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This graduate program in English is designed to provide advanced study in Composition Studies. It provides for personal and professional advancement, particularly in teaching, research, writing, journalism, publishing and editorial work. The program also prepares students for studies at the Ph.D. level.

Courses in this program will help students achieve substantial preparation in a variety of areas, including writing theories, writing pedagogies, alternative literacies and the relationship between composition and literature. It will be up to each student to determine his or her personal and professional needs and, with the graduate advisor, to create a program that will address both program requirements and individual needs.

Department Website

Admission to the Program 

A minimum GPA of 2.5 and a BA in English, English Education, or a related field are required for admission. Students who do not meet this requirement are eligible for provisional admission.  Students may also take classes as a student-at-large.

Degree Requirements 

33 total credit hours of successfully completed coursework are required to complete the program.


In this program, students will help shape not only their academic course of study but also their M.A. comprehensive exams. As students move through the program, they will work in conjunction with faculty members and the graduate advisor to create two reading lists that address two significant areas of composition (e.g., the relationship between technology and writing, contemporary theories of teaching developmental writing). These lists will each be accompanied by a rationale and will need approval from two faculty mentors.


Alternatively, students may complete the program by writing a scholarly, 60–100 page thesis. Students who choose this option will be excused from two courses in their graduate program, and will, in consultation with two faculty mentors, select a topic and write a proposal for that topic. The approved thesis must be submitted to the student’s M.A. Committee at least two weeks before a formal defense of the work is scheduled. Students choosing this option will also be required to take the exams described above, but they will be exams that contribute directly to the thesis-writing process.


Required Courses


ENG-433 Seminar in Composition Theory

ENG-435 Writing Assessment

Six 400-level core English electives


Three additional 400-level or approved 300-level courses


Core Electives

ENG-409 Community Literacy and Composition Studies

ENG-410 Literary Method and Practice (Fall term only)

ENG-427 Pedagogies of Teaching College Level Writing

ENG-430 Studies in Literary Criticism (Spring term only)

ENG-432 Alternative Literacies

ENG-434 Seminar in Basic Writing

ENG-436 Rhetorics of Composition

ENG-437 English Studies and Technology

ENG-438 Research in Composition

ENG-439 Stylistics

ENG-486 Introduction to Literacies in a Flat World


300-Level Free Electives

ENG-316 Forms of Poetry

ENG-376 Advanced Composition

ENG-377 Argumentative Prose


400-Level Free Electives

ENG-453 Thesis Seminar: Composition (6 credits)

ENG-482 Contemporary Poetic Forms


Language Electives

See advisor to choose TESL or LING courses


Note: With the approval of the graduate advisor, students may also use graduate courses in linguistics, communication, media and theater, and other related programs, to fulfill their free English electives.


The program offers merit tuition fellowships as well as graduate assistantships to assist students financially and to offer them professionalization opportunities. Students also have the opportunity to work closely with a committed faculty.

Program Contact Information 

For more information:

Professor Tim Barnett, advisor, (773) 442-5822 (Lech Walesa Hall, Room 2016)

Arts and Sciences

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