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Master of Arts Program in English

The Master of Arts Program in English offers the following four concentrations: Literature, Writing and Rhetoric, Creative Writing--Poetry, and Creative Writing--Fiction.

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from an accredited college or university.
  • Demonstration of the potential to pursue graduate study successfully—that is, attainment of a minimum undergraduate Grade Point Average of 3.0 in the undergraduate record as a whole and a 3.0 in English.
  • Study of a minimum of 18 credit hours in courses beyond the introductory level in English.
  • Submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.
  • Submission of three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be from a person who can testify to the candidate's ability as a student of literature, writing and rhetoric, or creative writing. (as appropriate).
  • Submission of a personal statement of some 500 words indicating as precisely as possible the applicant's preparation for master's work and career plans.
  • Submission of a 10-25 page writing sample, depending on concentration. For students applying to the Literature Concentration, this must be an essay demonstrating critical analysis of a literary text or set of texts. One 12-25 page essay is preferred, but two shorter essays can be submitted in its place (totaling 12-25 pages). For students applying to the Writing & Rhetoric Concentration, a 12-25 page sample of creative nonfiction can be submitted in place of the critical analysis, although students may choose to submit a critical analysis. Again, one long essay is preferred, but two shorter essays can be submitted in its place (totaling 12-25 pages). For students applying to the Creative Writing / Poetry Concentration, at least 5 poems totaling 10-12 pages should be submitted. For students applying to the Creative Writing / Fiction Concentration, a 12-25-page sample of short fiction or excerpt from a longer work should be submitted. One short story is preferred, but multiple stories can be submitted to fulfill the page-requirement.

Degree Requirements

After planning his or her program in advance with the Graduate Program Director, the student must complete a minimum of 30 credits in English with an average of B or better. Students are encouraged to enroll in a full course load (9 credits) each semester so that the program can be completed in four semesters.

I. Concentrations in Literature or Writing and Rhetoric (21 credits)

Credits Courses

3 ENG 700

3 ENG 702

3 ENG 784 or ENG 785

3 ENG 795

9 Electives: Three courses in literary history, language and literature, or writing and rhetoric. One elective may be in creative writing or from outside the Department with the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

II. Concentration in Literature (9 credits)

3 credits in Literature to 1700: ENG 703, ENG 705, ENG 712, ENG 713, or ENG 722

3 credits in Literature 1700-1900: ENG 731, ENG 740, ENG 742, ENG 748, or ENG 750

3 credits in Literature 1900 to present: ENG 753, ENG 755, ENG 756, or ENG 757

III. Concentrations Writing and Rhetoric Concentration (9 credits)

3 credits in whichever course was not taken for the core: ENG 784 or ENG 785

6 credits in Two additional courses in writing/rhetoric: ENG 783, ENG 788, ENG 790, or ENG 793

IV. Concentration in Creative Writing (18 credits)

Credits Courses

3 ENG 700 or ENG 702

3 ENG 784 or ENG 785

3 ENG 795

9 Electives: Three courses in literature

Poetry Concentration (12 credits)

6 Two workshops: ENW 701

6 Two craft courses: ENW 711

Fiction Concentration (12 credits)

6 Two workshops: ENW 702

6 Two craft courses: ENW 712

Foreign Language (for all M.A. candidates)

The foreign language requirement emphasizes the relationship between the knowledge of foreign languages and the study of literature and the practice of writing. Early in their studies, students should choose a language relevant to their research and/or to their future professional plans. The requirement may be satisfied by (1) demonstrating the ability to translate lucidly, with a dictionary, a passage from a modern critical text; or by (2) earning a B or better in coursework within the past five years in (a) an intensive language-for-reading course offered through the Language Reading Program at the CUNY Graduate Center or (b) an advanced undergraduate course in literature read in the foreign language. NOTE: The following languages are automatically accepted for meeting this requirement: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Latin, Russian, Spanish, Urdu, and Yoruba. Students wishing to choose another language must apply to the Department's Graduate Committee for approval.

Master's Essay (for Concentrations in Literature or Writing and Rhetoric)

With the completion of 15 credits, a student should begin planning to write his or her Master's Essay, which must be 25-35 pages in length and demonstrate original scholarship suitable for publication in a scholarly journal in the field of English. While it may originate in a previous seminar project, the final essay must demonstrate substantive revision and expansion, including new research, as verified by the faculty director. The essay will be read by a faculty advisor and a second reader that is approved by the Graduate Program Director.

The Master's Essay must be researched and written in conjunction with the course in Master's Research (ENG 795), taken with the faculty advisor. It is recommended that a student secure a working relationship with a faculty adviser by the time the student has completed 15 credits, in preparation for ENG 795. Students must also develop an extensive reading list of primary texts and other related literary texts germane to the Master's Essay. The reading list must be approved by the faculty adviser and the Graduate Program Director, and will be included as part of the oral defense of the Master's Essay.

Master's Thesis (for Concentrations in Creative Writing)

The student must submit a final creative thesis prepared in Master's Research (ENG 795). It is recommended that a student secure a working relationship with a faculty adviser by the time the student has completed 15 credits.

The thesis must be a book of publishable quality. Poetry candidates should submit a collection or cycle of poems totaling at least 25-35 pages. Fiction candidates should submit a collection of short stories, a novella, or a novel totaling at least 75-125 pages.

Oral Defense (for all M.A. candidates)

At the completion of ENG 795, the student must defend the Master's Essay or Master's Thesis in a two-hour oral defense conducted by the faculty advisor and the second reader. Two copies of the final essay or thesis, approved by the faculty adviser, must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director—one in electronic format and one in print.

Relation to the CUNY Ph.D. Program

M.A. candidates in the Literature or Writing and Rhetoric Concentrations may conclude their graduate studies with the Master's degree in English or they may decide to pursue doctoral study. The first 25 graduate credits in the Literature or Writing and Rhetoric concentrations at Lehman College may be counted toward the Ph.D. in English at the CUNY Graduate Center.

M.A. candidates in the Creative Writing Concentrations should consult with the Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center to ascertain which credits may be counted toward the Ph.D. in English at the Graduate Center.

The University doctoral program in English is described in the Bulletin of the CUNY Graduate Center. Candidates who are interested in proceeding on to the Ph.D. Program in English at the Graduate Center should apply for admission directly to the Ph.D. program instead of to Lehman College. Inquiries may be addressed to the Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program, Department of English, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

The Dr. Alice Griffin Fellowship

Upon completion of 15 credits toward their M.A. in English with a Concentration in Literature, students may apply for the Dr. Alice Griffin Fellowship. This fellowship is the generous gift of Professor of English Emerita Alice Griffin, an expert in Shakespeare and American Theatre who taught at Lehman College from 1949, when it was still the women's college of Hunter, to her retirement in 1991.

Last modified: 3/11/2014