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Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Students

Where do I get an application?  Other than the application form, what will I need to complete my application?

Please refer to the Prospective Students section of the website.  All directions on applying are located there with explicit instructions.

NOTE: If you are applying for a teaching assistantship additional materials need to be submitted.  A list of what also needs to be included for teaching assistantship applicants can also be found under Prospective Students.

What kind of Writing Sample is required with my application? What kind of Personal Statement is required with the application? What should Letters of Recommendation cover?

The writing sample of 8 to 10 pages, will preferably be academic writing completed within the past two years. For students who completed their undergraduate work more than one year before their application, professional writing of similar length, such as, but not limited to a grant proposal, a newsletter, or a business report may be submitted to fulfill this requirement. The applicant’s writing sample must be accompanied by a brief statement of the context for which the writing was done.

The personal statement should be an essay of approximately five hundred to seven hundred words explaining the applicant’s goals in pursuing graduate study in English and future plans which the M.A. in English will enable you to accomplish.

Letters of Recommendation should speak to your strength as an applicant: your academic aptitude, writing ability, work ethic, and so forth.  Most of your letters should be from past instructors who can comment in detail on your strengths as a student.

When is the deadline for applying? Does this deadline pertain to the M.A. in English as well as M.F.A. degrees?

These deadlines are consistent every year.

  • The application deadline for entry into the M.A. in English for the Spring Semester is October 15.
  • The application deadline for entry, with assistantship, into the M.A. in English for the Fall Semester is January 15.
  • The application deadline for entry only into the M.A. in English for Fall Semester is April 15.
  • The M.F.A. in Creative Writing is a separate program. You can access more information about that program here.

Can I transfer credits from another graduate program to my program of study?

Yes. However, University Rules stipulate that least 2/3 of the coursework for a Master’s Degree must be undertaken at Boise State University. This means that no more than 6-9 credits are normally accepted by transfer for the M.A. in English.

Do I need to take the GRE to be admitted into graduate study in the English Department? What are you minimum test scores?  Average test scores?

Yes. Applicants to the M.A. in English Program must take the GRE General Test and receive a minimum score of at least 500 according to the GRE testing score scale on or before August 2011, or a 153 according to the scale after August 2011 on the Verbal Section of the GRE. Scores on sections other than the Verbal Section are for information purposes only.

What is your minimum undergraduate G.P.A.?  Average G.P.A.?

We require a G.P.A. of at least 3.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate work.  The average GPA for applicants accepted into the M.A. in English program in 2007 and 2008 was 3.45; in 2009 the average GPA of accepted applicants was 3.53.

What are the different emphases for the M.A. in English degree?  How do the degree requirements differ?

Checklists of the two emphases (Literature, and Rhetoric & Composition) are available by clicking on the emphasis links.

Is there a foreign language requirement?

There is no foreign language requirement either for admission into the program or as part of the M.A. degree. Students considering Ph.D. work should consider investigating the requirements of the programs to which they may wish to apply, however, as most Ph.D. programs do have a foreign language requirement.

Do you provide funding?

The Department of English is able to fund M.A. students through Teaching Assistantships. Approximately ten Teaching Assistantships are offered each year. For more details, please see the information under the Prospective Students tab.

How might I arrange to visit the English Department?

Contact the Director of the M.A. in English indicating that you are interested in arranging a campus visit. We will be happy to set up appointments with faculty in the department and meetings with current graduate students. We may be able to assist you with accommodation while you are in Boise (at the home of one of the current graduate students). We are not able to provide financial assistance for campus visits, however.

What is the length of the program? Can I complete a graduate degree on a part-time basis?

The degree consists of 33-36 credit hours. Full time graduate students carry nine credit hours (or three courses) per semester and therefore typically take four semesters to complete the degree. Many students pursue the degree on a part-time basis. University rules require that a student must complete all requirements for the degree within a single continuous interval of no more than seven years.

Can I complete a graduate degree by taking courses online?

At this time we do not offer graduate-level courses in the M.A. in English program online.

Who will be my primary advisor?

The Director of the M.A. in English serves as the default advisor for all students in the M.A. in English program. Once you have chosen your culminating activity you will likely also identify a more specific individual advisor who guide you towards the completion of your degree. The Director of the M.A. in English remains available to you for advice on your program of study, individual courses, and other matters of concern.

How often should I meet with my advisor?

It is advisable to meet with the Director of the M.A. in English at or near the outset of your program of study. Each semester the Director will arrange a meeting at which information about the courses offered in the subsequent semester will be distributed and discussed. Once you have chosen your culminating activity and recruited a supervisor for that culminating activity you will need to determine with your supervisor the frequency of meetings.

