English - Utah State University Skip to main content

English: MA, MS


The master's degree in English is a great program for students who are looking for a broad education in English. Students are able to take a variety of classes and gain a broad base of knowledge to prepare them for further education or teaching. Students receive the kind of training necessary to prepare them for the professional world of academia. They are able to gain experience presenting their work at conferences and submitting for publication.

The MA degree requires students to gain proficiency in one or more foreign languages. The MS degree is identical except that it does not require foreign language study.


  • General English: This specialization is for students who wish to do advanced work in the fields of literary criticism, composition, rhetoric, and/or creative writing. The aim is to professionalize students, helping them to become scholars and teachers of English.
  • Creative Writing: This specialization allows students to do advanced work in creative writing, concentrating on poetry, fiction, and/or creative nonfiction. Students with a strong background in creative writing who desire to continue on that path are encouraged to apply.

Most students pursuing a master’s degree in English have plans to go on to doctoral programs and academia. They may also teach at two-year colleges, or end up in various professions across the career spectrum as a result of the broad education received in the master’s degree program. Students pursuing the technical writing specialization are typically already employed as working professionals in the field of technical communication.

Admission Requirements

Students from various majors are welcome to apply; however, it is preferred that students have experience in undergraduate literature courses.

Application Requirements:

  • Fill out the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Standardized tests are NOT required for this application
  • Provide a copy of your transcript
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • Submit a portfolio of writing materials with the following components:

1) Statement of intent: Applicants must submit a statement of intent that explains their reasons for seeking a master's degree in "Literature and Writing" at Utah State University. This statement should briefly describe their previous academic work, identifying central themes, areas of interest, and skills acquired, and applicants should explain how these prior academic experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter a graduate program in "Literature and Writing." The statement of intent may also address any relevant professional experiences and explain how such experiences have prepared and/or motivated them to enter this graduate program. Within this statement of intent, applicants should identify some of the specific topics or areas of study they would like to focus on for their graduate work. Applicants should also make an effort to show that they are familiar with the specific requirements and features of the "Literature and Writing" program at USU.

Note: For the statement of intent, applicants may focus primarily on how their prior experiences have prepared them for one specific field within this program—literary studies or creative writing (which includes fiction, poetry, and/or creative nonfiction). Applicants must also make an effort to address how their interests will be informed by exposure to both fields in the course of their graduate study.

2) Preface to Writing Sample: Applicants should write a one-paragraph preface for their writing sample that explains the following:

  • a) Context: Applicants must explain when they wrote this writing sample and for what purpose. Who was the original audience? And what were the original goals for this piece of writing?
  • b) Relationship to Folklore and/or American Studies: Applicants must explain how this writing sample demonstrates knowledge and skills that are applicable to the fields of Folklore and/or American Studies.

3) Writing Sample: Applicants should submit a writing sample that reflects their intended area of focus in this master's program (Literature or Creative Writing), as outlined below. Applicants interested in focusing on both Literature and Creative Writing should submit two writing samples, one for each category as outlined below.

LITERATURE: Applicants interested in focusing on the study of literature should submit a 10-25 page sample of academic writing which demonstrates that they are ready to write at the level expected for graduate seminar assignments. Ideally, this writing sample should demonstrate the applicants' critical thinking skills, research skills, and strengths as a writer.

CREATIVE WRITING: Applicants interested in focusing their graduate work on creative writing should provide a writing sample that illustrates their skills and experience in relation to fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Students interested in fiction or creative non-fiction should provide a short story or essay that is 10-25 pages or an excerpt from a longer work that is 10-25 pages. Students interested in poetry should submit 8-10 poems.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

Literature and Writing specialization:

  • Fall semester – January 15
  • Applications received after that date will be reviewed if there is still space available in the program. However, for the best chance at being offered a position as a graduate instructor, students must have their applications submitted by January 15.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students with a literature and writing specialization and American Studies Degree can receive the MS or MA by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Financial Assistance

Students can apply to become graduate instructors. Graduate instructors teach English 1010 and English 2010, general education courses that all USU undergraduates are required to take. Students who are graduate instructors might also receive tuition awards through the School of Graduate Studies, as well as subsidized health insurance, in addition to the following salaries:

  • First-year GIs in the English Department are currently paid $2,251 per class. Since most teach two classes in fall and another two in spring, this works out as a typical annual salary of $9,004.
  • Second-year GIs are currently paid $2,545 per class, which works out as a typical annual salary of $10,180.

