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Idaho State University

The MA in English

The MA is a two-year program that provides intensive training for students who want further background in English, including those who aim to teach at the secondary level or want to prepare for a doctoral program. The degree focuses on literature and students are encouraged as well to take related seminar offerings in the teaching of English, including Teaching Writing, Teaching Literature, Teaching Business and Professional Writing, and TESOL (Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages). Financial aid is available to students in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TAs). A highlight of our MA program is our mentoring for MA TAs. We offer unparalleled training for new college-level teachers. In the first semester, students complete a seminar in the theory and practice of composition studies and shadow a graduate faculty member in a composition course. From the second semester on, TAs teach their own classes with routine supervision and feedback from graduate faculty.


For more information, please see:

Curriculum, Master of Arts in English

Two-years full-time, may be completed part-time

The MA program provides students advanced training in language, literature, and composition/rhetoric in preparation for varying personal and career goals. Such training provides students with the sound foundations needed to teach in the secondary schools, to teach in two- and four-year colleges, and to enter fields in which verbal and analytical training is essential, and to prepare for further graduate work in MFA or PhD programs. There are three main components to the MA: 1) Coursework, 2) a Foreign Language, and 3) a Final Project.


1) Coursework

Students must complete 30 credits in English, 18 of which must be at the 6600-level including:

  • English 6612: Introduction to Graduate Studies in English
  • One seminar (a 662x course), focusing on pre-1800 literature
  • One seminar (a 662x course), focusing on post-1800 literature
  • One language studies/linguistics class (see ISU Graduate Catalog for complete listing of courses that fulfill this option)


2) Foreign Language

There are many ways to fulfill this requirement, but students need to demonstrate that they have completed:

  • the equivalent of two years at the undergraduate level within four years of beginning the program (usually by passing two years at the undergraduate level);


  • six credits of graduate-level coursework in language studies, including either ENGL 5586 Old English or ENGL 5587 History of English. Note: These courses are beyond the 3 cr. of language studies required for all students as part of the degree, and beyond the 30cr. of coursework required for the MA.


See the ISU Graduate Catalog for a complete list of options.


3) Final Project

Students choose one of the following options for a final project.


  • Set Text Exam: A written exam on 5-8 texts set by the department each year, with an emphasis on their historical and critical contexts.


  • MA paper: A revision of a graduate paper into a 25pp. essay of publishable quality. Note: Up to 3cr. of MA paper count toward up to 3 of the required 6600-level credits


  • Thesis: An extended critical study of a topic proposed by the student and developed in consultation with a member of the graduate faculty (a minimum of 50 pages). Note: Up to 6cr. of thesis count toward up to 6 of the required 6600-level credits. For a list of recent student theses, see the section below.


Please see the MA Program Handbook for further details.


Our MA Students' Doctoral Programs Admissions

Graduates of the Master’s program have gone on to earn Ph.D.s at a number of institutions, including Leeds University, Arizona State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Kentucky.

Recent MA Theses


  • Daniel Meyerend, Laughing Between the Color Line: Mixed Race Humor in The Key and Peele Show
  • Elise Anderson, Feeling with Fiction:  Exploring the Boundaries of Narrative Empathy in the Gothic Tales of Edgar Allan Poe
  • Margaux Burleson, Trauma, Proverbs, and Cognitive Development in Le Guin’s Annals of the Western Shore
  • Jessica Hoffman-Ramirez, “highly incomprehensible and nearly always ridiculous”:  Protesting Patriarchy through Queer Performativity in Mary Austin’s Early Novels



  • Samuel Head, Teaching Grounded Audiences: Burke’s Identification in Social Media and First Year Composition
  • Marc Keith, Natural Mechanics:  Technology and Place in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway
  • Forrest Johnson, Some Facts I Just Made Up: Reading Comics With Calvin and Hobbes
  • Patricia Schmidt, Emerging from the Shadows: John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga, Modernism, and the Effect of Sequential Publication


  • Justin Murdock, Endure and Survive: Dystopia in the Post-Apocalypse and its Insight Into Human Existence
  • Corinna Barrett Percy, Be a Man: Representations of Masculinity in the Civil War Literature of Ambrose Bierce and John William De Forest

Faculty Research Interests

American Literature: Brian Attebery, Hal Hellwig, Alan Johnson, Margaret Johnson, David Lawrimore, Amanda Zink

British Literature: Thomas Klein, Matthew Levay, Roger Schmidt, Matthew Vanwinkle, Curtis Whitaker, Jessica Winston

Rhetoric and Composition: Hal Hellwig, Robert Watkins, Lydia Wilkes

Linguistics: Thomas Klein, Brent Wolter, Sonja Launspach

Folklore and Popular Culture: Jennifer Attebery, Brian Attebery, Margaret Johnson, Matthew Levay

Creative Writing: Susan Goslee, Bethany Schultz Hurst

Ethnic and Post-Colonial Literature: Jennifer Attebery, Alan Johnson, Amanda Zink

English Education and Literature Pedagogy: David Lawrimore, Curtis Whitaker, Amanda Zink

Gender, Language, and Literature: Brian Attebery, Sonja Launspach, Amanda Zink

Literature and the Environment: Alan Johnson, Curtis Whitaker

History of the Book: Roger Schmidt

Film Studies: Margaret Johnson

Genres: Graphic Novels, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Crime Fiction, the Gothic: Brian Attebery, Matthew Levay, Robert Watkins, Matthew Vanwinkle

Medieval Studies: Thomas Klein

Professional and Technical Writing: Robert Watkins, Lydia Wilkes

Second Language Acquisition: Sonja Launspach, Brent Wolter

Renaissance Studies: Roger Schmidt, Curtis Whitaker, Jessica Winston

Children’s and Young Adult Literature: Brian Attebery, Amanda Zink