The Master of Arts in English affords students the flexibility to tailor their course of study to meet their individual wishes and professional goals. This highly versatile program offers courses in three areas of emphasis—literary studies, cultural studies, and professional and academic writing.
The program enables students to pursue a variety of goals. One could prepare for or advance in a career in instruction; embark on a professional career as a writer; pursue an advanced degree in literary study; be employed in the non-profit sector; or work in the fields of publishing, editing, and technical or professional writing, for example. The program stresses effective writing in a broad array of genres, critical thinking, and interpretive skills, even as it fosters the growth of initiative and self-confidence—qualities much in demand in today's professional world. Smaller classes and the dedicated attention of graduate faculty ensure a nurturing environment for personal growth.
Literary and Cultural Studies
This is the principal "area of emphasis" in Arcadia's English M.A. program. The richness and variety of its offerings attest to the breadth of the faculty's varied interests in literature and Cultural Studies, and can truly be said to be unusual in its scope. Students who aspire to go on for doctoral studies; current high-school and community college teachers; professionals from different backgrounds who hunger for the stimulation of literary study and serious critical thinking—these are among the individuals who come together in Arcadia's graduate English classes. The range of offerings encompass courses that cover sweeping historical epochs; courses that focus on a single author or on a cluster of such authors; courses that revolve around a literary theme, genre, or movement; courses that look at the literature of a given region, ethnic group, or cultural background.
In all of the courses in this area of emphasis, effective writing is central. Proud of its pioneering role in the nation's Writing Across the Curriculum movement, Arcadia—and specifically the Master of Arts in English program—stresses the centrality of rigorous critical thinking, argumentation, and refined interpretive skills to the serious study of literature.
Professional Writing, Composition, and Rhetoric
This area of emphasis is valuable for those who are interested in the power of critical writing, communication, and new media. While this area has the least number of courses in this Master's program, and does not feature studio courses in media training, the university offers a number of courses pertinent to the student's interest: journalism; technical writing; writing and editing for magazines; language study, rhetorical writing, writing for radio and television; writing for the health industry, for the web and the new media, and grant writing for non-profits. Such courses as these enhance the student's preparation for professional work. Students pursuing this area of emphasis are especially encouraged to undertake a Career Internship in English to fortify their credentials for when they enter the marketplace.
Beyond the classroom, students in the program have exciting opportunities to meet professional writers and connect with them personally by participating in workshops open only to Arcadia students. Writers appear here in programs such as, the “Writers Return to Campus” Series, the “Visiting Writers Series” and Department faculty host scholars and speakers throughout the academic year.
The “Writers Return to Campus” series invites back to campus former students of Arcadia who have achieved, or are achieving, notable literary success. Novelists, short-story writers, Children’s Fiction and Young Adult Literature writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, creative-nonfiction writers, even former students who have become noted publishers or literary impresarios—all have been invited to conduct workshops for our students and to give readings of their works that are open to the public. Refreshments and books sales—and signings by the authors—regularly accompany these events. The motto of this program is “You can get there from here,” inasmuch as Arcadia has proved a fruitful training ground for literary ambition.
The “Visiting Writers” Series attracts both up-and-coming writers and well-established professionals whose works have already gained wide recognition. A host of the best-known writers in our culture have been our guests in this program, which seeks to celebrate breadth and diversity. Over the years, the series has hosted Pulitzer-Prizewinning poet Gwendolyn Brooks and novelist Richard Russo; American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser; National Book Award-winning poets Gerald Stern and Jean Valentine; Marilynn Robinson, National Book Award for fiction; renowned novelists, memoirists, and short-story writers John Edgar Wideman and Tobias Wolff; Rome Prize winner Karl Kirchwey; lauded fiction writer Robin Black; blind poet and essayist Steven Kuusisto; novelists Brad Watson and Tom Franklin, and most recently, Guggenheim Fellow and poet Jericho Brown … the list of distinguished guests goes on.
The workshops that students get to attend with all of these writers enable the participants (limited to ten in each of the workshops) to submit, in advance, a sample of their work in the appropriate genre for the visiting writer to read and respond to. The workshops are “closed door” experiences for our students, who may be undergraduates or graduate students; no one—no “guests,” no professors—are permitted in the room with the writer and ten students. What results is a remarkable experience for our students: the chance to have meaningful exchanges with professionals.
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a recommended GPA of 3.0 or better. If the undergraduate degree is not from a Department of English, the undergraduate major can be in another traditional Humanities/Social Science discipline, or in a professional or pre-professional field if accompanied by strong undergraduate training in English Studies.
One official transcript from each college, university or professional school attended. Transfer credits included on a transcript must include grades earned; if not, an official transcript from the original school must be submitted. Transcripts must be sent from the issuing school in a sealed envelope and contain the appropriate signatures and seals to be considered official.
Two letters of recommendation. The letters must be of a professional not personal nature. If the student has been out of school five years or less, at least one letter must come from a professor.
An academic writing sample (15-20 pages).
International applicants should visit Arcadia's International Admissions page for detailed information on admission requirements and application procedures. Official results from the TOEFL or IELTS are required for all students for whom English is a second language or who have not earned degrees or diplomas from post-secondary institutions in English-speaking countries (e.g. the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand). A course-by-course evaluation of all transcripts by an independent evaluation service based in the United States also is required.
All application materials must be sent to the Office of Enrollment Management.
Our priority application deadline is December 15 for Spring Entry and March 1 for Fall Entry. After these deadlines, decisions will be made as space allows.
Graduate students who have been accepted into a degree program and are enrolled for at least 6 credits per semester are eligible to apply for financial aid. Please visit our Financial Aid and Scholarships page for information regarding available aid options, and visit the Aid Options and How to Apply page to complete required forms online.
Graduate Assistantships/Graduate Student Employment may be available to graduate students registered for at least 9 credits per semester. Students may apply for assistantships upon acceptance and registration. Questions regarding graduate assistanships should be directed to the Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at 215-572-2925.
Graduate students are eligible to borrow through the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan programs provided they are taking at least 6 credits per semester (in the summer, 6 credits over all summer sessions combined satisfies this requirement.) For more information, visit Arcadia's Financial Aid and Scholarships page.
Arcadia University offers graduate students in English a variety of short-term study-abroad opportunities. These courses, Global Field Studies (GFS), are led by faculty in the Department and across the campus. Currently, up to 9 of a graduate student's 36 total required graduate credits may be derived from relevant short term study-abroad courses. Students may pursue these endeavors in many countries, but the connections to the degree program must be evident. In the recent past courses have included intensive study of language, literature, and cultures in France, Belize, England, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, and Virginia.
While most of the study-abroad courses for graduate students are short-term, there is one 9-credit career internship in London option that lasts for one full semester and which may be pursued during either the fall or the spring semester.
Specific information on short study-abroad opportunities for graduate students is available on the Global Field Study website. It is also recommended that graduate students interested in any study-abroad opportunities speak with both a mentor within The Office of Global Engagement and with the English Graduate Program Director.