Master of Arts Degree in English

Clark's Master's program in English enjoys international standing, achieved through the work of our diverse and innovative scholars, who are deeply committed to a broad range of scholarly interests, especially to the close mentoring of our graduate students.  The Master's program in English encourages you to take innovative as well as traditional approaches to literature.  You will study with an internationally diverse group of students, a number of whom are Fulbright or other award winners, and you will be in one of the select few M.A. programs that offers teaching assistantships and merit-based scholarships.  Most importantly, we will give you the individual guidance you need to produce a substantive master's thesis. With our esteemed faculty and internationally diverse classes, we foster the interdisciplinary study of American literature and culture, British literature within historical and theoretical frameworks, and how gender, race and ethnicity help shape literary production and analysis.  After completing the Clark M.A. program, our graduates have gone on to careers in teaching, journalism, law, publishing or public relations, among others.


Why Study English at Clark?

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Examining literature from multiple perspectives can contribute to individual development, to the furthering and sharpening insights and ideally, to a better understanding of the multiple roles we assume in our various communities.  We provide the opportunity to do so through our master's program's strong international emphasis, both in the various analytical perspectives in which our faculty have expertise as well as in the Department's community itself.  Our faculty pursues socio-cultural, material cultural, historical, semiotic, gender, race, ethnicity and postcolonial questions, among others.

  • No foreign language requirement and no qualifying exams required to earn the degree
  • Individualized curriculum through conversations with your advisor
  • One of the very few U.S. programs that offers teaching assistantships and merit-based scholarships
  • An intimate community with about 10 to 12 students enrolled per year
  • Individual guidance in selecting courses, which is intensified as you complete your thesis

About The English Department

In addition to awarding T.A. stipends and tuition remission to Scholars, Clark’s English M. A. Program is distinctive because of our strong 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.  In this regard, we have done so well, 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 are 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 the writing of 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.

Faculty: Intellectually Daring and Engaged

Our faculty share a deep passion for studying literature through diverse, interdisciplinary and multiple lenses. We reshape traditional modes of study while respecting the best traditional scholarship and creating innovative ways to explore literature and culture. Each one of us has published books in our areas of expertise as well as articles, and each one of us remains active and excited about our scholarship. That is because our English Department considers itself a community, one that includes our master’s students.  Our approaches are diverse, interdisciplinary and multiple, as we research and teach American and British literature and culture in various historical periods and through diverse theoretical approaches. In our seminars (capped at 20) and through close personal mentoring, we study literary works in depth and learn how to deepen that research by being open to perspectival shifts.

Program Structure

Most students earn their degrees in three to four semesters (one-and-a-half to two years).  The reason we emphasize individualized mentoring is so that we can encourage you to incorporate your own interests into your scholarly work.  We also encourage you to explore outside of the clasroom.  For example, you can take advantage of the multiple public offerings of Clark's Higgins School of Humanities.  These offerings enhance the intellectual and cultural life generally, stimulate interdisciplinary insights, and connect you with graduate students and faculty outside the Department.  You can also join Research Collaboratives, such as Early Modern Studies, Science Fiction Research, and Public Health Research.


To explore interdiscipliniary perspectives, you may take half of your courses outside the English Department.  While most of our graduate students take well more than half of their courses in the Department, many have studied, for example, in Psychology, History, Sociology, Vistual Arts and Foreign Langues.  Indeed, one of the three faculty mentors on your thesis committee may be from a different department.  Obviously, in addition to enhancing your own intellectual activities, interdisciplinary research can make you more attractive as a Ph.D. or job candidate.

Sample List of Courses

  • Introduction to Archival Research (ENG 337)
  • Contemporary Literary Theory (ENG 348)
  • Advanced Studies in Shakespeare (ENG 353)
  • Fictions of Empire: Studies in Global English Literature (ENG 375)
  • National Trauma in British Romanticism (ENG 363)
  • Fictions of Asian America (ENG 379)
  • Special Topics in African American Literature (ENG 393)
  • Contemporary Latino/a Literature (ENG 338)

Degree Requirements

You must complete at least a year in-residence and pass eight 300-level graduate courses or seminars.  In addition, you must:

  • Write the M.A. Thesis 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.
  • Pass the Introduction to Graduate Studies course and the Thesis course (a one-on-one with your Thesis Director), the only two required courses
  • Register for and attend the Departmenal Colloquia, a non-credit course in which faculty and students meet about half a dozen times each semester to present work in progress, share thesis updates and hear guest speakers
  • Upon completion of the thesis, each candidate must pass a final oral defense, administered by the thesis committee.
  • Receive a B- or better in each class and maintain a B average overall

The English Department has no foreign language requirement.

We do not offer summer courses for this program.

Financial Assistance/Scholarship Opportunities

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 $10,500) 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.


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.

Application Requirements

Application deadline is January 15

  • Completed online Graduate School Application
  • Bachelor's degree and official final transcript(s) from perevious undergraduate institution(s)
  • Writing sample
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement of purpose
  • Official GRE general score report (required only for U.S. applicants)
  • Official TOEFL score report (required only for applicants whose first language is not English)
  • Application fee (currently $75)

Skills and Careers: Meaningful Lifelong Returns

The experience of studying in courses at the graduate level along with researching, writing and defending a thesis prepares you effectively for many professions  The process can also help you understand more clearly what you want to pursue upon comonpleting your degree.

While some of our graduates have published novels and poetry, started up businesses or work with international organizations, our students mostly go on for their Ph.D. degrees to secure tenure-track jobs in universities, pursue careers in public and private schools, and assume careers in journalism, as well as in print and visual media (one of our alums won a Pulizer).

