2019-20 Graduate Catalog 
    Mar 22, 2023  
2019-20 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

English [ENG] M.A.

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English Department
Andrea Harbin, chair
Tyler Bradway, graduate coordinator, M.A.
Old Main, Room 112
Fax: 607-753-5978


The M.A. in English at SUNY Cortland consists of advanced work in critical thinking as well as the study of the history and function of English languages and literatures. Reading the world as text, you will enhance your intellectual and cultural fluency and critical engagement with the world.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced level of expertise in literary history, literary theory, and rhetoric and writing.
  2. Demonstrate advanced reading, critical, and analytical skills in the interpretation and evaluation of literary texts, as well as the ability to construct a sustained, sophisticated, and original argument on a specialized topic.
  3. Demonstrate a command of scholarly writing, including the ability to organize and present material in a cogent fashion; formulate and defend original arguments; and employ effectively the language of their discipline.
  4. Participate actively in the theoretical discussions central to the field.
  5. Demonstrate high-level proficiency in literary research and in the synthesis of research, which will culminate in the writing of a substantial and original master's thesis.

Program Highlights

In small classes and lively seminar discussions, you will examine topics in American, British and global literatures and literary criticism. The M.A. culminates with a rigorously researched and theoretically informed master's thesis. In addition to the study of English literatures, your course work may include pedagogy, professional writing and cultural studies. You also must achieve competency in one modern foreign language or one classical language. 

Our faculty are scholar-teachers whose research spans time periods, languages and literatures across the globe. These outstanding professionals invite you into a vibrant intellectual community that provides excellent preparation for your chosen career.

Career Potential

When you successfully complete the M.A. in English at SUNY Cortland, you will be well prepared to pursue a Ph.D. or move into a wide range of interesting careers, including business, law, nonprofit organizations and the arts. If you hold an initial New York state teaching certificate, the M.A. at SUNY Cortland qualifies you to seek the professional teaching certificate.

Graduate Admissions

Evaluation Policy

At the State University of New York College at Cortland, we seek a diverse and academically strong student body. Our admission policy and practice will not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or marital status.

Required Materials

  1. Completed online Graduate School Application — Apply Now
  2. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended to be forwarded directly to SUNY Cortland Graduate Admissions Office, indicating a major in a liberal arts area
    Note: candidates for admission must present evidence of bachelor's degree conferral prior to the start of their academic program
  3. Resume
  4. Statement of Purpose of approximately 500 words outlining how the MA in English program will meet your educational and professional goals
  5. Optional: Writing Sample of no more than 10 pages, demonstrating skills in critical writing, argumentation, and/or interpretation

Admissions Criteria

Preference will be given to candidates with the following:

  1. An overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 and above on a 4.0 scale
  2. An overall undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 in English courses
  3. A foreign language is desirable at the time of admission, but the requirement may be met concurrently with graduate study. Competency in a foreign language is defined as the skill level attained by one year of college-level study or the equivalent of a language other than English.


Fall semester applications: July 1
Spring semester applications: Dec. 1
Summer semester applications: April 1

Applications submitted after the deadline may be considered on a space availability basis.
Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 607-753-4800 to check availability.

Language Requirement

Competency in one modern foreign language or one classical language must be demonstrated before the completion of graduate work, unless this competency is demonstrated prior to admission. Competency in a foreign language is defined as the skill level attained by one year of college‑level study or the equivalent of a language other than English. If this requirement has not already been met, you may take language courses concurrently with graduate study.

Master's Thesis

As a culminating activity, you must complete and submit a master's thesis, which originates in a literature course, in accordance with guidelines determined by the English Department. Students must complete a Thesis Prospectus form for approval before commencing work on their thesis and must enroll in ENG 687: Culminating Activity: Thesis. Students who do not complete the thesis in the semester in which they are enrolled in ENG 687 will receive an INC and must enroll in ENG 697: Extension of Graduate Culminating Activity each semester until the thesis is completed.

Additional Requirements

A minimum of 30 credit hours of approved graduate work as described hereafter is required for the master of arts degree. A minimum of nine credit hours must be taken in courses at the 600 level. Other requirements for the awarding of the degree may be determined by the English Department and must be ascertained by students in consultation with a departmental graduate advisor.

Program Requirements

Eighteen credit hours from the categories listed below and 12 credit hours of electives in English by advisement, to ensure, in conjunction with your undergraduate program, adequate distribution of courses over the fields of English and American literature. Only one non-English elective may be taken.

Note: Requirements in the various categories may also be met by appropriate ENG 529 or 629 special topics courses.

Required course

One of the following courses

One course in 16th- or 17th-century British literature

One course in 18th- or 19th-century British literature

Culminating Activity

Electives: 12 credit hours

Electives should be selected in consultation with an advisor. One non-English elective may be taken.

Total Credit Hours Required: 30

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