M.A. in English


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The Department of English offers a program of study leading to the M.A. degree in English and American Literature. Thesis and non-thesis options are available as well as a special concentration in the teaching of writing.

The program is enhanced by the library facilities in Washington, D.C., especially the Folger Shakespeare Library, where our students take advanced courses with nationally and internationally known scholars in the early modern period and in the long 18th century.

Specialized training is offered in the teaching of writing at the high school and/or college levels. This involves opportunities to work in specialized writing programs at Georgetown, one of which is committed to working with minority and working-class students and to work in many community outreach programs related to literacy and writing.

For students contemplating a Ph.D., for present or prospective teachers of English in secondary schools and for people with already established careers in writing and editing, Georgetown's M.A. program offers a breadth of choice and a variety of opportunities for specialization.

Close student-faculty contact is a hallmark of the program, which incorporates courses taught by talented faculty on cutting-edge topics in the field of English studies, including specialties in ethnic and race studies; cultural studies; critical theory; pedagogy and rhetoric; the early modern period; and gender studies.

Close student-faculty contact is a hallmark of this program which offers two equally rigorous and equally valued plans for completion of the Master's degree: the Capstone Option and the Thesis Option. Both require ten courses (30 credits) and allow students to earn the degree within a 4-semester, two-year schedule. Almost all students in the program have full-time status and successfully complete their work in 4 semesters.

Since many of our classes are held in the afternoon and early evening, it is possible for some students to work full-time while in the program. We require students to be enrolled in at least two and no more than three courses per semester. All graduate classes are seminars with an enrollment maximum of 18.

The Capstone Option

Students choosing the capstone project will take a capstone seminar in the fall of their second year that will provide them with the opportunity to develop an independent piece of work, one based on but not identical to a collection of projects from previous coursework, which can act as a ratification of the defining element of their academic or professional work in the program. The hope for students producing capstone projects is that, with the help of a faculty advisor, identified by the end of their first year in the program, and the capstone seminar instructor, they will be able to demonstrate a meaningful representation of the specific professional, intellectual or creative expertise acquired in the process of earning the Master’s degree in English at Georgetown. The work begun in the fall capstone seminar will continue as a 3-credit independent study under the supervision of a faculty advisor in the spring.

The Thesis Option

This path consists of eight elective courses (24 credits), a thesis research seminar to be taken in the fall of the second year (3 credits), and a directed study with the thesis advisor in the spring of the second year (3 credits). Students opting to write a thesis will adhere to a strict schedule of deadlines for submitting drafts of the thesis to their thesis advisor and eventually to a second reader; these two faculty members will comprise the student's thesis defense committee. Students will submit a complete draft of the thesis to their defense committee by spring break of their second year, in preparation for a required 2-hour oral thesis defense to be completed no later than the last Friday in March. Students will then submit a finished version of their approved thesis by the relevant deadlines to the Program and to the Graduate School for the timely completion of their degree.

Other Program Features

Interdisciplinary Variety

The twenty seminars offered each year reflect the faculty's broad interests but also allow students to develop sub-fields of study in several areas based on the courses being offered in any given year; these may include Medieval Studies, the Early Modern period, British and Trans-Atlantic 18th-Century Studies, Romanticism, British and American 19th-Century Studies, Critical Theory, and Irish and other Anglophone World literatures, as well as in a variety of emerging interdisciplinary fields, including: cultural studies; ethnic, race and post-colonial studies; gender and sexuality studies; and performance, film and media studies.

Writing Pedagogy

In addition, the program boasts a strong commitment to training students in the teaching of writing through a combination of coursework, direct individual and group mentoring from the Writing Program and another faculty, and hands-on, practical experience in apprentice-teaching and peer-tutoring settings.

Ph.D. Placement

We have an excellent and consistent record of placing our graduates in top Ph.D. programs, including Duke University, the University of Virginia, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Southern California, New York University, Yale University, Emory University, Stanford University, McGill University, the George Washington University, Northwestern University, and The Ohio State University.


Application Materials required:

  • Application Form;
  • Non-refundable Application Fee;
  • Statement of Purpose;
  • Official Transcripts (all prior institutions);
  • Official Recommendations (3);
  • GRE Score;
  • TOEFL/IELTS (please see below);
  • Writing Sample.

An undergraduate major in English is not required for admission to the M.A. program. The General Test of the Graduate Record Examination is required. All applicants must submit a two- to three-page Academic Statement of Purpose addressing in detail their intellectual interests and proposed topic(s) of graduate study. Those applicants interested in applying for one of the specialized stipends (listed below under Scholarship Information) should note this at the top of their Academic Statement of Purpose.

In addition, all applicants must submit a sample of their critical writing (at least 8-10 pages in length) on a topic related to British or American literature. Please do not submit journalism or creative writing samples. Other admission requirements include three letters of recommendation, an academic statement of purpose, standardized tests (see below) and an application fee. Please contact the department directly for further information about the writing sample essay.

Official hard copy transcripts should be mailed to the following address:

Office of Graduate Admissions

Attn: Credentials - (English)

Box 571004

3520 Prospect Street, NW, CB-207

Washington, DC 20057-1004


Results of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for all applicants. There is no minimum required score on the GRE. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without GRE scores. Information on registering to take the GRE can be found at http://www.gre.org/ttindex.html


All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (please note that applicants receiving degrees at universities in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, are required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS unless the primary language of instruction at the institution is English).

All other applicants must achieve at least a minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without TOEFL/IELTS scores.

  • TOEFL: A minimum score of 550 (paper-based test) or 80 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). TOEFL information: http://www.ets.org/toefl/
  • IELTS: A minimum score of 7.0 from the International English Language Testing System. IELTS Information: http://www.ielts.org

Degree Requirements

Graduate students in the English program plan their program of study with a graduate faculty member. All students must propose and prepare for one oral examination on a topic that synthesizes their studies.

With the approval of the director of graduate studies in English, students may take up to six hours of coursework in another department or at other institutions in the consortium of universities of the Washington area. Students may also take seminars offered through the Folger Shakespeare Library's Institute of Renaissance and Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Last updated Sep 2019

About the School

Georgetown is a major international research university with nine schools, an affiliated hospital and many highly ranked academic programs. Today the university has more than 12,000 undergraduate and ... Read More

Georgetown is a major international research university with nine schools, an affiliated hospital and many highly ranked academic programs. Today the university has more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students who take classes at five locations. Georgetown has a large and diverse workforce that employs more than 5,000 faculty and staff members. Georgetown continues to move forward as one of the world’s leading universities, building upon its distinctive history, unique values and commitment to justice and the common good. Read less