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Masters Studies

Masters studies is an integral part of the English Department at the University. To learn more about the programs offered, choose from the following:

The MA in English is designed to help students develop their knowledge of British and American literature and explore a range of cultural studies fields and interdisciplinary areas, including American studies, film studies, digital humanities, race and ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, and religious studies. In addition, students develop a strong background in literary criticism and theory.

Students will take ten courses of at least three credit hours each.

Coursework Requirements

  • English 6480: Introduction to Critical Theory
  • At least three courses in literary history, including one covering literature before 1700 and one covering literature between 1700 and 1900
  • At least three additional courses in literary history, theory, or literary and cultural studies
  • Three electives (up to two of which may be taken in departments other than English, with the prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies)

MA Exam

The MA Exam is a six-hour comprehensive open-book exam given in the spring, based on a reading list announced in October. Students are asked to explicate a poem and write essays on specific questions about previously assigned texts in poetry, fiction, and drama. Anonymity of both students and faculty examiners is preserved throughout the exam process. Scores of Pass, Fail, or Honors may be awarded.

The English MFA program in creative writing is small and selective. It gives students the opportunity to study literature, participate in intensive writing workshops, and work in a close community of writers. Studies may focus their literature coursework in any area of English or American literature.

During their residence, MFA students are expected to work closely with members of the creative writing faculty and write book-length thesis of publishable quality—a novel, a collection of stories, or a collection of poems.

Students will take a minimum of nine courses of at least three credit hours each.

Coursework Requirements

  • Four creative writing workshops
  • English 7450: Narrative Theory and Practice or English 7460: Theory and Practice of Poetry (depending on the genre of the thesis)
  • Four other courses, including at least two literary history courses

MFA Thesis and Thesis Defense

A complete draft of the thesis should be submitted to the committee chair at least three weeks before the desired defense date. After the thesis has been approved by the chair, a defense date is scheduled and cleared with the other committee members. When the date and time have been set, the student should inform the Graduate Advisor, who will schedule a room for the defense and post an announcement so that the public may attend.

The Modular MFA Program at the University of Utah

The University of Utah Creative Writing Program offers a modular MFA program in poetry, fiction and nonfiction that allows students to take courses in Environmental Humanities, the History of the American West and Book Arts while completing a manuscript in the genre of their choice.

The modular MFA is the only MFA program in the nation that allows students to create courses of study that would capitalize on these three distinct areas, to use the historical, aesthetic and cultural knowledge gained from these subjects in their own creative writing. Upon entering the MFA program, students interested in the modular MFA would declare whether they wanted to pursue a single track (MFA with an Environmental Humanities emphasis, for instance) or a multidisciplinary track (MFA with an American West/Environmental Humanities emphasis).

While enrolled in a writing workshop of their choice each semester, students will also take a wide variety of graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses from departments across campus, including History, Communication, Art and Art History, Philosophy and Film, as well as English. These courses include topics such as Environmental Ethics, Film Directors of the American West, Bookbinding, Digital Arts, Global Environmental History, Videogame Studies, Sound Poetry, Artists’ Books, and Art and Architecture of the American West. Students are also encouraged to take our hybrid graduate writing workshop called Experimental Forms in which students combine poetry, fiction, nonfiction and new media in diverse and original ways.

Modular MFA Requirements

Our traditional MFA program requires nine graduate courses, plus six hours of thesis research. Of these nine courses, four are creative writing workshops, one is a theory and practice in the genre of the student’s thesis, and at least four courses are in literary history and special topics.

Our modular MFA program requires the same number of courses and hours of thesis research, but allows students in particular modules (or multi-disciplinary modules) to take courses outside English to fulfill their four literary history/special topics requirements.

Approved Modular Courses

Below is a list of possible approved courses regularly offered at the university in each of the three modules that modular MFA students might take. This list is not exhaustive; modular MFA students are encouraged to research their departments of interest to find other graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses that might apply.  Courses not on this list must be pre-approved by both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of Creative Writing for the student to receive credit towards her modular MFA degree.

