The Department of English offers a Ph.D. in English (with specializations in composition and rhetoric, English language and linguistics, or literary studies); an MFA in creative writing; and a terminal M.A. in English with a specialization in applied English linguistics. Students enrolled in the literary studies Ph.D. specialization become eligible for an M.A. English degree in the literary studies area when they successfully complete the first-stage doctoral requirements. The literary studies specialization does not offer an M.A. apart from the doctoral program. Students enrolled in the composition and rhetoric track in English must have a master's degree in hand prior to matriculation in the doctoral program.

The M.A. program with a specialization in applied English linguistics provides broad training in applied English linguistics and second language acquisition (SLA). Students who graduate from this program will be well prepared to teach English as a second language, and those who do exceptionally well may apply for admission to the doctoral program in the English language and linguistics area.

Regarding catalog course listings: graduate seminars in English reflect the faculty's current areas of research and therefore change importantly from year to year. Please consult the department website for more detailed information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A., with available tracks in applied English linguistics, and literary studies

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

M.A.–applied English linguistics track: 33 credits
M.A.–literary studies track: 32 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

M.A.–applied English linguistics track: 16 credits
M.A.–literary studies track: 18 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

M.A.–applied English linguistics track: All required courses in the MA track in applied English linguistics must be taken for graduate credit when available. At least 21 credits out of the required 33 taken in graduate level work. Courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide

M.A.–literary studies track: All coursework for this degree (30 credits) must be taken in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

M.A.–applied English linguistics track: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

M.A.–literary studies track: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 (typically 3 to 6) credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

M.A.–applied English linguistics track: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of relevant coursework from UW–Madison undergraduate coursework. coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

M.A.–literary studies track: No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

M.A.–both tracks: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

12 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

All coursework for this degree (30 credits) must be completed in English courses numbered 700 or above (with the exception of ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  520 Old English and ENGL/​MEDIEVAL  521 Advanced Old English Literature). Contact the program for more information on any required courses.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00

Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

Assessment and Examinations

Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

The department requires an applicant to have a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees typically demonstrate competence in the fields of English literature or language, American studies, or linguistics, but the department also welcomes applications from superior students who have not had the equivalent of an English major. Such students may be asked to supplement the normal program of study by completing a small number of coverage courses. Applicants for the MFA degree are expected to demonstrate competence and promise in the genre in which they are applying.  MFA students are not necessarily expected to be knowledgeable in the same areas specified for M.A. and Ph.D. applicants. Applicants for the Ph.D. specialization in composition & rhetoric may have bachelors and masters from a variety of fields beyond English but must complete a master's degree or equivalent before beginning the doctoral program.  All graduate degree programs in the department except the MFA normally require Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores no more than five years old. International students whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Knowledge and Skills

  • Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or schools of practice in the field of study.
  • Identifies sources or models and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  • Demonstrates understanding of the primary field of study in a historical, social, or global context.
  • Selects and/or utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  • Evaluates or synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  • Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty: Professors Levine (chair), Auerbach, Barry, Begam, Bernard-Donals, Bernstein, Bow, Britland, Castronovo, Dharwadker, Ford, Friedman, Guyer, Hill, Johnson, Keller, Kelley, Kercheval, McKenzie, Mitchell, Olaniyan, Ortiz-Robles, Purnell, Raimy, Sherrard-Johnson, Steele, Wallace, Wanner, M. Young, R. Young, Zimmerman; Associate Professors Allewaert, Bearden, Cooper, Foys, Olson, Trotter, Samuels, Valenza, Yu; Assistant Professors Calhoun, Cho, Elsky, Evans, Fawaz, Hussen-Levy, Tanoukhi, Vareschi, Vieira, Zweck