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MA Degree in Composition or Literature

The NDSU English Department recognizes that languages and literatures are prime expressions of cultures, and is dedicated to exploring what connects cultures as well as what distinguishes them. Whether investigating literature from Ireland, literacy research, new media production, or the rhetoric of the health professions, the department explores texts and cultures on a global scale.

The Master of Arts program consists of 27 credit hours of letter-graded course work in two tracks (composition and literature) with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better, and the 3-4 credit Master's paper or the 6-10 credit Master's Thesis. Both tracks require English 760, Graduate Scholarship (normally taken during the student's first fall semester in residence) and English 797, Master's Paper, or English 798, Master's Thesis. Students must have intermediate competency in one foreign language by the time the program of study is completed.

Please direct any questions to Dr. Verena Theile, Director of Graduate Studies. 

The NDSU Graduate School policies for Advanced degrees can be found here.  

Areas of study have been developed in order to shape a coherent curriculum for students wishing to focus their studies in one area of English Studies. If students wish to pursue a more flexible or varied Program of Study, they should consult with the Department Chair or an adviser in order to discuss alternative arrangements.

Composition Option:
The composition option offers students grounding in the theory, teaching, and research of writing in a variety of settings. Coursework will also allow students the opportunity to extend writing competency in academic, professional, and, to a lesser extent, creative writing.

Graduates with an M.A. in English, composition option, will be competitive for jobs in corporate training, grant writing, technical communication, web development, and college and university teaching positions (non-tenure track). In addition, graduates will be well positioned to pursue doctoral degrees in rhetoric, composition, education, professional communication or allied fields.

  1. English 760, Graduate Scholarship
  2. Two required courses

    • English 755, Composition Theory
    • English 756, Composition Research

  3. Three electives in composition
  4. One course in literature
  5. One course in linguistics
  6. One elective
  7. English 797, Master's Paper, or English 798, Master's Thesis

Literature Option:
This option is designed to provide a broad background in English literatures and the theoretical approaches used in their study. With the guidance of their adviser, students may shape the literature option as a preparatory course for further graduate or professional study, or as a means of career enhancement.

Graduates with an M.A. in English, literature option, would have the preparation necessary to apply to Ph.D. programs in English, law school, and non-tenure-track college teaching positions. A graduate degree in literature is also excellent preparation for a range of primary and secondary education positions as well as a broad range of business opportunities.

  1. English 760, Graduate Scholarship
  2. English 762, Critical Theory
  3. Literature Core: 6 credits in British and 6 credits in American literature. At least three credits must be in pre-1900 American or pre-1660 British and at least three credits must be in post-1900 American or post-1660 British. Three credits in multicultural or post-colonial literature is recommended.
  4. One course (3 credits) in linguistics or composition
  5. Two elective courses (6 credits), literature recommended
  6. English 797, Master's Paper or English 798, Master's Thesis


Application Deadline: To be considered for admission and a teaching assistantship, completed applications must be received at the Graduate School by February 1.  

Admissions are for fall semester only.
M.a. and PH.D application deadlines are February 1. 
Information stating otherwise is out of date.  


All admission materials must be received and processed by the Graduate School before your file is forwarded to the department for review. Incomplete files will not be reviewed, and it is your responsibility to make sure all materials have been received by the Graduate School. 

An online Application is available here.  

An official transcript(s) (grade report) 

A $35 application fee

At least 3 letters of recommendation, ideally addressing your abilities as a student and your potential for graduate work 

A writing sample that demonstrates your abilities as an academic writer, ideally an expository or analytical piece rather than poetry or fiction 

A statement of purpose that includes the following: 

  • coursework you plan to complete in the program
  • faculty members with whom you wish to study
  • scholarship you plan to pursue
  • a sense of what you hope to do once you have completed an M.A. degree in English
  • how your education and/or life experience have prepared you for graduate work
  • A letter stating your interest in and qualifications for a teaching assistantship, if applicable
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores for International applicants

Mail your documents to 

Mailing Address:
NDSU Graduate School
NDSU Dept. 2820
P.O. Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108 

Delivery Address (for courier deliveries):
NDSU Graduate School
201 Old Main
1340 Administration Avenue
Fargo, ND 58102 

Once the department has reviewed the application and made a recommendation, the Graduate School reviews your file and admits or denies admission to a graduate program. You will be notified of the decision by letter at that time. 

English Proficiency Requirements for International Applicants:
TOEFL ibT 100

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Published by the NDSU Dept. of English

Last Updated: Thursday, September 22, 2016 1:34:33 PM
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