Irish Literature and Culture Guidelines

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 student 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.


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.

All students are encouraged to seek Prof. O’Leary and Prof. Nugent’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. 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 faculty offers editorial advice and practice sessions for students presenting conference papers. This process helps students with preparation, delivery, timing and responding to questions. Similarly, faculty works closely with students prior to submitting written work for publication.