Why Pursue an MA in English?

Written by James L. Reeves, Edited by Laura Morrison, for GradSchools.com, March 2014


Why should you pursue an MA in English....?

There are many ways to answer this, but here at Gardner-Webb University, we group the answers under one umbrella: professional development. This covers many different approaches, as a graduate degree in English has evolved and expanded from traditional notions of studying obscure authors and writing essays. Graduate students in English might be looking for any or all of the following:

  • Further preparation in teaching – secondary and post-secondary
  • Advancement in writing and communication skills applicable in a number of careers
  • Preparation for further graduate study in doctoral, business, or law programs.

Who are English graduate students? They want to study literature, education, or writing – or all three. They might be teachers or want to be teachers. They might work in or want to work in publishing, creative development, new media. And they are excited to be part of an intellectual community.

Types of Coursework

Depending upon the university, you can find courses in literature from around the globe and across the centuries, courses in pedagogy examining how to teach reading and writing in the 21st century, and courses in writing and technology theories and practice.

Application Tips and Advice

It is important to be aware of what you want to get out of graduate school and then research a program that fits your needs and that excites you. When we are advising students at Gardner-Webb University, we recommend the following tips.

  • Take a look at the professors and their scholarly interests and also at the department’s course descriptions, to get a feel for the department and its style. You will want a place where your needs will be met, but you also want to be challenged and to grow.
  • Select a writing sample that shows off your talents but that also fulfills what the department is asking for. Edit and proofread your writing sample thoroughly.
  • In your statement of purpose, be as specific and concrete as you can. Don’t write that you love to read or write. Instead offer what, specifically, you love to read and to write and what you hope to get out of graduate school. What are your scholarly plans? What do you hope to do with the degree?

Final Thoughts

Pursing graduate school is an important decision that needs to be taken seriously. Entering an MA English program may provide you with many opportunities to enhance professionally and in new career areas. Therefore, you want to be sure you are investing the next two(ish) years to a program that is reputable, challenging, and fulfilling for your academic, career, and life goals.

Get a Master's in English

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