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MA in English

Program Overview

Location: Asheville, Cullowhee

App Deadline: Dec. 1, Aug. 1

Pre-Requisites: GRE Not Required

Time to Complete: 33 Hours, 24 Months

Multiple Concentrations Available

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Virtual Open House

Tuesday, August 6, 2024: 5-6:30 p.m.

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

Register Today

A Master of Arts in English helps students prepare for a host of professional careers, including community college teaching, writing and editing positions, research-intensive professions, law and library schools, professional or technical writing and doctoral programs.

Students take a broad array of classes and choose a concentration in one of four areas:

  • Creative Writing
  • Professional Writing and Rhetoric
  • Literature
  • Cherokee Studies

Graduate Scholarships

We are excited to announce that our Master of Arts (MA) in English program has new graduate tuition scholarships to award -- $5,000 per year for two years. Decisions are being made quickly, and we encourage students to apply soon! Interested students should contact Dr. Jonathan Bradshaw, Graduate Program Director (see below) and apply at

About the Program

As a graduate student in the program you will:

  • Study creative writing with Ron Rash, author of Serena, and other notable faculty teaching fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writing classes.
  • Study literature with faculty whose research interests range from medieval and renaissance literature to southern, twentieth century, African American, environmental, postcolonial, and Latin American literature.
  • Hone technical, professional, and business writing skills with faculty who complement their teaching expertise with real-world experience.
  • Cultivate teaching and training skills in classes that focus on both the theory and practice of pedagogy and instruction.
  • Take classes with faculty who have won every teaching award WCU offers, from the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award to the Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching.
  • Develop research techniques with faculty who have won NEA fellowships, NEH grants, and WCU’s University Scholar Award.
  • Gain access to outstanding academic library resources and reference librarians.

Students in our M.A. program receive individualized attention from our highly accomplished graduate faculty.

From Creative Writing Professor and Author Ron Rash

Classes are offered at both our campus in Cullowhee and in Asheville at Biltmore Park. Program specifics can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Graduate Assistantships

For students holding graduate assistantships in English, our program often serves as a professional apprenticeship in teaching at the college level. However, graduate assistants can also work as research assistants with English faculty, as professional writers in a variety of university offices like the Coulter Faculty Commons or the Graduate School, or in other capacities. For those who want the teaching training, the typical path is to work as tutors in the Writing and Learning Commons (WaLC) during the first year, as well as observing a writing class each semester and taking ENGL 514 Teaching Writing, which is designed to provide both a theoretical base and practical pedagogical training. Usually in the second year, after completing eighteen hours of graduate English coursework, students gain classroom experience by teaching their own writing class under the mentorship of an experienced instructor.

Graduate Assistants are required to take nine hours per semester (except for their final semester, in which they take six). The assistantship is a 20-hour/week commitment.

For more information on scholarships, tuition waivers, grants, fellowships, and awards, see the Graduate School's "Tuition and Funding."

Current Students

Comprehensive Exams & MA Thesis Option

MA in English Studies students are required to take Comprehensive Exams or write a MA thesis. MAEd in English Studies students are required to take comprehensive exams and do not write a thesis.

Comprehensive Exams

Thesis Option

English Graduate Student Organization

The English Graduate Student Organization (EGSO) was founded in 2021 based on the need of current graduate students for more peer-based support during their time in the program. Our purpose is to provide academic, professional, and social support to all English graduate students at WCU. In our inaugural year, we plan to acomplish these goals through events geared towards students' social, academic, and professional development, student outreach, a peer mentorship program, and a publication which highlights our students' written work. Through regular EGSO meetings and EGSO sponsored "happy hour" social events, we encourage our graduate students to get to know one another and lean on each other for support during their time in the program. Join us and find out more on engage!. We are pleased to welcome all current and former English graduate students as members!

English Graduate Student Organization Constitution

More Information:

Organizations and Opportunities

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