Department of English
Kimpel Hall, 333
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone: 479.575.4301
Fax: 479.575.5919

engl@uark.edu

Graduate Programs

Master of Arts in English  |  Master of Fine Arts in English  |  Doctor of Philosophy in English

Master of Arts in English

The Master's degree is intended to provide a general understanding of English and American literature and literary criticism at an advanced level. Candidates must satisfy period distribution requirements and pass a general test of their knowledge of literary history. Thirty credit hours are required for the degree; these hours may or may not include a thesis option.

For more information request a Graduate Catalog from the Graduate School and/or e-mail the department at engl@uark.edu.

In addition to the requirements specified in the Graduate Catalog, the Department of English stipulates that the following conditions be met by each M.A. candidate in its program:

I. Course Work
  1. Each candidate must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.33 on the total number of hours presented for the degree. The GPA will be determined on the following scale: A = 4.00; A- = 3.67; B+ = 3.33; B= 3.00; etc.

  2. Candidates must either satisfactorily complete at least 30 hours of course work when taking the non-thesis option or 24 hours of course work, plus at least 6 hours of thesis credit. ENGL 5003 (Composition Pedagogy), required of all incoming English teaching assistants, does not count toward the fulfillment of these course requirements.

  3. All candidates must take at least one course in theory or with a large theoretical component.

  4. Candidates are allowed to take a maximum of 3 hours at the 4000 level for graduate credit toward fulfillment of degree course requirements without special permission and 3 additional hours at this level with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies.

  5. Candidates must take at least 6 hours of seminar courses toward fulfillment of the degree course requirements.
II. Distribution Requirements

Candidates are required to take courses in at least 2 of the following 3 areas:

Candidates are required to take courses in at least 3 of the following 5 areas, with the stipulation that they must take at least one course in British literature and one course in American literature:

III. Comprehensive Examinations
  1. For candidates who choose the thesis option, the oral defense of the thesis will serve as the comprehensive examination.

  2. Candidates who choose the non-thesis option will be required to take and pass a comprehensive written examination based on the department's MA Reading List. This examination will require that candidates demonstrate knowledge of 7 of the 9 areas on the reading list, which include the eight areas in the above distribution requirements, plus a special topics area. This test will be administered by a committee of three faculty members appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies.

  3. The written examination for non-thesis candidates will be graded on a pass-fail basis, though the examining committee may, at its discretion, award a grade of "pass with distinction" to candidates whose performance on the examination is genuinely outstanding.

  4. A candidate who fails to pass the written examination may retake the examination only once and must do so within one calendar year of initial testing.

  5. Having failed to pass the written examination on two attempts, the candidate is dismissed from the program and may not subsequently choose to change to the thesis option to meet the department's graduation requirements.
IV. Thesis
  1. A candidate who chooses the thesis option must register for a total of at least 6 thesis hours.

  2. Prior to the first semester in which the candidate registers for such hours (usually Fall semester of the second year of study), his or her thesis proposal must have been approved by a faculty member who has appropriate standing with the Graduate School and who will act as thesis director, and by two other faculty members who will serve on the thesis committee. This approved proposal (with approval signatures) must be presented to the Director of Graduate Studies before the student registers for thesis hours.

  3. Having submitted a thesis deemed acceptable by his or her committee, each candidate will present a one-hour oral defense of the thesis. This defense should focus on issues raised by the thesis but, at the discretion of the committee, may also address a wider range of issues pertaining to literature, literary history, and literary theory.

  4. Candidates who fail to defend the thesis successfully will be allowed to repeat the defense once at a later date. Candidates who fail a second time to defend the thesis successfully will be dismissed from the program and may not subsequently choose to change to the non-thesis option to meet the department's graduation requirements.

  5. M.A. candidates who wish to be considered for admission to the department's doctoral program must choose the thesis option.
V. Other
  1. Each candidate must document reading proficiency in at least one foreign language relevant to the study of literature in English, preferably French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Ancient Greek, or Latin.

  2. M.A. candidates who wish to be considered for admission to the department's doctoral program must present scores from the GRE Subject Test in English Literature upon application to the doctoral program.

  3. All graduate students in the department of English must participate in an annual review of their progress toward the degree, as required by the Graduate School.

Master of Fine Arts in English

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing or Translation requires sixty hours of coursework, with up to eighteen hours transferable for students holding the MA in English. Most degree candidates will spend at least three years completing the curriculum. The coursework is of three kinds: 1) workshop sessions in which student work is read and discussed, 2) theory classes in which the techniques of poetry and fiction are given intensive attention, and 3) advanced classes in English and American literature, with the hours divided about equally between 20th-century and pre-20th-century readings. More information is available on their website Programs in Creative Writing and Translation.

All candidates for the degree produce a book-length thesis of poetry or fiction. The program also offers workshops in screenwriting and creative non-fiction. Students who earn the MFA in Creative Writing will have both a broad knowledge of literature and a firm understanding of the history and techniques of poetry and fiction. For complete information about requirements, request a Graduate Catalog from the Graduate School and/or e-mail the department at english@cavern.uark.edu.

