Department of English at Illinois State University

Master’s in English

The Master's Degree in English offers emphases in English Studies, Children’s Literature, Creative Writing, Linguistics, TESOL, and Literary and Cultural Studies. It serves the needs of teachers, prospective teachers, and individuals who wish to develop their knowledge and understanding of literature, language, writing, and other areas of English Studies. Graduates of the program frequently pursue doctoral programs on completion, although many others hold positions in community colleges, secondary schools, and the corporate sector.

The degree consists of two options:

  • Option I: This degree option, made in consultation with the advisor, requires 11 courses and either a comprehensive examination or a portfolio, the contents of which are to be determined by the student, also in consultation with the advisor.
  • Option II: This degree option, made in consultation with the advisor, requires 10 courses and a thesis. The typical program is approximately 33 semester hours.

Students can enroll in the Master's in English either full-time or part-time. The majority of graduate offerings are taught in the evening.

Language Requirement for the Master of Arts Degree

The Master of Arts degree is awarded to a student who has completed an appropriate degree program and met the foreign language requirement for this degree at the college level. This requirement may be met by
  • Completing a minimum of four semesters (or its equivalent) in one foreign language. The requirement may be met by earning a C or better (or Credit or Pass) in the courses at either the graduate or undergraduate level.
  • Obtaining a satisfactory score on a University administered language examination approved by the Graduate School available in German, French, or Spanish at the University Testing Office.
  • Other methods as determined by the department/school with approval by the Graduate School. Students whose native language is not English may, with departmental approval, petition the Graduate School to substitute proficiency in the English language as fulfillment of the language requirement.

Requirements Common to all Degree Emphases

  1. Required Courses include ENG 401: Introduction to Graduate Study and ENG 402: Teaching Composition (NOTE: ENG 402 is only required for students with a Graduate Assistantship in the English Department).
  2. Fifteen hours must be at the 400 level (exclusive of ENG 499 - Thesis).

Requirements for Individual Emphases within the Master’s in English Degree

Children's Literature

  • one course in the history of children’s literature (ENG 370);
  • one course in critical theory (ENG 471, although ENG 382 or ENG 482 can substitute);
  • three to four courses in literature for children or adolescents;
  • four to six courses in literature, language, composition, or approved cognate fields (up to 6 hours from fields such as fine arts, psychology, curriculum and iinstruction, history, or sociology).


Rhetoric and Composition

  • at least two courses in Composition Theory: 409, 445, 494, 496, 497;
  • at least two courses in Rhetorical Theory: 350, 391, 392, 483, 496;
  • at least two Rhetoric and Composition electives from among the following: 349, 351, 353, 355, 384, 385, 445, 451, 452, 449, 466, 467, 492, 498;
  • two to three elective courses in literature, linguistics, creative writing, and/or TESOL;
  • Masters Thesis or Portfolio or Comprehensive Exam


Creative Writing

  • at least one course in literary genre (ENG 403, ENG 404);
  • at least one course in the pedagogy of creative writing or an approved substitute;
  • two or three elective courses in literature, language, rhetoric, and/or theory, including one course in the genre in which the student will write the thesis;
  • one elective in an area related to the thesis offered by departments other than our own;
  • three courses in creative writing;
  • a creative thesis with a critical preface.



English Studies         

  • one literature course;
  • one linguistics or TESOL course;
  • one course that foregrounds pedagogical issues and practices;
  • six or seven additional courses, including work in at least two areas of the department.



  • at least three literature courses in periods before 1800;
  • at least three literature courses in periods after 1800;
  • at least four elective courses (NOTE: ENG 402 may be counted as an elective).



  • three courses in Linguistics (ENG 341, ENG 441, and either ENG 342 or ENG 440);
  • three TESOL courses;
  • one course emphasizing pedagogy;
  • one literature course;
  • one elective.