Portland-State-University 2022-2023 Bulletin

English M.A.

The Department of English offers graduate work leading to the Master of Arts degree, which is designed for students who are prepared to undertake advanced work in the field. The program provides a range of courses in literatures in English, including British, American, and Anglophone literature; composition and rhetorical theory; cultural studies; and literary history, theory, and critical methods. Students in the program go on to work in humanities-related fields from higher education and K-12 teaching to arts education and public relations; still others pursue the degree solely for their own interest and enrichment.

Admission Requirements

The application deadline is January 15th.

  • Applications received after this date may not be reviewed.
  • Applicants will be asked to submit the following through the online application found at http://www.pdx.edu/english/graduate-admissions:

-A minimum of two letters of academic recommendation

-Statement of purpose of study

-A sample of recent academic writing totaling 15-20 pages

-A complete set of transcripts 

Applicants are expected to have extensive experience in literary studies, especially English language and literature. Applicants who do not already have a bachelor’s degree in English are expected to have taken 20-30 credit hours in literatures in English and writing, so that they come into the program with a knowledge of literary history, excellent writing skills, and experience doing advanced critical analysis in upper-division coursework. Applicants are also expected to have a minimum GPA of 3.25 in all English courses.

Those who do not meet these requirements may be considered for conditional admission. They will need to provide satisfactory evidence of preparedness to undertake advanced work. Their application will need to include:

  • 3.25 GPA in four or five graduate English courses
  • Explanation of undergraduate record and purpose of study
  • Two samples of written work from recent English courses

Students whose native language is not English must score at least 600 on the TOEFL paper examination, at least 100 total on the internet-based exam, and at least 250 on the computer-based exam.


See University master’s degree requirements. Department requirements are described in detail on the English Department website and in the MA in English Handbook, which is also available on the website.

For the M.A., the department requires a minimum of 32 graduate credits in English (courses prefixed with "Eng"), including Eng 500 Problems and Methods of Literary Study, Eng 507 Seminar, 4 credits of pre-1800 British or American literature, 4 credits in literature or rhetoric, whether Anglophone or in translation, before 1900, and 4 credits of critical theory. The remainder of the student’s program may, with the approval of the adviser, include coursework in fields related to English. A minimum of 45 graduate credits is required for the M.A. in English.

All students must take the oral field exam. Students interested in developing a specific research topic also have the option of writing an extended essay of approximately 8,000 words in addition to the oral field exam. This option requires the approval of the student's advisor and the M.A. Director. Further details on the oral field exam and the optional extended essay are available from the department's Academic and Program Coordinator.