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M.A. in English

The English M.A. degree program at WKU prepares students for careers in teaching, for continuing graduate work toward a Ph.D. in English, and for other careers—like editing and publishing or technical and professional writing—that involve strong communication skills. While the M.A. in English does not lead to initial K-12 teacher certification, the degree does satisfy Kentucky state requirements for teachers to advance in rank. We’re proud to have served many Kentucky teachers of English in this capacity. * (Teachers seeking Rank II/I, please scroll down this page for additional information.)

Our graduates have entered Ph.D. programs in English at universities around the USA. It’s a pleasure to see several recent graduates now employed full time in tenure-track positions at colleges and universities, having earned their Ph.D. degrees elsewhere. Other graduates have chosen to teach at community colleges immediately upon leaving Cherry Hall, the temple of language and literature on top of the hill that gives us our nickname.

Our graduate students are an active and close-knit group. New students report finding faculty and fellow students welcoming and supportive. We currently employ 7 students annually as graduate assistants who get teacher training through our mentoring program, tutoring experience in the Writing Center, and teaching experience in year two of the program when graduate assistants are instructors of record for courses in Introduction to College Writing.

The M.A. in English curriculum is straightforward, with coursework promising to develop employable skills in some of the most in-demand areas of English studies: composition and literature pedagogy, with a taste of TESL (teaching English as a second language) and literary/cultural theory in Introduction to Graduate Studies. 


WKU M.A. Degree in English--Curriculum Effective August 2017--

Required Core Courses
ENG 520                                                                    Introduction to Graduate Studies 3
ENG 510                                                                    Graduate Rhetoric and Writing 3
ENG 565                                                                    Integrated Teaching English as a Second Language 3
ENG 516                                                                    Literature and Pedagogy  3
Select 3 hours of writing in composition and rhetoric (not creative writing courses) 3
Select 3 hours of literature  3
Total Core Hours 18

Thesis option: Select 6 hours of English 599 (thesis) and 9 additional hours of elective in composition and rhetoric, linguistics, literature, and Teaching English as a Second Language                                  15

Non-Thesis option: Select 15 hours of English electives in composition and rhetoric, linguistics, literature, and Teaching English as a Second Language.                                                                             15

Total Degree Hours                                                                                                                                          33

For Further Information 

Curious about the program? Got questions? Then shoot an email to Dr. Wes Berry, Director of Graduate Studies (wes.berry@wku.edu).

Program Admission

  • Applicants should have earned at least 27 credit hours of undergraduate English with a GPA of 3.0 or better. Those not meeting this requirement may be admitted conditionally on a case-by-case basis.

  • Minimum GRE score of 4.0 on the analytical writing section

  • Submit a statement of purpose, a 1-2 page letter in which you explain why you want to study in the MA program at WKU and how that experience will help you with your academic and career goals.  At the end of your letter, please list contact information for three references who can speak to your academic qualifications.

Application Process

All application materials, including undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, and the statement of purpose should be submitted electronically to The Graduate School at WKU.

Graduate Assistantships

As noted above, the English Department employs students to tutor in the Writing Center in year #1 and teach English 100 (Introduction to College Writing) in year #2. Compensation includes an academic year (fall and spring) stipend of $11,000 + a tuition scholarship that covers about ½ of tuition costs + eligibility for insurance coverage. Students work 15 hours weekly in the writing center and fulfill 5 hours of the mentoring program, which includes classroom observations of a faculty mentor, in year #1. In year #2, students teach two sections of English 100 per semester. Second year students earn an additional $100 per credit hour taught, usually $600 per semester.

Applications for graduate assistantships are submitted to Dr. Wes Berry. Here's the link to the application.


Degree Completion Checklist for Current Students

Graduate degree seeking students should consult the graduate school's website and follow the timeline for submitting necessary forms. The official forms required for graduation are located here.

English as a Second Language Tutorial Opportunities

Learn more about Teaching English as a Second Language graduate options.


Rank II/I Certification

Students seeking Rank II or Rank I certification for Grades 8-12 must have or be eligible for a secondary school teaching certificate and must include a copy with the application for admission. Kentucky candidates whose certificates have expired may be admitted, but they may enroll for only six hours before the must apply to the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board for reissued certificates. After completion of six hours, such students must submit a copy of the re-issued certificate before being allowed to register for any additional courses. Applicants from out-of-state with expired certificates must complete the requirements for their respective states to renew their certificates and submit a copy of the reissued certificate.

Go to Kentucky’s EPSB (Education Professional Standards Board) website for additional information.


View M.A. Alumni Profiles


Recent Graduate Testimonials


"Coming to WKU for my MA in English was the best decision I could have made for my academic career. I entered the program as an undergraduate with a decent background in English, but I've left feeling like a real scholar. The relationships with faculty and fellow students have always been supportive and congenial. In this supportive environment, though, we've been challenged to produce our best work and use that work to further our careers by publishing articles and presenting at major conferences. With all the attention and support offered at WKU, I've been able to take full advantage of many opportunities that would have been otherwise unavailable to me."


Conor Scruton, M.A. 2017


"The number one priority we look for in our choice of graduate studies is the staff we'll be working with, and WKU delivers in spades. I've felt so blessed to be a part of such an intelligent and genuine group of people. Regardless of subject--literature, rhetoric, professional writing, or composition--I've had nothing but good experiences with the professors here. They're challenging, but never demanding; professional, but never distant. Most importantly, they've helped me grow in many ways, in both my studies and my life. I can easily say, in no uncertain terms, that I owe the person I am today, in part, to studying at WKU. And for that, I am grateful."


David Gifford, M.A. 2017


"I’ve always been a reader, but WKU’s graduate program in English deepened my appreciation for literature and helped me better understand my relationship to it. The coursework provides no shortage of reading material, but it also provokes a lot of questions for the curious reader. Why don’t critics evaluate Shakespeare’s Cleopatra as a protagonist? What should we make of the homoerotic subtext in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance? Why does Edith Wharton continually reference the Furies of Greek mythology in The House of Mirth? Getting to think about these kinds of questions and discuss them with fellow students and brilliant faculty members is such a rewarding experience. And it’s a nice reminder of why reading is one of the most important things we can do: it helps us make sense of the world around us."


Ryan Pait, M.A. 2017


Click here to view the WKU graduate catalog.





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 Last Modified 11/2/18