Additionally, the cost of living in Logan, Utah, is about 12% lower than the national average.

All applicants will be considered for a graduate instructorship, which are competitive and limited in availability.

Graduate instructors must be full-time, on-campus students.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, and travel support.

Christine Cooper Rompato, PhD, University of Connecticut
Assistant Professor
Area: Medieval literature, Shakespeare, literary analysis, literary theory
Office: RWST 204 E
Phone: (435) 797-3856
Email: christine.rompato@usu.edu

Paul Crumbley, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Department: English Department
Area: American literature, poetry, women writers
Office: RWST 420 C
Phone: (435) 797-3860
Email: paul.crumbley@usu.edu

Brock Dethier, PhD, University of Virginia
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Teaching writing, teaching literature, poetry
Office: FL 201 C
Phone: (435) 797-3546
Email: brock.dethier@usu.edu

Evelyn Funda, PhD, University of Nebraska
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: American literature, Western American literature
Office: RWST 312 E
Phone: (435) 797-3653
Email: evelyn.funda@usu.edu

Lisa Gabbert, PhD, Indiana University
Associate Professor, Director of Folklore Studies
Area: Folklore
Office: RWST 204 C
Phone: (435) 797-2721
Email: lisa.gabbert@usu.edu

Patricia Gantt, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Department: English Department
Area: English education, folklore
Office: RWST 305
Phone: (435) 797-2718
Email: pat.gantt@usu.edu

Shane Graham, PhD, University of Indiana
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: World literature, especially African, Caribbean, Black British, and Ethnic American literature; critical theory
Office: RWST 301 B
Phone: (435) 797-2719
Email: shane.graham@usu.edu

Keith Grant-Davie, PhD, University of California - San Diego
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Editing, technical writing, rhetorical theory
Office: RWST 310 A
Phone: (435) 797-3547
Email: keith.grantdavie@usu.edu

Melody Graulich, PhD, University of Virginia
Professor, American Studies Graduate Director
Department: English Department
Area: American studies, American West
Office: RWST 211 B
Phone: (435) 797-3855
Email: melody.graulich@usu.edu

David Hailey, PhD, University of New Mexico
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Technical communication, rhetorical theory, computer writing, computer technologies
Office: RWST 313 A
Phone: (435) 797-2741
Email: david.hailey@usu.edu

Kerin Holt, PhD, Brown University
Assistant Professor, Director of American Studies
Department: English Department
Area: Early American literature, regionalism, transnational studies, borderlands
Office: RWST 204 E
Phone: (435) 797-8946
Email: kerin.holt@usu.edu

Phebe Jensen, PhD, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Department: English Department
Area: Shakespeare, Early Modern literature
Office: RWST 302 A
Phone: (435) 797-1406
Email: phebe.jensen@usu.edu

Joyce Kinkead, PhD, Texas A&M University - Commerce
Professor, Associate Vice President for Research
Department: English Department
Area: Writing program administration, personal narrative, undergraduate research, and English education
Office: MAIN 162
Phone: (435) 797-1706
Email: joyce.kinkead@usu.edu

Sonia Manuel-Dupont, PhD, University of Kansas
Associate Professor of English and Civil and Environmental Engineering
Department: English Department
Area: Linguistics
Office: LILLY 101
Phone: 435-797-1340
Email: Sonia.manuel-dupont@usu.edu

