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In pursuing either a master’s or doctoral degree, graduate students in literature are encouraged to balance breadth of knowledge with depth of specialization. Our faculty has a wide range of interests and expertise, spanning traditional historical periods and cross-disciplinary fields like queer and feminist theory, film studies, disability studies, and literary biography.

This is a focused degree program that includes training in research methods and literary theory. It culminates in a research project or thesis. The master’s in English literature prepares students for doctoral work in the field as well as careers in law, marketing, communication, and other careers outside the academy.

What You Will Learn

Our MA in English (literature) enables you to connect research and teaching in meaningful ways and to balance breadth of knowledge with your areas of specialization. Faculty encourage your intellectual growth and practical development through courses on pedagogy and professionalism.

Students will learn to:

  • Hone their analytical reading skills.
  • Conduct focused, independent research.
  • Write original, polished, and professional conference- and article-length papers.
  • Develop pedagogical methods, rationales, and course plans.

Our Alumni

Learn more about what our graduate-program alumni do.

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What Can You Do with an English Major?

We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer: A lot. You will learn skills that transfer across hundreds of possible careers and industries—some of which may not even exist yet. Our graduates go on to work in marketing, publishing, non-profit fundraising, speechwriting, as well as in countless other fulfilling occupations.

Explore Careers

A student and a professor working together.

Program Benefits

You’ll construct knowledge in close collaboration directly with your classmates and faculty members who boast impressive publication records. Your professors will bring to the classroom their excitement for researching and interpreting the cultural force of literature.

For example, Joyce Huff brings her interdisciplinary specializations in Victorian Literature and Fat Studies to the graduate classroom in her recent Victorian Studies seminar titled, “Victorian Appetites.” Emily Rutter’s monographs Invisible Ball of Dreams: Literary Representations of Baseball behind the Color Line and Constructions of the Blues Muse: Blues Tributes in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century American Poetry inform her curriculum in seminars with topics including “Correspondences between Poetry and Music” ad “African American Literature and Theories of Race.”

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Graduate students regularly present at national conferences, including those held by the Modernist Studies Association, the American Literature Association, and the Popular Culture Association.

At a recent South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) conference, for example, a panel of Ball State graduate students presented papers on Watchmen, The Hunger Games, and Dracula.

This degree emphasizes pedagogy and includes a three-credit class devoted to teaching literature in higher education.

You may also pursue a graduate assistantship with the Freshman Writing Program, which has its own robust pedagogy-training program.

Major Requirements

Our MA in English (literature) includes foundational courses, approved graduate coursework in literature, electives, and a capstone research paper or thesis to round out your degree.

Total Credits



A few of the classes you will take might include:

  • ENG 601 Research in English Studies (Literature)
  • ENG 607 Literary Theory
  • Period-based courses in American, British, and World Literature and Film
  • Courses in Diverse Literatures

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Graduate Catalog.

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Paying for Your Education

Department Graduate Scholarships and Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

Review our admission requirements, dates and deadlines, and instructions. Then complete our online application.

Applications for the fall semester will be accepted until July 10; applications for the spring semester will be accepted until November 1. To ensure full consideration for academic-year graduate assistantships, applications must be complete by January 31.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about this program or about Ball State Graduate School in general, please complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.

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