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Home > Academics > Divisions > Arts and Humanities > English > Programs and Advising > Master of Arts
Master of Arts

Course Information

When do courses meet?

All of our classes are evening classes. A few are at 4:30pm, but most are at 6:30pm.

What courses should I take?

Try to take required courses first (see below). These are the most overcrowded, so it may take you a few tries to get in; start trying right away. If you can’t get in, then take any course that interests you. Those will count as electives.

What are the required courses?

MA in Literature 701 (Methodology for MA Students)
636 (Literary Criticism)
7 Electives (any 600 or 700-level courses in English)
791 (MA Thesis)
MA in Creative Writing 760/761/762 (Fiction/Poetry/Drama Theory and Practice) or 636
662 or 673 or 719 (History and Structure of the English Language)
3 Electives (any 600 or 700-level courses in English
4 Writing Workshops
759 (Final Writing Project)
MS Ed. in English 703 (Composition Theory) or 701 (Methodology)
702 (Methodology for MS.Ed/English Students) or 636 (Literary Criticism)
662 or 673 or 719 (History and Structure of the English Language)
2 Electives (any 600 or 700-level courses in English)
5 Education Courses
Teaching Fellows 662 or 673 or 719 (History and Structure of the English Language)
636 (Literary Criticism) or
702 (Methodology for MS.Ed/English Students)
2 Electives (any 600 or 700-level courses in English)

 I can’t get into the required courses I need. What can I do?

You can contact the faculty who teach those courses and ask for an overtally or ask to be put on a waiting list. Please note that the DGS cannot overtally you into closed courses. Students can only be added to a course by the faculty member who will be teaching that course. So you should speak directly with that instructor; you don’t have to involve the DGS.

In addition, you should continue to monitor the Registrar’s website to determine if a spot in the course you wish to take opens up. If the course does become available, you should register for it immediately. Alternatively, you can talk to the DGS to determine if there are any other courses that might fulfill the same requirement. If you are about to graduate, it would be wise to explore all these avenues. If you are not about to graduate, it is up to you whether or not you choose to wait and see if the course is offered during a subsequent semester.

Can I take the course at another institution?

You also can try to find an equivalent course at another institution that you can take for transfer credit. Ideally, you will be able to find the course at another CUNY school, because the CUNY e-permit system allows you to take courses at other CUNYs for free. If you decide to take a course at a non-CUNY school, you will need to have the the Non-Cuny Permit form signed by the DGS. Once you have found a course you believe will meet your needs, show the DGS the course description so s/he can confirm that the course you wish to take will indeed substitute for a QC course.

Once you have completed the course, you should pick up the blue Transfer Credit Evaluation form from the Graduate Admissions office, fill out the top part and bring it to the DGS with a not reminding him/her what course you did and what it substituted for. Unfortunately, this form is not currently available online, so you will have to pick a copy up in Graduate Admissions in Jefferson 100.

Will you offer these courses in the summer/fall/spring?

We try to offer as many required courses as we can every semester, but we can’t guarantee anything, because it depends on our staffing. We have been criminally underfunded for years and can’t hire the staff we need to teach the courses you need. We are doing our best, but please be aware that we’re dealing with economic constraints we didn’t choose and don’t want.

What is an elective?

Undergraduate courses do not count as electives. Any 600- or 700-level English course counts as an elective toward an MA in English literature.

What is this course about?

Course descriptions are posted on the English Department website under the Courses menu (click here) and on the bulletin board in the hallway outside Klapper 601.

Is it okay if I take two courses with the same number?

Sure. Many of our electives fall under umbrella-category numbers, such as 781 (Special Studies) or 729 (Studies in Modern Literature). As long as each course is different, it doesn’t matter that they happen to be listed under the same number.

I’m not in the MFA program. Can I still take a workshop?

No, the MFA writing workshops are reserved for MFA students.

How do I take time off?

