Advance your study of literature, writing, and books.

Do you want to study English, but don't feel ready for a PhD program? Are you looking to sharpen your skills in the publishing and literary professions? Do you want to enhance your teaching credentials? Do you simply want to explore the world of books, literature, and writing? Our MA in Literary Studies program will empower you to take the next step in your academic and professional journey. 

The MA in English introduces students to the professional study of literature.

It is possible to apply directly to the PhD program without entering a Master's program here or elsewhere; however, many students feel the MA is an appropriate step toward the PhD. These students may have had an undergraduate major in a different field, or may feel that more preparation is advisable for other reasons; some may intend to complete their studies elsewhere. Students interested in a career in any area of book studies (professional writing, editing, web design, or publishing), may wish to take the MA as a terminal degree, as might teachers seeking to enhance their credentials or students pursuing intellectual growth unrelated to a specific career.

MA and PhD applicants compete in the same admissions process. Once admitted, MA and PhD students mix freely in graduate courses, share the same access to faculty, and meet the same standards of quality in their work. A Master’s thesis or Master’s portfolio is the culmination of work for the MA.


The Master of Arts program in English requires a minimum of 31 semester hours (s.h.) of graduate credit. The program's focus is literary studies.

Students may receive credit for up to 6 s.h. of transfer courses toward the MA degree. They must maintain a cumulative University of Iowa GPA of at least 3.00. Students who wish to transfer to Iowa's PhD program must complete two semesters or 15 s.h. of coursework in literature (whichever is completed first) before applying for admission to the doctoral program.

For additional information on the Master of Arts program in English, including courses, curriculum, and requirements, visit the UI General Catalog.