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English, M.A.

The M.A. in English has been offered at USD since 1923. Professors work intensively with graduate students on their writing and scholarship, successfully preparing students to present and publish their work.

What can I do with an English Degree?

The Master of Arts degree in English offers you a range of career paths. In addition to teaching at institutions of higher learning, the degree supports careers such as journalist, copywriter, managing editor, editor-in-chief, publisher, technical writer, director of communications, and survey researcher or analyst.

Our master's program offers classes in literature from Shakespeare to the postmodern novel and in creative writing. We have particularly strong offerings in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Small in size, the master's program emphasizes a solid foundation in general literary studies that provides broad knowledge to work in your area of thesis specialization. The degree offers excellent preparation for further graduate study or any field that values critical thinking, strong writing skills and research experience.

A Master's Program Designed For You

Our graduate programs are designed to accommodate part-time as well as full-time students. Graduate seminars meet once a week and are scheduled in the late afternoon or evening to allow students with work or family responsibilities to attend. We also offer a graduate seminar in the summer. Working closely with a chair and members of a committee, you leave prepared to enter the workforce, pursue further graduate study, or apply for positions in post-secondary education. You will design and execute a scholarly project that enables you to become an expert in your areas of interest. The USD Department of English is committed to providing its graduate students with support in the form of teaching assistantships for qualifying students, travel funds, and opportunities for research grants. Students can gain practical literary professional and editorial experience by taking classes in publishing, as well as working with the Vermillion Literary Project, South Dakota Review and Astrophil Press.

Specialize in areas that interest you

Creative track students leave the program with a completed book-length creative project in hand, as well as guidance on job and graduate program applications and C.V. building. Critical track students receive rigorous training in literature from a range of periods, literary theory and have the option to take creative writing workshops. 

1.) Literary Studies: Literature

The M.A. program with a specialization in Literary Studies provides both a thesis and non-thesis track that provide students the opportunity to pursue a personalized course of study while gaining a rigorous introduction to a variety of literatures, historical and aesthetic contexts, and critical theories and methodologies. We offer classes in British and U.S. literatures—from early modern drama to contemporary American poetics—and a diverse range of special topics courses, all enriched by professionalization workshops, events with visiting scholars and writers, conference opportunities and an emphasis on mentorship. If awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship, M.A. students have the opportunity to, in conjunction with a practicum in pedagogy, teach undergraduate courses in writing. M.A. students can also take advantage of numerous professional development opportunities including publishing courses, academic and alt-ac job search guidance, and editorial/literary experience through working with The Vermillion Literary Project, South Dakota Review, and Astrophil Press. 

2.) Literary Studies: Creative Writing

The M.A. program in Creative Writing offers students the opportunity to take graduate-level workshops in multiple genres with professional writers—developing not only multi-genre fluency within their own work, but also building pedagogical skills and credentials within the creative writing classroom. While offering discussion and feedback on student work and addressing relevant elements of craft and technique, graduate-level workshops in creative writing also provide broad readings within the “state of the art,” and offer opportunities to engage with current conversations in aesthetic and historical contexts, narrative theory, poetics, and critical theory. If awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship, M.A. students will have the opportunity to, in conjunction with a practicum in pedagogy, teach undergraduate courses in writing. M.A. students can also take advantage of numerous professional development opportunities, such as publishing courses, mentorship in the job application process, and editorial/literary experience through working with The Vermillion Literary Project, South Dakota Review, and Astrophil Press.


Degrees & Offerings

English: Literature (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

This master's degree with specialization in literature requires 30 credit hours and has both a thesis and non-thesis track. You take classes in British and U.S. literatures and a diverse range of special topics courses, all enriched by professionalization workshops, events with visiting scholars and writers, conference opportunities, and an emphasis on faculty mentorship.

English: Creative Writing (M.A.)

Master's with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

This master's degree with specialization in creative writing requires 30 credit hours with a thesis track. You work with professional writers and build pedagogical skills and credentials within the creative writing classroom. It offers opportunities to engage with current conversations in aesthetic and historical contexts, narrative theory, poetical and critical theory.

Accelerated English: Literature (B.S. or B.A./M.A.)

Major + Master's
  Vermillion Main Campus

If you are a current USD undergraduate student who would like to begin a master's degree while completing your bachelor's degree, you may apply and begin the program after completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours.

English (M.A./J.D.)

Master's + Doctorate
  Vermillion Main Campus

The M.A./J.D. is a dual degree that combines degrees in law and English. It takes less time for students to complete than if they earned both degrees separately. Except in dual degree programs, such as this one, the M.A. is not terminal degree. Thus, the M.A./J.D. offers a unique opportunity to earn a master's as a terminal degree.

