Department of English

O'Dowd Hall, Room 544
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2250
fax: (248) 370-4429

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Master of Arts in English

The Master of Arts program in English at Oakland University provides advanced study in literary studies preparing you for careers in a variety of fields that require intellectual ingenuity, skills in writing or research, or training in literary criticism and theory. Our faculty are not only world-class scholars whose published research has shaped the direction of the field, but they are also dedicated and passionate educators who bring their scholarly expertise into the classroom. In our M.A. program, you can enjoy small class sizes, a supportive community of fellow students, and faculty who are committed to your success.

Program Coordinator: Joanne Lipson Freed

Program RequirementsApply Now


The Master of Arts program in English at Oakland University builds on the strengths you may already be familiar with if you have taken undergraduate courses in our department: our faculty are not only world-class scholars whose published research is shaping the direction of the field, but they are also dedicated and passionate educators who bring that scholarly expertise into the classroom. In our M.A. program, you can enjoy small class sizes, a supportive community of fellow students, and faculty who are committed to your success.

Our curriculum provides training for students interested in reading, writing, and thinking about English and American literature at an advanced level. We offer courses organized by historical time period (such as Victorian British, Early American, and Postcolonial literature, for example) and literary kinds (fiction, poetry, and drama), as well as special topics courses that allow students to take a deep dive into a compelling and timely area of inquiry. All students take two required courses that help contextualize their work as emerging literary critics: Introduction to Graduate Studies, and Critical Theory and Practice. We encourage students to explore broadly across fields, topics, and methodologies to discover what potentially unexpected areas and approaches might inspire their own intellectual curiosity, and to use the experience of preparing an Exit Portfolio in their final semester to document and reflect on their growth.

We recognize that undertaking graduate study represents a significant financial investment, and we are happy to offer several graduate assistantships each year, which provide both valuable pre-professional training and significant financial support, as well as the Cole Pope Scholarship awarded annually on the basis of academic excellence, financial need, and a commitment to community service.

Students may pursue an M.A. in English with a variety of future goals in mind, and I encourage each of you to tailor your program of study to reflect those goals. Students who hope to continue on to the Ph.D. should cultivate mentorships with faculty in their intended area of study, seek out opportunities to present and publish, and consider undertaking a Thesis project. Students who aim to teach can seek employment in the Writing Center or take cognate courses in Writing and Rhetoric as a part of their program of study. And those interested in editing and publishing will benefit from opportunities to work with the Oakland Arts Review, our nationally recognized undergraduate literary journal. Rest assured, you can get a job with an M.A. in English, as our program's alumni can attest!

If you have any questions about graduate study, or want to learn more about our program, please don't hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

Joanne Lipson Freed
Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of English
Oakland University



 The M.A. program in English admits students on a rolling basis with the following deadlines: 

  • February 15 (early), April 15 (regular) and July 15 (late) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) and November 15 (regular) for winter semester
  • March 1 (regular) for summer semester

Most successful applicants have completed significant undergraduate coursework (a major or minor) in English or a closely related field; those without such experience may be admitted conditionally, completing courses at the undergraduate level as stipulated by the department before enrolling in graduate courses. Generally, successful candidates will have earned a 3.5 average in English courses.

How to Apply

Please apply now through the Office of Graduate Study.

A complete application for the program will include the following: 

  • Completed online application form
  • Undergraduate transcripts, and graduate transcripts, if applicable
  • Personal statement, describing reasons for pursuing an M.A. in English (for details see below)
  • Writing sample, a critical or interpretive essay of no more than eight double-spaced, typed pages that demonstrates preparation for advanced literary study.
  • Letters of recommendation from three faculty members who can speak to the student’s demonstrated academic abilities and level of preparation to pursue graduate study.

Please note that we do not require GRE scores for admission.


The department offers multiple Graduate Assistantships, which provide significant financial support, as well as training and mentorship in teaching and/or research. In addition, we award the Cole Pope Scholarship on the basis of academic merit and financial need.

Graduate Assistantships

The English department offers several kinds of Graduate Assistantships; the most common are Teaching Assistantships (T.A.s). T.A.s support faculty in one of the Department three undergraduate programs: Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Cinema Studies. In addition, the department occasionally appoints Research Assistants (R.A.s), as faculty needs dictate.G.A. positions are awarded on a semester by semester basis, and are renewable. They include tuition remission and a small stipend (typically around $3,000 per semester).

All G.A. appointments involve approximately 15-20 hours of work each week during the semester. Graduate Assistants must be enrolled full time during the Fall and Winter semesters, and may accept additional employment with the permission of the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Study Office. (Note: G.A. funding does not cover summer tuition, and G.A.s do not have summer work assignments.) Both current and prospective M.A. students may apply for open G.A. positions.

Typically, we solicit applications in the spring, with appointments to begin the following
Fall. To view and apply for open G.A. positions, visit, log into Handshake, and search for English.

If you are interested in a Graduate Assistantship but are having difficulty with Handshake, please contact the Joanne Lipson Freed, Graduate Coordinator directly for assistance.

Cheryl Cole Pope Scholarship

The Cheryl Cole Pope Scholarship honors Ms. Pope dedicated work ethic, commitment to professional excellence, service to her community and practical generosity to those in need.  Awarded annually, the scholarship is open to current or prospective students in the English M.A. program, and is awarded on the basis academic merit, financial need, and demonstrated commitment to community service.



For detailed information about program requirements, please consult the Graduate Catalog.

The Master of Arts in English degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 36 credits in an pproved program of study. Before undertaking advanced coursework at the 6000-level, students must complete the four courses (16 credits) that comprise the literary studies core:

  • Introduction to Graduate Studies (ENG 5200)
  • Critical Theory and Practice (ENG 5330)
  • One course in Literary History
  • One course in Literary Kinds

Upon successful completion of the general core requirements, students must take five additional courses (20 credits).  These courses must include the following:

  • Two 6000-level seminars or
  • One 6000-level seminar and  ENG 6996 - The Master's Project 

The Master’s Project (ENG 6996)

The Master Project involves completion of a project of a scholarly or pedagogical nature, which typically arises out of a student’s graduate coursework. The course is open only to students who can propose an independent project and who have made arrangements with a faculty member interested in supervising it. Any written work to be submitted in partial or total fulfillment of a project should not exceed 7,500 words.

Students must submit an application for ENG 6996 and a prospectus of the project four weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which they will complete the project.

Exit Portfolio

All students must complete an Exit Portfolio during their final semester of the program, which consists of a seminar paper revised under faculty supervision, and a reflective essay. For details, consult the documents below. Exit portfolio Applications must be submitted to the Program Coordinator no later than the deadline for applying to graduate; for December Commencement, this is the last Friday in September. For April/May Commencement, this is the last Friday in January.

Exit Portfolio Guidelines
Exit Portfolio Application Form


Apply to graduate online through the Office of Graduate Study.