Program Requirements

While completing the Master of Arts in Writing, you will perform guided and independent work both inside and outside the classroom.

The core required courses lay the groundwork for work across the English disciplines (literature, writing, linguistics, theory), while your individual track requirements allow you to pursue your individual interests.

In addition to coursework, you must:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language
  • Complete a research component, either a thesis or research paper(s)
  • Participate in academic conferences
  • Take a comprehensive examination

Students in the Master of Arts in Writing program must submit a writing portfolio.

Core degree requirements

These courses  come from a variety of disciplines and provide a solid background for your program.

Core requirements (9 hours)

All students in the MA program in Writing must complete the following 9-hour core:

  • ENG 700 Introduction to Research Methods in English (3 hrs)
  • ENG 604 Advanced Writing: Nonfiction (3 hrs)
  • ENG 628 Modern Rhetorical Theory or ENG 684 Topics in Professional Writing (3 hrs)
  • Total 9 Hours

Admission requirements

Due Dates: For students applying for Summer and Fall semester, priority consideration will be given to applications received by March 1; for Spring, by October 1.

Admission to the program is based on the following components and Application Requirements/Deadlines:

  1. A bachelor's degree with extensive preparation in English (the course work equivalent of an English minor);
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.00 overall;
  3. A completed Missouri State University Graduate Application; and
  4. The following materials must be submitted:
    1. Personal Statement (a 200- to 250-word description of the reasons and goals behind your interest in English graduate studies);
    2. At least two letters of recommendation from individuals able to speak of the applicant's academic achievements and potential;
    3. A writing sample (a 10-15 page critical paper in English or portfolio of writing samples);
    4. Graduate Assistantship application if the prospective student would like to be considered for this award (submitted directly to the English Department).

Applicants will be notified by mail once their application is complete. Students who do not meet 1 and 2, above, but show high promise, may be admitted conditionally. As conditions of admission, they may be required to take extra courses or make up deficiencies (including weaknesses in writing) or they may have other requirements stipulated.

Language requirement

Language Proficiency: The language requirement may be met through a number of options:  (a) completion of 12 hours of undergraduate course work in a foreign language with at least a "C" average; (b) completion of a second intermediate college course in a foreign language with a grade of “C” or higher; (c) passing a reading competency test administered by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages; (d) completion of 3 hours in graduate-level linguistics courses (in addition to any linguistics counted in the track); (e) completion of 6 hours of undergraduate course work in computer languages with at least a "C" average).  A student whose native language is not English will be considered to have met the language requirement.

Research requirement

You will need to complete either a thesis or one degree paper.


You will typically research an original subject or take an original approach to a subject. You may also, if appropriate, submit a creative work.

Two faculty readers and a graduate faculty advisor must approve your thesis. If you are considering doctoral work, we typically recommend you write a thesis. It will give you extensive experience in independent research.

Creative thesis

If you have a creative writing focus, you will usually write a “creative thesis.” This may be poetry, a novel, a novella, a collection of short fiction or creative nonfiction.

Degree papers

As a graduate student, you will typically write a seminar papers for your 600-level courses. These papers can serve as the source material for your degree papers. When appropriate, they may also be creative works.

For more information about the specific research requirements, please contact the graduate program director.


You are expected and encouraged to participate in scholarly conferences, professional workshops, lectures and presentations. 

Comprehensive exams

You should plan to begin studying for your comprehensive exams as soon as you begin your graduate coursework. Exams for Master of Arts in English candidates contain two, two-hour essays. Exams for Master of Science in Education in English candidates contain two, one-hour essays. The exam for the Master of Arts in Writing candidates consists of two, 90-minute essays and an oral component.

Comprehensive exams are offered in October, March and June each year.

For more information about comprehensive exam requirements, please contact the graduate program director.