Master of Arts Program Guide: Essay


The MA essay can be completed as early as the student's fourth full-time quarter, and must be completed by the end of the sixth full-time quarter to maintain satisfactory progress.

The MA essay is a scholarly paper that allows students to demonstrate the research skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their master's studies. The particulars of its argumentation and format will vary depending on a student's academic area(s) of specialization.

The following three options are available for completion of the MA Essay:

  • One quarter, 10 credits;
  • Two quarters, 5 credits each. First quarter would culminate in the submission of an annotated bibliography and abstract (max. 500 words) OR an equivalent, approved by the MA Essay Director;
  • One quarter, 5 credits. student would select a particular paper from a seminar and develop and expand it to publishable length.

The MA Essay is not a thesis and is not submitted to the Graduate School to be filed in the library.


The MA Essay Director is selected by the student and must be a member of the English graduate faculty. A Second Reader is selected in consultation with the MA Essay Director. After securing the agreement of the director, the student registers for 5-10 credits of English 590.


The usual length of the Master's Essay is that of an article in a scholarly journal. It should be prepared according to the citation scheme appropriate for one's area of specialty, such as MLA, Chicago Manual, or APA.


Both the Director and the Second Reader evaluate the essay and send copies of their evaluations to the student and to the English Graduate Office. The grade for the Essay (and for Engl 590) is assigned by the Director.