How large are classes? Are classes primarily held during business hours, or are there night and evening classes?

Courses in the M.A. in English program are capped at 15 students. Most classes are offered as seminars meeting once a week for three hours. The bulk of courses are offered in the evening or late afternoon.

How many graduate courses are typically taught each semester?

You can look at the upcoming course offerings for each year by looking under the Current Students Resources tab.

Can I take more classes than what is recommended/required?

A full-time course load for graduate students is nine credit hours per semester. It is not recommend that you attempt more than nine credit hours per semester because the reading and writing demands of graduate-level course work in English is quite intense. It is possible to take more than nine credit hours in a semester. Teaching assistants must maintain full-time student status; if a teaching assistant wants to take more than twelve credit hours in the semester they must secure approval from the Director of the M.A. in English.

Is it possible to audit graduate English classes?

While it is possible in theory to audit graduate courses, it is not likely in practice that a student will be allowed to do so. Authorization to audit a course is at the discretion of the instructor.

What kind of library resources do you have? Special Collections?

You can find more information on Albertsons Library here. The Library does have a Special Collections department housing some unique manuscript materials. You can find out more about Special Collections here.

What kind of conference funding do you have for graduate students?

Graduate students can apply to the travel fund for financial assistance when they have had work accepted for presentation at a professional or graduate student conference. For more details, please visit the Current Student Handbook under the Current Student Resources tab. Travel funding information can be found there.

Who are the graduate faculty?  What are their specialties?

Please visit the Faculty tab for more information on graduate faculty.

What do graduate theses look like? Do I have to do a thesis to complete the graduate program?

Students pursuing the Rhetoric & Composition emphasis must complete a thesis, portfolio, or project.  Students pursuing the Literature emphasis can also complete the degree with a coursework option.  For more on culminating activity options, read the Current Student Handbook on “To Thesis or Not to Thesis.”

Past graduate theses are available at Albertsons Library.  On the “Basic Search” page, set the “Quick Limit” to “BSU Albertsons Library Theses” to locate past M.A. theses. The Boise State Writing Center (located in LA 200) maintains a file of recent thesis prospectuses, which give a brief overview of what the thesis is about.

Where do people go from here?

Students completing the M.A. in English will frequently go on to careers in non-profit and other business organizations as writers, editors, and project managers; careers in editing and publishing; careers in public or private teaching in elementary, middle, and secondary schools; careers in teaching at two-year colleges; Ph.D. programs in Literature, Composition & Rhetoric, or English Education or other advanced professional degrees in Law, Business, Public Policy, or other fields.

Do any of your students go on to Ph.D. programs?  Which programs?

We have had good success in the past in placing students in Ph.D. programs in Literature and in Rhetoric and Composition. Recent M.A. graduates from Boise State have gone on to Ph.D. programs across the county, including the University of Oregon, the University of Nebraska, and Florida State University.


Current M.A. Students

Is there a foreign language requirement?

There is no foreign language requirement either for admission into the program or as part of the M.A. degree.  Students considering Ph.D. work should consider investigating the requirements of the programs to which they may wish to apply, however, as most Ph.D. programs do have a foreign language requirement.

Can I complete a graduate degree on a part-time basis?

The M.A. degree can be pursued part-time.  Graduate College regulations stipulate that all requirements for a master’s degree (including courses completed at another college or university) must be started and completed within a single continuous interval of no more than seven years.  Taking only course a semester, a student could complete the Literature emphasis M.A. with the coursework option in twelve semesters or six years.

Can I complete a graduate degree by taking courses on-line?

At this time we do not offer graduate-level courses in the M.A. in English program on-line.

How do I do an independent study?

Information about completing an independent study can be found under the Current Students tab under “Resources.”

What do graduate theses look like? Do I have to do a thesis to complete the graduate program?

Past graduate theses are available at Albertsons Library.  On the “Basic Search” page, set the “Quick Limit” to “BSU Albertsons Library Theses” to locate past M.A. theses.  The Boise State Writing Center (located in LA 200) maintains a file of recent thesis prospectuses, which give a brief overview of what the thesis is about.

Students pursuing the Rhetoric & Composition and English Education emphases must complete a thesis or project.  Students pursuing the Literature emphasis can complete the degree with a coursework option.  For more on the issues of thesis, read the M.A. Student Handbook article on “To Thesis or Not to Thesis” here.