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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Arts in Irish Literature and Culture

english department

Course Requirements

This degree is offered through the English department. Students take 30 credit hours (ten courses) as follows:

  • Twelve credit hours (four courses) in Irish Studies courses within the English department. These courses are listed every semester at the Irish Studies web site.
  • Three credit hours (one course) in an Irish Studies course outside the English department. These courses are listed every semester at the Irish Studies web site.
  • Six credit hours (two courses) in Irish Language.
  • Nine credit hours (three courses) in other electives. When choosing additional electives students are strongly encouraged to consider interdisciplinary, theory and cultural studies courses.

Oral Examination

The final component of the M.A. is the Oral Examination. The exam usually lasts between one and one and a half hours. Students may fail, pass, or pass with distinction.

In preparation for the exam students should follow this schedule:

  • Early in the third semester students develop ideas for their exams and contact potential committee members. Each committee must contain two Irish Studies faculty, but students are free to add extra committee members.
  • By the end of the third semester students submit a brief (one to two pages) project description and preliminary bibliography. A typical list includes 15-20 primary sources and additional secondary materials.
  • Students are expected to meet with their committee members periodically as they prepare for their exams.
  • Students should set up their exam schedules by March 15 with the English department administrative assistant.

Irish Language

The Irish language is a central component in the study of Irish literature and culture. Students are required to take at least one year (six credits) of Irish. In addition, students are encouraged to study Irish in Ireland during the summer. Faculty can direct students to language immersion programs in Ireland (typically equivalent to six BC credits), and limited funding may be available. Contact the BC Center for International Partnerships and Programs for details.

All students are urged to seek Prof. O'Leary's advice about the extent to which the Irish language will be important for their areas of interest.


The English department assigns each M.A. student a faculty advisor. Irish Studies M.A. students are encouraged to seek additional advice from Irish Studies faculty.


M.A. students are strongly encouraged to participate in professional meetings and conferences. Irish studies faculty offers editorial advice and practice sessions for students presenting conference papers. This process helps students with preparation, delivery, timing and responding to questions.


Twice a semester faculty, students, or visitors present work in progress to their colleagues. This forum is important to the life of the Irish Studies community. All graduate students are required to attend these meetings, and are encouraged to present their own work.

The Burns Scholar

Each academic year the Burns Library welcomes a distinguished scholar, writer, or artist who has made significant contributions to Irish cultural and intellectual life. M.A. students are encouraged to enroll in one of the courses offered by the Burns Scholar and to take advantage of his/her presence on campus.

Abbey Program

M.A. students who want to pursue graduate research in Ireland during the summer can get credit for participating in the Abbey Theatre program.

Calendar of Events

Every semester the Irish Studies program sponsors a wide range of public events. These events expose students to currents issues and debates, and offer opportunities to meet scholars working in the field.

Financial Aid

Irish Studies M.A. students are eligible for all English department scholarships and teaching fellowships.

View further information regarding graduate programs in Irish Studies.

Academic Standing and Evaluation of Progress

See the guidelines on the Master of Arts website and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Policies and Procedures.

Application requests to the graduate program should be sent to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Or, you can write to the following address:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Office
Gasson Hall 108
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467