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M.A. English

Program Overview

Clemson University’s M.A. in English program welcomes applications from anyone interested in pursuing in-depth study of literature in English.

The program serves three large groups: students seeking a bridge between their B.A. in English and pursuit of a Ph.D. in English or an M.F.A. or Ph.D. in creative writing; K-12 teachers seeking advanced study in literature; and students seeking to continue the intellectual stimulation that the liberal arts and literature provide.


Dr. Kimberly Manganelli
Associate Professor of English
Director of Graduate Studies
807 Strode Tower
Clemson, SC 29634-0523


For priority admission and consideration for assistantships, submit your application by 1 February in order to matriculate in the Fall semester of the same year. We do not accept applications for Spring admission. Applicants indicating a preference for Spring admission will be considered for the following Fall semester.

All applicants must have:

  • B.A. from an accredited college or university

The following materials are required for application to the program:

  • Online Application
  • A brief personal statement in the form of an intellectual biography: Why are you seeking an advanced degree in English? What have you studied? In what eras, authors, and approaches do you have particular interest? Why do you want to pursue your studies at Clemson? (this statement can be completed in the Online Application or mailed to the program director)
  • A writing sample: Please submit either (1) a critical essay of ten to twelve pages from an English course, or (2) two shorter essays from English courses. Writing samples should best demonstrate your critical and creative writing abilities.
  • GRE scores are not required.
The admissions committee gives preference to students with:
  • Strong writing skills demonstrated through writing sample and statement of purpose.
  • Focused reasons for pursuing an M.A. in English at Clemson.
  • At least 12 hours of coursework in English literature, or other background that prepares them for the M.A.E. program.

We encourage you to contact the program director for further information. You may check the status of your application online here.

Graduate Funding, Awards and Financial Aid

Graduate Assistantships

The M.A. in English program offers 10 graduate assistantships for new graduate students, including a stipend of $16,000 and tuition reduction. First year G.A.s typically perform fifteen hours of research assistance, administrative support, or writing tutoring per week.

Graduate Teachers of Record

Graduate students have the chance to be Graduate Teachers of Record once they have completed 18 graduate credit hours, generally in their second year of study. GTRs teach two sections of first-year composition each semester, with moderate supervision from the Director of First-Year Composition. GTRs receive a stipend of $16,500 and tuition reduction.

Graduate Fellowships

Strong applicants may be considered for a variety of fellowships supported by the English Department and the Graduate School. Consideration for these fellowships requires submission of the same materials used for applications for assistantships.

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for university awards and fellowships. For information regarding student loans, please contact:


For the most up-to-date information about the cost of attending, please see the Graduate School page on tuition costs or the Bursar’s Office page for information on payment options.

Degree Requirements

MAE Program Handbook

Course-work Requirements

Students are required to take 31 hours of graduate coursework including:

  • English 8000: Introduction to Research (1 hour)
    Literary history and research; use of libraries and bibliographical tools; exposition of scholarship. Required of all candidates for the Master of Arts degree.
  • English 8100: Literary Theory and Method (3 hours)
    Introduces significant methods, approaches and theorists in the current practice of literary and cultural criticism. Establishes a basic familiarity with the vocabulary and techniques of major critical movements and offers a foundation for specialized study.
  • English 8850: Composition Theory (required for teaching English 103, 3 hours)
    Teaching college-level courses, stressing contemporary composition theory, research and practice. Required of all MA in English and MAWRM Teaching Assistants.
  • One seminar in pre-1800 literature (3 hours)
  • One seminar in post-1800 literature (3 hours)
  • Additional seminars to complete the required hours for the degree.
  • Six hours of thesis work.

Thesis Requirement

  • The MAE thesis is a semester-long project with the goal of producing a potentially publishable 25-30 page paper, comparable to articles published in peer-reviewed journals.  Typically, students will significantly expand or re-imagine an essay previously written for a graduate seminar.
  • Students also have the option of writing a creative thesis that would be comparable in length to a critical thesis. The creative thesis might include a collection of poetry, multiple short stories, or the beginning of a novel.
  • Students are also required to submit a thesis prospectus, approximately 5-10 pages, during the fall semester of their second year of graduate study.  A prospectus includes a statement of the research question driving the thesis project, a statement placing the question in a wider critical context, a plan for completing the thesis during a semester-long time-frame, and a working bibliography.
  • Students must organize a thesis committee consisting of three faculty members—a director and two readers—by the end of the semester in which a student submits his or her prospectus.
  • Students will work with their directors and members of their committee to choose a list of literary and theoretical works that provide background and context to the thesis project, but which may not be immediately part of the thesis itself. Some of these works might derive from readings from the seminar in which the paper that is becoming the thesis was written, or from readings in other seminars where that connect to the thesis project. Some of the works may reflect the expanded thinking beyond specifically assigned texts. For creative theses, the list of background texts should feature works by writers who have driven the student to become a writer: they might include models, rejected works, craft essays, theoretical texts, etc. The length of this list of background works will vary from project to project. The student will provide this list of works to the committee in advance of the defense, and the student may be asked during the defense to address these works’ relationships to the thesis.
  • The thesis defense will last about 90 minutes. Students should plan to begin the conversation with a brief (5-10 minute) framing of the project: this opening might introduce the argument of the thesis and say briefly why the research question matters to the field of English studies and to the sub-field in which the thesis works. The student should NOT simply summarize the thesis.
  • The first two-thirds of the thesis defense will focus on the thesis. The student can expect questions about methodology, analysis, use of framing metaphors, choice of text(s), engagement with criticism and/or theory, etc. The last third of the defense will turn to the relationship between the thesis and the list of background works. At the end of the defense, the committee will ask the student to leave the room while they briefly deliberate about whether the student passed the defense and what revisions they will require of the thesis. The student will then return to the room to discuss with them their conclusions. Typically, the student will handle the revision process with her/his director, though in some instances another member of the committee may ask to see a revised version of the thesis.
Foreign Language Requirement

Students are encouraged to satisfy the foreign language requirement during their first year of graduate study by demonstrating reading competency in an approved foreign language. Languages commonly accepted are French, German, Spanish and, in some cases, Italian or a classical language. Upon the recommendation of the chair of the Department of Languages, knowledge of another language may be approved, provided that adequate justification can be presented, that the language is not native to the student, and that a proper testing procedure can be established. The student must pay any expense incurred in obtaining assistance for such testing.

The language requirement may be satisfied by:

  1. Graduate students bringing their undergraduate transcripts to 717 Strode to prove they have completed through Clemson University’s equivalent of 202 in the same language ending with at least a “B” in 202.
  2. Passing the Graduate Foreign Language Reading Exam.
  3. Passing the “Reading for Graduates” course in Spanish (SPAN 1510), French (FR 1510), or German (GER 1510), offered in the summer.

Students without preparation in a chosen foreign language may wish to audit 1010 or 1020 prior to enrolling in 1510. Students with some preparation may wish to audit 2010 or 2020 before taking the translation test or enrolling in 1510.

For more detailed information about foreign language requirements, please see the MAE Program Handbook or contact the Department of Languages, (864) 656-3393.

Department of English
Department of English | 801 Strode Tower, Clemson, SC 29634