Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Masters Program FAQs

english department

Boston College offers both the MA in English and the MA in Irish Literature and Culture, both through the English Department. You need not specify which track you are going to enter on the application: you may decide which degree you are going to take while in the first year of the program.

How many students are in the Master's program?
What courses are required for the MA in Irish Literature and Culture?

What courses are required for the Master's degree in English?
What kind of examinations are required in the course of the programs?
Does the program require a thesis?
Can I transfer graduate courses from another institution?
Is there a language requirement? How can one pass it?
How long does the master's program take?
Can I take the courses as a part-time student?
How do I get an application/brochure or program information?
What do I need to include in my application packet?
Do you accept applications for the spring semester?
Do I need to take the GRE?
What scores do you require for admission? Is there a "cut-off" point?
What should my writing sample be?
What is the personal statement?
Do you accept recommendations from employers or supervisors?
Do you have a minimum grade-point average?
What if my major field was not English?
If I apply to the Ph.D. program, can I also apply to the MA program?
When are admission decisions made?
Do you offer a concentration in creative writing?
Do you offer special student status?
What kind of financial aid do you offer?
What kind of resources does Boston College offer for graduate students?
What are the housing options for graduate students at Boston College?
What kind of assistance do you offer for career placement?
What do successful students do with the MA in English or Irish Studies?
Where has the program placed students who wish to continue to the Ph.D.?

How many students are in the master's program?
We usually have between 30 and 40 in each entering class.

What courses are required for the MA in Irish Literature and Culture?
The MA in Irish Literature and Culture offers English Department candidates the opportunity to design an interdisciplinary course of study drawing from a wide range of fields, including literature, Irish language, history, women's studies, American Studies, fine arts, music and cultural studies. Candidates seeking the degree must fulfill the course requirements of 30 credits within two years. At least 12 of these must be in Irish literature courses in the English Department and an additional 3 in an Irish Studies course offered by another University department. All candidates are strongly encouraged to complete at least 6 credits in the Irish language. Remaining credits are taken as electives. Graduate students may also participate in the Abbey Theater Summer Program or study Irish at a language immersion program in Ireland for credit. To complete the degree candidates must pass an oral examination focusing on a specific period, genre or theme they have chosen in consultation with members of the Irish Studies faculty.

What courses are required for the Master's degree in English?
Candidates pursuing the M.A. degree will be expected to complete courses granting at least 30 credits (that is, 10 courses at three credits each). Three credits must be in a theory course (ordinarily thought of as a course primarily concerned with the study of texts in literary and/or cultural theory) from among the department's regular offerings; and three must be in the "Introduction to Advanced Research". We are able to offer a wide variety of courses to MA students (ordinarily at least 12 per semester) and limit most courses to 20 students or fewer.

What kind of examinations are required in the course of the programs?
Both the English and Irish programs require that students pass two examinations: a language examination and a literary studies examination. The first demonstrates a reading knowledge of a foreign language. The second gauges the student's mastery of three different skills or practices integral to advanced literary studies: the ability to analyze in detail a short poem or prose passage; the ability to place a number of passages in their proper literary-historical context based on their form, style and content; and the ability to reflect on the theoretical, methodological or interpretive issues involved in reading and criticism. The examinations are offered yearly in December and May.

Does the program require a thesis?
No. Students may devote up to six of the required 30 credits to independent work under the supervision of department faculty, resulting in one or more longer papers as a "Readings and Research" course. Students wishing to pursue this option should consult with the program director early in their graduate careers.

Can I transfer graduate courses from another institution?
The department will accept up to two courses (6 credits) from another graduate program.

Is there a language requirement? How can one pass it?
The language exam may be taken at any time during the course of a student's program. It consists of a two-hour translation of a passage or passages with a dictionary. It may be taken in a wide range of languages and may be waived if either 1) the candidate can supply proof of proficiency in a foreign language in the form of an undergraduate transcript carrying credits for the completion of at least six semester hours in an advanced course with grades of B or above (taken within three years of the application for waiver) or 2) the candidate successfully completes a 12-week intensive language course administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Boston College.

How long does the master's program take?
The vast majority of students finish the program in two years of full-time study. Part-time students must finish the program within five years, though applications can be made for an extension of study.

