Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
 

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English Program

Program Requirements: Students must complete ten courses (30 credits) for the Master’s degree and pass the comprehensive examination, in addition to demonstrating reading knowledge of French, German, Italian, Latin or Spanish. M.A. students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 (B), or 3.5 (B+) for those receiving financial aid.

Five of the ten graduate English courses for the M.A. degree must meet the following historical distribution requirements:
  • one course in literature before 1485 (British 1)
  • one course in British literature, 1485-1800 (British 2)
  • one course in British literature after 1800 (includes Irish & post-colonial) (British 3) 
  • one course in American literature before 1910 (American 1)
  • one course in American literature since 1910 (American 2)
In addition, M.A. students must take:
  •   either Research Methods or Introduction to Critical Theory
The remaining four courses are electives.
Students should select their courses carefully and consult periodically with the Graduate Director to insure that they are fulfilling all requirements.

There is one exception to the ten-course requirement. Those rare students who wish to do an in depth M.A. research project may do so, with the permission of the Graduate Director, which would take the place of one elective course. Students who plan to do the research project should secure a mentor in the semester before their research and writing. They also need to complete and submit a special registration form with their mentor.

The M.A. comprehensive exam consists of two 3-hour parts, administered on the same day.

Languages: M.A. students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one foreign language at Fordham. Students may fulfill this requirement in French, German, Italian, Latin or Spanish by passing an examination given by receiving at least a B in the zero-credit graduate reading courses. Many students choose to do this during one of the (shorter) summer sessions.
A second option to fulfill the language requirement at Fordham is to schedule an examination with the appropriate chair in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Modern Languages or Classics Departments. Taking an exam might be a good option for those students who have studied a language at another institution. Exams at Fordham are not listed on transcripts until successfully passed. However, students who have little formal training in a foreign language are urged to take a course.

Students wishing to substitute another modern or ancient language for those above should obtain approval from the Graduate Director. The primary criteria for such requests should be scholarly—that is, the substituted language should have some intrinsic importance to one’s area of literary interest or career plans.

If students wish to take a language class at another university, they are welcome to do so, but the only criterion accepted for fulfillment of Fordham’s language requirement is an exam given by the relevant Fordham language department. For example, students wishing to take Spanish might take a Spanish-for-reading course at CUNY. The CUNY course has no effect on their Fordham degree; they would fulfill the requirement once they took and passed the reading language exam at Fordham.
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Timetable for Completion (M.A.): Master’s degree requirements must be completed within a maximum of five calendar years. This time-limit applies to both full-time and part-time students. A normal course load is three courses (9 credits) per semester, which makes the completion time of two years for a M.A. degree a reasonable expectation. 

Example of full-time M.A. student schedule:


Fall:                       3 courses                                              (9 credits)
Spring:                   3 courses                                              (9 credits)
Summer I or II:        Language for reading knowledge              (0 credits)
Fall:                       3 courses                                              (9 credits)
Spring:                   1 course plus M.A. exam                        (3 credits) 
                                                                              Total    (30 credits)

The Masters Comprehensive Exam: The M.A. comprehensives are administered three times a year: in the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. Format: Students may choose from three formats for their exam questions: 1 American/3 British, 3 American/1 British, or 2 American/2 British. The exam consists of two parts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon on the same day. There are four sections (according to the format chosen by the student) and each includes three essay questions from which to choose, for a total of four essay questions to be answered, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The list of texts that will be covered on the exam is available from the Graduate Administrator.

Normally, M.A. students should be able to prepare for their exams in three months. They should discuss the exam with faculty and the Graduate Director, and expect questions that ask for comparative and synthetic thinking. There is also a handout available that covers recommended study strategies for the exam.

There are three official grades on Master’s exams: High Pass (distinguished work of the highest caliber), Pass (satisfactory work), andFailure. There is also the unofficial grade of Low Pass--which indicates marginally passable work (not suitable for Ph.D. program admission). Low Pass officially lists as a Pass, and therefore allows for a student to receive the degree. All M.A. exam grades are the product of agreement between at least two faculty members. M.A. students who fail may  re-take it once; they should consult with the Graduate Director to plan their further preparation.

Note:  All graduate students must fulfill their language requirements before they can take their comprehensive exams.
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Master of Arts with a Writing Concentration (M.A. w/WC)

Students choosing the Writing Concentration are required to take ten courses (as outlined below) for a total of 30 credits and must pass a special M.A. w/WC Comprehensive Examination.