Doctor of Philosophy in English

Candidates for the Ph.D. may specialize in one of the standard areas of concentration (Medieval, Renaissance to 1660, Restoration and 18th Century, British 19th Century, British 20th Century, American literature to 1900, 20th-century American literature, Critical Theory) or, with approval, a specialty of their own design.

Completion of the degree requires 24 hours of course work beyond the M.A., reading knowledge of one foreign languages, successful completion of the candidacy exams, and an approved dissertation. For complete information about requirements, request a Graduate Catalog from the Graduate School and/or e-mail the department at english@cavern.uark.edu.

In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, the Department of English stipulates that the following requirements be met prior to the awarding of its doctorate of philosophy:

  1. Each prospective doctoral candidate must submit a "Declaration of Intent" to be approved by the Chair of the English Department and filed with the Graduate School immediately upon the student's admission to the doctoral program.

  2. Every Ph. D. candidate is required to complete at least 24 semester hours of course work at the 5000 level and above for graduate credit beyond the M.A. degree. Prior to graduation, each student's M.A. and Ph.D. level coursework must include at least one course in literary theory and at least four graduate seminars, at least one of which must be in the student's chosen field of specialization. Upon completion of all post-M.A. coursework, the student must have maintained a grade-point average of at least 3.50 in that work. A student who begins doctoral study here with an M.F.A. or with an M.A. from another university may be required, at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, to take certain designated deficiency courses in lieu of electives. These hours will, however, count toward the 24-hour course requirement for the doctoral degree. Each student may take up to six hours of graduate-level courses in other departments that, subject to the approval of the student's advisor, can be counted towards the 24-hour course requirement.

  3. Prior to the completion of each candidate's first year of doctoral studies, he or she must complete a form specifying a tentative area of specialization for the doctoral candidacy exams. This form should also name the faculty members who have consented to constitute the written and oral exam committees. Each of these committees has three members. Students are encouraged, but not required, to employ the same committee for both exams. The exam plan must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. It may be changed later with approval of same. Suggested broad fields of specialization include traditional periods as in the current catalog, including Medieval, Renaissance to 1660, Restoration and Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth-Century British, Twentieth-Century British, American Literature and Culture to 1900, and Twentieth-Century American. Other suggested fields include the following: Southern Literature and Culture; World Literature and Culture in English; American Multiculturalism; Gender Studies; Film and Media Studies; Literary Criticism and Theory; Popular Culture and Popular Genres; Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy; and Literary History. However, students, in conjunction with their committee and with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, may propose additional fields if their particular projects do not fit within any of these suggested areas.

  4. Every doctoral student is required to pass a comprehensive take-home written examination in the broad field of specialization. Students have 72 hours after receiving the questions to turn in their answers, typed, double-spaced. Answers should be submitted in the form of coherent, well-argued essays, with a maximum overall length of 30 pages in a standard 12-pt. font. Committees are encouraged to give students 3-4 questions, of which two, of the student's choice, are answered. Any student who fails the exam may retake it only once, and the retake must be within a year from the failed exam.

  5. The second candidacy exam is an oral exam focused on a more specific topic, approved jointly by the student and the exam committee, within the student's broad field. This topic should be directly related to the student's planned dissertation topic. Prior to this exam, each student is required to submit a research paper (20-25 pages, typed, double-spaced) on the topic to the committee. The student must also develop a substantial related reading list for the exam topic, including, but not limited to, material covered in the paper. This list will generally include both primary works and relevant critical or theoretical works. The oral exam itself is 3 hours in length and includes both a defense of the research paper and a general oral exam on the reading list. Any student who fails the exam may retake it only once, and the retake must be within a year from the failed exam.

  6. After successfully completing the candidacy exams, each student is required to submit a dissertation proposal, the length and content of which are determined by the student in conjunction with the student's dissertation committee, which consists of three faculty members. (Students are encouraged, but not required, to employ the same committee for the dissertation as for their candidacy examinations.) In general, the dissertation proposal explains the nature of the student's project and why that project is expected to make an important contribution to the field in which the student is working. It is also typically useful for the proposal to give a general idea of the expected organization of the dissertation in chapters and to include an extensive bibliography of relevant works, even though the student is not likely, at this point, to have read all of the items on the bibliography. The student then discusses the resultant proposal in a formal meeting with the dissertation committee. This meeting would normally occur about 4 months after the completion of the final candidacy exam.

  7. Prior to taking the Candidacy Examination, each doctoral student must document a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language relevant to the study of British or American literature. Students who elect the medieval period as the field of specialization must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of Latin, Old English, and Middle English.

  8. Before taking the Candidacy Examination, the doctoral candidate must have completed the Graduate School's residency requirement and the departmental course requirements or be registered for courses which if passed will complete these requirements.

  9. Within the time limits specified by the Graduate School, the student must submit a dissertation acceptable to the designated committee. The dissertation must subsequently be successfully defended before the student's full dissertation committee.