Master of Arts in English

The Masters degree in English at Auburn is designed to develop and professionalize students within a sub-discipline in English Studies, and to bring their writing and research skills to an advanced level while providing them with experience as university-level writing teachers.  Such students are well prepared for careers in writing, editing, business, secondary and community college teaching, and other professions seeking broadly educated individuals with excellent analytic and communication skills.  Many of our Masters graduates pursue teaching and research careers and go on to attend doctoral programs in English, while other English graduate students use their training to develop their craft as creative writers.  

MA Curriculum and Degree Requirements

To graduate, MA students of all concentrations will need to complete 30 hours of coursework, meet the foreign language requirement, and compile a portfolio.  See below for more details or download a copy of our MA curriculum brochure.

The English Department at Auburn University offers a flexible Masters of Arts (MA) degree with three available tracks.  Students can specify which track they will complete in the admissions process or at any time in the first year of the MA. The links below provide more information about our tracks and their requirements:

Foreign Language Requirement

MA students in all concentrations must demonstrate reading proficiency in one foreign language. Students may satisfy this requirement in French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, Spanish, or any other language approved by the Director of Graduate Studies MA and PhD. A student whose first language is not English may ask to have the DGS waive this requirement. 
The student may demonstrate reading proficiency of a foreign language in one of three ways:

  • By earning, within the last five years, at least a B in two undergraduate literature courses taught in a foreign language.
  • By taking the foreign language proficiency exam given about the middle of each term.
  • By taking a 3-hour pass/fail reading proficiency course in a foreign language taught by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature and earning a final grade of “S.” This course does not carry graduate credit.


 Formatted and submitted electronically, the MA Portfolio or ePortfolio is the culminating project of a student’s MA work and is typically completed in the final semester of coursework in the English Department, although students will work on collecting and developing the portfolio throughout the course of their graduate study.  The portfolio balances between a retrospective analysis of work completed or initiated in courses here at Auburn and a forward look at the materials most useful for the career goals of individual students. The expectations for portfolios are specific to each of the three tracks in our MA program: literature, composition and rhetoric, and creative writing.  With the approval the student’s advisor and the DGS, these materials can be modified or supplemented to support the student’s specific professional goals. 

Advisory Committee

Towards the end of their first year of coursework MA students should have identified which of the three tracks they want to pursue and should identify their major professor. Together the student and her/his major professor will identify one other committee member to develop the student’s portfolio; the third and final committee member will be the Graduate Coordinator, who will sign the plan of study and all graduate school forms needing committee signatures and collect the portfolio materials for the Department.

Submission of Portfolio and Oral Exam

Early in the semester of graduation, the student and major professor meet to discuss the contents of the portfolio and plan a timetable for when to submit the portfolio and conduct the oral exam.  Students graduating in the spring should take the exam no later than the first week of April in order to meet the Graduate School deadline for submitting Form 8, which indicates they have passed the exam.  The exam will be coordinated by the chair and should include at least one other member of the advisory committee.

For more information

Chris Keirstead

Chris Keirstead, Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
8078 Haley Center
(334) 844-9077

Last Updated: August 06, 2014