Master of Arts Degree in English

Admission to Clark University's graduate programs is open to holders of the bachelor's degree or its equivalent and is determined on a competitive basis.  All programs are administered by the Graduate Board.  Completion of the M.A. degree program in English generally requires one year of full-time coursework.  It is expected that the Master's Thesis will be completed the summer after coursework is finished.


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Our Master's program encourages both an innovative, individually designed program of study along with traditional study in literature leading to a substantial thesis. Our focus is primarily interdisciplinary, including the study of American literature and culture, British literature within an historical and theoretical framework, as well as the roles of gender and ethnicity as shaping factors in literary production and analysis.

The English Department offers appointments on a competitive basis, including a number of new teaching assistantships each year:

  • A Teaching Assistantship is a full-time appointment involving a 2-year course of study, with 2 academic courses, a pedagogy course, and T.A. duties each semester. Responsibilities include conducting discussion sessions, holding tutorial sessions, and helping grade papers and projects, which typically involve a commitment of approximately 17-1/2 hours a week. Assistantships provide tuition remission and a stipend (currently $10,300) to cover most living expenses.
  • A Scholar appointment is generally a 1.5-year course of study that may provide tuition remission for up to 8 courses.

In addition to awarding T.A. stipends and tuition remission to Scholars, Clark’s English M. A. Program is distinctive because of our strongly international character.  The international students in our M.A. program often allow vital exchanges that provide our U.S. students with new perspectives and, happily, with friendships as well.  Actually, in this regard, we have done so well that we have been able to secure a number of international agreements with foreign universities, as well as with the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) and the Fulbright Commission.

 We were attractive to these different institutions in part because we try to keep our English M.A. program small (ca. 12 to 15 candidates in residence each year). This way, we can ensure that our graduate students receive close mentoring from faculty who are deeply committed to a broad range of scholarly interests. As such, our program meets the needs of those who wish to complete their education with the M.A. degree, although many of our graduates do go on for the Ph.D. degree.

Importantly, our program has a committed teaching faculty, who draw on their scholarship in the classroom. Indeed, our close mentoring is deeply enhanced by our devotion to scholarship, especially since we require each of our candidates to complete a thesis. Ideally, the thesis provides our graduate students with scholarly skills, discipline, critical knowledge, and a deepened appreciation for literature. Even students who have not gone on for the Ph.D. report back to us that writing the thesis in and of itself was a key learning experience, which often prepared them for later professional commitment regardless of field.

Our scholarly mentoring provides yet another benefit for our graduate students: research opportunities. Not only do we have a wealth of libraries in the region, but we also have strong ties with the American Antiquarian Society.  Based in Worcester, the AAS is an internationally renowned repository for documents published in the U.S. before 1876. In addition to Cotton Mather’s library, the Bay Psalm Book, and John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible, the AAS houses many uncataloged materials by women and African Americans. For example, at the AAS, Henry Louis Gates re-discovered Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig, the first novel ever published by an African American woman.  Students too can mine this unique archive of journals, novels, letters, broadsides, and ephemera for their M.A. theses.

General Requirements for the Master of Arts in English

  • The English Department has no foreign language requirement.
  • An academic year of study in residence is a minimum requirement for a master's degree.
  • Each student must complete satisfactorily at least 8 full 300-level graduate courses or seminars in a program approved by the Department (receiving a B- or better in each class and maintaining a B average overall), two of which are required, Introduction to Graduate Studies and Master's Thesis.  In addition, students must register for and attend the non-credit Departmental Colloquium where the English Department faculty and graduate students meet about half a dozen times each semester to present work in progress or hear guest speakers.
  • The M.A. Thesis is written on a topic in the field of the student's special interest under the supervision of the candidate's thesis committee (3 professors, headed by a member of the English Department, and as approved by the Graduate Board), in a style, length, and format that are appropriate to the topic being researched.  Regulations for submission of theses and degrees are available from the Graduate School office.
  • Upon completion of the thesis, each candidate must pass a final oral defense, administered by the thesis committee.
  • We do not offer summer courses for this program.


Admission to Clark's graduate program is open to holders of the bachelor's degree or its equivalent and is determined on a competitive basis.

Inquiries from both U.S. and international students concerning our M.A. program in English should be addressed to the Program Assistant of Graduate Studies in English.