M.A. Policies and Procedures
The M.A. degree requires 30 credits (that is, 10 courses at three credits each). One theory course from our regular course offerings is required, as is "Introduction to Advanced Research" (or its equivalent). We offer a wide variety of courses (ordinarily about 10 per semester). Classes are small and allow an intensive engagement with peers and faculty. Up to three credits can be taken outside the English department in other departments at Boston College or at other universities in the Boston Area Consortium and at the Graduate Consortium of Women’s Studies.
In addition, students may devote up to six credits to independent Readings and Research tutorials under the supervision of department faculty. These tutorials are initiated by one or more students in consultation with a professor and focus on a topic of mutual interest. The syllabus and assignments are developed collaboratively, and result in one or more longer papers. R&Rs are most productive when they delve deep into a topic previously explored in a regularly offered course, or when the student and professor share a research interest that is not currently offered in the regular curriculum.
The Comprehensive Exam, offered each fall, gives students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge about literary periodization and to use close-reading skills. Three hours in length, it asks students to complete three of five questions—each one addressing a different major literary period. Each question tells students where the quotation comes from, and asks them to define a relevant term. It then asks students to discuss how the work fits such a term, and how the work can also challenge or complicate the term. The objective is to demonstrate mastery of a wide range of skills in answering each question.
The Comprehensive Exam must be taken by the fall of the second year.
Students are examined on a basic reading knowledge of one foreign language. The language exam consists of a two-hour translation of a passage of academic writing with the aid of a dictionary. It is offered in the fall semester at the same time as the comprehensive examination, and may be taken during the first or the second year. A wide range of languages can be accommodated.
The language exam may be waived if:
- the candidate supplies an undergraduate transcript showing two courses beyond beginning level in a foreign language with grades of B or above (taken within three years of entering the M.A. program).
- the candidate successfully completes a 12-week intensive language course administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Boston College, or its equivalent. These summer intensive classes typically include French, German, and Latin (although other languages may be offered), and are scheduled by the individual departments. Please check Course Scheduling and Information for registration information, or contact the foreign language department directly. Students taking the class to satisfy the language requirement may do so for 1 credit.
Students are assigned an advisor in their area of interest upon admission to the program, and the program director advises all M.A. students. The most important mentoring relationships develop organically as students take classes and get to know their professors.
The English department is home to the Graduate Colloquium a joint M.A.-Ph.D. initiative that sponsors lectures and gatherings throughout the academic year. In recent years, the Colloquium has taken the form of thematic evenings, each with a keynote lecture by one faculty member followed by papers delivered and responded to by our graduate students.
Support is available for graduate students who present papers at scholarly conferences. Funding sources include the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate Student Association, and the English Department.