Can I take the courses as a part-time student?
Yes. Courses are offered both in the afternoon and evening to accommodate part-time students.



Applying to the MA Degree Program

How do I get an application?
Apply on-line
.

The application deadline for the MA Program is February 1.
Requests for brochures or program information
.

What do I need to include in my application packet?
You will need transcripts of undergraduate study and all study after the undergraduate level, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation, the GRE General and Literature in English scores, a writing sample (a critical essay) of under 20 pages, and an application fee.

Do you accept applications for the spring semester?
No. All master's program students are accepted in the spring for the following fall semester.

Do I need to take the GRE?
The GRE general and literature in English (or "subject') tests are required.

What scores do you require for admission? Is there a "cut-off" point?
There is no "cut-off" point for GRE scores. Generally we expect the verbal score to be above the high 500s, and the writing score a 5 or over. But many applicants have verbal scores in the high 600's or in the 700s. We are more flexible on the subject test, but we prefer, of course, that the scores be high. We do not look at the math score and place little weight on the qualitative score.

What should my writing sample be?
Your writing sample should be a critical essay of less than 20 pages. We prefer that these be free-standing essays. If you include a portion of a senior thesis, please attach some background material to show how it fits into the larger paper. Please do not send a sample of your creative writing.

What is the personal statement?
The personal statement describes your motivations, intentions, and desires for graduate study. We prefer that you address your professional and intellectual interests rather than your personal ones.

Do you accept recommendations from employers or supervisors?
It is far better to get recommendations from professors, preferably in literature. Recommendations from employers are usually not relevant.

Do you have a minimum grade-point average?
There is no minimum grade-point average. Averages in the major are usually quite high.

What if my major field was not English?
We do accept applications from students who were not English majors; however, we expect them to have either 6 courses (not credits) beyond freshman writing or several English graduate courses, from any school.

If I apply to the Ph.D. program, can I also apply to the MA program?
All applications rejected by the Ph.D. program from applicants without an MA in English are automatically forwarded to the MA program admissions committee.

When are admission decisions made?
Admissions decisions are made in March through April.

Do you offer a concentration in creative writing?
No. While we occasionally offer workshops in this area, we do not offer a Creative Writing concentration.

Do you offer special student status?
Special student status is offered under particular circumstances, and is limited to two courses. Please consult Min Song, director of the MA program, for more information.



Financial Aid

What kind of financial aid do you offer?
Unlike many MA programs, we can offer financial aid to qualified applicants. Twelve first-year MA students are given 15-credit Fellowships (covering a full year's average tuition). You do not apply separately for this award. You will be notified in your acceptance letter if you are a recipient. All first-year students may compete for 24 teaching fellowships for the second year, which provide tuition remission and a small stipend. For information about other kinds of funding opportunities, please contact the Office of Student Services, Lyons Hall, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. The Office of Student Services processes and awards BC need-based financial aid in the form of federal loans and work-study for students.



Life at Boston College

What kind of resources does Boston College offer for graduate students?
The Murray Graduate Students Center, assists students with the practicalities of life in Boston and hosts social events. Please also see the Graduate Student Life webpage.

What are the housing options for graduate students at Boston College?
The BC Office of Residential Life (Off-campus housing) works specifically to list off campus housing options for students.



After Graduation

What kind of assistance do you offer for career placement?
The Boston College Career Center assists students with placement. See their web page for graduate students: http://www.bc.edu/offices/careers/resourcesfor/gradstudents/.

What do successful students do with the MA in English or Irish Studies?
Many graduates of the program continue their studies at the Ph.D. level. Others immediately pursue careers in public and higher education; some enter related fields such as publishing, journalism and public relations. We also place students in prestigious private secondary schools.

Where has the program placed students who wish to continue to the Ph.D.?
Many of our students choose to continue their studies, either in English Literature, Irish Literature and Culture, or Rhetoric and Composition. We place students in excellent Ph.D. programs, recently including Penn State, Columbia, Brown, Brandeis, Tufts, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Boston College, and Cornell.



More Information

For more information, please contact Min Song, Director of the M.A. Program