English Master’s of Arts

About the Master of Arts in English (M.A.) Program

Program Director:

Dr. Sarah Allen, Associate Professor of English

Why choose UNC?

The University of Northern Colorado has all the resources of a large university, while retaining the personal feel of a small school.  This combination makes it an attractive place to earn your M.A. in English.  Our terminal master’s degree program draws candidates from all over the nation because it provides the funding, instruction, and individual attention usually reserved for Ph.D. candidates at other institutions.

As an M.A. candidate, you will have the opportunity to study a wide variety of topics within the discipline of English, including:

  • Literary history
  • British and American literature
  • Composition and rhetoric
  • Creative writing
  • Linguistics
  • Pedagogy
  • Literary criticism and theory
  • Specific areas of interest such as Latino/a, Asian, and women’s literature

Program Requirements

The M.A. program offers two tracks in order to fit students’ goals and proclivities.  The first option includes:

  • 36 credits of coursework, followed by
  • Comprehensive exams

The second option includes:

  • 30 credits of coursework, followed by
  • Research-based or creative project

Course Work

The degree requires thirty hours of course work. All students are required to take:

  • ENG 600: Introduction to Graduate Study
  • One graduate course in literary theory (usually ENG 638)
  • Two graduate courses in British literature (one before 1800)
  • One graduate course in American literature
  • Four elective courses.

Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examinations are written examinations, administered over a two-day period, in response to questions about the student’s areas of interest. Prior to the exam, students construct three reading lists, to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, according to the following criteria: (1) Genre or mode: literary texts in one genre or mode from at least three chronological periods; (2) Period: literary texts drawn from three periods of British and American literary history; (3) Criticism and theory: critical and theoretical essays and books that address the works on lists (1) and (2).

Master’s Project

Students may choose to complete a Master’s Project, which is worth three hours of course credit.  The Project usually takes the form of a research paper of thirty to fifty pages, often on a topic initially developed in a graduate course. However, the Master’s Project may also involve a creative work (poems, short stories, or chapters of a novel, for example). In order to complete the degree requirements, the student makes a public presentation of the Project before an audience of students and faculty. The public presentation of the Master’s Project is an approved equivalent for the comprehensive examinations.

Program Facts

Degree Completion Time

The average amount of time taken to complete the degree is two and one-half years (five semesters). However, it is entirely possible to complete requirements over the space of four semesters.

Because many of our courses are offered in the evening, the program also accommodates students who wish to work through the program at a slower pace due to work or family obligations.

Research and Assistantships

Funds are available to allow students to conduct research and travel to national and regional conferences to make presentations.

About half of our graduate students also lead undergraduate composition classes as teaching assistants or shape departmental programs as graduate assistants. Assistantships include tuition waivers and stipends. All applicants for admission are invited to apply for assistantships.

After the program: What can I do with my M.A.?

An M.A. in English can be an asset to students hoping to pursue a variety of career paths.  In the past, our graduates have put their education to use in a variety of places, from local high schools to the Iowa caucuses.  Many have pursued careers in editing and writing, while others have gone into teaching or administration at high schools or community colleges.  Often, students go on to enter doctoral programs in literature or other advanced degree programs in fields such as law, theology, and library science.

  • Teaching (high school or community college): The M.A. in English broadens the student's knowledge of literature and literary theory. Additionally, the M.A. develops close reading, research, and writing skills while offering coursework in rhetoric and composition theory and practice. Recent graduates have found teaching positions at many of the community colleges in Colorado and neighboring states.
  • Doctoral study: The M.A. is a stepping stone for more advanced study of British and American literature, composition, theory, and other fields. UNC graduates have been accepted into Ph.D. programs at many well respected universities, including the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, the University of Colorado–Boulder, Emory University, the University of Iowa, the University of Illinois–Chicago, Indiana University, Kent State University, Marquette University, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Texas Tech, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the University of St. Andrews.
  • Work in other fields: The M.A. in English is excellent preparation for a variety of careers.  M.A. students have gone on to hold professional jobs in many industries, including:
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Writing
  • Law
  • Library science
  • Public relations
  • Communications

Many recent graduates are working in professional careers in these fields in the Denver area and all over the Front Range.  Others are pursuing creative ambitions in the music and arts fields. 


A recent UNC graduate on her experience in the M.A. program:

“My experience at UNC has moved me from being a student who studies literature to a scholar who contributes to the literary conversation. This program has given me the confidence to explore further contributions to this conversation, whether it is through scholarship or teaching in the classroom. ” –Megan Huwa, Spring 2011 graduate


In order to apply, please use the following url:


In addition, the Department of English requires the following materials:

  • Transcripts from your undergraduate institution(s)
  • A literary-critical writing sample (minimum of ten pages)
  • Two letters of recommendation

Please mail additional materials to:

Dr. Sarah Allen, Director of Graduate Studies
Department of English  
Box 109
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO 80639

Deadline for application to program: February 15 (for fall admission) and November 1 (for spring admission)

Deadline for teaching assistantship applications: February 15