  • Four of the ten courses must be English graduate courses in literature that cover four out of five historical distribution requirements of our Master's curriculum. (12 credits)
  • Five courses of the ten courses must be in creative and/or expository writing. (15 credits)
  • The10th remaining course is a Capstone Writing Project. (3 credits)
Aside from the Capstone Writing Project, there are no fixed requirements governing the writing portion of the curriculum, but we encourage students to take both 5000-level seminars and 6000-level workshops. We also recommend that, whenever possible, students select writing and literature courses that complement one another.

After completing all required course work, Writing Concentration students are required to pass a special Master's w/WC comprehensive exam. 

M.A. w/WC students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 (B), or 3.5 (B+) for those receiving financial aid.
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Timetable for Completion: All requirements must be completed within a maximum of five years. This time-limit applies to both full-time and part-time students.
 
A normal full-time course load is three courses (9 credits) per semester, which makes the completion time of two years for a Master's with a Writing Concentration degree a reasonable expectation. 

Example of full-time M.A. w/WC student schedule:

Fall:                 3 courses                                            (9 credits)
Spring:             3 courses                                            (9 credits)
Fall:                 3 courses                                            (9 credits)
Spring:             1 course plus M.A. exam                      (3 credits) 
                                                                      Total    (30 credits)

The Capstone: The Capstone Writing Project is the 10th required course for students in the Master of Arts with a Creative Writing Concentration program and must be completed before or within the semester that students take their M.A. w/WC Comprehensive Exam. The Capstone, which spans two semesters, is a manuscript of work developed individually and completed during the student’s second year under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

The Capstone page requirement for Fiction and Nonfiction manuscripts is at least 40 pages and for Poetry manuscripts is at least 30 pages. However, for both, advisors will determine page limit according to the student’s abilities and needs.

The Masters with a Writing Concentration Comprehensive Exam: The M.A. w/WC comprehensive exam is administered three times a year: in the Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. Format: The exam takes three hours and consists of three one-hour essay questions administered on the same day. The student is given a choice of three questions for each of the three essays.

M.A. w/W.C. students should be able to prepare for their exams in three months. An official reading list and recommended study strategies for the M.A. w/WC exam are available to current students.
 
There are three official grades on M.A. w/WC exams: High Pass (distinguished work of the highest caliber) and listed on the transcript, Pass (satisfactory work), and Failure. There is also the unofficial grade of a Low Pass--which indicates marginally passable work (not suitable for Ph.D. program admission). Low Pass officially lists as a Pass, and therefore allows for students to receive the degree. All M.A. w/WC exam grades are the product of the review and agreement between at least two faculty members. Students who fail their exam may re-take it once; they should consult with both the Creative Writing Director and the Graduate Director to plan their further preparation.
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Early Admission to the Master’s or Master’s with a Writing Concentration Degree Programs in English

Description: This program offers qualified FCRH, FCLC and PCS undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for admission to earn their English Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in 5 years as compared to the 6 years of study that is normally required.

Those who are accepted for Early Admission to the Master's (M.A.) or Master's with a Writing Concentration (M.A. w/WC) in English begin their studies at the start of their undergraduate senior year and continue with one additional year of graduate study.

Undergraduate seniors usually take a total of three 5000-level graduate courses during their final two undergraduate semesters. With special permission from the Graduate Director, distinguished students may take a fourth course. These three courses count toward both a student’s undergraduate and graduate degrees, meeting the English major Bachelor's degree requirements while beginning the fulfillment of the Master's level degree requirements with the 9 graduate credits earned. The completion of the remaining 21 credits (7 courses) and remaining requirements are then to be accomplished within one additional calendar year after receiving the Bachelor's degree. Interested students may review specific degree requirements under Degrees in English for the M.A. or the M.A. w/WC.  

Though there is no guarantee of receiving an invitation to apply for admission or of admission to the program, Students may express their interest by contacting their Undergraduate Dean, the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Graduate Administrator in English. 
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Admission: Early each Spring semester, the English Graduate Director meets with the undergraduate program heads to select second semester juniors to receive an invitation to apply for Early Admission to the Master's or Master's with a Writing Concentration in English Degree Program. In order to qualify for invitation, students must have a minimum 3.5 overall grade point average and at least a B+ in their English courses.

After receiving an invitation, applicants must formally indicate their desire to matriculate into the M.A. or M.A. w/WC program by submitting an application to GSAS admissions. Though the GRE is not required for the early admission application, all of the other materials specified under the GSAS Requirements are required. However, students who plan to apply for financial aid after completion of their first year in the graduate program (and completion of their B.A. degree) should note that the GRE is required and should plan to take the exam accordingly.

