MA Learning Outcomes

Students enrolled in the Masters of English at Virginia Commonwealth University will complete a minimum of 30 hours of coursework. For students enrolled full-time, completion of the degree typically takes two years. Students completing the Masters program in English will be prepared to pursue additional studies at the doctoral level, teach in secondary or higher education, or obtain other positions in the public or private sector.

Students enrolled in the program are required to take ENGL 501: Introduction to Graduate Studies, ENGL 605: Introduction to Scholarship, and/or ENGL 606: Literary Criticism (thesis students must take both ENGL 605 & 606). In addition to these courses, students take elective graduate courses covering a variety of literary periods, genres, and themes, as well as completing a final research project (thesis or directed study).

Students completing the course of study described above will develop advanced reading, writing, and literary analysis skills. As they move beyond the limitations imposed on undergraduate writers, masters students will engage current theoretical and textual scholarship in the course of conducting original research on a wide variety of literary topics. The course of study will culminate with students demonstrating their ability to explain and defend this original research in a formal presentation before graduate faculty members. Lastly, students completing the Masters in English at Virginia Commonwealth University will understand the academic and professional opportunities available to holders of a graduate degree in English.

The coursework of the Masters program meets these learning outcomes in the following ways:

1. Develop advanced reading and writing skills.
ENGL 501, ENGL 605, ENGL 606, Electives, Directed Study, and Thesis

2. Engage theoretical and/or textual/bibliographical scholarship.
ENGL 605, ENGL 606, Electives, Directed Study, and Thesis

3. Conduct original research and advance an original argument under faculty direction.
ENGL 605, Electives, Directed Study, and Thesis

4. Explain and defend original research in a formal presentation or defense.
Directed Study and Thesis

5. Survey the professional and academic work to which the degree leads.
ENGL 501

Assessment of final projects

In order to complete the MA degree in English at VCU, all students must conduct original research under the direction of at least one faculty expert, and either present or defend an original argument. Students who choose to undertake a directed study must submit a title and abstract first to the project director and then (once it’s approved) to the MA director and committee. Students who take the research track must submit a thesis proposal first to a project director, then to the thesis committee, and finally (with the committee’s approval) to the program director and committee. The MA committee assesses both directed-study abstracts and thesis proposals under the following rubrics: “Acceptable”; “Acceptable with revision”; or “Unacceptable.”

In the case of a directed study, the MA director and committee then evaluate the student’s oral presentation using the following rubrics: “Fail” or “Pass”; the student’s faculty director then assigns a letter grade for the entire project, including both the presentation and the final essay. Thesis committees assess theses under the same rubrics—“Fail” or “Pass”—but do not assign letter grades.


Jennifer Rhee, Director of the MA Program
Thom Didato, Graduate Programs Advisor