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Master of Arts
in English

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Home » Programs » Master of Arts in English

Explore the Power of English Literature

Engage in the study of language and literature with a Master’s Degree in English. You’ll develop the advanced critical reading, writing, and research skills necessary to participate confidently and meaningfully with other English studies scholars and professionals and to apply disciplinary knowledge beyond the field of English studies.

The Master’s in English is offered entirely online with interactive courses. You’ll benefit from the individual attention of professors. Choose from a variety of elective course offerings, including 17th – and 18th-century literature, Romanticism, Gothic, and Harlem Renaissance.

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Course Details

Course Listing

Program Requirements

Core Requirements

  • 6 courses; 27 quarter units

Course Name

Introduces students to graduate level research practices and methodologies in English Studies. Students gain the grounding and skills required to research and write scholarly articles for peer reviewed journals in the field of English Studies.

Historical and current issues in literary criticism and theory with particular attention to developments of the last fifty years. Emphasizes both reading and writing literary criticism in order to develop vocabulary and skills necessary to participate in scholarly literary debate.

   Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as English Medieval, Romantic, or Victorian literature, or a movement, such as The Beat Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620B.)

   Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as American Romanticism, or of a movement such as American Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, or the Lost Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620A.)

   Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the gothic, utopia/distopia, vampires, the road, and gender in literature.

   Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the dark gothic, meta-fiction, the home, and war in literature.

   A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jack London. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

   A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Shakespeare, George Eliot, Garcia Lorca, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

   Writing the Master’s thesis or capstone project. Taken as the last course in the M.A. English program. Exceptions may be made if within two courses of program completion, with approval of the lead faculty. Grading is by S or U only. Course is eligible for an “IP” grade.

PrerequisiteENG 655; ENG 656; ENG 657 and ENG 668, or ENG 680A Topic: Literary Noir/Noir Mediascape

Writing the Master’s thesis or capstone project. Taken as the last course in the M.A. English with a Specialization in Rhetoric program. Exceptions may be made if within two courses of program completion, with approval of the lead faculty. Students study published models of rhetorical criticism. They hone critical tools and apply them to a substantial, original project. Working closely with the capstone instructor and peers, students take this project from inception to final form: a work of professional-quality rhetorical criticism. Grading basis is S/U only. Course is eligible for In Progress (IP) grade.

Elective Requirements

  • 4 courses; 18 quarter units

Select from the following list of courses:

Course Name

Examines core concepts of race, ethnicity, culture, and multiculturalism from the standpoint of recent developments in American literary canon formation. Students will synthesize current multicultural literary theories with a corpus of significant literary texts.

Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as English Medieval, Romantic, or Victorian literature, or a movement, such as The Beat Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620B.)

Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as American Romanticism, or of a movement such as American Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, or the Lost Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620A.)

Students write and critique each other¿s work in a workshop-style format. Through presentation and critique of published and student-generated work, students will advance their understanding of the genres’ many forms and styles, strengthen their own writing, and broaden their understanding of literature and various modes of literary writing.

Advanced study of the history and practice of poetry. Close reading of a major poet or school of poetry, poetic forms and theories.

A poetry workshop where students will learn the craft of poetry by writing their own original work and offering feedback to their peers. Students will be introduced to contemporary poetry though readings and discussions of poems from a poet’s point of view.

Students write and critique each other¿s original work in a workshop-style format. Through presentation and critique of published and student-generated work, students will advance their understanding of the genre’s many forms, including memoir, autobiography, nature writing, literary journalism, and the personal essay, while strengthening their own writing.

Prepares students for the practical and theoretical challenges of teaching English composition and other writing courses. Topics include process theory, cognitive studies, language and diversity, genre studies, and best practices.

Focuses on the teachings of the major figures of ancient rhetoric, such as the sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. Students will study the classical texts that form the basis of modern rhetoric studies. The course also surveys major shifts through Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment rhetoric.

Introduces students to the contemporary study of rhetoric. The course covers major figures such as Kenneth Burke, Lloyd Bitzer, and Stephen Toulmin. The course introduces a wide range of academic interests in contemporary rhetoric; in particular, students will practice reading texts rhetorically through major theories of rhetoric.

An overview of film theory designed to give students the critical tools necessary to describe and evaluate various aspects of cinema art. This course introduces concepts from a variety of approaches, including deconstruction, existentialism, Marxism, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis.

A survey of films produced before the advent of recorded sound, this course focuses on the early national cinemas of France, Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States; attention is directed to concepts of visual narratology, montage and the conventions of acting, set design, lighting and movement.

