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MA in English

Tennessee’s MA program is offered in two concentrations: Literature, Criticism, and Textual Studies and Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics. All three provide excellent training and a flexible curriculum.  Students may specialize in anything from medieval literature to cutting-edge critical theory or may pursue a more general curriculum.  We look for strong, thoughtful candidates who will enrich our intellectual community in a variety of ways and who will benefit from the breadth of our resources.

We have a world-class research library with special collections in British and American literary and cultural history, excellent financial support, and a nationally and internationally recognized faculty. Travel funds for research and presentations at scholarly conferences help our students enter the profession and begin to establish themselves in their respective fields within the discipline.

The Graduate Students in English organization, area study groups, and other activities draw students together as an intellectual and social community with shared passions and aspirations. Our MA graduates go on to excellent PhD programs in English, as well as to careers in editing, publishing, technical writing, and the non-profit and private sectors.

Entrance Profile of Candidates

We have a single admission deadline, January 15, for admission to both MA concentrations. All admitted applicants begin their work together as a class in the fall. While candidates who have majored in English generally have an advantage in our competitive pool, we also consider those who bring other disciplinary backgrounds to bear on their work with us. Generally, we do expect candidates to have completed 18 credit hours of upper-division coursework in English. The Graduate School requires, at minimum, a 2.7 GPA; most of our applicants have a 3.5 GPA or higher in their English courses.

We evaluate all of our degree candidates holistically, based on a portfolio of grades, recommendations, GRE scores (with an emphasis on the Verbal score), a statement of goals, and a writing sample. We are interested in the overall picture of strengths and interests that these materials provide. We have no specific cutoff numbers for the GRE scores, though our most competitive candidates have Verbal scores of 160 (600 on the old test) or above.

For the forms and a checklist of materials you will need to complete your application, click on Admissions.

Teaching in the MA Program

We strive continually for teaching excellence in the graduate and the undergraduate classroom. Our professorial faculty and our graduate students share the balance of teaching and research that makes up the academic life. MA students are introduced to the rewarding work of classroom instruction through our award-winning writing program, which has been nationally recognized for its excellence in teacher training and professional development.

First-year MA students on teaching assistantships apprentice with a master teacher, assist as tutors in the Writing Center, and study the best practices in writing and critical reading instruction with our rhetoric and composition faculty. In their second year, MA students are appointed as teaching associates and take full responsibility for their own courses. MA teaching associates can expect to teach two sections of First-Year Composition each semester of their second year. The director of First-Year Composition and the director of the Writing Center provide valuable guidance, insight, and support throughout the teaching experience.

Our graduate student teachers, as well as our professorial faculty, regularly win departmental, college, and university teaching awards for their superb classroom work. Our assistantships and associateships include a tuition waiver and health insurance. Current stipend amounts, paid over twelve months, are $8,765 for first-year assistants and $13,511 for second-year associates. For more information about our teaching assistantships and associateships, see Fellowships and Assistantships.

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