, students must satisfy the degree requirements for the degree they are enrolled in English. In addition, students must complete the degree requirements for the dual-title in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, listed on the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Bulletin page.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from English and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of and English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least two members of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a member of the committee representing Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies must be appointed as co-chair. The Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Integrated Undergrad-Grad Programs

Integrated B.A. in English and M.A. in English

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-210 Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Degree Programs.

The English B.A./M.A. Integrated Undergraduate Degree Program (ENGL IUG) is a five-year program designed for highly-qualified and motivated students seeking to improve their writing skills significantly. The integrated B.A./M.A. degree offers talented undergraduates a chance to acquire both a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English in five years of study. The first two years of undergraduate course work include the University General Education and Liberal Arts requirements in addition to introductory course work in the English major. Students typically will apply to the B.A./M.A. during their 5th or 6th semester and begin graduate studies in their fourth year. In the third year students are expected to take upper-level course work in English in literature, rhetoric, or creative writing. In the fourth year, students will complete the capstone course for the English major, ENGL 487W, and enroll exclusively in 400-level and graduate-level courses in creative writing. The fifth and final year of the integrated program consists entirely of graduate-level seminars. The program culminates with the submission of a master’s paper that consists of the best creative work that the student has produced in his or her primary creative genre—either poetry or prose, and includes a scholarly research component.

Time of Admission to the Program

Before applying to the Graduate School, students must have completed entrance to their undergraduate major and have completed no less than 60 credits. Students must be admitted no later than the end of the second week of the semester preceding the semester of expected conferral of the undergraduate degree. Transfer students must have completed at least 15 credits at Penn State to enroll in an IUG.

Application to the English IUG would typically occur in the junior year after a student has completed 60 credits, enrolled in the English major, and completed two English courses in creative writing.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Students must apply to and meet admission requirements of the Graduate School, as well as the admission requirements for the M.A. in English, listed on the Admission Requirements tab.

Admission to the integrated B.A./M.A. program will be based on the submission of a portfolio of creative work and a plan of study to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program. Applications typically will be filed during the 5th or 6th semesters of study, and applicants must have achieved a minimum of 60 credits and a 3.3 overall GPA and 3.6 GPA in English to begin the program. The English DGS will ensure that the applicant meets the minimum credit and GPA requirements for the program. The Director of the B.A./M.A. program will evaluate the quality of the student’s creative work and the applicant’s plan for fulfilling the requirements of the M.A. in English. The Director of the B.A./M.A. program, in consultation with the Creative Writing faculty, will have final approval for what constitutes an acceptable level of creative work and an acceptable plan for the completion of the M.A.

The application procedure requires submission of the following:

  1. Support letters from faculty and administrators (addressed to the department’s Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program)
  2. A personal statement
  3. Portfolio of creative work
  4. A Plan of Study
  5. A transcript and degree audit printed from  the student information system
  6. A current resume or curriculum vita
  7. A copy of the completed on-line Graduate School Application (GRE scores are not required).

Plan of Study and Advising

Prior to the application process, students should communicate their intent to enroll in the IUG to the English B.A. adviser and the Director of the B.A./M.A. program. The Director of the B.A./M.A. will help each student identify an appropriate series of English courses to properly prepare each student for the 500-level M.A. workshops and 500-level literature courses.

Students will be expected to maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 for all undergraduate course work and a GPA of 3.6 in English (ENGL) courses throughout the IUG program of study. Failure to do so will result in the student being advised that he/she must regain a GPA of 3.3 within one semester. If the GPA is not 3.3 or higher in general undergraduate course work and 3.6 or higher in English course work after that term, the student will be dropped from the IUG.

Each student enrolled in the B.A./M.A. will meet at the beginning of each term with the Director of the B.A./M.A. to discuss his or her progress through the M.A. degree and to make sure that he or she is following the plan established upon his or her admission to the B.A./M.A. program.

If the student decides not to continue on in the IUG, the student may, contingent on fulfilling all other requirements for the B.A. in English, graduate with a B.A. in English.

Degree Requirements

Students must fulfill all requirements for each degree in order to be awarded that degree, subject to the double-counting of credits as outlined below. Degree requirements for the B.A. in English are listed in the Undergraduate Bulletin. Degree requirements for the M.A. degree are listed on the Degree Requirements tab. Students must sequence their courses so all undergraduate degree requirements are fulfilled before taking courses to count solely towards the graduate degree. Students are expected to complete the undergraduate degree requirements within the typical time to degree for the undergraduate major. In the semester in which the undergraduate degree requirements will be completed, IUG students must apply to graduate, and the undergraduate degree should be conferred at the next appropriate Commencement.

Up to 12 credits may be double-counted towards the degree requirements for both the graduate and undergraduate degrees; a minimum of 50% of the double-counted courses must be at the 500 or 800 level. Independent study courses and credits associated with the culminating experience for the graduate degree cannot be double-counted.

Courses Eligible to Double Count for Both Degrees
ENGL 412Advanced Fiction Writing3
ENGL 413Advanced Poetry Writing3
ENGL 415Advanced Nonfiction Writing3
ENGL 512The Writing of Fiction3
ENGL 513The Writing of Poetry3
ENGL 515The Writing of Nonfiction3

Minor

A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

In addition to the fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described in the link above, the following awards typically have been available to graduate students in English graduate programs:

Edwin Erle Sparks Fellowship in the Humanities

Available to beginning and continuing graduate students in one of the following graduate programs:

  • Comparative Literature
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • SpanishSpeech Communication

Apply to department before February 1.

Katey Lehman Fellowship

Provides approximately $13,000 plus tuition for a year's study in poetry or fiction writing leading toward the B.A./M.A. in English or the M.F.A. in English. The Lehman Fellow will teach one course during the fellowship year. Fellowship holders are eligible for graduate assistantships with a similar stipend and tuition grant during the second year of study.

Wilma Ebbit Award

Funding to support research in rhetoric. Number and amount of awards to be determined.

Ben Euwema Memorial Scholarship

Travel funding for graduate degree candidates; consideration will be given to all currently enrolled graduate students in English. Preference will be given to students at the Ph.D. thesis stage, particularly those who need to travel to complete their research; number of awards and amount of each will be determined each year.

Folger Institute Fellowships

Penn State is a member of the Folger Institute of Renaissance and Eighteenth-Century Studies. Graduate students in English are eligible for Folger Institute Fellowship to study in seminars and workshops at the Folger Library, Washington, D.C.

Philip Young Memorial Award

Funding to support research in American Literature. Number and amount of awards will be determined.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

English (ENGL) Course List

Learning Outcomes

  1. Graduate students will develop a basic familiarity with the tools, methods, techniques, and critical conversations in the various subfields.
  2. Graduate students will use professional standards of the field of English studies in order to sustain an argument, develop and carry out an ambitious research plan, and to communicate the importance of that research in spoken and written forms.
  3. Graduate students will be able to analyze literary or rhetorical texts or objects using a particular theoretical or methodological approach. 
  4. Graduate students will demonstrate effective skills in undergraduate teaching, in their research area, in the writing classroom, and as generalists.
  5. Graduate students will be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of tools, methods, techniques, and critical conversations in their chosen subfield(s) as well as an ability to engage substantively with those critical conversations. 

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Mark Stewart Morrisson
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) David Andrew Loewenstein
Program Contact

Ashlee Foreman
English Graduate Office
430 Burrowes Building
University Park PA 16802
anl5234@psu.edu
(814) 863-3069

Program Website View