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Graduate Program Description
Master of Arts Program
The Master of Arts in English degree is intended for students who wish to extend and consolidate their knowledge of the field before moving on to work at the Ph.D. level, and for students oriented toward careers in secondary education, publishing, or related fields who desire a challenging, rigorous, and up-to-date academic program. Candidates pursuing the M.A. degree will be expected to complete courses granting at least 30 hours of graduate credit. Three of these course 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 course (or its equivalent). 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. Students wishing to pursue this option should consult with the Program Director early in their graduate careers.
Students must also pass two examinations—a language and a literary studies examination. The first will demonstrate reading knowledge of a foreign language. The second will gauge 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.
The language exam may be taken at any time during the course of a student's program. The literary studies exam is ordinarily taken after all courses have been completed or are in the process of completion. Students should consult with the Program Director and with other faculty to plan an appropriate course of studies in anticipation of the examination. The language exam 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.
Master of Arts Concentration in Irish Literature and Culture
The Master's Degree 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, an additional 3 in an Irish Studies course offered by another University department, and at least 6 in Irish Language. Remaining credits are taken as electives. 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. Students interested in pursuing the concentration in Irish Literature and Culture should register with Marjorie Howes at the beginning of their second year.
English faculty offering graduate courses in Irish Studies include Professors Majorie Howes, Joseph Nugent, Philip O'Leary, and James Smith. In addition, the distinguished visiting scholar holding the Burns Library Chair in Irish Studies will teach graduate courses in the program. For further information about the Irish Studies Program, please see the website at www.bc.edu/irish
Master of Arts in Teaching
The Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree is administered through the Lynch School of Education in cooperation with the Department of English. It requires admission to both the Lynch School of Education and to the Department of English. Course requirements vary depending upon the candidate's prior teaching experience; however, all Master's programs leading to certification in secondary education include practical experiences in addition to course work. Students seeking certification in Massachusetts are required to pass the Massachusetts Educators Certification Test. For further information on the M.A.T., please refer to Master's Programs in Secondary Teaching in the Lynch School of Education section of the University Catalog or call the Office of Graduate Admissions, LSOE, at 617-552-4214.
Graduate Assistantships and Teaching Fellowships
Students in the first year of the M.A. program are eligible to receive financial aid in the form of tuition remission. Second year students are eligible for Teaching Fellowships, conferring a stipend and partial remission of tuition.
Program in Linguistics
In the Department of Slavic and Eastern Languages and Literatures, the Program in Linguistics offers courses for graduate students in English who want to study English from a linguistic perspective or to examine the nature of language generally.
Doctor of Philosophy Program
Normally, no more than four students will be admitted to the doctoral program each year (one additional student is sometimes admitted on an Irish Studies fellowship, and there is additional support for diversity candidates and other exceptional students). The small number of students makes possible a flexible program, individually shaped to suit the interests and needs of each student.
All students accepted into the program receive stipends and tuition remission. Fellowships are renewed for five years as long as the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of requirements for the degree.
Four doctoral seminars are to be taken in consecutive semesters over the first two years of the program. The remainder of the student's program may include other graduate courses in the English Department or related disciplines, small reading groups, or individual tutorials shaped around the candidate's preparation for examinations. Ideally, students will have taken four to six courses in addition to the doctoral seminars by the end of the second year. A student-initiated pedagogy colloquium accompanies student teaching, and an advanced professionalization colloquium is taken in the third or fourth year.
Students must demonstrate an ability to read two foreign languages or a working knowledge and application of one foreign language and its literature. The first alternative requires successful performance on two translation examinations in which a short text must be translated adequately (with use of a dictionary) in two hours. The second involves submitting a paper in which knowledge of the foreign language is used to work out a literary question, or translating a substantial critical or literary text currently unavailable in English. Commonly, enrollment in language courses or in graduate electives on translation, accompany the completion of the assignment.
Each student will direct a course of study toward completion of three examinations—a minor field exam by the end of the second year, a major field exam, and a dissertation field exam.
The minor field examination normally runs one and one-half hours and may focus on an author, historical period, theoretical field, or genre. The major field examination is broader in scope and consists of a two-hour oral examination usually on a period or genre. The dissertation field exam, two and one-half hours long, explores a topical area in which the dissertation is likely to take place. All examinations are graded according to the university scale for graduate examinations.
Prospectus, Dissertation, and Defense
After completing the dissertation field exam, the student writes a prospectus in consultation with his or her dissertation director describing the dissertation topic and including a working bibliography. This prospectus will then be submitted to two additional faculty members who will also approve it. All dissertation committees will have at least three faculty readers (under special circumstances, a faculty member from outside BC may sit on the committee). Submission of the dissertation will be followed by an oral defense. Students are responsible for acquainting themselves with all university requirements, fees, and deadlines pertinent to dissertation submission and graduation. This information can be obtained from the English Department office or from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean's office.
As part of their program, Ph.D. students engage in a carefully organized sequence of teaching experiences. In the second year, students spend one semester assisting in a course taught by a faculty member. In the third and fourth years, students teach four independently taught courses—at least one semester of First-Year Writing Seminar, a self-designed elective in the student's own field, and two more courses selected to provide the best range of teaching experience for each individual student. Faculty mentoring is a part of every phase of this program.
A student committee composed of M.A. and Ph.D. candidates organizes and schedules graduate colloquia, at which faculty members, outside speakers, or students lead discussions on literary topics. In alternate years, the spring colloquium will be a full-day graduate conference. All graduate students and faculty are strongly encouraged to attend.
Candidates for the degree are expected to remain in good standing in accordance with department guidelines set out for the timely completion of the degree. Continued financial support and participation in the program depends on maintaining good standing.