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Graduate Program

The English department at South Dakota State University has offered the M.A. degree since 1994. Students may choose either the Literature track or the Writing and Rhetoric track, and they may complete their degree by writing a critical thesis, writing a creative thesis, or completing a written exam. Students in our program work closely with faculty who have expertise in a wide range of specialty areas, including British and American literature, women’s writing, Native American literature, literary theory, rhetoric, creative writing, peace and conflict studies, and film studies. Students interested in applying to our program should contact both the Graduate School and the English department Graduate Coordinator for information regarding the application process.

 

Application Process

Individuals who wish to be considered for acceptance into the M.A. program in English must complete the Graduate School’s online application at www.sdstate.edu/graduate/

Applicants must have a minimum of 24 semester hours of undergraduate credit in English or consent of the Department Head. To be considered for unconditional acceptance and to be eligible for a graduate teaching assistantship, applicants must have at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a 3.25 GPA in their undergraduate English courses. International students must score at least a 7.0 on the IELTS for admission.

In addition to the materials required by the Graduate School, the English department requires the following application materials:

  • A one-page statement of purpose in which the applicant explains his or her interest in and goals for graduate study. In the statement of purpose, the applicant should indicate whether he or she would like to be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship. The applicant may upload this letter while completing the Graduate School’s online application.
  • An eight- to ten-page writing sample. This writing sample must be a research paper engaging in critical analysis, preferably within the field of English studies. The paper must include a works cited page. The applicant may upload this writing sample while completing the Graduate School’s online application.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty at the applicant’s undergraduate institution. Letters should come from faculty who are directly familiar with the applicant’s academic work. They must address the applicant’s scholarly potential and may also speak to his or her potential as a graduate teaching assistant. Letters should come directly from the recommenders, who may submit their letters electronically along with the personal recommendation form provided by the Graduate School. The Graduate School will email recommenders detailed instructions for submitting their recommendations using the contact information provided by the applicant. 

The English department does not require GRE scores.

    Graduate Teaching Assistantships

    Applicants must indicate in their statement of purpose whether they wish to be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship. Teaching assistants receive a full tuition waiver and a stipend of approximately $11,000 per academic year. Teaching assistants take two graduate classes each semester and teach either two sections of composition or one section of composition with duties in the Writing Center. The assistantship is renewable each year, providing the student is making good academic progress and receives satisfactory teaching evaluations. All applicants who are awarded a teaching assistantship will be required to attend a one-week teaching workshop just prior to the start of his or her first fall semester. Students who apply for but do not receive a teaching assistantship may reapply for one the following academic year.

     

    Tracks and Options

    M.A. students in English choose one of the following tracks:

    • Studies in Literature
    • Studies in Writing and Rhetoric

    Within each track, students may choose one of two options for the completion of the degree. These two options include the thesis option and the coursework (written exam) option.

     

    Thesis Option—Graduate School Option A

    The thesis option requires students to successfully complete:

    • 24 credits of graduate coursework in English
    • 6 hours of thesis credit
    • A thesis
    • An oral exam

    Students who choose the thesis option may complete either a critical thesis or a creative thesis.

    Requirements for the Creative Thesis

    A successful Creative Thesis consists of the creative work(s) and a critical introduction or afterword of approximately 15-20 pages. Total length of the thesis should be 50-80 pages; length will depend in part on the genre(s) of the student’s work. Theses that incorporate more than one genre (e.g., poetry and fiction) are permissible. 

    The creative work itself will consist of a body of literary fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or writing for the screen. Students should plan prose projects ranging in the 50-65 page length; poetry projects range from 35-50 pages. Screenwriters should plan for a feature-length script or a series of shorts (pages may vary from the thesis norm). 

    In the introduction or afterword, students will discuss their own aesthetic focus and creative concerns in relation to literary history, theory, and/or craft. They will discuss the creative practices that have informed their style and approach. This portion of the thesis will reflect ways in which the work participates in, builds upon, or departs from the literary tradition or topic area anchoring the project as a whole. Furthermore, students will illuminate their writing processes and the strategies they used to solve problems in writing the project.

     

    Coursework (Written Exam) Option—Graduate School Option C

    The coursework, or written exam, option requires students to successfully complete:

    • 36 credits of graduate coursework in English
    • A written exam
    • An oral exam

     

    Course Requirements

    Core Requirements

    6 credits

    • ENGL 704: Intro to Graduate Studies (3 credits)
    • ENGL 705: Seminar in Teaching (3 credits; GTAs only; Non-GTAs must substitute a 700-level elective)

    Additional Requirements for Studies in Literature Track

    24 credits for thesis option; 30 credits for coursework (written exam) option

    • 2 courses (6 credits) in American literature
    • 2 courses (6 credits) in British literature
    • 2 elective courses (6 credits; students who write a creative thesis must choose 2 creative writing courses)
    • Students pursuing the thesis option must take 6 credits of thesis, while students pursuing the coursework (written exam) option must take 4 additional elective courses (12 credits)

    Additional Requirements for Studies in Writing and Rhetoric Track

    24 credits for thesis option; 30 credits for coursework (written exam) option.

    • ENGL 710: Seminar in Rhetoric (3 credits)                
    • 1 course (3 credits) in American literature
    • 1 course (3 credits) in British literature
    • 3 additional courses (6 credits) in linguistics, rhetoric, writing, or publishing (students who write a creative thesis must choose 2 creative writing courses)
    • Students pursuing the thesis option must take 6 credits of thesis, while students pursuing the coursework (written exam) option must take 4 additional elective courses (12 credits)

    Note: 50% of the student’s coursework must be at the 700 level.