2021 - 2022 Graduate Bulletin



Contact Information

Address: 3200 Jamrich Hall
Phone: 906-227-2711
Fax: 906-227-1096
Web Address: www.nmu.edu/english
Department Head: Lynn Domina
Professor: Lesley Larkin
Professor: Jennifer Howard

Master of Arts in English

The master of arts in English allows students to develop their critical thinking, textual analysis and writing abilities beyond the baccalaureate level through two concentrations: (1) Writing and Literacy Studies and (2) Literature.

Students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty in advanced seminars and workshops to study texts, hone writing and editing skills, research and write papers suitable for presentation at professional conferences, conduct original research, create original works for publication, and gain experience in the production of a literary journal. For many of our master’s candidates, especially our teaching assistants, the program offers both theoretical and practical experience in pedagogy. It also serves as a preparation for further graduate study and as an arena for the development of marketable skills such as teaching, editing, and/or professional writing.

Each student’s program culminates in a capstone suited to their interests and academic or professional goals.

Program Requirements

Every master of arts degree candidate designs, in consultation with the program director and their advisor, a plan of study that includes a minimum 32 credit hours. Candidates for the non-degree graduate certificate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) pursue a 20-credit-hour plan. TESOL credits can also count toward the Writing and Literacy Studies concentration in the master of arts program.

Both concentrations have the following requirements:

  • EN 504 Principles of Critical Investigation (recommend taking during the first year)
  • Capstone Project (up to eight credits)

Note: Students who are granted teaching assistantships are required to take EN 509 Teaching Colloquium (4 cr.) during their first semester. This course will count as a General Elective.

Admission Requirements

Regular Admission: Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the College of Graduate Education, which include an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0.  In addition, students must have either: a). a bachelor's degree in English, or  b). a minimum of 30 credit hours in undergraduate English courses, or equivalents, demonstrating broad familiarity with literature in English, with a minimum GPA in these courses of 3.0.  Transcripts of applicants will be evaluated on an individual basis. 

For full consideration, applicants should apply by February 1 for Fall semester admission (and teaching assistantship consideration) and by September 1 for Winter semester admission.

  • All applicants must submit the following materials:
    • a statement of purpose describing their interest in the program and (if applying for a teaching assistantship) their preparedness for teaching;
    • three letters of recommendation that speak to their academic abilities and (if applying for a teaching assistantship) their potential as a teacher;
    • all undergraduate and graduate transcripts;
    • a resume or curriculum vitae;
    • a 10- to 20-page writing sample (one or two critical essays on a topic or topics within the field of English or a related field).

Find additional information on the application process here:

graduate program checklist

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

The English Department offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.  Our innovative three-year program offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, as well as mixed or hybrid options for students who work in multiple genres or whose work defies genre. Special topics classes in screenwriting, image and text, experimental writing and more offer options for students to further expand their practice.  The MFA is a terminal degree that will serve students seeking careers in writing, higher education teaching, publishing and related fields.

Program Requirements

Candidates design, in consultation with the director of the MFA program, a plan of study including workshops, courses and seminars at the 500 and 600 levels.

Admission Requirements

The English Department seeks the most promising candidates for its Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Candidates who already possess the MA will receive preference in admission; however, we also encourage exceptional candidates who hold the bachelor’s degree. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in fields other than literature or writing maybe be admitted conditionally, pending additional course work.

In addition to meeting all admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies and Research, MFA candidates must comply with requirements specific to the MFA program:

  • departmental MFA application form;
  • a resume;
  • three letters of recommendation;
  • a statement of professional purpose;
  • a critical paper;
  • and a writing portfolio (see below).

Candidates who wish to apply for a Teaching Assistantship should address their interest in and qualifications for teaching in the statement of professional purpose. Candidates may apply simultaneously to the MA Program. The application forms and checklist can be found at graduate program checklist.

MFA Applicants’ Writing Portfolio

Admission to the program is highly competitive and is determined primarily by the quality and promise of the applicant’s writing. All applicants must submit a writing portfolio in the genre in which they apply. The application deadline is February 1 of each year. Page requirements are as follows:

Poetry: 10 pages
Fiction: 20-30 pages
Nonfiction: 20-30 pages 
Mixed: 20-30 pages of any mix of poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction
Hybrid: 20-30 pages primary comprised of work that does not fall into traditional genre boundaries or categories, or that blends genres

Funding Opportunities

The University offers two types of funding: Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Assistantships. Assistants teach two (2) writing courses per academic year. These courses are at the freshman and sophomore levels. Graduate Assistantships are offered throughout the University for work other than teaching. Applicants for Teaching Assistantships should address their qualifications for teaching in their statement of professional purpose. Additionally, applicants should ask their recommenders to speak to the candidate’s promise as a teacher.

During Winter Semester, active MFA students may apply for a summer Excellence in Education grant. These grants, in the amount of $1,500, are offered by the College of Graduate Studies and Research to fund research and professional travel and to encourage and expand educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom.


The director of the MFA program will advise all graduate students in the MFA program. Students should meet periodically with the director to ensure their plan of study is appropriate to their needs and acceptable to the College of Graduate Studies and Research. Students are individually responsible for carefully reading and selecting courses in accordance with the requirements of this bulletin.

Master of Fine Arts Program

Master of Arts Program

Graduate Certificate Program