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Master's in English - Comprehensive Option


Required Coursework (30 credits total)

  • ENGS 350: Survey of Literary Theory and Criticism
  • 27 more hours of graduate coursework (i.e. 9 seminars)
  • NOTE: In addition to the 30 credits required in either the thesis or comprehensive track, Graduate Teaching Assistants may take ENGS 398 up to two times after their completion of ENGS 345.

Other Potential Coursework

  • A student may opt to conduct an independent study with a member of the graduate faculty. Only one such study will count toward completion of coursework for the M.A. The independent study may not cover the same material as a Comprehensive Exam list.
  • Students may take 1 100-level course for graduate credit with approval of the course instructor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate College. Most English department Senior Seminars—course numbers 201-282—are preapproved for graduate credit and may be taken with instructor permission.
  • A student may take up to 9 credit hours in graduate courses outside of English. These courses must be approved by the student’s advisor and the DGS.
  • ENGS 345: Practicum in Teaching Writing is required of Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) during their first semester of teaching.


PDF iconReading Lists Form (PDF)

In the spring of their first year, full-time students opting for this track should identify three faculty members with whom they would like to work on their Comprehensive Exams. The faculty members must be full-time and members of the Graduate College. Students work with each examiner to produce a subject area reading list—thus the Comprehensive Exam will cover a total of three subject areas. Individual faculty members may determine what constitutes an appropriate subject list, but lists typically address either particular theoretical perspectives (such as feminist or post-colonial theory) or specific literary time periods and genres (such as the Victorian Novel or Romantic Poetry). Each list should cover 10-15 primary texts. Faculty may also opt to assign major-relevant secondary reading. The three lists may not contain overlapping content, nor may any list simply replicate the reading requirements of a graduate seminar. Students are responsible for meeting with their examiners to discuss the materials and their progress while preparing for the exam.

Students must submit their final lists to the Director of Graduate Studies (email link) on the last day of classes for the spring semester. Students prepare for their exams over the summer and through the fall of the second year. They take the exam in the spring semester of the second year. Each faculty member produces one question based on the reading list for that subject area. Exams are open-book and open-notes, but use of the Internet for retrieval of information is prohibited. The composer of each question grades that essay. Students who fail one of their three essays may be re-tested in that area. Students who fail two or three areas must retake the entire examination. Any student who fails any part of the re-examination must leave the Master's program.

  • Timeline

     This is for planning purposes only and assumes full-time status.

First YearSecond Year
ENGS 350CourseCourseCourse
CourseCoursePrepare for ExamComprehensive Exam
(GTAs take ENGS 345 and begin teaching)Find examiners; develop reading lists(GTAs teach)(GTAs teach)
 Submit reading lists to DGS by the last day of the semester  


Need more information?

Contact Professor Helen Scott, the director of the graduate program, at Helen.Scott@uvm.edu.

Follow the links below to the University catalogue for a printable version of degree requirements.


MA Catalogue

AMP Catalogue