MA in Literature Option

The M.A. in Literature Option is often pursued by individuals thinking of eventually applying to a Ph.D. program elsewhere; in recent years, graduates of our program have gained admission to prestigious Ph.D. programs around the country. Less frequently, this degree is sought by secondary teachers and by students thinking of a career in private secondary teaching. In a typical year, 8 students enter the program out of the 18-30 who applied in January. M.A. students select graduate seminars in American, British, comparative and ethnic literatures, as well as in critical theory, cultural studies, poetics, environmental literature, postcolonial studies and other areas; after three semesters, typically, of intensive coursework, their work culminates in a research thesis or portfolio project.


To complete the M.A. in Literature, students must earn thirty-six (36) credits of graduate-level course work and complete a thesis or portfolio project that is subsequently defended orally in the final semester. Course requirements include two courses in pre-1800 literature and two courses in literary criticism or critical theory, unless such requirements have already been completed previously (e.g., in one's undergraduate work or in another graduate program). Students must complete five 500-level seminars. Up to two of the required seminars may, with the prior approval of the M.A. Literature advisor, be taken in other departments (overall, students may take up to nine (9) credits in courses outside the Department). Students writing a thesis may count up to six (6) thesis credits toward the 36 required for the degree; all students may take up to nine (9) credits of Graduate Independent Study. The thesis is typically a work of two to three chapters, running from 50-75 pages on average.

Application Deadline and Requirements


All applications will be considered for Fall admission (there are no spring or summer admissions).

The University of Montana MA in Literature program uses a two-step application process, with a deadline for submission of January 15, 2021 (please contact us if your file (or portions of your file) may arrive after this date), for admission beginning the following Fall.

Application Steps

  1. The first step is to apply to the Graduate School, and submit a $60 fee.
  2. The second step is to apply for the MA-LIT program. All remaining components of the application will be uploaded through Submittable (available October 1).

Priority will be given to Submittable-uploaded applications completed by January 15th. Complete applications received after this date will be considered on a space-available basis.

Application Requirements

While the prior completion of a B.A. in English is the most likely preparation for the M.A. Literature program, applicants with degrees in other disciplines (e.g., History, Classics, Philosophy, etc.) may still be well-positioned for admission based on the overall strength of their file. In some cases, applicants judged to have insufficient preparation may be admitted with the understanding that they must complete certain courses after entering the program, either as part of or in addition to the 36 credits required for the degree. In addition to the materials required by the Graduate School, the Department of English also requires:

  • An application form filled out on Submittable.
  • A statement of purpose (250-400 words) in which you introduce yourself, your interests, your motivations, etc., and characterize your goals for graduate study
  • CV or resume with a list of any relevant awards, honors or publications.
  • An expository writing sample (a critical essay or research paper), 10-20 pages strongly recommended.
  • At least 3 confidential references for letters of recommendation
  • GRE Scores are not required.

More Information

If you wish to learn more about the M.A. in Literature program, please visit the program´s various webpages and/or contact the Director of Literature, Quan Ha ( with questions and inquiries.