Skip to Content Find it Fast

This browser does not support Cascading Style Sheets.


Graduate Course Catalog 2016-2017

Graduate School


English (ENGL)


» Click to view course offerings

This program is offered in Durham.


Degrees Offered: M.S.T., M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D.

The Department of English offers four advanced degrees: master of arts with options in literature or English language and linguistics; master of science for teachers; master of fine arts in writing; and doctor of philosophy.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must submit writing samples in accordance with guidelines available from the English department graduate office. All applicants (except those for the M.F.A. and M.S.T.) must submit current scores (within five years) from the general test of the GRE. Applicants for the doctor of philosophy degree program in literature must also submit scores for the subject test of literature in English. Applicants for the degree of master of science for teachers (M.S.T.) must have completed education courses sufficient for certification, or have three years teaching experience, or currently hold a full-time teaching position. A student admitted to the Ph.D. program must hold an M.A. degree or be in the final stage of completing requirements for the degree.

All applicants who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships or tuition scholarships must complete an application form, available from the English department graduate office or from the website listed above, or from the graduate school forms page (see the Graduate Aid section).

Degree Requirements


M.A. Degree Requirements

Literature Option
An M.A. candidate must complete 36 credit hours at the 800 or 900 level, including three seminar courses and a fourth seminar in literature or ENGL 998, Master's Paper. At least six courses must be literature courses offered by the English department (as distinct from courses in critical theory, linguistics, writing, or teaching methods); there are additional distribution requirements. If a student chooses the Master's Paper option, the six-course requirement is reduced to five literature courses. Each M.A. candidate must also pass ENGL 925, The Graduate Study of Literature, and one course in literary theory. The literary theory requirement would normally be met by successful completion of ENGL 813, 814, or 926. As a general rule, all courses counting toward the M.A. degree should be taken in the English department, but two courses may be taken in other departments with approval. No more than two literature courses should be taken in a combined 700/800 (split) level course.

M.A. candidates must pass a reading examination in a foreign language or demonstrate that they have passed a fourth-semester college-level language course with a grade of B or better. Students whose native language is not English may be exempt from this requirement.

English Language and Linguistics Option
Students who wish to specialize in any of the various areas of English language and linguistics may design an M.A. program to meet their interests. Specialties include applied linguistics and the teaching of English as a second language as well as the traditional subfields of linguistics. Psycholinguistics courses are offered through the psychology department.

To earn the M.A. degree, students must complete at least 32 credit hours at the 800 or 900 levels, including one seminar course, and 4 credits of ENGL 998, in which they are to produce a substantial scholarly paper. Unless the student already has a strong background in linguistic theory, the program of study must include one course in phonetics and phonology (ENGL 893) and one in syntax and semantics (ENGL 894). Reading knowledge of one foreign language is required. This may be demonstrated by passing a departmental examination or by receiving a grade of B or better in a fourth-semester college-level language course. Students whose native language is not English may be exempt from this requirement. The student's course of study must be approved by the program adviser.

M.S.T. Degree Requirements

The master of science for teachers is designed for  practicing  elementary, middle, and high school teachers. It is not appropriate for  individuals seeking state certification. No foreign language is required, and the GRE is not required in the application. The student must complete 32 credit hours at the 800 or 900 levels. At least 24 of these credits must be in the Department of English. Courses taken outside the department must be approved by the student's adviser. Students must complete a capstone experience (creative writing option, teacher inquiry option, or curricular option).

The department offers special summer programs, which can be taken to fulfill some or all of the course requirements for the M.S.T. degree. The New Hampshire Literacy Institutes offer summer courses  that focus on the teaching of writing and reading in grades K-12. Summer institutes emphasize writing workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and may include courses in literature and composition theory and research.


Master of Fine Arts in Writing Requirements

In the fall of 2007, UNH launched a master of fine arts in writing, creating a three-year, 48-credit program that aims to provide students with the intensive training in their craft that they'll need to start their lives as professional writers. Students concentrate in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry and are taught by a faculty of eight working writers, each of whom specializes in one of these fields. Students learn in small workshops and in individual conferences with their teachers. Conference teaching is a cornerstone of the UNH graduate writing program.

Students are required to take four workshops in their major genre. In addition, students take one form and theory course in their major genre, five elective courses that may include additional writing courses or courses from the English department's offerings in other fields (such as literature, linguistics, or composition studies), and 8 credit hours of the M.F.A. thesis. Teaching assistants are required to take English 910, Practicum in Teaching College Composition, as one of their electives. There is no foreign language requirement.

The M.F.A. thesis is a book-length, publishable manuscript. For fiction writers, the thesis could be a collection of short stories, a story cycle (linked stories), or a novel. For nonfiction writers, the thesis could be a collection of themed essays and/or magazine articles or a book of creative nonfiction. For poets, the thesis would be a book-length collection of poems. The minimum length of the thesis is 150 pages for fiction and nonfiction writers and 45 pages for poets. Students will work closely with a thesis adviser as they write and pass an oral defense of the thesis, a defense conducted by a three-member thesis committee of writing faculty. Students will also conduct a public reading of their thesis in an event organized by the writing faculty.

In addition, the M.F.A. program offers students opportunities to publish in an online journal called Barnstorm, as well as intern at arts/cultural orginizations and the university research department,as well as teach in community schools. A select number of students are chosen to teach UNH undergraduate writing courses and to work in the University's Writing Center.

The program admits an average of 15 new students a year, which creates a writing community of 45 student writers.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program combines the essential guidance and discipline of coursework with the equally essential freedom of independent study and research. To be admitted to the doctoral program, a student must hold an M.A. degree. Students choose between two areas: literature and composition studies. Students choosing either area or program must demonstrate basic proficiency in two languages or advanced proficiency in one. Basic proficiency may be demonstrated by passing a departmental examination or by receiving a grade of B or better in a fourth-semester college-level language course. Advanced proficiency is demonstrated by passing a rigorous departmental examination.

The doctoral program in literature is designed to train students to be teachers and scholars in the fields of literature and language. Students in this program will complete nine graduate courses of which four must be seminars. The other courses must be at the 800 or 900 levels and must include the Practicum in Teaching College Composition (ENGL 910), the Seminar in Literary Theory (ENGL 926), and the ungraded 2-credit course in Dissertation and Profession (ENGL 924). In addition, students must pass a general examination in English and American literature, a more specialized qualifying examination, and the final oral defense of their dissertation. The program in composition studies is designed to train experts who are qualified to teach general courses in literature or linguistics in the teaching of composition. Students in composition studies will complete 10 graduate-level courses of which four must be seminars. The other courses must be at the 800 or 900 levels and include a Practicum in Teaching College Composition (ENGL 910) and Research Methods in Composition (ENGL 918). Students will take a combined general and qualifying examination that focuses both on the theory of composition and rhetoric, and on a secondary area of specialization. Their dissertation work will be on a topic in composition.

Ph.D. students normally hold assistantships and teach under supervision; such teaching is considered a vital part of the student's professional training.