Program Details

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Graduate Admissions

Start Your Application Today

Each program has unique application requirements and deadlines. Be sure and consult the graduate catalog for detailed program information. It will ensure your application and materials are complete and submitted on time. To learn more about the application process, visit how to apply.

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The background and experience that you gain in the teaching assistant program offers significant benefits if you are pursuing a career in education, business, law or other fields involving leadership or public speaking. Teaching assistants receive a stipend appropriate to the low-cost of living in Vermillion and a reduction in tuition. Assistantships are competitive, generally awarded for a full academic year. They are renewable up to four years for doctoral students and two years for master’s students. The application form for the teaching assistantship is available as part of the department's application packet or from the USD Graduate School.

Students who are fully admitted to the M.A. program are eligible for teaching assistantships. Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis and are renewable for a total of two years, with a stipend of $12,750 and a reduction in tuition to one-third of the in-state graduate tuition rate. Beginning M.A. teaching assistants also enroll for credit in the department's teaching practicum, which provides essential training and support for new teachers.

Incoming Ph.D. students are generally offered teaching assistantships, renewable for a total of four years, with a stipend of $15,250. All teaching assistants receive a reduction in tuition to one-third of the in-state graduate tuition rate. Most teaching assistants teach two sections of an introductory writing or literature course each semester.

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The USD Department of English sponsors two periodicals and a press. South Dakota Review publishes both critical and creative work for a national audience. The Vermillion Literary Project, our student organization, produces an annual literary journal and organizes student contests, local readings and events. You have the opportunity to judge contests, read creative work, moderate events and mentor undergraduate students. Astrophil Press publishes books that explore the possibilities of language, form and genre. These departmental connections provide you with valuable experiences in publishing. 

You will have opportunities to present your work and meet scholars. The John R. Milton Writers’ Conference takes place every other year and features writers such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Percival Everett and Erika Wurth. Our Colloquium Series features faculty members and graduate students presenting their work, as well as visits by nationally recognized scholars, such as Tim Brennan (Minnesota), Patricia A. Matthew (Montclair) and Joel Pace (Wisconsin-Eau Claire), who give public lectures on campus, hold pedagogy workshops and meet informally with graduate students in English. Creative writers from around the country regularly read their work on campus. 

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides the opportunity to communicate the significance and impact of your research project in just three minutes.

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Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program.

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IdeaFest

IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays.

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USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including several that are housed in the Department of English. You may be interested in the Vermillion Literary Project or Alpha Mu Phi to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Alpha Mu Phi 

Alpha Mu Phi is USD's local Sigma Tau Delta chapter. This organization's central purpose is to confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate and professional studies. Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.

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Vermillion Literary Project 

The Vermillion Literary Project is an award-winning student organization that publishes a literary magazine and promotes all sorts of literary events, for both the university community and the general public.

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Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

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Departments & Facilities

Our faculty are experts in their fields, bringing practical experience in writing, communication and inspirational thinking.
Carson Sehr outside holding Vermillion Literary Project books

English

Investigate and gain insight into how we understand ourselves and communicate through stories, poetry and other narratives. Cultivate your ability to read and write and think about complex issues with the Department of English.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Department of English. The USD English faculty are award-winning, engaged researchers and creative scholars working within a supportive department community dedicated to providing students with diverse learning opportunities.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Darlene Farabee

Darlene Farabee

Chair, English
Bio Image for Faculty Member Prentiss Clark

Prentiss Clark

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Paul Formisano

Paul Formisano

Director of Writing
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kenneth Green

Kenneth Green

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michelle Gannon

Michelle Gannon

Director, Writing Center
Bio Image for Faculty Member Benjamin Hagen

Benjamin Hagen

Associate Professor
Faculty Default

Reyna Hernandez

Senior Secretary
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kevin Magee

Kevin Magee

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Leah McCormack

Leah McCormack

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Martin McGoey

Martin McGoey

Visiting Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lisa Ann Robertson

Lisa Ann Robertson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lee Roripaugh

Lee Roripaugh

Professor/Editor, SDR
Students studying together.

Work on Active Publishing Projects

Our graduate program offers a wide variety of opportunities beyond coursework, including professionalization workshops, visiting writers and scholars, and English Department publications. For example, our graduate students gain valuable experience by


  • Editing the South Dakota Review
  • Editing the Vermillion Literary Project
  • Learning the nuts and bolts of the publishing world by working with Astrophil Press
  • Helping others become stronger writers through consultant positions in the University Writing Center

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
Resident & WRGP
MN Residents
Non-Resident
Tuition (9 cr.)
3061.35
4398.75
5886.45
Fees (9 cr.)
497.7
497.7
497.7
Books (estimate)
360
360
360

More About Tuition & Fees

This is an estimate tuition rate* per credit hour and other factors such as special fees associated with your program may change the cost of tuition. Tuition rates are subject to change. 

If you are wondering about how to pay for graduate school, there are additional funding options to consider.

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