Feb 27, 2024  
Mercy University 2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
Mercy University 2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

English Literature, M.A.

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Christopher Loots, Ph.D., Program Director

Courses also offered online


The Master of Arts in English Literature program at Mercy University offers a rigorous and accessible learning opportunity for those with teaching and/or scholarly aspirations, as well as for those who hope to enrich their intellectual and creative lives. Students in the program learn advanced methodologies of literary criticism while engaging with major authors and writers from British, American, and other traditions. Graduates of this 30-credit program are qualified to apply to most full-time community college English faculty openings, and to teach as an adjunct at most four-year colleges. The degree may also be a stepping stone to a PhD.


Students will be exposed to a broad range of major genres, authors, and texts from diverse cultural and historical traditions. Students will develop their writing, critical thinking, and information literacy skills through seminar discussions and the submission of essays and research papers. The English Literature program seeks to develop independent and creative thinkers who are culturally literate and effective communicators, prepared to pursue careers inside and outside academe.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

By the end of the MA English Literature program, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Analyze and interpret literary texts.
  2. Apply critical approaches and concepts to the analysis and interpretation of literary texts.
  3. Conduct research relevant to the field, and evaluate source quality.
  4. Create original research topics and produce writings on those topics which demonstrate clear writing and accurate documentation style.

Admission Requirements

Please refer to the general requirements for admission and matriculation in the Admissions   section.

Program Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate transcript, either:
    1. B.A. or B.S. in English or a humanities discipline (minimum of 15 credits in English Literature beyond basic composition and literature) with an average GPA of 3.0 or better in the major field.
    2. B.A. or B.S. in a related subject area with a minor (minimum of 15-credits) in English Literature or a humanities discipline with an average GPA of 3.0 in the student’s major and minor fields. OR
    3. B.A. or B.S. in another discipline demonstrating the potential to succeed in a graduate program. Such students are encouraged to speak to their readiness and reasons for pursuing the M.A. degree in a statement-of- purpose essay.
  2. Two letters of reference indicating personal and professional qualifications for graduate study.
  3. Statement-of-purpose essay or a scholarly paper.
    Once an applicant has submitted all required credentials, the completed application will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the program director and two faculty members.


The degree requires 30 credits and is usually completed in two and a half years by taking six credits (two courses) per semester, which is the recommended pace. Students may complete the degree at a faster pace, though, by also taking summer-session courses or up to nine credits (three courses) per semester. Part-time students may take up to six years to complete the program. Currently the program is offered entirely online, as our student body is primarily national and international.

Course Distribution:

Candidates for the Master of Arts in English Literature will be required to follow the following guidelines:

  • Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism (ENGL 500 ) Credit(s): 3
  • One course, Writing and Literary Forms Group (ENGL 505  -ENGL 510 , ENGL 517 ) Credit(s): 3
  • One course, Literature Group 1 (ENGL 521 -ENGL 540 ) Credit(s): 3
  • One course, Literature Group 2 (ENGL 541 -ENGL 560 ) Credit(s): 3
  • One additional course, Literature Group 1 or 2 (ENGL 521 -ENGL 560 ) Credit(s): 3
  • Four elective courses, (ENGL 505  - ENGL 598) Credit(s): 12
  • Master’s Thesis(cc) (ENGL 599 ) Credit(s): 3

Total Credits: 30

Student progress in acquiring the range of knowledge in the field and the skills outlined above will be measured in the following ways:

  1. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing. Students must receive a grade of C or better in any individual course, and must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 at the end of all coursework in order to graduate with the MA degree.
  2. In the semester before commencing their thesis (their last semester), students will be asked to take a comprehensive written examination prepared and administered by the graduate faculty in English Literature.
  3. Students will be asked to write a substantial research paper (25 pages), which will be suitable for submission to a professional journal, under the guidance of a mentor, which will be reviewed by a thesis committee comprised of the graduate faculty.