Once the application is reviewed and returned with a decision to Admissions, and the Graduate Dean has approved it, students will receive a letter from GSAS indicating whether or not they have been accepted. 

Upon admission, students will then qualify for graduate course credits and should consult with their respective Undergraduate Dean, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and Graduate Administrator for pre-registration advising.
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Admission from the English Master’s Programs to the Ph.D. Program

Students who complete the Master of Arts or Master of Arts with a Writing Concentration (Master's) degree are not automatically accepted into Fordham's Ph.D. program. The Fordham English Department's Ph.D. program is fully funded and, therefore, highly competitive. No part-time students are accepted; all students receive a fellowship package for four years and a stipend for teaching thereafter. Fordham Master's students should recognize that while they have a good chance of admission, given the department’s knowledge of their work to date, they must apply to other Ph.D. programs as well. Admission to proceed to the Ph.D. is granted depending on several factors:

  • grades in the M.A. program, which must, minimally, be a B+ average;
  • formal and informal faculty recommendations;
  • performance on the M.A. exam (although admission is often granted before the M.A. exam has been graded, contingent on the student's receiving a passing grade)
We cannot and do not accept all qualified students, and decisions are often based on external factors, such as balancing incoming student interests among the historical periods.

Master's students who wish to continue to the Ph.D. should review the Applying to Graduate Degree Programs in English web page and plan their application process accordingly. Master's students seeking admission to the Doctoral program must then fill out an official online application form through the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) Admissions website. The application form and all materials must be completed and submitted by the GSAS deadline. There is no fee for this application for current Master's students who have maintained continuous matriculation.

Please note that all Ph.D. applications must include both GRE general and GRE subject test (in English) scores; Master's students hoping for admission to the Ph.D. program must make sure that their applications will be complete by the GSAS deadline. No exceptions will be made for Fordham Master's students.

Master's students may also request to meet with the Graduate Director to discuss whether other materials, such as written recommendations from faculty within the department, might be useful to support his or her application.

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 The Doctorate (Ph.D.)

A Master's degree in English is required for acceptance into the English Doctorate Program at Fordham. Students must complete ten (10) courses (30 credits) beyond the Master's degree, pass the Ph.D. comprehensive examination, and successfully complete a dissertation and oral dissertation defense. Of the ten courses, three are mandatory: Research Methods, Introduction to Critical Theory, and the Teaching Practicum. Non-Fordham institution Research Methods and/or Critical Theory courses may be counted toward Fordham requirements, subject to review by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

Although there are no formal distribution requirements, all Ph.D. students must take courses to fill in any of the five historical areas required for the Fordham M.A. that they did not cover in their own Master's coursework. Students are responsible for the planning and completion of any outstanding coursework.

Apart from these requirements, Ph.D. students may begin to specialize as early as they wish, keeping in mind the particular range of knowledge they will need both for the dissertation and for the Doctoral comprehensive exams.

A typical Ph.D. student schedule is as follows:

1st Year        Fall:               3 courses (9 credits)
                    Spring:           3 courses (9 credits)
                    Summer:        Language (0 credits) 
                                         - See section below on language requirements.

2nd Year        Fall:               3 courses (9 credits)
                    Spring:           First Part of Teaching Practicum and Comprehensive Exam
                    Summer:        Language (0 credits)

3rd Year        Fall:               Second Part of Teaching Practicum (3 credits - 10th required course)
                    Spring:           Proposal Development

4th Year to completion         Proposal Development/Proposal Acceptance/Dissertation Direction
                                          - See Dissertation Stage Section

Notes:
  • Students may also take their comprehensive exam in the Fall or Spring of their 3rd year.
  • Students must successfully complete their language requirements and the second part of the Teaching Practicum by or within the semester in which they take their comprehensive exam. The exam will not be certified by GSAS until all requirements are met.
  • Students should refer to Teaching Practicum/Colloquium and the Dissertation Stage sections below for more specific details and registration information. 
  • Students should refer to the GSAS Guidebook, GSAS Tuition & Fees, and the Current Students section for specific GSAS and English department policies and procedures.
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Teaching Practicum/Colloquium: The required 10th course for Ph.D. students consists of sequenced pedagogy training spanning two semesters.

Registration: Upon approval of the Writing Program Director and the DGS, students take the two semester course ENGL 5999 and 6004 Teaching Practicum starting in the Spring of their 2nd Year (5999). Students must pass the first semester of the Practicum in order to register for the second semester (6004), taken in the Fall of their 3rd Year.

