MA Program FAQs

What will I do with my M.A.?
Our graduates are teachers at every level, kindergarten through college, locally or in remote areas of the world. They are writers, editors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, journalists, volunteers, financial analysts, and public servants. They advance in publishing, media, journalism, library science, nonprofit, and business careers. They become informed citizens, independent researchers, careful readers, and artful writers.

Is this good preparation for a Ph.D. program?
Yes.  While very strong undergraduates who are certain that they want to obtain a Ph.D. should consider applying directly to doctoral programs, those who desire to strengthen their background in literary studies, to develop a greater facility with research methods and theory, or simply to get the feel of an English graduate classroom will be served well by an M.A. in English.

What is the admissions process?
Candidates for matriculation in the M.A. must have achieved a B average or better in their undergraduate work. Students must also submit a personal statement, a sample of academic writing, and letters of recommendation, preferably from undergraduate professors in the field.  Most applicants will have majored in literature (English, comparative, or foreign) at the undergraduate level. However, students with strong academic credentials from any field may apply.  You can apply online here:

What is deferred matriculation?
If a student has a strong application but lacks a background in English, she or he may be granted deferred matriculation, which means that she/he must first take a small number of stipulated undergraduate courses in English, and pass with a stipulated G.P.A. (usually B+).  These credits will not count toward the M.A. if the student is fully admitted. 

What courses are required?
You must take 33 credits (11 courses).  These include two required classes, ENGL 605: Literary Research and ENLT 514: Theoretical Approaches to Literature, as well as a 3-credit thesis ENGL 698.  You select your other courses with the guidance of the Graduate Director, to construct a program that balances breadth and depth.

Can I take graduate courses before I matriculate?
Non-matriculated students may obtain the approval of the departmental Graduate Program Coordinator in order to enter graduate courses in English.

Do you teach creative writing?
Montclair State does not offer an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.  However, our curriculum does include a regular rotation of writing courses that complement our courses in literature and teaching.  Moreover, studying literature of the past and present can provide important background for those seeking to develop as writers of fiction, poetry, drama, or film.

How do I apply for a Graduate Assistantship (GAship)?
You apply at the same time that you apply for admission to the program.  The application contains a line for you to indicate your interest in an assistantship.  In the spring before you formally enroll, you will be contacted by the Graduate Director for an interview.

What kind of work will I do as a GA?
Most Graduate Assistants in the English Department are assigned to work with selected professors as research assistants.  A small number may work in the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE), mostly in a one-on-one tutoring capacity; Writing Center GAs receive training for their work in the CWE.  Another small number may serve as Teaching Assistants for the undergraduate Film Studies Program, performing tutorial and technical tasks for the full-time Film Studies faculty.

What are the benefits of a GAship?
GAs receive a full tuition waiver and a stipend.  As of spring 2016, the stipend is $7,000.  More information on GAships.  Assistantships are granted for one year, and are renewable for a second.

What are the requirements of a GAship?
GAs must maintain full-time status (9 credits) and work 20 hours per week, September-June.  If you have fewer than 9 credits to complete before earning your degree, you may take the number of remaining credits.

Are there other scholarships available?
Yes.  See the English Department home page for information on the Mary Bondon, Lawrence Conrad, Vivian Kwiatek, and Murray Prosky scholarship awards.

May I take an independent study?
You are allowed to take an independent study as part of your program, so long as you have the approval of the professor with whom you intend to study, and of the Graduate Director.  It is best to approach a professor with a well-developed and focused plan of study, including a reading list, timetable, and rationale. 

Can I transfer credits from another program?
Up to six credits can be transferred. These must be graduate-level courses related to your program of study and must be approved by the Graduate Director.  In addition to a sealed transcript, please provide the Graduate Director with the following information: University name and location; course number and name; year and semester taken; grade; syllabus or long course description.

Can I receive credit for courses taken outside the English department?
Up to six credits from outside the English Department can be counted. These must be graduate-level courses and must be approved by the Graduate Director.  Generally, these should come from an adjacent or related field such as Modern Languages, Linguistics, Philosophy, History, or the like. 

Can I take undergraduate courses?
No.  Undergraduate classes will not count for graduate credit.

Do you offer summer classes?
Usually, a few summer classes are offered. However, the vast majority of courses are offered in the Fall and Spring terms, and students should not expect to complete a significant portion of their coursework during the summer. We do not offer pre- or post-session courses.

How many courses must I take each semester?
Full-time students must take three courses per semester.  Part-time students must take at least one course per year.  The M.A. must be completed in six years.

How long to I have to finish my degree?
You have six years to complete your degree, including the thesis.

May I take a semester off?
You may take a semester off, but you will be charged a continuing matriculation fee.