Comprehensive Examination

Successful completion of a four-hour written comprehensive essay examination is required of all students. The examination is prepared and reviewed by the program faculty. The examination will be based on the course offerings presented during the students’ tenure in the program. Distance learning students do not need to travel to any special location or proctoring session to complete the exam requirement.


The Master of Arts Degree requires a thesis focused on original research from which an essay of approximately 25 pages in the MLA Style will be developed. The master’s thesis paper should be on an original research topic. Proposed topics for thesis research must be submitted to and approved by a mentor selected by the student from the program faculty. Topics for the thesis may be developed from a research paper or project submitted by the student in one of their previous courses. The mentor will assess the suitability and viability of the topic, guide the student’s research, and oversee the student’s progress during the process of writing the thesis. A polished draft of the paper will be reviewed by a Master’s Thesis Committee comprised of the mentor and a second reader from the faculty. The committee may suggest or require revisions before a final draft of the thesis may be submitted as part of the student’s degree requirements.

Transfer Credits

Graduate courses taken at other institutions prior to admission at Mercy University may, if pertinent to the plan of study, may be credited to the graduate degree. Permission to transfer credits must be requested at the time of admission and official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the program director for evaluation. Transfer credit is limited to six semester hours of credit for courses taken within the last five years in which the student has received a grade of B or better and is not recorded as part of the GPA. No transfer credit can substitute for the program’s designated “core course” which for students entering the program prior to fall 2020 is ENGL 500 ; and for students entering the program during or after fall 2020 is ENGL 599 .

Course Load

In order to be designated as full-time a student must take nine credits (three courses) per semester. The English MA program, however, recommends six credits per semester as the preferred course-load, except for students who need to maintain full-time status or who need to complete the degree at an accelerated pace. Students may also take just three credits per semester, but this load does not qualify for financial aid. Courses are offered during the fall, spring, and summer semesters

Maintenance of Matriculation

It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering over successive semesters, excluding the summer sessions which are optional. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintenance of Matriculation fee for students in the program not taking courses during a fall or spring semester is $100 per session and is processed as a registration.

Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintaining Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.

Capstone (ENGL 599) Advisement

It is expected that students in the Capstone course, ENGL 599  , shall make satisfactory progress during the semester in which they are enrolled. Students who do not complete the Capstone requirement during that semester will be given one subsequent term to complete their work. The Maintaining Matriculation registration must be completed for this subsequent term if no other courses are taken. After this period, a Capstone Continuation fee (equal to the cost of one graduate credit) will be charged for each additional term required to complete the project. Students can only register for Capstone Continuation for two terms.

A student’s degree will not be released until all Maintaining Matriculation and Capstone Continuation registration and fees are recorded appropriately on a student’s record.

Maintenance of Good Academic Standing

The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is a 3.0. Grades are subject to review by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each term. If the academic average falls below 3.0 the student will be placed on academic probation.

Academic Probation

All students who have a cumulative GPA of below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation. If a student will not be able to achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 within a reasonable time, the student will be dismissed from the program. If a student receives a grade of F or FW in any course the student may be subject to dismissal from the University.

For all students on probation, future registrations must be reviewed and approved by the Director of the student’s program as well as the school dean.

In all subsequent terms in which the student is on probation the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or better. If the 3.0 or higher is not achieved the student will be dismissed. Students who receive a grade of less than B may be required to repeat the course. Students will be allowed to repeat a course only once.

Time Limit

Students will be required to complete their degree requirements within six years of entering the program, though most students take far less time than this and complete the program within, on average, two years. (Note: Students seeking permanent New York State Certification in Secondary Education will be under a time constraint to complete the program within five years or less.)

Online Learning

Mercy Online offers students an accessible and convenient way to learn. No matter where students are located, they may take courses, or even entire degrees, on the University’s online campus. At Mercy University, there is no distinction between the expectations of traditionally taught classes and online classes. Mercy Online currently offers more than forty undergraduate and graduate degrees entirely online. Students also may satisfy their General Education curriculum requirements online. Learn more about Mercy Online at www.mercy.edu/mercyonline.

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