Master of Arts FAQs
Who is my advisor and what is his or her role?
Students should be assigned an advisor when they are admitted to the graduate program; if you do not know who your advisor is, ask the department Chair. An advisor can help students choose courses, plan a complete program of study, and answer questions about department, college, and university policy and procedures. An advisor will not necessarily be on a student's Portfolio Review Committee (PRC) or on the Paper Examining Committee (PEC).
Can I complete the program in two years?
A two-year completion is possible, but extremely difficult for Graduate Teaching Assistants. GTAs must receive special permission from the Chair to enroll in three classes for a semester, and completing the M.A. Paper while finishing two courses would also require special permission. Finishing the program during the second summer is possible, but it would require the co-ordination and co-operation of your PEC.
Does my M.A. Paper need to be "original"? What is meant by an "original thesis"?
Scholarship in English Studies is best understood as extending or challenging existing scholarship; the topic for your paper is likely to be something that has been discussed by other scholars, but you are attempting to add something to that conversation. Your thesis should be arguable, and it should not simply regurgitate arguments already published, but radical "originality" is unlikely and certainly not expected.
What can I do with a Masters Degree in English?
Pursuing a Masters Degree in English opens many doors to further study or viable employment. The teaching experience gained while being a Teaching Assistant can often lead to university or college teaching positions after you finish your degree, although students should be aware that lecturer and adjunct positions around the country are frequently very demanding jobs with low pay and little or no job security. Teaching experience, however, can also lead to jobs in corporate training, instructional design, human resource positions, or ESL instruction.
Pursuing a Masters degree also gives students a chance to hone writing and editing skills developed as an undergraduate. Masters students are more likely than undergraduate students to publish creative or scholarly work, and are more likely than undergraduate students to find editing, technical writing, or more general communication positions around campus or in the community. MA graduates in English at NDSU can currently take a Grants and Proposal Writing Class as a specialized form of professional communication, and they will have opportunities to work on web development skills and presentation skills through their courses work if they so chose to.
Each year, one or two graduates of the program also pursue Doctoral studies in literature, professional or technical communication, education, or linguistics. Students who choose to pursue a Ph.D. in English should research the job market carefully, read some of the extensive literature available on the future of profession, and talk with faculty about their plans. The following websites are useful resources:
- Mark Johnson's "Sellout: A Resource for Careers beyond Academe." Although biased towards helping humanities Ph.D. holders, the site has information relevant to people with a Master's degree.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education's Career Network . The Career Network lists academic positions, jobs in non-profit organizations, for-profit corporations, as well as stories about seeking employment in a variety of fields.