It’s pretty simple; just don’t sign up for coursework that semester. When you come back, you will have to pay a small reentry fee (about $10), but that’s all.

What do I do if some catastrophe forces me to pull out of my classes?

Unfortunately, life can strike when we’re not expecting it. A health crisis, a sudden death in the family, a relationship ending, a job emergency, all sorts of things can derail the best-planned semester. You can withdraw from graduate classes at any time. Moreover, if the crisis meant that you didn’t even have a chance to pull out properly, you can get a retroactive withdrawal the semester after. Click here to download the withdrawal form.

In particularly complicated cases, for instance if you dropped out for several semesters, it may be necessary to speak to the Dean of Graduate Studies, and the Director of Graduate Studies (currently Andrea Walkden) so that they can approve your reenrollment, but this is usually not a problem.

How does grading work?

In an MA class, the grade range is somewhat different than for an undergraduate class. While different faculty members obviously will give somewhat varied ranges of grades, a good general rule is this: As mean you’re doing acceptable graduate-level work; Bs mean you’re only doing undergraduate-level work and need to improve or you may be in trouble; and anything below Bs is a very serious matter indeed. As an example, here is the guide the current DGS (Professor John Weir) uses when computing grades for his graduate students:

A+ Superb paper, publishable, go to a PhD program right now.
A Excellent paper, just what you should be doing.
A- Pretty good, at about the right level for a grad student, but can use some more work; usually these papers are doing all the right things but are still a bit crude, as the skills are new.
B+ For an undergrad this would be a good paper, but it needs to make a jump to the next level; usually these papers are lively and bright but lack critical reading or theoretical sophistication.
B A medium-level undergrad paper, only barely acceptable for grad students; usually these are dutiful summaries that don’t have the energy of the B+ paper nor the sophistication of an A paper.
B- A serious problem; this would probably not be acceptable even for undergraduates, and you need to fix things right here, right now. Usually these papers have basic organizational or writing problems.
Cs or below: This is the equivalent of an F.

What if my GPA falls below a B average?

As you probably know, you need to sustain a 3.0 or B average overall to stay in the program. If you get a B- or below in a particular course, you don’t need to worry too much; an A in another course will offset it and as long as your overall GPA is 3.0 or above, you will be fine. But if your whole GPA dips, you will be placed on probation; this means you get a warning letter from the Dean of Graduate Studies putting a stop on your record until you can her/him. Go to the DGS immediately (Andrea Walkden, and ask for help. You may need to make a change as simple as taking some time off or reducing the number of courses per semester; you may need to cut back on work hours; you may need to develop better study habits. Let the DGS help you figure out what to do early in the program – don’t let it get to the point where you think you’re ready to graduate but your GPA prevents you.

What is the independent study course?

Independent study (English 795) is a chance for you to pursue in-depth study of an advanced topic not otherwise available in the curriculum. This means that if you have a deep fascination with something, you should seek out a faculty member who specializes in that field, and design a course for yourself. You do the readings and assignments on your own, meeting periodically to discuss them. In other words, it is not an easy way to get out of a course but a chance to do high-level research for a student with unusual drive and initiative. English 759, “Advanced Writing Project,” is the thesis course for creative writers, and English 791 is the thesis course for literature students.

My admissions letter required me to take some undergraduate courses to make up deficiencies. How do I do that?

Many graduate students need to make up deficiencies, particularly if you did not do a traditional English major as an undergraduate. Sign up for those classes first, before you do your graduate work. They will appear on your transcript but not form part of your GPA. Use the same registration procedure you do for graduate courses (see below).


 Office Information

Director of Graduate Studies:
Andrea Walkden
Office: Klapper Hall, Room 604
Office Hours (Spring 2014): Mon 4:30-7:00pm, Wed 1:30-2:30pm, and by appointment

Assistant Director of Graduate Studies:
Caroline Kyungah Hong
Office: Klapper Hall, Room 636

Office Hours (Spring 2014): Tue 4:30-6:30pm, and by appointment

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