This course offers an in-depth study of the development of cinema in the United States that takes a broad overview of American film making. Topics include film genre and the relationship of film to art, politics, religion and society. Additionally, the course considers Hollywood’s treatment of ethnic groups, women, and systems of class structure.

Film Genre Studies is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of the course focuses on a specific genre of film in an international- or American-historical context, including the Western, the Epic, the Biblical Epic, Film Noir, the Crime Story, Science-Fiction Adventure, Agitprop, or other film genres. This is an intensive study of the conventions, artists, and styles associated with specific genres and the historical circumstances in which the genre appeared.

World Film is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of this course is a study of the film tradition of a specific nation or group of nations other than the United States. Students in this course will engage in an intensive study of the elements of filmmaking and theory, as well as the contrasting visual styles of directors, artists, and themes prominent in the particular tradition or traditions surveyed. Trans-cultural and transcendental film categories, universals values, and the fundamental principles of film art are also important topics of discussion.

Analysis of literary texts across national and linguistic as well as temporal, cultural, and disciplinary lines.

A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jack London. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Shakespeare, George Eliot, Garcia Lorca, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the gothic, utopia/distopia, vampires, the road, and gender in literature.

Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the dark gothic, meta-fiction, the home, and war in literature.

This seminar in great American directors is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of this course is a comprehensive study of the artistic achievements of an American director. Students will engage in detailed interpretations and analyses of the techniques and concepts employed by a particular director, paying special attention to literary works as they relate to the filmmaking efforts of the director studied.

This seminar in great international directors is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of this course is a comprehensive study of the canon of work of a specific director, excluding American directors. Students will engage in detailed interpretations and analyses of the techniques and concepts employed by a particular international director, paying special attention to literary works as they relate to the filmmaking efforts of the director studied.

Specialization in Gothic Studies

Specialization Requirements:

  • 4 courses; 18 quarter units

Course Name

Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as English Medieval, Romantic, or Victorian literature, or a movement, such as The Beat Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620B.)

Advanced, historically oriented study of a literary period, such as American Romanticism, or of a movement such as American Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, or the Lost Generation. Variable topic selected by the instructor. (May not duplicate content of ENG 620A.)

Advanced study of the history and practice of poetry. Close reading of a major poet or school of poetry, poetic forms and theories.

Film Genre Studies is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of the course focuses on a specific genre of film in an international- or American-historical context, including the Western, the Epic, the Biblical Epic, Film Noir, the Crime Story, Science-Fiction Adventure, Agitprop, or other film genres. This is an intensive study of the conventions, artists, and styles associated with specific genres and the historical circumstances in which the genre appeared.

Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the gothic, utopia/distopia, vampires, the road, and gender in literature.

Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the dark gothic, meta-fiction, the home, and war in literature.

A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Jane Austen, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jack London. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

A critical study of the work of a single author, such as Shakespeare, George Eliot, Garcia Lorca, Ernest Hemingway, James Baldwin. Special attention given to biography, culture, and literary context.

Specialization in Rhetoric

Specialization Requirements:

  • 4 courses; 18 quarter units

Students must select 4 of the 5 courses listed below

Course Name

Focuses on the teachings of the major figures of ancient rhetoric, such as the sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. Students will study the classical texts that form the basis of modern rhetoric studies. The course also surveys major shifts through Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment rhetoric.

Introduces students to the contemporary study of rhetoric. The course covers major figures such as Kenneth Burke, Lloyd Bitzer, and Stephen Toulmin. The course introduces a wide range of academic interests in contemporary rhetoric; in particular, students will practice reading texts rhetorically through major theories of rhetoric.

Prepares students for the practical and theoretical challenges of teaching English composition and other writing courses. Topics include process theory, cognitive studies, language and diversity, genre studies, and best practices.

Film Genre Studies is a content-variable course that may be repeated for credit. Each iteration of the course focuses on a specific genre of film in an international- or American-historical context, including the Western, the Epic, the Biblical Epic, Film Noir, the Crime Story, Science-Fiction Adventure, Agitprop, or other film genres. This is an intensive study of the conventions, artists, and styles associated with specific genres and the historical circumstances in which the genre appeared.

Study of a literary motif or theme over time and/or across cultures. Variable topic chosen by instructor. Examples of themes are: the gothic, utopia/distopia, vampires, the road, and gender in literature.

*Topic, “Literary Noir/Noir Mediascape” must be taken.

