The Citadel

give online buttongive online button apply now buttonapply now button

Course of Study for the M.A. in English

The Master of Arts in English, which is administered in a joint program with the College of Charleston, requires 36 hours of coursework, competency in a foreign language, and successful completion of a comprehensive exam, usually in the student's final semester. Students take classes at both The Citadel and the College of Charleston. The names of both institutions appear on official documents, diplomas, and transcripts.

Course requirements are broken down into the following fields:

    • 2 courses in British literature before 1800

    • 2 courses in British literature after 1800

    • 2 courses in American literature (of which only one may be ENGL 535, 570, 571, 572, or 573)

One of these courses must be a seminar (English 700), in either British or American literature. Electives may be taken in all other areas, including composition and rhetoric. Click here to see a list of current and upcoming courses in all fields.

Citadel students must take at least 9 hours of coursework at the College of Charleston, and vice-versa.

Students, particularly those who plan on pursuing doctoral degrees, may also elect to complete a thesis, for which 6 credit hours are given.

No more than nine hours of English 698, 699, 701, and 702 in any combination may count toward the required 36 hours.

Full-time students can usually expect to qualify for the degree in one and a half to two years, part-time students in three to four years.

African-American Studies Track

This optional fifteen hour (15) concentration offers advanced course work in African American literature, independent study courses for further exploration into an African American literature topic, and cross discipline opportunities with courses in other departments that have a central concern with African American literature.

Students opting to add a concentration in African American literature must meet the normal requirements for the M.A. In addition, they must complete one of these two courses of study:

Standard Option

    • 9 hours of African American literature (any combination of 535, 570, 571, 572, and 573

    • 3 hours of study of an African American topic in another discipline, as approved by the graduate director.

    • 3 hours of study in an African American topic, such as an independent study or internship, as approved by the graduate director

Thesis Option

    • 6 hours of African American literature (any combination of 535, 570, 571, 572, and 573)

    • 3 hours of study of an African American topic in another discipline, as approved by the graduate director

    • 6 hours of thesis on an African American topic (see "Thesis Option," below)

    • A student may substitute 3 hours of independent study on an African American topic (as approved by the graduate director) for any 3 of the 9 hours of coursework.

Foreign Language Requirement

At some point in the course of study, each student must also demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language – usually Spanish, French, German, Italian, Ancient Greek or Latin. This requirement may be satisfied in a variety of ways: prior completion of 12 hours of undergraduate study in a language with an average grade of C or higher; completion of English 517: Old English Language and Literature with a grade of B or higher; or passing a translation exam administered on an individual basis. The translation exam, usually a passage of about 500 words, is evaluated on a pass-fail basis. The student must demonstrate a basic understanding of the overall passage. A dictionary may be used in the exam.

If a student does not pass the exam, he or she may retake it, after consulting with the graduate director and reviewing the first attempt.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam, required of all students, is administered twice each academic year, once in October and once in March. At the beginning of each semester, the graduate director will invite students to register their intent to take the exam. 

The exam is based on a reading list of six works. For this year's list, click here.

In the exam, students write about each one of these texts in response to one of three prompts (two essays for easy prompt):  (1) critical conversation; (2) application of theoretical approach; and (3) pedagogical approach.  Students will not find out which literary text will be paired with which prompt until the day of the exam.  Thus, one must come to the test prepared to discuss each of the texts in response to any of the three possible prompts.  Students may bring one page (8 1/2 x 11; front and back) of notes that will be handed in with the exam, as well as a works cited and/or works consulted list.

Students usually organize study groups for these exams, and the year's reading list is published before the end of the previous academic year. If a student fails the exam the first time, he or she will be allowed to take it one other time.

Thesis Option

The thesis gives a student the opportunity to pursue a specialized topic in literature or in rhetoric and composition. Typically, a thesis is 75-150 pages and is the product of diligent research and substantial critical thinking. 6 hours of credit is awarded, typically spread out over 2 semesters at the end of the student's program of study.

A student will not be allowed to register for thesis credit hours until he or she has successfully completed at least 27 hours of class work. Moreover, no student may take more than 9 hours in any combination of English 698: Tutorial (3 hours), 699: Independent Study (3 hours), and 701: Thesis (6 hours).

To register for thesis credit, a student must write a prospectus and draw up a working bibliography for the project. Once the student finds a professor to serve as their director, the student then enlists two other faculty members who will read the thesis when complete and, as a committee, evaluate the final project. After the thesis has been submitted to the committee, an oral defense is scheduled.

Students are expected to complete the entire process while in residence. Those who find they cannot do so must petition the Joint Program Committee in writing for permission to continue in absentia. The petition must receive the prior approval of the student's thesis director and must contain an agreement regarding the nature of the student's oral defense.


1) GPA: 3.0 in major; 2.5 overall

2) Scores: Composite verbal and quantitative score of at least 300 on the GRE and at least a 4 on the Writing Assessment Section or 400 on the Miller Analogies Test.

3) 2 letters of recommendation: from people familiar with the applicant's academic record and ability to complete a graduate program.

4) A writing sample (usually a paper from an English course).

5) A statement of educational goals and interest in the program.

6) Official transcripts from undergraduate and graduate schools where degrees were received.

Applicants who do not meet these requirements may still be admitted as provisional students. After the provisional student has completed 9 credit hours, the joint program committee will decide if he or she may become a degree-seeking student.


Click here to apply online through The Citadel Graduate College.

A non-refundable application fee of $40 is required. Admissions decisions are made year-round by the joint program committee. Applicants are usually notified of a decision within 4 to 6 weeks.


Contact the Director of Graduate Studies in English, Professor James Hutchisson:

Voice: 843-953-5139
Fax: 843-953-1881

Click here for more information about The Citadel Graduate College.

Back to Top