English: English Studies Option (M.A.)

English: English Studies Option (M.A.)
students in UNH English class

Why get a master’s degree in English studies?

Our M.A. in English studies degree program offers you the opportunity to develop expertise in all forms of the English language — spoken, written and digital. You’ll work in a supportive community to hone skills in research, critical thinking and persuasive writingskills that will serve you well in your professional life, including further study for a Ph.D. if that is your goal. You’ll explore the diverse world of texts in their historical, national and global contexts, and develop your understanding of literature’s formal dynamics, and readers’ responses. Individual courses offer opportunities to address the construction of race in texts, achieve facility in literary theory, and explore the history of the printed book and its digital successors.

Why choose UNH for your English studies degree?

At UNH, you’ll be supported by productive, internationally recognized faculty and have access to prominent professionals in the field. Our faculty specialize in British, American, post-colonial and African American literatures, film, linguistics, and composition and rhetoric, and explore schools of theory such as feminism, New Historicism, post-colonial theory, ecocriticism, Marxism, queer theory and cultural studies. Our department offers a variety of seminars and series, bringing in acclaimed writers, professors and journalists. In addition, we host a biannual composition conference, as well as others periodically, including a literary conference, a British post-modern poetry conference and a journalism conference.

Potential career areas

  • Academia
  • Cinema
  • Curriculum development
  • Journalism
  • Literary agencies
  • Marketing
  • Publishing
  • Theater
  • Tutoring
  • Writing program management

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Curriculum & Requirements

Our M.A. program offers you the opportunity to explore the formal, historical, cultural, and theoretical dimensions of diverse forms of the written word.

Degree Requirements

M.A. candidates must complete 36 credit hours at the 800 or 900 level, including three seminar courses and a fourth seminar in literature or ENGL 998 Master's Paper.

At least six courses must be literature courses offered by the English department (as distinct from courses in critical theory, linguistics, writing, or teaching methods).  If a student chooses the Master's Paper option, the six-­course requirement is reduced to five literature courses.

M.A. candidates must pass a reading examination in a foreign language or demonstrate that they have passed a fourth-semester college-­level language course with a grade of B or better. Students whose native language is not English may be exempt from this requirement.

Required Courses
ENGL 925Graduate Study of Literature4
ENGL #814Critical Skills4
Select three courses from the following:12
ENGL 935
Seminar: Studies in American Literature
ENGL 937
Seminar: Studies in 19th Century American Literature
ENGL 938
Seminar: Studies in 20th Century American Literature
ENGL 958
Seminar: Studies in Shakespeare
ENGL 959
Seminar: Studies in Milton
ENGL #968
Seminar: Studies in 18th Century Literature
ENGL #971
Seminar: Studies in the Victorian Period
ENGL 974
Seminar: Studies in 20th Century British Literature
ENGL 981
Seminar: Studies in Post-Colonial Literatures in English
Select three electives (examples)12
ENGL 810
Teaching Writing
ENGL 829
Spec Top/Composition Studies
ENGL 852
History of the English Language
ENGL 889
Special Topics in English Teaching
ENGL 912
Historical and Theoretical Studies in Rhetoric
ENGL 913
Theory and Practice of Composition
ENGL 914
Special Topics in Composition and Rhetoric
ENGL 916
History of Composition
ENGL 918
Research Methods in Composition
ENGL 910
Practicum in Teaching College Composition 1
Concluding Experience
ENGL 998Master's Paper 24
Total Credits36

ENGL 910 Practicum in Teaching College Composition is reserved for graduate teaching assistants.


The alternative to this requirement is a 4 credit 900 level literature seminar in which students, with the consultation of the course instructor and/or the program advisor, produce a substantial (30 page) paper

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

  • Demonstrate expertise in a variety of theoretical approaches, such as gender theory, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, postcolonial theory, intersectionality, and so on.
  • Engage in the close reading of complex texts across a range of national traditions.
  • Perform literary critical writing and speaking that adheres to the conventions of the field.
  • Undertake original research using primary and secondary sources, and responding to existing knowledge in the field.

Apply now


 Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15 (for funding); July 1 (final)
  • Spring: Oct. 15 (for funding); Dec. 1 (final)
  • Summer: April 1 (Admission only)
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Additional Department Requirements

A writing sample is required for this program. The sample could emphasize an area you would like to study, i.e. a paper previously submitted for a literature course. Your paper should reflect your ability to read literature closely, to place it in a historical or theoretical context, and to use research materials responsibly. Ten to twenty pages is considered acceptable.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

As a student in our program, you will develop a deeper understanding of canonical and innovative approaches to literature in English, including both such nationally-defined traditions as British and American literatures, and traditions organized around other principles, such as Postcolonial or African American literatures. Organized to reflect the changing profession of literary study--its history, its methodologies, and its production of new knowledge--the program includes the study of literature in cultural and historical contexts, the study of representations of identity, comparative approaches to literature, theoretical perspectives, gender studies, and cultural studies. The program offers you both broad-based and specialized courses on a variety of literary topics, and students may supplement their course of literary study with graduate offerings in related subjects and departments, including courses in composition, creative writing, languages and linguistics, history, and sociology, among others.

