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 aiming at careers in secondary education, publishing, or related fields that require advanced skills in critical thinking, research, and writing. 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 comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam requires students to demonstrate knowledge about literary periodization and to use close-reading skills. It is three hours in length, is offered in December and May, and must be taken no later than the fall semester of the second year of study.
The language exam is offered at the same time as the comprehensive examination and may be taken at any point in the student’s program. A wide range of languages will be accommodated for this requirement, and it may be waived if (1) 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), (2) the candidate successfully completes a 12-week intensive language course administered by the Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences at Boston College, or its equivalent, or (3) the candidate has native-level proficiency and completed a university degree using that language.
Master of Arts Concentration in Irish Literature and Culture
The Master of Arts in Irish Literature and Culture degree 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 three in an Irish Studies course offered by another University department, and at least six 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 Marjorie Howes, Joseph Nugent, 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 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 and Human Development in cooperation with the Department of English. It requires admission to both the Lynch School of Education and Human Development 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 and Human Development section of the University Catalog or call the Lynch School’s Office of Graduate Admissions 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 and Teaching Assistantships conferring a stipend.
Certificate in Digital Humanities
In our increasingly digitized world, the question isn’t whether to use digital technology, but how. Institutions of higher education, as well as employers in many other sectors, recognize that digital humanities skills such as text analysis, mapping, and coding have transformative potential. BC’s Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities offers a coordinated curriculum that is feasible for graduate candidates to complete alongside existing degree requirements. The program combines interdisciplinary methodological training with discipline-specific coursework to provide students with training and institutional recognition of their accomplishments in this fast-growing field.
A joint effort of the History and English Departments and the Boston College Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Group, the program offers M.A. and Ph.D. candidates the opportunity to diversify their skill sets and produce projects such as digital archives, data visualizations, online exhibits, and scholarly websites. This project-based approach puts a premium on collaboration and interdisciplinary inquiry. In the process, Certificate holders will enhance their employment prospects in both traditional academia as well as in publishing, government, museums, libraries, archives, and other alt-ac fields.
Candidates wishing to pursue the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities must first be enrolled in a graduate degree program at Boston College. They will be able to pursue coursework in accordance with their preparation under any of the following disciplines:
- Classical Studies
- Political Science
- Romance Languages and Literatures
Doctor of Philosophy Program
Normally, no more than four candidates will join the doctoral program each year (one additional candidate is sometimes admitted on an Irish Studies fellowship). The small cohorts make a flexible program possible, individually shaped to suit the interests and needs of each candidate.
All candidates accepted into the program receive stipends and tuition remission. Stipends are guaranteed for five years as long as the candidate is making satisfactory progress toward completion of requirements for the degree.
Four required doctoral seminars are to be taken in consecutive semesters over the first two years of the program. The remainder of the candidate’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. A candidate-organized pedagogy colloquium accompanies the teaching years, and an advanced professionalization colloquium is taken in the third or fourth year.
Candidates 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 accompanies the completion of the assignment.
Each candidate 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 prospectus exam.
The minor field examination normally runs one and a 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 prospectus exam, one and a half hours long, explores the dissertation topic and a draft of the dissertation prospectus. All examinations are graded according to the university scale for graduate examinations.
Prospectus, Dissertation, and Defense
After completing the dissertation prospectus exam, the candidate finalizes the prospectus in consultation with his or her dissertation director describing the dissertation topic and including a working bibliography. All dissertation committees will have at least three faculty readers (one of whom may, but need not, be a faculty member from outside BC). Submission of the dissertation will be followed by an oral defense. Candidates 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 the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s office.
As part of their program, Ph.D. candidates engage in a carefully organized sequence of teaching experiences. In the second year, candidates spend one semester assisting in a course taught by a faculty member. In the third and fourth years, candidates design and teach courses—First-Year Writing Seminar, Literature Core, a self-designed elective in the candidate’s own field, and another course selected to provide the best range of teaching experience for each individual candidate. Faculty mentoring is a part of every phase of this program.
A committee composed of M.A. and Ph.D. candidates organizes and schedules graduate colloquia, at which faculty members, outside speakers, or candidates lead discussions on literary topics. In alternate years, the spring colloquium will be a full-day graduate conference. All graduate candidates 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.