The Student Experience: A Passionate Community

We thrive in our community of graduate students, undergraduate scholars and faculty, as we all share a passion for literature, language, interdisciplinary approaches and respect for the indvidual.  As such, we fit in the Clark University context extremely well; Clark is a devoted community of academics, researchers, practitioners and activists, who think critically and act collectively to advance our fields and enact social change.

Our campus culture inspires intellectual daring and challenges students to push themselves in exploring unorthodox lines of thinking.  We celebrate and promote one another's efforts across all traditions of scholarship, community engagement and creative work.

Indeed, although mottos tend to be suspect, Clark's motto does reflect our approach: challenge convention, change our world.  Thus, some of our faculty work with students on projects that effect change.  In 2014-15, for example, the English Department initiated a collaborative program with the Education Department named Literate be Grade Three, based on research that demonstrates if someone hasn't reached third grade literacy by Grade Three, s/he will have little to no chance of success in their career and life goals or even defining them.  We are also working on projects to help digitalize the Humanities.

Our English Department is located in the Anderson House, a late 19-century Colonial Revival, where English graduate students gather in classrooms and lounges to share perspectives, socialize, partake of refreshments, read, and study. Our Department’s regular events include:

• A September M.A. Program Barbecue at the world renowned and Worcester-based American Antiquarian Society, including a tour of its holdings
• An annual Chowder Fest featuring alums talking about their careers
• A winter holiday and a Spring Fling Departmental party
• Once-a-semester pizza feedback sessions
• Work-in-progress colloquia
• Guest speaker lectures sponsored by various departments in the Clark community, such as the Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz

Beyond Coursework: Putting Knowledge into Action

You have the opportunity to work with faculty to pursue digital humanities projects, including digitizing hard-to-access texts. Our goal is to preserve them, to make them easily accessible and to facilitate community building by sharing information widely.

You can also take advantage of Clark’s longstanding relationship with the American Antiquarian Society and mine its vast archive of journals, novels, letters, broadsides and ephemera out of intellectual curiosity, for a seminar project and/or for a thesis. Some of our students have taken advantage of the opportunity by editing manuscripts and publishing the results of their work.

Our students can participate in education-based projects as well. In 2014-15, we launched a Literate by Grade Three project, which aims to stimulate elementary school children to enjoy reading and thereby increase their chance of future success in their career and life goals or even of defining them. In the near future, we hope to collaborate more closely with Clark’s nationally acclaimed high school programs.

Soon, our students may also engage with Clark’s Public Health program, which endeavors to work with the Worcester community to educate people about good health habits.

World-Wide Reach: Effect Change on a Global Scale

Our relationships with international academic institutions, such as the Fulbright Commission and the German Academic Exchange Service, attract some of the best students from their countries to our English Department.

Our Department community has a global presence. Faculty publish and speak internationally. The Director of Graduate Studies in English, SunHee Kim Gertz, for example, has received both Fulbright and DAAD fellowships, published on the Black Prince, Chaucer, President Obama, contemplative practice in Japan, and was invited as a Presidential speaker at the University of Kiel in Germany.

One of our junior faculty, Esther Jones, has not only served locally with organizations like Girls, Inc., researched in Brazil and published on Rihanna and science fiction, but she is also the author of the inaugural monograph in Palgrave Macmillan’s new series on Literature, Science and Medicine, Eating Salt: Black Women’s Health and the Politics of Difference in Medicine. The list of our stellar faculty’s accomplishments go on and on.

We encourage excellence not only with our faculty, but also with our students. Thus, while earning your degree, you partake in the Introduction to Graduate Studies course, which has successfully mentored students into the scholarly profession, with the result that more than half of them have delivered papers at notable conferences, including the Modern Language Association Convention in Chicago and the Salman Rushdie Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

This pre-professional training has borne fruit. Katja Kurz, a German Academic Exchange awardee to our program, was the first recipient of the U.S. Ambassador’s Grant for Young Researchers in American Studies and went on to earn her Ph.D. and pursue a highly successful career with international organizations. Pulitzer–prize winning journalist Matthew McAllester published the widely acclaimed Beyond the Mountains of the Damned: The War Inside Kosovo. There are those, like Kimberly Bell, who have successfully pursued academic careers—Kim is now a full professor in Texas, and has published in medieval English literature.

Research: Creative, Courageous and Consequential

Our English community is proud to be part of a university of consequence where research excellence empowers action on critical human concerns and students pursue their passions with a purpose in the world.

Professor Lisa Kasmer not only engages students in interdisciplinary approaches to Romantic and Victorian literature, she also involves them in digitalizing the humanities. Professor Betsy Huang, Clark’s chief officer for Diversity and Inclusion, publishes on ethnic literary theory and Asian American literature, while she also publishes on and works with students in science fiction. Another example of faculty-led projects involving students is Professor Meredith Neuman’s work introducing students to archival research and material cultural perspectives on book history.

Our close scholarly mentoring not only encourages you to explore “outside the box,” it also provides you with research opportunities. We embrace the interdisciplinary study of literature and specialize in:

• American literature through historical, gendered, ethnic, racial, material cultural and religious contexts
• British literature through cultural, sociopolitical, historical, discourse analytical, and aesthetic lenses
• Literary theory, especially with respect to how literature is shaped by and reflects cultural attitudes
• Global literature as expressed in postcolonial, global, female, immigrant and black writers
• Gender studies and women’s writing