Master of Arts

Our two-year Master of Arts degree is based on a commitment to ground the study of texts and discourses in a serious engagement with the theoretical and critical debates of our time. We encourage students to think across and beyond disciplinary and programmatic boundaries and to engage with issues in cultural history, knowledge formation, creative intellectual practice, media studies, and critical pedagogy.

Although the MA is a terminal degree, all students take courses offered in conjunction with our PhD program in English. Students can elect to concentrate their elective work broadly across English studies, or they can focus their coursework in the programmatic areas of the department: composition, film studies, and literature (with focal areas such as Children's Literatre and Childhood Studies; Genealogies of Modernity: Medieval and Early Modern; Media and Material Practices; and Race, Poetics, and Empire).

Students enter our MA program for a variety of reasons, though all are interested in gaining more advanced work in English before moving on to a PhD program or to careers in the public or private sector.


The number of students entering the MA program varies each year. Our students come from colleges and universities from all over the United States and the world. (Generally, students who apply from foreign institutions should have a BA or its equivalent before they can be admitted. For more information, please consult the Web site of Pitt's Office of International Services.)
MA students are not eligible for funding through the English department. We only admit MA students who, in addition to meeting the admissions committee’s academic criteria, bring with them an external source of funding, such as an employee tuition benefit for University of Pittsburgh staff. Students considering the MA program should contact the Director of Graduate Studies before applying to discuss their application.

Financial Assistance

MA students are not eligible for funding through the English department, although students can apply for other forms of financial assistance through the University. For information on University forms of financial assistance, please go to the Web site for the Financial Aid Office.

Certificate Programs and Specialized Study

Students interested in emphasizing film studies can enroll in the Film Studies Master's Certificate.

Those interested in emphasizing composition studies can work toward the Graduate Certificate in Composition, Literacy, Pedagogy, and Rhetoric.

Graduate students who are interested in children's literature can consult the relevant page on the Children's Literature Program site to learn how they can focus their scholarly work.


The requirements for the Master of Arts include coursework, a research paper, and proficiency in a foreign language. See the Handbook for details about the MA requirements.