Craft your degree around your interests by selecting from a wide variety of exciting courses in literature. We'll help prepare you to make a difference. It's time for bigger goals.

Program Tracks

  • English
  • Literature & Writing

As a Master's student in our English department, you will be immersed into American & British literature, Modernism, Gender Studies, and so much more. We also provide the opportunity for mentorship so that you are set up for success after graduation. Located in the heart of vibrant downtown Pittsburgh, you will benefit from our small classes, individual attention from dedicated professors, and an energetic and welcoming graduate community. Not from the area? This program is offered remote, hybrid, and in-person - regardless of your location, diversify your thinking with us!

Recent graduates from each track have gone on to careers in business, education, non-profits and journalism, as well as doctoral programs in literature and composition and rhetoric.

Full-time students receive a 25% discount percent on their tuition. Additional funding is available through departmental and university assistantships and teaching fellowships. 

Early PhD Admissions Process for Duquesne English MA Students

The early admissions process allows English MA students who show exceptional promise in their first year to seek early admission to the PhD program. Students accepted early would learn at the start of the Fall of their 2nd year in the MA program that they would become Duquesne Ph.D. candidates following the successful completion of their MA.

Early admission to the PhD program allows MA students to plan their final year of the MA in a way that better positions them for starting their PhD work, and eliminates the stress of applying to multiple PhD programs in the Fall of the second year.






Program Requirements

For the MA in English

  • ENGL 500 Aims and Methods of Literary Scholarship
  • ENGL 566 Introduction to Literary Theory
Option 1:
  • Two courses in earlier literary periods dealing with two different national literatures (British Literature prior to 1800, American Literature prior to 1900, or other designated courses)
  • Two courses in later literary periods dealing with two different national literatures (British Literature after 1800, American Literature after 1900, or other designated courses)

Option 2: 
  • You have the option to design your own subsequent course of study, including course work and a final project, around some kind of organizational framework. You will work with two faculty members to write a rationale for this individually tailored course of study.
  • A paper that is a substantial development and revision of a seminar paper, or another research-based project to be determined by the student in consultation with a faculty member and approved by the Graduate Committee. 
  • Two additional courses of the student's choosing at the graduate level.
  • With the approval of an advisor, a first reader, and the Graduate Studies Committee, a student may write a thesis (6 credits). 

Program Requirements

For the MA in English (Writing & Literature track)

  • ENGL 500 Aims and Methods of Literary Study
  • ENGL 566 Literary Theory OR ENGL 568 Theories of Composition
  • One literature course in an early period
  • One literature course from a late period
  • One additional literature course

* These courses must cover at least two different cultures (e.g., American, British, World)


  • Any writing, writing theory, or teaching of writing courses in the Department
  • Any writing, writing theory, or teaching of writing courses in the Department OR Courses in environmental writing, grant writing, media writing, etc. from across campus.


Requirement may be met by one of the following:

  • An internship
  • A writing portfolio independent study
  • 2 additional courses (in or outside the Department) 


Application Requirements

Students must submit a completed online application, including an updated resume.

Official transcript(s) recording all baccalaureate work, along with degree, from an accredited undergraduate college or university. If you are currently taking classes, please submit your transcript once grades have been posted.


Letters of recommendation from three persons familiar with the applicant's academic studies or, in some cases, work experience. (Note: The department does not contact recommenders. Letters should be submitted through the University's online system.)

A brief (1-2 page) statement of the applicant's purpose in seeking the Master of Arts degree.

A sample of the applicant's academic writing (normally a critical paper written for an English course, 10-20 pages).

An official score report indicating satisfactory performance on TOEFL examination (applicable to international students only).

M.A. in English Funding

New M.A. students entering the program in the fall and enrolling in six or more credits are eligible to receive 25% award on tuition. Please see the graduate special awards website for complete details.

The department also offers several assistantships and teaching fellowships. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for details.

Graduate Assistantships outside the English Department are sometimes available, providing tuition assistance, a stipend, or an hourly wage. These are awarded by direct application to the assistantship, not as part of an English Department-based funding package. Past opportunities have included positions in the University Writing Center, the Honors College, the Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research, the Center for Women and Gender Studies, through faculty-edited journals, and through individual faculty research grant initiatives. Students joining the program will be alerted as opportunities become available.

English Graduate Organization

The English Graduate Organization (EGO) is a professional, social, and organizing body in the English department facilitated by and for graduate students. The organization works to keep English graduate students informed about matters related to graduate life and coordinates a number of activities to foster a collaborative, collegial, and intellectually engaging atmosphere within the department.

English graduate students are active at regional, national, and international conferences. In addition to helping graduate students find, apply to, and gain funding for conferences, EGO members also organize their own biennial conference and volunteer at international conferences hosted in Pittsburgh.

Past EGO graduate conferences and symposia include "Access: (Re)defining Mobility and Disability" (Spring 2015), "(anti)Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Conference" (Spring 2013), "Echoes: Across Disciplines, Texts, and Times" (Spring 2011), "[un]disciplined: Examining Contemporary Models for Interdisciplinary Studies," and "Other Voices, Other's Words: The Indeterminacy of Allusion." Planning for our 2017 conference is underway.

Members of EGO also helped to organize "Lifting Belly High: A Conference on Women's Poetry Since 1900," hosted by the English Department in Fall 2008. EGO members volunteered at the 2014 Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference in downtown Pittsburgh and look forward to the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and Novel Studies conferences in Spring 2016.

EGO coordinates the department's Colloquia Series, a monthly event which provides an opportunity for graduate students and faculty to present their work to the English Department and gain feedback, often before presenting at a conference or while revising for publication. For information about our recent and upcoming Colloquia, please see the department's News and Events page.

EGO sponsors events throughout the semester to help students through the challenges of graduate school, the academic and non/alt-ac job markets, and beyond. Events change every semester based on the needs of the current graduate student body and often feature advice from graduate peers, faculty, and alumni. Recent events include a workshop on academic networking and a Saturday writing retreat. EGO meetings also feature speakers from outside of our department to foster well-being in our graduate student population.

To help new students transition into life at Duquesne and/or in Pittsburgh, EGO pairs interested incoming students with graduate student mentors. These mentors are all current students in the department, and they have volunteered to act as go-tos who can field any questions and concerns. Mentors and mentees typically meet a few times over the course of the semester.

EGO also makes arrangements for department social events throughout the semester that are attended by full-time faculty, adjunct instructors, graduate students, and their friends and families.