Graduate Studies

Irish Studies offers a wide range of successful graduate programs within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Students may obtain an MA with a concentration in Irish History, an English department MA in Irish Literature and Culture; a PhD with a major field in Irish History; and a PhD in English with a concentration in Irish Literature.

Graduates of our masters and doctoral programs typically pursue careers in public and higher education, teaching Irish Studies, English, history, and art. Alumni of the Irish Studies doctoral program hold faculty positions at the National University of Ireland, Dublin, the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, the University of South Florida, Le Moyne College, and other four-year institutions. Information about the application process can be found at /schools/gsas/admissions.html

Graduate students are a vital part of Irish Studies at Boston College. Students contribute to the intellectual and social life of the program and add a genuine sense of community to Irish Studies at Boston College. Their contribution to events, lectures, courses, and colloquia enhance the experience of all involved in Irish Studies. Graduate students have made their presence known in the field by publishing articles in major journals in North America, Britain, and Ireland. They have presented papers at major conferences in North America, Ireland, Britain, and Scandinavia and have sponsored national conferences that have drawn students from all over North American and Ireland to discuss current research in Irish Studies.


The William B. Neenan, S.J. Visiting Fellowship at Boston College-Ireland
Applications are invited for the William B. Neenan, S.J. Visiting Fellowship, to be held at Boston College-Ireland. The Fellowship is named to honour the work of Fr. Neenan, who came to Boston College in 1979 as the inaugural Thomas I. Gasson Professor. He served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1980 to 1987 before assuming the role of academic vice president and dean of faculties. During his tenure, the University established itself among the nation’s top institutions of higher education. Father Neenan also served as vice president and special assistant to the president from 1998 until his death in 2014.

The Fellowship is open to any scholar working in Irish Studies and requires that a period of their term is spent conducting research in Dublin. The Fellowship may be held at any time during the year for a minimum of two months. The holder of the Fellowship will be awarded a stipend of €5,000, be provided with office space in the Boston College Ireland building, and with administrative support. They will work collaboratively with Boston College Ireland to conduct a one-day research symposium based around their research interests. 

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, with an explanation of the research you wish to undertake in Ireland and details of proposed outputs, to Professor Mike Cronin at


Professor Mike Cronin
Boston College Ireland
43 St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2



To complete the M.A. in Irish Literature and Culture, 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 on both the department and Irish Studies web sites.
  • 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.

The final component of the M.A. is the Oral Examination. The exam usually lasts for an hour and a half. 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 must submit a brief (one or 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 during the final semester as they prepare for their exams.
  • Students should set up their exam schedules by March 15 with the English department administrative assistant.
  • Some graduates of the program have used their M.A. exams as the basis for later Ph.D. work.

Sample Oral Examination topics.


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, and limited funding may be available.


The English department assigns each M.A. student a faculty advisor. Candidates in the M.A. in Irish Literature and Culture are encouraged to seek additional advice from Irish Studies faculty.

M.A. candidates are strongly encouraged to participate in professional meetings and conferences. Irish Studies facutly offer editorial advice and practice sessions for students presenting conference papers. This process helps students with preparation, delivery, timing and responding to questions. Similarly, faculty work closely with students prior to submitting written work for publication.