An MA in English offers you the opportunity to advance your skills in literary analysis and to expand your knowledge in literature, writing, and literary theory.

Master of Arts in English

GWU student in an english class

With concentrations in literature studies, English education, and writing studies, the Master of Arts in English degree will offer you the opportunity for professional advancement in areas such as writing, publishing, and teaching at the secondary or college levels.

Graduate Admissions

The online MA English program is designed for students to develop a scholarly and professional identity that reflects the growing demand for strong skills in communication, analysis, critical thinking, and collaboration. In order to reflect the diversity of the discipline and the evolving nature of English studies, the program is divided into three concentrations: literature studies, English education, and writing studies.

Upon completion of the program, all graduates will be able to:

  1. Read, write, and think critically on a professional level;
  2. Demonstrate concentration-specific research methods;
  3. Complete a capstone project of publishable quality (specific projects determined in concentrations).

The online MA English program uses a cohort model designed for students to complete the degree in six semesters, including two summers. Each student takes four core courses and seven courses in the concentration for a total of 30 hours. The core courses build community and foster collaboration across concentrations as well as provide a foundation for courses within each concentration.

Additional information, including descriptions of specific concentrations and courses, is available in the Academic Catalog.

Since the MA English is a cohort, new students begin in the fall. Applicants should have a BA or BS in English or an equivalent degree (from the Communications field, for example). Students without a bachelor’s degree in English or substantial undergraduate coursework in English will be evaluated on an individual basis. Typically, 12-15 hours of upper-level English coursework are expected to be completed before admission.

  1. Submit an application online through the Office of Graduate Admissions;
  2. Application fee ($);
  3. One official transcript from each college or university attended. The Privacy Act requires that each student request in writing that transcripts be released to the Graduate School Office;
  4. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for all work completed beyond high school;
  5. No standardized test score is required;
  6. A clear and well-written 250-word statement of purpose, explaining the student’s objectives and purpose for pursuing an MA in English. Please indicate the concentration in which the student is interested - literature studies, English education, writing studies;
  7. A writing sample of 2,000 words or an equivalent body of work that demonstrates the applicant’s writing abilities and readiness to engage in graduate-level work. This writing sample might include an in-depth literary analysis, an extensive research piece (e.g., senior thesis) on a topic within English studies, or a portfolio of writing samples from an internship or current work environment; and
  8. No teaching license is required to be admitted into the program. Students in the English Education program are not eligible for teaching licensure upon completion."


Successful completion of 6 hours of Gardner Webb’s Graduate Certificate in English program coursework and instructor recommendation. Contact the English department chair for an internal application.

Additional information and program requirements are available in the Academic Catalog.

Before beginning the program, a student who intends to work in a state other than North Carolina should contact the appropriate state licensure authority in order to determine whether North Carolina licensure requirements meet that state’s requirements or whether additional requirements apply. It is the student’s responsibility to confirm and comply with the licensure requirements in any state other than North Carolina.

Educators who work in South Carolina should consult the SC Department of Education webpage on Online and Out of State Educator Preparation Programs which includes the following instructions.

Prior to beginning an online program, an individual must request a formal program approval using the online Request for Change/Action form. Along with the form, educators will need to include, college or university name and address, program name, program description and the purpose of the program. Also what the educator wants to obtain with degree program (ex: Initial certification in Elementary Education). Approval for online programs cannot be given via phone or email.

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Graduate Admissions