Environmental Humanities 

ENGL 5080: Studies in Environmental Writing
ENGL 5050: Ecocriticism and Spiritual Imagination
ENGL 6240: Literature of the American West

COMM 6360: Environmental Communication
COMM 7200: Environmental Communication

HUM 6900: Eco-Science Literature
American West Center Tertulia Workshops (grad level): Topics in Bioregionalism 
HUM 6101: Foundations in Environmental Humanities

HIST 6840: Global Environmental History
HIST 6380: Environmental History of the U.S.
HIST 7670: Colloquium in Environmental History
HIST  4380: Environmental History

PHIL 5530: Environmental Ethics
PHIL 6520: Advanced Bioethics

American West

ENGL 6200: Introduction to American Studies
ENGL 7700: Special Topics in American Studies

ARCH 6231: Art and Architecture of the American West

HIST 6910: Special Studies in American History
HIST 7620: Colloquium in the History of the American West
HIST 7870: Colloquium in the American West

FILM 7870: Special Topics in American West Film and Filmmakers

Book Arts/Publishing/New Media

ENGL 7050: Experimental Forms
ENGL 7810: Publications Workshop: Lit and American Studies
ENGL 6680/7740 or 7720 (whichever number applies):

*Seminar in the Theory and Practice of NewMedia Writing
*New Media and Poetry
*Sound Poetry
*Critical Studies in Artists’ Books

ARCH 6052: Digital Media

ART 3360: Letterpress Printing
ART 3365: Bookbinding
ART 3630: Digital Studio
ART 4060-065-070: Nonmajor Letterpress II
ART 4075: Nonmajor bookbinding III
ART 4090: Nonmajor Artist’s Books

COMM 6520: Interactive Narrative
COMM 6550: Digital Imaging
COMM 6640: Comm Tech and Culture
COMM 6650: Videogames Studies
COMM 6670: Activism & New Media
COMM 6680: Computer Mediated Communication
COMM 6690: New Media, Special Topics
COMM 7640: New Media, Special Topics

Funding Opportunities for the Modular MFA:

Students interested in pursuing the Modular MFA have the option of applying or being considered for a number of fellowship opportunities. Students primarily interested in Environmental Humanities will be considered for a half-teaching fellowship that will cover half their tuition expenses and fees. Students interested in the American West and/or Book Arts/New Media studies will be eligible to apply for The Center for American West/ J.W. Marriott Special Collections Fellowships after they have been accepted into the MFA program. These fellowships will require that students work as archivists and transcribers in one of four areas:  Science and Technology in the West, Multimedia Archives of the West, Utah Oral Histories, and Utah Outdoor Recreation Oral Histories.

Students who are selected for one of these fellowships will receive first-year funding for tuition and fees of up to $12,400 with the possibility of the same amount of funding for a second year. Students who receive the Center for American West/J.W. Marriott Special Collections Fellowship will also be given credit for a one-credit independent study course in Archival Research that will be noted on their transcripts.

Publishing internships also may be made available with FC2, Eclipse, University of Utah Press, Red Butte Press/Book Arts, and other local journals and presses. Credit for internships may fall under the heading of ENGL 7810, the publications workshops for Literature and American Studies.

The English MA in rhetoric and composition is designed to help students understand theories of persuasive discourse and related pedagogical, public, and scholarly practices. Through coursework in the English, Writing and Rhetoric Studies, and allied areas, students will develop their knowledge of rhetoric and writing as they interact with faculty members and fellow students in a range of fields, including literary studies, communication, education, and linguistics.

Students will take ten courses of at least three credit hours each.

  • English 6480: Introduction to Critical Theory
  • Three core courses in rhetoric and composition selected from: (1) WRTG 6020: Responding to Student Writing; (2) ENGL/WRTG 6350: Composition Theory and Research; (3) Studies in Writing and Pedagogy; (4) ENGL/WRTG 6770: Studies in Discourse Analysis; and (5) ENGL/WRTG 7760: Rhetoric/ Composition/Discourse
  • Three 6000- or 7000-level courses in ENGL
  • Three 6000- or 7000-level courses in CMM, ECS, ENGL, or LING, to be approved by the WRS Graduate Coordinator and the English Director of Graduate Studies

MA Exam

Administered during the spring semester, the exam will be in two parts: (1) one question that addresses perspectives on rhetoric and composition from allied disciplines, including English/literary studies, communication, education, and linguistics (timed); and (2) one question exploring a topic that arises from the student’s core courses in rhetoric and composition (take-home). Students have three opportunities to pass the exam; students who fail the exam three times are dismissed from the program. Students must be registered for at least three hours during the semester in which the exam is taken.

The Department of English participates in the College of Humanities' Environmental Humanities program by offering courses and mentoring students. For information on admission to this program, please visit the program web site 

(801) 585-7052 
Environmental Humanities Graduate Program
1995 De Trobriand Street, FD 618A
Salt Lake City, UT 84113

Additional information can be obtained by calling the Dean's Office inside the College of Humanities

Languages & Communications BLDG
255 South Central Campus Drive, Room 2100
Salt Lake City, UT 84112



Last Updated: 11/8/16