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Master of Arts in English

Program Overview

The Master of Arts (MA) in English program offers a flexible approach to studying British and American literature or language at the graduate level. The coursework is designed to complete the following:

  • Supplement and enrich the student's undergraduate learning in English
  • Allow students to explore their own interests within the discipline.
  • Serve as an introduction to professional standards, research methods, and ways of thinking to provide a solid foundation for their future endeavors.

Upon completion, students have the option to take a comprehensive examination in written or oral form and may choose to complete a thesis, tailoring their learning experience to their individual needs and goals.

Program Curriculum and Structure

The MA English program offers a unique approach that provides students with a comprehensive understanding of literary traditions. It covers major literary works, language and composition theory, research methodologies, pedagogical strategies, and critical frameworks. The program also provides opportunities for students to expand their linguistic and analytical capabilities by demonstrating proficiency in reading foreign or computer languages, which enhances their academic and professional prospects. Coursework involves at the graduate level in British and American literature; a written or oral comprehensive examination; and an optional thesis.

Emphasis Subplans

In our M.A. English and Writing and Rhetoric programs, students have the option to choose between two subplans: thesis and non-thesis. There is also a third subplan option available to accomplished UNLV undergraduates who may apply for an advanced thesis or non-thesis program subplan after completion of 75 credits.

The thesis subplan gives students access to the following benefits:

  • Opportunities for in-depth research and specialized study
  • The ability to explore a specific literary topic or author in great detail and the creation of a tangible scholarly work
  • The contribution of original scholarship to the field
  • Growth and enhancement of their research, writing, and analytical skills
  • Preparation for further academic pursuits, such as a Ph.D. program
  • Demonstration of the ability to undertake and complete a significant independent research project.

The non-thesis subplan gives students access to the following benefits:

  • Receive greater flexibility with elective courses
  • Tailor the curriculum to specific interests or career goals
  • Focus on coursework and comprehensive exams
  • Obtain broader knowledge across multiple topics
  • Receive emphasis on the practical application of literary studies

Students must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for admission to the Advanced Program subplan. Students must meet all of the following criteria to be considered for admission to the advanced program subplan:

  • Minimum of 3.5 GPA in English courses
  • Department chair or graduate coordinator's recommendation
  • Two letters of recommendation from UNLV faculty
  • Unofficial transcript
  • One to two page statement of purpose
  • 10-15 page writing sample

To ensure timely consideration, applicants should submit these materials before registration opens for the semester in which they wish to register for graduate courses

Until they advance to graduate status, admitted Advanced subplan students must submit an Undergraduate Approval to Take a Graduate Level Course Form for each graduate course in which they wish to enroll. To advance to graduate status, students admitted to the Advanced subplan must complete 6 credits of graduate-level English coursework in their senior year with a B or better; satisfy all requirements for the BA in English; and apply through the Grad Rebel Gateway, observing required deadlines.

For more information about subplan options, select "View All Degree Requirements" and review the plan requirements.

Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships

All prospective program applicants are encouraged to apply for Graduate Assistantship (GA) funding, which provides valuable financial support. The current GA stipend for MA students in English stands at $17,000, offering assistance to students as they pursue their academic goals. Upon admission into the program, students gain the additional opportunity to apply for positions as research assistants. This allows them to collaborate closely with faculty members in the department on cutting-edge research projects and further enriches their academic experience and professional development.

The graduate assistantships application must be submitted through the Grad Rebel Gateway, and the deadline is the same as for the program itself. View the Graduate College’s Deadlines page for more information.

Our Dynamic Student Experience

UNLV offers a comprehensive Master of Arts program in English that provides an immersive learning experience. The program brings together a community of passionate scholars and intellectuals who are dedicated to exploring English literature, language, and composition.

The Department of English publishes the acclaimed journals Melus and The Popular Culture Review, giving students hands-on experience with literary publishing.

View Our Journals and Series

The UNLV Department of English has a longstanding relationship with the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI). This allows our students to receive opportunities to engage in creative and literary activities with visiting BMI fellows in socially meaningful literary events for the city of Las Vegas and its greater community. BMI fellows and national and international award-winning visitors include:

  • Hanif Abdurraquib
  • Tayari Jones
  • Melissa Febos
  • Bonnie Chau
  • Lisa Ko
  • Kristen Arnett
  • Derek Palacio
  • Cities of Asylum Writers Maryam Ala Amjadi, Ahmed Najii Saleh, José Olivera Castillo and Hussein Abkenar.

See the Black Mountain Institute's website for more information.

Career Options

This degree provides graduates with advanced knowledge, specialized skills, and valuable experience, which can be applied to various fields. Depending on their area of study and career interests, individuals with a master's degree may find themselves qualified for leadership positions or specialized professions. It also empowers students to achieve their professional goals and contribute meaningfully to their chosen field.

Potential career opportunities include:

  • University Teaching and Research: Graduates often opt for a career in academia and teaching at colleges and universities worldwide. With their extensive knowledge of literature, language, and critical theory, they are qualified to teach undergraduate courses, conduct research in their respective fields of expertise, and publish scholarly articles or books.
  • Writing and Editing: Whether working for publishing houses, magazines, newspapers, or online platforms, these professionals use their strong writing and analytical skills to create and refine content. They may work as copywriters, editors, content creators, or freelance writers, producing engaging and polished written materials across various industries.
  • Content Strategy and Digital Marketing: In today's digital age, companies are in search of graduates who possess the skills to create persuasive and engaging content. Graduates can find employment in roles within content strategy for digital marketing agencies, media companies, or brands. They are responsible for developing content plans, crafting compelling narratives, and optimizing content for online platforms to attract and engage audiences.
  • Education Administration and Curriculum Development: Some graduates opt to work in education administration or curriculum development to create and execute innovative programs that improve learning outcomes for students. They leverage their expertise in literature, pedagogy and educational theory to take on leadership positions in schools, colleges or educational organizations. These positions may include department chairs, curriculum specialists or educational consultants.

Scholarships and Additional Funding

The English Department and the College of Liberal Arts proudly offer multiple scholarships to help students achieve their academic goals. Scholarship offerings include the following:

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the Graduate College's minimum requirements:

  • 2.75 GPA or better from a regionally accredited college or university. 
  • A minimum of 21 credits in English courses above the Freshman Composition level.
  • Two letters of recommendation 
  • A statement of purpose 
  • Official or unofficial transcripts from all previous academic institutions 
  • 10-20 page writing sample


For more information, you may email or contact John Hay, director of graduate studies, at