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QC’s MA in English is a 30-credit program that aims to provide students with opportunities for scholarly and professional specialization in American, British, and global literatures, as well as a wide range of fields, forms, and theories. Course requirements include 2 foundational seminars in graduate methodologies and literary theory, 7 electives that enable students to pursue a variety of research interests, and a thesis essay written and revised with the guidance of a faculty advisor.

The English Department prides itself on offering a collegial and supportive learning environment for our graduate students. Our courses are small by design, with an average enrollment of 12 to 15 students. There is no stipulated course load; each student, in consultation with the Directors of Graduate Studies, creates a schedule and course of study tailored to their particular professional and intellectual interests and goals.

All our graduate English courses are scheduled in the late afternoon and evening, at 4:40pm and 6:40pm. Students can also take elective courses during the College’s Summer Session Program.

RequirementsMA ThesisHandbook and FormsCourses
English MA Degree Requirements
  • English 701: Seminar in Graduate Methodology (3 credits)
    An introduction to the skills, methods, and resources needed to succeed in graduate-level writing and research. Students take this pro-seminar during their first semester in the program.
  • English 636: History of Literary Criticism (3 credits)
    An introduction to theoretical perspectives that inform literary criticism. Students are encouraged to take English 636 during their second semester in the program.
  • 7 Electives (21 credits)
    Students select electives from the roster of courses offered at the 600- or 700-level each semester. With the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, students may also take graduate courses in other departments at Queens College and across the CUNY system.
  • English 791: Thesis Course (3 credits)
    Students write an article-length thesis essay under the guidance of an advisor and a second reader, and within the context of this 3-credit workshop course.

Students may transfer up to 12 credits of graduate work from an accredited institution that correlates to courses in the English Department at Queens College, subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

English Course Requirements for MSEd Students
In addition to the eighteen units of coursework that they complete in SEYS/ English Education, MSEd students complete a sequence of five courses (15 credits), distributed as follows:

  • ENGL 702 (Graduate Methodology for English/Education or English) OR 703 (Composition Theory and Literacy Studies)
  • 2 pre-1900 electives
  • 1 open elective (any English graduate class offered at the 600 or 700 level, excluding ENGL 751–763, which are reserved for MFA students)
  • ENGL 781 (Special Seminar)
English Course Requirements for MAT Students
In addition to the course they take for initial certification and in SEYS, MAT students complete three classes (9 credits), distributed as follows:

  • 1 pre-1900 elective
  • 1 open elective (any English graduate class offered at the 600 or 700 level, excluding ENGL 751–763, which are reserved for MFA students)
  • ENGL 781
MA Thesis

The culminating thesis essay should represent a student’s strongest scholarly work in the English MA program. It should be about 6,000–8,000 words (about 25–30 pages) in length, including an up-to-date and extensive Works Cited list of secondary sources. In most cases, the thesis essay should be a revision and expansion of a paper (or papers) written during MA coursework.

Completing the MA Thesis

Registering for English 791
The thesis essay is written and revised under the supervision of a full-time faculty advisor, within the context of a required 3-credit course, English 791. Most students register for ENGL 791 during their final semester. (In some cases, it is possible to register for ENGL 791 earlier, as long as you have completed ENGL 701 and ENGL 636, the two required courses that are also prerequisites for ENGL 791.)

Please note that ENGL 791 is only offered during the fall and spring semesters, not in the summer.

In order to be registered for ENGL 791, you must first do the following:

1. Find a full-time faculty member who agrees to serve as your thesis advisor

Your advisor should be a full-time member of the English faculty and a scholar in the field(s) in which your thesis essay falls. It’s often a good idea to ask a former course instructor to work with you on your essay.

If you’re having difficulty selecting an advisor, contact the MA Director.

2. Find a faculty member who agrees to serve as your thesis reader

Your thesis reader (sometimes referred to as the “second reader” since your advisor is technically your “first reader”) receives the final version of your thesis essay and confirms its satisfactory completion. Your reader also participates in the thesis conference and agrees with your advisor upon a final grade for your thesis essay.

In most cases, your reader will be a full-time member of the English faculty whose research interests coincide with your own. If the scope of your project requires it, you should consult the Director of Graduate Studies about asking a faculty member from a department other than English to serve as a reader for your thesis essay.

3. Submit a thesis sign-up form with proposal to the Director of Graduate Studies

The sign-up form asks for your contact info, the names of your advisor and second reader, a working title, and a brief proposal for the thesis essay (about 250 words). All info should be typed and proofread carefully. It’s important to send a draft of your proposal to your advisor for feedback before submitting the final version for approval. Keep in mind that you will be asked to revise and resubmit your description if your project appears too vague or broad to be workable as an article-length essay.

Thesis Timeline
The program gives you the freedom to coordinate advising arrangements however you wish. So it’s well worth taking the time to plan out a clear timeline that accommodates your advisor’s schedule as well as your own. Your timeline should include:

1. Regular meetings with your advisor. Most students meet their advisor once every 2-3 weeks, with at least 4 scheduled meetings over the course of the semester.

2. A series of manageable deadlines. Writing a thesis essay involves many stages (that sometimes overlap): research, outlining, drafting, revising, revising again, and editing. Agreeing in advance on the tasks to be completed before each meeting will enable you to finish your essay in stages, avoid procrastination, and gain a sense of accomplishment as you work.

791 Workshops
The Directors of Graduate Studies will schedule optional monthly meetings to discuss the process of working on the thesis essay and to work on and/or workshop your writing-in-progress. These 791 workshops over the course of the semester are designed to help you feel part of a community of writers, offer you peer feedback and support, and enable you to share your work with readers outside of the relationship you’ve established with your advisor. These workshops supplement and extend, but do not replace, the advising and support offered by your faculty advisor and reader. The schedule varies each semester, according to the needs and schedules of thesis essay writers, and the first workshop will be announced at the beginning of the semester.
Preparing the Final Version
It’s important that the final version of your thesis essay be as polished as possible—that is, free of typos and mechanical errors, and formatted according to up-to-date MLA style guidelines. Essays that don’t meet these standards may require further revision before receiving approval.

Your final thesis essay should also have a cover sheet with the following information clearly displayed:

Title of Paper

Student’s Name
Student’s ID Number


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in
English in the Graduate Division of Queens College of the City University of New York,

Thesis Conference
The thesis essay conference, sometimes referred to as the oral exam, typically lasts between 30–45 minutes. It takes the form of a conversation among your advisor, your reader, and yourself.

During the conference, you advisor and reader will ask you some of these general questions: why did you choose this topic and texts; can you summarize your overall argument and its trajectory; can you talk about the kinds of research you did: how would you situate your essay within a broader scholarly conversation (about your texts and/or within a field); what have you learned from your thesis project that you want to take with you or pursue beyond the MA degree. They may also ask you more particular questions about the key terms, theoretical framework, critical methodology, and/or argumentative moves of your essay.

Your conference should be scheduled on or before the final day of classes for that particular semester. Contact your advisor and your reader at least one month in advance to coordinate arrangements for the conference and agree on a date to submit the final version of your essay.

In rare cases, your advisor and your reader may wish to discuss revisions that you need to make in order for your essay to be of at least B quality and acceptable for the MA degree. Make sure you understand the nature and extent of any revisions you are being asked to make and establish a specific time frame for completing them with your advisor. Your essay will not be approved and your Thesis Approval Form will not be submitted to the Dean and Registrar until any stipulated revisions have been made.
Academic Policies and Practices
General academic policies and practices, including those regarding program reentry, course withdrawals, and scholastic standards and appeals, can be found in the College’s Graduate Studies Handbook.

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