English Department

Handbook for Graduate Students in English


The M.A. program in English at Cleveland State University provides a broad foundation in the study of literature, the techniques of criticism, composition theory and rhetoric, and creative writing. The program is designed to meet the needs of teachers and writers seeking professional training and credentials, students planning to go on to doctoral programs at other universities, and others preparing for a profession or pursuing cultural interests.

The English M.A. program's principal goals are to develop in its graduates

  1. The skills to interpret texts of all kinds and to defend their interpretations effectively;
  2. Excellent facility in written and spoken language;
  3. A thorough awareness of at least one particular field within the study of writing, literature, theory, cultural studies, linguistics, or pedagogy;
  4. The capacity to produce scholarly, critical, or creative written work in the genres and of the quality that could lead to publication in reputable venues.

Since most students attend part-time, most classes are scheduled between four and eight p.m. and sometimes on Saturday mornings. To increase the variety of courses available, the department offers a number of crosslisted courses, open to advanced undergraduates as well as to graduate students, some of which are available during the day. A few courses are also offered in the summer.

Admission to the program

A bachelor's degree with a major or a concentration in English, and a general grade point average of 2.75 and of 3.00 in English courses, is a minimum requirement for admission, though satisfying these minimums will not guarantee admission. (A concentration is defined as a minimum of 24 quarter credits or 16 semester credits beyond Freshman English). Students without a sufficient number of undergraduate courses in English are required to take undergraduate courses as specified by the Graduate Director. Such concentrations normally emphasize British and American literature surveys and courses that stress writing about literature.

Those interested in applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  1. All regular application materials for admission--including the application, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from all colleges attended--must be submitted directly to the Graduate Admissions office, College of Graduate Studies.
  2. All applicants, including those applying to Creative Writing, must submit samples of their academic or other non-fiction writing (usually about ten pages of work submitted from prior courses) to the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English.

Normally, applications take about two months to process, but students may be admissible with non-degree status while applications are pending. Application forms are attached to the Graduate Bulletins. Non-Degree application forms are at the back of the semester course schedules. Applicants for teaching assistantships and for the creative writing program have additional requirements, which are described below under the headings "Creative Writing" and "Graduate Assistantships"

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The sequence of courses

Course sequence is flexible, but we recommend that the core requirements be completed as soon as possible. Core courses will be offered once each academic year, and most students will have no difficulty making up their schedules. We intend to reflect the needs of our students in the scheduling of courses, so please make your preferences known to us.

Course loads

Graduate courses generally require more work than undergraduate courses. Students who have full-time jobs are advised to take only one graduate course per semester, at least until they can accurately gauge their ability to meet successfully the demands of graduate work. A few students have been able to complete their program in a calendar year. Most students will be wise to stretch their programs over four or more semesters.

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Advising: selecting courses

A student enrolling in the program should meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to plan a program and choose appropriate courses. Before registering in subsequent semesters, all students must see the Director or one of the graduate advisors to review their programs and agree on what courses to take.

Students should feel free at all times to talk with the Director or any members of the graduate faculty about academic and professional decisions and problems.


When you decide that you are approaching graduation, remember to apply for graduation your next-to-last semester (forms are available from Campus 411, Main Classroom 116 or from the department secretarial staff). The fee for an application is currently $25.00.

Summary of Requirements for the M.A. Degree

Candidates will be recommended for the Master of Arts degree on completing the following requirements with an overall average of B (3.0) or better:

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Pursuing the Ph.D.

Many of our graduates continue their educations in schools offering a doctoral degree. Students interested in the Ph.D. are encouraged to consult with faculty members about further study.

We strongly recommend that students interested in the Ph.D. prepare themselves by taking at least one foreign language, if they have not already done so. Students wishing to earn a Ph.D. elsewhere should also note that for many Ph.D. programs, the application deadline for admission and financial support is January 1 or even earlier.