M.A. Program in English



M.A. Program in English
300 Pompton Road, Atrium 220, Wayne, NJ 07470
Director: Dr. Rajender Kaur; (973) 720-3704

The Department of English offers graduate programs leading to an M.A. in English with a concentration in either literature or writing. Graduate courses are scheduled during the late afternoons and evenings. Classes are small enough to allow a close working relationship with the faculty.

The literature concentration offers students advanced study and enrichment in English and American Literature and contextual studies, literary criticism, history of the language, and modern linguistics.

The writing concentration offers aspiring writers, pre-professionals, teachers who wish to update their skills, and individuals interested in writing as process enough structure to supply a firm foundation and enough flexibility to accommodate individual writing goals.

Our faculty publish literary criticism, fiction, poetry, biography, autobiography, gender studies, interviews, editions of essays and letters, and textbooks. Their most recent books include: A Precious Seeing: Love and Reason in Shakespeare's Plays; Senhora - Profile of a Woman; Dream House: A Memoir; "Bad Girls"/"Good Girls": Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties; The Crane Log: A Documentary Life of Stephen Crane; Literature and Society; City Life: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara; The Tapestry Grammar: A Reference for Learners of English; A Life of Kenneth Rexroth; Approaches to Teaching Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury"; The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1946. Their publishers include the University of Texas Press, New York University Press, W.W. Norton, Rutgers University Press, Prentice Hall, and Knopf.

View Program Requirements & Courses


The requirements for admission are:

1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university;

2. A cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in the undergraduate major;

3. A minimum score of 150 on the verbal portion and 4.5 on the analytical portion of the Graduate Record Examination or a minimum score of 400 on the Miller Analogies Test.

4. Two letters of recommendation that attest to the applicant’s academic qualifications;

5. An essay of 500 to 750 words that addresses any one of the following questions: (1) What led you to apply to the graduate program in English at William Paterson University? (2) What are your personal reasons for pursuing an advanced degree in literature or writing? (3) Why are you engaged by a particular issue, book, or idea?

6. Students with a limited background in English can be admitted, but may be required to take additional courses with the approval of the graduate program director.

Graduate Assistantships: Prospective students interested in applying for a Graduate Assistantship must submit all application materials by March 15th. In addition, your personal statement should state your interest in a Graduate Assistantship, as well as your qualifications. We also ask that you email a copy of your CV to kaurr@wpunj.edu. More information about Graduate Assistantships can be found here.

Graduate Admissions and Enrollment Services at William Paterson University


Students write the graduate thesis in the last semester of graduate work with the advice of a faculty member, and while taking English 6990: Research and Thesis Seminar. Before the student can write the thesis, however, the student must be assigned a faculty advisor, and must submit a thesis proposal. Here is the timeline for submitting these documents.

1. Declaration of Intent. This one-page form briefly describes the area in which the student will be writing the thesis, and asks the student to list three faculty members with whom he/she would like to work. In consultation with the faculty, the committee will determine the best fit and assign the student an advisor. This form must be filled out TWO semesters before the student plans on writing the thesis and taking English 6990. The due date for this form is announced in graduate classes, and posted on the listserve but is generally due two weeks before the Thesis Proposal Workshop. This form must be filled out and returned on or before the due date. Forms handed in late or not handed in at all may prevent the student from securing an advisor.

2. Thesis Proposal Workshop. Approximately one month before the thesis proposal is due, a one-hour workshop will be held to explain in detail how a thesis proposal should be written. The workshop is widely advertised in the Atrium, announced in graduate seminars, and posted on the listserve generally two weeks before the workshop.

3. Thesis Proposal. This document specifically details your thesis project. The thesis proposal must be prepared in consultation with the student's thesis advisor, and must be signed by said advisor. The thesis is general due one month after the workshop. Late proposal may not be considered. After the proposals have been handed in, the Graduate Committee will review them and either accept them without change, or ask that specific changes be made before the student is allowed to continue.  Students will be notified by mail about the committee’s decision. Revisions to the proposal are generally due three weeks after the notification.

4. Thesis. In order to enroll in English 6990 and write the thesis proposal, a student must have completed at least 27 credits in the Graduate Program. A student may take other classes while enrolled in English 6990 and while writing the thesis. The writing of the thesis will be done in consultation with the student’s advisor and with members of the Thesis Seminar. A final grade in the Seminar will be given based on the student’s final project and participation in the seminar.  The faculty advisor and the Thesis Seminar instructor, in consultation with each other, will give the student the final grade for the Thesis Seminar. For the thesis to be considered complete, the student must receive at least a B- and have finished the program. 

5. MA Thesis in Literature. For the thesis, the student will establish a clearly defined area of literary study. The student must be able to demonstrate an ability to synthesize and evaluate literary theory. The clearly written, well-focused thesis should be 7,500-10,000 words in length and incorporate original insight with primary, secondary and contemporaneous critical sources.

6. M.A. Thesis in Writing. For the thesis, the student will write a 75 plus page manuscript that indicates advanced skills in writing in one of a variety of genres: fiction, drama, non-fiction (such as memoir, biography, critical essays), screen writing, journalism. For poetry, the student will write a 40 plus page manuscript.

7. Graduate Colloquium. At the end of the Thesis Seminar, a colloquium will be held where the student will give a brief presentation of his/her project. Participation in this colloquium is required, and is considered an opportunity to share one's work with the English faculty, and with family and friends.

8. Handing in the Thesis. After successfully completing the Thesis Seminar, and shortly after the presentation at the colloquium, the student will hand in a copy of the thesis to the Graduate Program Director. A binder will be given to the student near the end of the semester. A second copy of the thesis should be presented to the student's faculty advisor. If the student is in the writing concentration, he/she will also hand in the portfolio.

9. Graduation and Diploma. It is the student's responsibility to file for graduation with the Registrar. Once the student's final grades have been handed in, the student will be cleared for graduation, and the diploma will be mailed to you.

Students preparing the thesis proposal should consult the following documents:

Thesis Declaration of Intent

Thesis Proposal Guidelines: Literature

Thesis Proposal Guidelines: Writing

Thesis Proposal Cover Sheet

Thesis Title Page Sample

Guidelines for Thesis Completion: M.A. in Writing

Guidelines for Thesis Completion: M.A. in Literature