Program Description

The Master of Arts in English is normally a 30-credit degree (ten courses), which may include six credits of thesis work. Students whose undergraduate major was not in English may be asked to complete 39 credits.

Other requirements include:

  • At least 12 credits of graduate literature courses
  • If student chooses an optional concentration, requirements must be met, as detailed below
  • A 30-credit degree may include up to six credits transferred from other institutions, up to six credits in other departments, and up to six credits at the 400 level, if pre-approved by the student’s advisory committee
  • Thesis students (Creative Writing concentrations and optional for others) must defend their thesis in a one-hour defense
  • All teaching assistants must complete ENG 693: Teaching College Composition, normally in the first semester of their appointment
  • A majority review committee vote of “Satisfactory” or above on a final Degree Portfolio showcasing the breadth and depth of the candidate’s abilities.
  • All work for the degree must be completed within six years of matriculation.

The department offers four optional concentration areas:

Writing Studies

9-12 credits in courses exploring current theories about writing, the teaching of writing, and the contexts of writing – including linguistics, critical theory, and discourse analysis.

The concentration in Writing Studies allows students to develop an interest in the theory and practice of teaching composition and empirical research in writing studies. The student may choose from among available courses in composition theory, pedagogy, linguistics, literacy, and rhetoric.

Candidates for this degree also may take related courses from faculty in Communication (Nathan Stormer) and Education.


Writing Studies faculty in English are:

Concentration in Creative Writing

9-12 credits in workshops and thesis credits in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction.

The concentration in Creative Writing allows the student to focus on the writing of fiction, poetry and/or creative non-fiction and to prepare a creative thesis, in addition to receiving graduate-level training in literature and literary criticism. Graduate creative writing courses combine workshop situations with one-on-one instruction and enable students to work closely with practicing professionals.

The New Writing Series offers a lively schedule of readings throughout the year. Students in the concentration may give public readings on campus and contribute editorial assistance to the graduate literary magazine, Ursa Literary Review.

Requirements for Creative Writing in Fiction (for Poetry, see Poetry & Poetics, below):

  • Six credit hours in fiction (ENG 507: Fiction Workshop)
  • Six credit hours of ENG 699: Graduate Thesis
  • All creative writing students produce and defend a thesis consisting of a substantial body of work (e.g. a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of poetry), prefaced by a discussion of the creative process that gave rise to the work in the context of literary traditions and movements.

Graduate creative writing courses are taught by:

Concentration in Gender & Literature

9-12 credits in courses exploring the interrelationships of gender, language and literature.

The concentration in Gender & Literature allows students to pursue focused study of the workings of gender in language and literature. Coursework may include studies of women writers, of feminist criticism, gender criticism, or queer theory, of femininities and/or masculinities in particular literary periods or schools, as well as of theoretical questions such as the gendered nature of language.

N.B. English M.A. students may also opt for the Interdisciplinary Graduate Specialization in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies offered by the University’s WGS program.


Faculty with interest in gender and literature include:

Concentration in Poetry & Poetics

9-12 credits emphasizing theoretical and creative approaches to poetry and poetics. This concentration allows students to combine interests in literary analysis and poetry writing.

Poetry and poetics students benefit from the presence in the department of the New Writing Series as well as events sponsored by the National Poetry Foundation, and may have the opportunity to contribute editorial assistance to NPF publications.


  • Three to six credit hours of ENG 580: Topics in Poetry and Poetics
  • Three credit hours of ENG 508: Writing Workshop in Poetry & Poetics
  • Three credit hours of literature courses focused on poetry and/or theory

Poetry and Poetics faculty include:

Applicants Seeking Degrees Off-Campus

Students with limited access to the Orono campus can make progress toward a degree by combining summer classes, transfer credits and thesis credits.

For more information on University admissions requirements, please refer to the Graduate School web page

Write to:

The Graduate School
University of Maine
5755 Stodder Hall, Room 42
Orono, ME 04469-5755

Telephone: 207.581.3219
FAX: 207.581.3232

For more information about the Masters program in English contact our Graduate Secretary, Ellen Manzo

Phone: 207.581.3822
Write to:

Graduate Program Information
304 Neville Hall
English Department
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469-5725