Program Overview

West Chester University’s Master of Arts in English engages students intellectually and creatively through its stimulating courses and internationally recognized faculty. The M.A. in English features diverse, innovative courses in literature, rhetoric, composition, pedagogy, language study, creative writing, book history, new media, various types of editing, and literary and cultural critical theory. Our program provides flexible, year-round instruction that accommodates busy professionals. The M.A. in English equips graduates with writing expertise, analytical thinking, and cultural awareness, skills valued in both academic and non-academic roles. Our graduates go on to study at the doctoral and MFA level and work in roles ranging from development and publishing to marketing and teaching. With a choice of three tracks offering both thesis and non-thesis options, WCU offers students flexibility to tailor the degree to best suit their individual needs and objectives. Regardless of track selected, students enjoy a highly supportive environment that nurtures scholarly development, heightens cultural literacy, hones communication skills, fosters problem-solving abilities, and cultivates intellectual and personal growth through small class sizes and attentive faculty mentoring. Students also benefit from the program’s rich array of professional development opportunities. Get involved: Graduate Student Association Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project Rhetoric Society of America WCU Poetry Conference WCU Word Works.



Literature Track, Thesis and non-thesis options

The Literature Track offers a breadth of courses in American, British, and World Literature and gives students advanced training in critical interpretation and theory. The track enables students to build on their undergraduate coursework, improve their teaching of literature, or prepare for enrollment in a Ph.D. program. Students in the Literature Track take courses ranging from pre-1660 literature to the present, and may pursue a thesis or non-thesis option.

Writing, Teaching, and Criticism Track, Thesis and non-thesis options

The Writing, Teaching, and Criticism Track combines theory and classroom practices in rhetoric and composition, pedagogy, and literary studies. Designed primarily for teachers of language arts and secondary English, it enables students to explore the latest developments in the study and teaching of English through small class sizes and individualized concentrations. The WTC Track also allows students to work with the nationally recognized Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) through coursework and related programs. Although the track was created with teachers in mind, any student interested in the intersection of language, teaching, and literature is welcome.!

Creative Writing Track

The Creative Writing Track enables students to develop their craft through interactive workshops and individualized feedback. Our small class sizes allow students to workshop their writing and work with nationally recognized writers and scholars. Students can also experience Aralia Press, a literary fine press at WCU, and take part in the WCU Poetry Conference. All students who choose the Creative Writing Track write a creative thesis—a portfolio of original fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry that includes a critical section considering the student's literary influences and connections with contemporary literary traditions.


Program Highlights

• Innovative, flexible curriculum featuring three tracks with full- and part-time options

• Mentoring by award-winning faculty who publish and present widely, and are passionate about teaching and their students’ personal and professional success

• Numerous professional development and enrichment opportunities including: o online graduate-level certificate in publishing (can be completed concurrently with the M.A.) o career and advanced graduate study focused workshops o funding to attend regional, national, and international conferences o renowned speakers, craft workshops, and guest lectures o access to special collections including complete set of Shakespeare folios, the Bradenbaugh collection: The Reading History of an American Family, 1825-2000, and the 2,000+ Philips Autograph collection o cultural and professional resources in nearby Philadelphia o utilizing skills in professional settings through WCU’s prepublication editing service

• Competitive assistantships

• Home of the award-winning academic journal College Literature and the newly launched Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, a peer-reviewed, online scholarly journal created to highlight marginalized voices within the field of youth lit/culture/media

• Collegial, collaborative environment enhanced by comfortable graduate lounge

• Post-baccalaureate certificate in secondary education


What can I do with this degree?

Whether you study Literature; Writing, Teaching, and Criticism; Creative Writing; or another specialty within English, you’ll hone key skills—writing expertise, critical and analytical thinking, clear communication, and cultural awareness—that are essential to professional success and informed citizenship in today's world. Graduates of our program have found success in the publishing industry (trade, academic, educational), launched rewarding careers in development, nonprofit work, technical writing, marketing, and public relations, and gone on to teach at every level.


Related Programs

Certificate in Publishing

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Several of our MA students have continued on to Ph.D. programs and now have highly coveted tenured or tenure-track positions. William Donohue (Lincoln University), Vanessa Cozza (Washington State University—Tri-Cities), and Joseph J. Williams (University of Arkansas at Little Rock) are a few examples. Other graduates have found success in the publishing world. Bestselling New York Times author Eleanor Brown (Three Weird Sisters, The Light of Paris), two-time Bram Stoker award-winning author John Dixon (Phoenix Island and its sequel, Devil’s Pocket, which inspired the CBS TV series Intelligence), literary agent Sarah Yake (Frances Collin, Literary Agency), and Lehigh University Press's managing editor Tricia Moore are all alumni of our program.

In addition, MA English alumni have excelled in other arenas. Lisa Shafer, for instance, is the Senior Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement at Swarthmore College, and Renee Archawski is currently the Managing Director, Teach for America of the Greater Philadelphia Area, having previously served as the executive director of Achieve Now and the development director for Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe. Our faculty members are highly regarded in their fields, active in publishing, and committed to students. Members of the department are recipients of national and international grants, fellowships, and awards including National Endowment of the Humanities and National Endowment of the Arts grants, Kluge Center and Fulbright fellowships, Apple Distinguished Educator awards,and more.