Brian McCuskey, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Nineteenth-century British literature, contemporary literary theory, film
Office: RWST 302 D
Phone: (435) 797-0262
Email: brian.mccuskey@usu.edu

John McLaughlin, PhD, University of Kansas
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Linguistics
Office: RWST 307
Phone: (435) 797-2738
Email: nuwitaivottsi@yahoo.com

Kristine Miller, PhD, University of Michigan
Honors Program Director
Department: English Department
Area: Twentieth century British literature
Office: RWST 205
Phone: (435) 797-3646
Email: kristine.miller@usu.edu

Ryan Moeller, PhD, University of Arizona
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Rhetorical theory, rhetoric of technology, professional and technical writing, computer game design and development
Office: RWST 312 B
Phone: (435) 797-8637
Email: rylish.moeller@usu.edu

Steven Shively, PhD, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Teacher education, American literature, multicultural literature
Office: RWST 204 F
Phone: (435) 797-0325
Email: steve.shively@usu.edu

Jennifer Sinor, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Creative writing, memoir, teaching writing
Office: RWST 302 B
Phone: (435) 797-3440
Email: jennifer.sinor@usu.edu

Steve Siporin, PhD, Indiana University
Department: English Department
Area: Folk narrative, material culture, Jewish folklore, fieldwork
Office: RWST 204 B
Phone: (435) 797-2722
Email: steve.siporin@usu.edu

Jeffery Smitten, PhD, University of Wisconsin
Department: English Department
Area: Eighteenth century British literature, Scottish literature
Office: RWST 420 B
Phone: (435) 797-3854
Email: jeffery.smitten@usu.edu

Michael Sowder, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Poetry, creative writing, American literature
Office: RWST 301 A
Phone: (435) 797-7100
Email: michael.sowder@usu.edu

Jeanie Thomas, PhD, University of Oregon
Department Head of English
Department: English Department
Area: Legend, the supernatural, material culture, folklore theory
Office: RWST 201
Phone: (435) 797-2733
Email: jeanie.thomas@usu.edu

Charles Waugh, PhD, University of Denver
Assistant Professor
Department: English Department
Area: Fiction writing, studies in fiction, American culture and environment
Office: RWST 302 C
Phone: (435) 797-3481
Email: charles.waugh@usu.edu

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Student Association for Graduates of English: SAGE is a graduate student association. Students meet and hold workshops on various subjects, namely how to present at conferences and information on PhD programs.

Society for Technical Communication: STC is an individual membership organization dedicated to advancing the arts and sciences of technical communication. It is the largest organization of its type in the world. Worldwide, the STC has 25,000 members including writers, editors, documentation specialists, visual designers, web designers and developers, and more.

Labs, Centers, Research

Creative Learning Environments Laboratory: The CLE is a dedicated research space of interdisciplinary emphasis within the Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences and in conjunction with the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning (COSL). CLE is comprised of educators and students dedicated to researching educational applications of rich sensory-based technological media.

Fife Folklore Archives: The Fife Folklore Archives is one of the largest repositories of American folklore in the United States. The FFA is part of Utah State University's Special Collections and Archives, where the historical American Folklore Society Manuscript Collection is housed.

Interactive Media Research Laboratory: This focuses on researching and developing protocols that enhance cognition in digital environments. The lab strives to evaluate the full spectrum of digital media and identify successful approaches to communication, entertainment, and education.

Learning Suite: The Learning Suite is comprised of two student computer labs: the Teaching Lab and the Open-Access Lab. The Learning Suite strives to foster an environment where communication can develop between students, instructors, and their audiences. It supports communication as any expression through the medians of written text, graphics, sound, and still and moving images, and updates its technology to provide as much support as possible for these forms of communication.

Writing Center: The Writing Center provides tutoring services for students across the university with either face-to-face or online help, allowing them to implement and improve upon concepts introduced in class. Students can work as tutors in the writing center which will help them gain experience in writing. Graduate instructors in the English Department are required to work two hours each week in the Writing Center.