Small Classes and Personal Attention
The Master of Arts in English affords students the flexibility to tailor their course of study to meet their individual wishes and professional goals. This highly versatile program offers three areas of emphasis—literary study, creative writing, and technical and professional writing. It stresses effective writing in a broad array of genres, critical thinking, and interpretive skills, even as it fosters the growth of initiative and self-confidence—qualities much in demand in today’s professional world. Small classes and the dedicated attention of graduate faculty ensure a nurturing environment for growth.
The program enables students to pursue a variety of goals: prepare for or advance in a career in teaching; embark on a professional career as a creative writer; pursue an advanced degree in literary study; or work in the fields of publishing, editing, and technical or professional writing. There are no “tracks” in the program to which students are limited; the three areas of emphasis are open to all students at all times throughout their studies. Each student meets with the Director of Graduate Studies to tailor an individualized program of coursework.
To enhance professional readiness, the student may undertake a Career Internship in English in any one of several fields related to the study of writing and literature. Available any time from the student’s second semester on, the internship is an unpaid, 3-credit experience conducted under the supervision of the degree program’s coordinator and an appropriate member of the English Department.
Students are further encouraged to consider study abroad as a component of their program. They may take up to 9 credits of work in English and related fields at foreign institutions through Arcadia’s College of Global Studies or other venues for study abroad that the university offers. Short-term summer study is available to graduate students in several foreign countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, and Greece; these options can be especially valuable for graduate students whose personal or professional circumstances prevent them from pursuing long-term study-abroad options.
Literary and Critical Studies
This is the principal “area of emphasis” in Arcadia’s Master of Arts in English program. The richness and variety of its offerings attest to the breadth of the faculty’s varied interests in literature, and can truly be said to be unusual in its scope. Students who aspire to go on for doctoral studies; current high-school and community college teachers; professionals from different backgrounds who hunger for the stimulation of literary study and serious critical thinking—these are among the individuals who come together in Arcadia’s graduate English classes. The range of offerings is impressive: it encompasses courses that cover sweeping historical epochs; courses that focus on a single great author or on a cluster of such authors; courses that revolve around a literary theme or genre; courses that look at a literary movement, or else focus on the literature of a given region, ethnic group, or cultural background; courses that reach out to farther corners of the world . . . and then there are interdisciplinary courses that look, for example, at the way film links literature in different countries of the world.
In all of the courses in this area of emphasis, effective writing is central. Proud of its pioneering role in the nation’s Writing Across the Curriculum movement, Arcadia—and specifically the Master of Arts in English program—stresses the centrality of rigorous critical thinking and refined interpretive skills to the serious study of literature.
Both in its curriculum and in extra-curricular ways, Arcadia’s Master of Arts in English offers an exciting creative writing program. This area of emphasis does more than help students prepare themselves to become serious writers; it also strengthens their potential as teachers, both at the secondary and post-secondary levels, and deepens and enriches their appreciation of literature.
Throughout the calendar year, a multitude of options exists for studying creative writing. The spring and fall semesters and our shorter summer sessions regularly offer courses specifically devoted to the writing of fiction, poetry, creative-nonfiction, children’s and young adult literature, and memoir. A course in play-scripting and screen-scripting is offered through the Theatre program. The University’s Creative Writing Institute gives intensive craft courses in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, and writing for children. Independent study is available to more advanced students who wish to make progress on creative projects under the supervision of individual professors. Students who are emphasizing creative writing in their programs may also complete their degree work by undertaking their final project in a creative genre. Finally, students may enroll in the Umbrian Writers’ Residency, which is offered each summer in the heart of central Italy.
Technical and Professional Writing
This area of emphasis is valuable for those who want to work in the media or in the corporate sector. While it is generally the least emphasized of the three areas in this Master’s program, and does not feature studio courses in media training, it nonetheless offers an abundance of courses pertinent to the student’s interest: journalism; technical writing; writing and editing for magazines; writing for radio and television; writing for the health industry, for the web and the new media, and grant writing for non-profits. Such courses as these enhance the student’s preparation for professional work. Students pursuing this area of emphasis are especially encouraged to undertake a Career Internship in English to fortify their credentials for when they enter the marketplace.
Beyond the classroom, students in the program have exciting opportunities to meet professional writers and connect with them personally by participating in workshops open only to Arcadia students. Writers appear here in two different programs, The “Writers Return to Campus” Series and the “Visiting Writers Series.” The first of these programs invites back to campus former students of Arcadia who have achieved, or are achieving, notable literary success. Novelists, short-story writers, children and young adult literature writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, creative-nonfiction writers, even former students who have become noted publishers or literary impresarios—all have been invited to conduct workshops for our students and to give readings of their works that are open to the public. Refreshments and books sales—and signings by the authors—regularly accompany these events. The motto of this program is “You can get there from here,” inasmuch as Arcadia has proved a fruitful training ground for literary ambition.
The “Visiting Writers” Series attracts well-established professionals whose works have already gained wide recognition. A host of the best-known writers in our culture have been our guests in this program, which seeks to celebrate breadth and diversity. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks and novelist Richard Russo; American Poet Laureate Ted Kooser; National Book Award-winning poets Gerald Stern and Jean Valentine; Marilynn Robinson, National Book Award for fiction; renowned novelists, memoirists, and short-story writers John Edgar Wideman and Tobias Wolff; Rome Prize winner Karl Kirchwey; lauded fiction writer Robin Black; blind poet and essayist Steven Kuusisto; novelists Brad Watson and Tom Franklin most recently . . . the list of distinguished guests goes on.
The workshops that students get to attend with these writers enable the participants (limited to ten in each of the workshops) to submit, in advance, a sample of their work in the appropriate genre for the visiting writer to read and respond to. The workshops are “closed-door” experiences for our students, who may be undergraduates or graduate students; no one—no “guests,” no professors—are permitted in the room with the writer and ten students. What results is a remarkable experience for our students: the chance to go one-on-one with a real “pro.”
Additional Opportunities for Students
Study Abroad: Arcadia University offers graduate students in English a variety of short-term study-abroad opportunities. The programs in question vary in length and in the number of credits allotted for the course. Up to 9 of a graduate student’s 36 total required graduate credits may be applied to study-abroad courses. Students may pursue these short-term study-abroad endeavors in countries such as Italy, Greece, England, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Tanzania.
While most of the study-abroad courses for graduate students are short-term, there is a 9-credit career internship in London which lasts for one full semester and which may be pursued during either the Fall or the Spring semester.
Specific information on study-abroad opportunities for graduate students is available on the College of Global Studies’ website. It is also recommended that graduate students interested in study-abroad opportunities speak with a director within the College of Global Studies and with Dr. Wertime.
Summer Studies in Scotland. The English and Humanities programs have worked closely with the Scottish Universities’ International Summer School program to offer students a unique opportunity to study abroad and earn graduate credit. Students attend classes in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, and have available the resources of some of Britain’s most prestigious universities. The Scottish Universities’ International Summer School, founded in 1947, offers courses in British and Irish Literature and Creative Writing. The Creative Writing program is offered in conjunction with Edinburgh’s International Book Festival.