Description:
The Spring class (before teaching) includes individual interviews, assignment of written work and practice teaching. Each student will have a mentor, complete a portfolio of materials, and create multiple assignments. The second part of the training sequence in the Fall semester (during their first semester of actual teaching) is the “Colloquium,” which introduces students to different pedagogical approaches and methods.

Although the seminar introduces students to a variety of pedagogical issues, meetings will focus on the teaching of English Composition/ Rhetoric, a course that is essential to Fordham’s Writing Program. Over the course of their careers at Fordham University, students who have successfully completed the sequenced training will have the opportunity to teach English Composition/ Rhetoric and, on select occasions, upper level literature courses.

Time Limit for Completion (Ph.D.): All Ph.D. students in good standing are funded by the university and must make a full-time commitment to their studies. Doctoral students have 8 years to complete all of the requirements for the degree. However, because completing the Ph.D. in a timely manner is important for job market success, not to mention financial well-being, we encourage students to make timely progress and complete the Doctoral degree within 6 six years.

Language Requirements: Before taking their comps, Ph.D. students must demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages at Fordham. Students may fulfill this requirement in French, German, Italian, Latin, or Spanish by receiving a least a B in the zero-credit graduate reading courses. Many students choose to do this during one of the (shorter) summer sessions. A second option to fulfill the language requirements at Fordham is to schedule an examination with the appropriate chair in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Modern Languages or Classics Departments. Taking an exam might be a good option for those students who have studied a language at another institution. Exams at Fordham are not listed on transcripts until successfully passed. However, students who have little formal training in a foreign language are urged to take a course. 

Students wishing to substitute another modern or ancient language for those above should obtain approval from the Graduate Director. The primary criteria for such requests should be scholarly—that is, the substituted language should have some intrinsic importance to one’s area of literary interest or career plans.

If students wish to take a language class at another university, they are welcome to do so, but the only criterion accepted for fulfillment of Fordham’s language requirement is an exam given by the relevant Fordham language department. For example, students wishing to take Spanish might take a Spanish-for-reading course at CUNY. The CUNY course has no effect on their Fordham degree; they would fulfill the requirement once they took and passed the reading language exam at Fordham.
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The Doctoral Comprehensive Exams: The Ph.D. comps consist of an oral exam in the student's major historical area, plus two minor oral exams in fields of the student's choosing. These fields must be approved by the Graduate Director. In addition, the student must turn in two essays several weeks before the oral examination, which is approximately two hours in length. The examiners will include two specialists in the major field, and one each in the minor fields. Students may select two members of their four-person oral exam committee in consultation with the DGS. Students receive one grade for the entire exam (High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, Fail).

Dissertation Stage: After students take and successfully pass their comprehensive exam, they have two semesters to develop their dissertation proposal. During these two semesters, students register for the respective section of Proposal Development assigned to their mentor. Some students may be approved for a third semester of Proposal Development provided that their proposal will be approved by their committee within that semester. Proposal Acceptance and the first semester of Dissertation Direction are registered by GSAS.

The Dissertation Defense: The dissertation defense is a formal questioning and evaluation of the dissertation, attended by the candidate, the mentor, the two readers, and two additional faculty (one of whom may be from a department other than English at Fordham University). These fourth and fifth committee members read at least one full chapter of the dissertation in addition to the abstract. The date and time of every defense is posted in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and in the English department, and these events are open to the public.

The dissertation committee, after conferring privately at the end of the defense, presents the candidate with their decision. The committee may request or require some revisions to the dissertation before it is filed with the Associate Dean. In rare cases, the committee may vote to terminate the project. 

The Master of Philosophy Degree (M.Phil.):
All students who complete coursework for the Ph.D. and pass the comprehensive exams are eligible to receive the M.Phil. Degree. Most students regard this degree as a step on the way to the Doctorate; occasionally it marks the point at which a student reconsiders continuation in the program and takes the M.Phil. as his or her terminal degree. The Graduate Director, in consultation with other faculty, might also advise a student not to continue beyond the M.Phil. if his or her performance has been marginal or if evidence suggests that the student will have particular difficulty completing a successful dissertation.

Doctoral Certificate in Medieval Studies: Ph.D.’s in English are eligible to apply for the Doctorate Certificate in Medieval Studies. See the section on the Center for Medieval Studies for more information.
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For descriptions of recent courses please visit Fordham's Online Course Catalog or review on program website.



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