At UNH, you will have an intensive intellectual experience in a friendly, supportive community of scholars and writers. Our classes are typically quite small (6-12 students) and are often taught as seminars. Because the ratio of faculty to students is quite high (roughly 1 faculty to every 4 graduate students), you can expect close contact with and guidance from scholars actively involved in research in their fields. The UNH English Department also provides opportunities for you to hear nationally-known scholars talk about their research: recent speakers have included Nancy Armstrong, Jonathan Culler, Dana Nelson, and Srinivas Aravamudan. We offer financial support for those graduate students who deliver papers at conferences. Recent MA students have presented papers at such conferences as "Self and Identity in Translation" (at the U. of East Anglia), Arizona State University's Southwest Graduate English Symposium, "Out of Time: Theorizations of Culture and the Political" (U. of Minnesota), "Britain's Long 18th Century" (U. of Chicago), McGill University's 11th Annual Graduate Symposium: "Violence and Recovery," the COPIA Graduate Renaissance Studies Conference (Yale U.), the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, and the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies Annual Conference (U. of Massachisetts). And some go on to publish their research; one student has an essay forthcoming in a volume on philosophy and film (Cambridge Scholars Press), while two MA students published a collection entitled What to Expect When You are Expected to Teach (Heinemann, 2002).

Graduate students who come to study in our Department will find that we “cover” a great range of subjects in British and American literature, film, theory, linguistics, and composition and rhetoric. We don’t do everything, and we are stronger in some areas than in others, but we offer enough variety in our courses, and we are flexible and adventurous enough in accommodating thesis and dissertation topics, that our students almost always find the guidance they need in pursuing their intellectual interests. 

To help students see the shape of our Department, we have grouped professors below by their primary and some of their secondary fields. All of them are versatile to one degree or another, and many of them are affiliated with interdisciplinary programs.

British Literature by Period

Early Modern or Renaissance
Cristy Beemer, Douglas Lanier, Rachel Trubowitz

Cristy Beemer, Douglas Lanier, Rachel Trubowitz

Rachel Trubowitz

Nineteenth Century
James Krasner, Sandhya Shetty

Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Robin Hackett, Martin McKinsey

American Literature by Period

Nineteenth Century
Brigitte Bailey, Siobhan Senier

Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Delia Konzett, Lisa MacFarlane, Petar Ramadanovic, Siobhan Senier

American Studies
All the Americanist professors take part in the American Studies undergraduate minor and reflect their interdisiplinary interests in their graduate courses.

Other Literary Fields

Irish Literature
Martin McKinsey

Post-Colonial Literature
Martin McKinsey, Sandhya Shetty

Asian-American Literature
Delia Konzett

Native-American Literature
Siobhan Senier

Atlantic Studies
Brigitte Bailey

Classics and World Literature
Martin McKinsey

Women’s and Gender Studies
Cristy Beemer, Robin Hackett, Siobhan Senier

Queer Literature (Gay and Lesbian Literature)
Robin Hackett

Martin McKinsey

Fiction and Narrative
Robin Hackett, James Krasner, Sandhya Shetty

Drama and Performance Studies
Douglas Lanier

Literary and Cultural Theory
Petar Ramadanovic

Note: Professor Ramadanovic is our specialist in theory, but many of the other professors have a strong interest in theory, or in certain theories, and regularly assign theoretical readings in their graduate courses. Among the schools of theory actively explored by our professors are feminism of various kinds, New Historicism, post-colonial theory, ecocriticism, Marxism, queer theory, and cultural studies.

History of the Book
Sean Moore

Fields of Literary Interest

Graduate students in literature are encouraged to consider these areas for their “elective” courses.

Delia Konzett, Douglas Lanier

Visual Culture
Brigitte Bailey, Douglas Lanier

Language and Linguistics
Rachel Burdin
Note: We offer a Master’s degree in Language and Linguistics.

Composition and Rhetoric
Cristy Beemer, Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, Florianne Jimenez
Note: We offer a doctorate in Composition and Rhetoric. Students should consult the relevant webpage to see the courses offered: they include such various topics as the history of rhetoric, research methods in composition, managing a writing center, and Montaigne and the essay.

The English Department offers some modest support for graduate students who are giving a paper or chairing a session at a professional conference in their field. Because these awards are made on a first-come, first-serve basis, you should make application as soon as you can in the academic year. To apply, write the Graduate Coordinator a letter requesting support; include the title of your paper (or session, if you are chairing a session), the conference and location at which it will be given, the dates of the conference, and an estimate of your anticipated expenses. The Graduate Coordinator will notify you in writing about the availability of support.

The Graduate School also offers modest support for graduate students who are giving a paper or chairing a session at a professional conference. These awards can be combined with support from the English Department. Last year, awards were $200 per conference and were awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Apply online

To apply, include the title of your paper, the conference and location at which it will be given, the dates of the conference, and an estimate of your anticipated expenses. Include an acknowledgment that you have received support from the English Department (if you have). The Graduate School will notify you in writing about the availability of support. It is a courtesy to the Graduate School to thank them after the conference for supporting your work.

At present, the English Department and Graduate School do not offer financial support for attending professional conferences without giving a paper.

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