Degree and Course Requirements

To receive the Master of Arts in English, students must complete at least 45 quarter units. A total of 4.5 quarter units of graduate credit may be granted for equivalent graduate work completed at another regionally accredited institution, as it applies to this degree and provided the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students should refer to the General Catalog section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding admission and evaluation.

The Master of Arts in English offers students the opportunity to engage in the study of language and literature. The program assists students in developing the advanced critical reading, writing, and research skills necessary to participate confidently and meaningfully with other English studies scholars and professionals and to apply disciplinary knowledge beyond the field of English studies.

The MA in English is offered entirely online with interactive courses. The accelerated pace of this 10-course program allows students to complete their master’s in less than one year. Students benefit from the individual attention of professors while engaging with each other, the course material, and building knowledge through collaboration in an invigorating and supportive learning community.

In addition to core courses that provide a strong foundation in the literary tradition, students choose from a variety of elective course offerings, including 17th- and 18th-century literature, Romanticism, Gothic, and Harlem Renaissance. Students have the ability to choose from two unique specializations to customize their academic experience: Gothic and Rhetoric. The Gothic specialization is the first and only Gothic MA in the United States, and the Rhetoric specialization has its own capstone.

The University’s Writing Across the Curriculum program offers opportunities for students to enhance their career development through projects such as editing and producing the student literary journal, the GNU, and working on the WHACK, the Writing Across the Curriculum newsletter. Various departmental faculty also have opportunities for students to assist them with teaching and scholarly projects.

National University’s MA in English program focuses on helping you develop a deep set of skills that are widely transferable and applicable to many careers. Some of the skills you will learn include research, writing, teaching, marketing, and more.

With these skills, you’ll be qualified to pursue a range of occupations in areas like education, public admin, health care, and more. Some of the specific job titles in these areas include:

  • Technical writer
  • Author
  • Teacher
  • Research associate
  • Marketing product manager
  • Education administrator

To give you an idea of the salary range*** you might command, BLS also states that the median annual wage for high school teachers was $61,800 in May 2021.

*** https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-5

The Master of Arts in English with a Specialization in Rhetoric provides a program of graduate study in literature as well as a wide range of cultural production, from classical oration to contemporary cinema, with particular attention paid to how language and image are used to produce various effects and meanings. Students study literary texts and other cultural artifacts across a variety of media forms, developing readings that are grounded in contextual understanding. Students complete coursework in literary studies, classical and modern rhetoric, composition pedagogy, media studies, and film studies. The prescribed curriculum contains several variable-topic courses, allowing students to pursue broad program goals in topic areas matched to their individual interests. The program is appropriate for students seeking preparation for doctoral study or college-level teaching in English and related fields, or general cultural enrichment.

The Master of Arts in English with a Specialization in Gothic Studies provides a balanced and comprehensive program of graduate study in literature as well as a rigorous examination of the historical, theoretical, and critical reception of the Gothic, from its origins in the 18th century through to a range of contemporary works in both literature and film. The program is appropriate for students seeking preparation for doctoral study or college-level teaching in English and related fields, or general cultural enrichment.                                                                     

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Research and apply relevant criticism in sustained analyses and interpretations of specific works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry
  • Evaluate the relevance and validity of different theoretical approaches (e.g., historicist, biographical, etc.) to the understanding of specific works of literature
  • Engage in informed critical discussion, both oral and written, of theoretical issues pertaining to the study of literature
  • Engage in informed critical oral and written discussion of the works and criticism of a specific literary period or movement
  • Participate in rigorous critiques of the scholarly works of others
  • Revise and expand a scholarly paper to submit for publication in a scholarly or literary journal

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MA in English Degree FAQs

The MA in English program assists students in developing the advanced critical reading, writing, and research skills necessary to participate confidently and meaningfully with other English studies scholars and professionals and to apply disciplinary knowledge beyond the field of English studies. You will be poised to enter the education field, or work in a range of roles involving writing, communications, and data analysis.

National University’s MA in English is a ten-course program. With NU’s four-week courses and accelerated pace, students can complete this program, including the capstone, in as few as 11 months.

Earning an MA in English provides you with sought-after skills, setting you up for success in a variety of fields involving research and analysis, writing, teaching, journalism, marketing, communications, and more.

In addition to core courses that provide a strong foundation in literary traditions, students choose from a variety of elective course offerings, including 17th- and 18th-century literature, Romanticism, Gothic, and Harlem Renaissance.

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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.

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