Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Students

Many thanks for your interest in the UAB Department of English Masters Program! We hope you'll consider joining us in the study and promotion of language and literature in Birmingham! Listed below are some of the most common questions we field from prospective students. We hope you'll find them informative, and by all means if you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We are easily accessible by email ( or by telephone (205-934-4250).
How long does it take to complete the MA program?
The program is designed to take two academic years for full-time students. Regardless of concentration, each student will be required to complete 30 hours in coursework, but exactly how these 30 hours are selected and organized will depend largely on the student's choice of a concentration and whether the student chooses to write a thesis (Plan I) or to sit for the Area Exams (Plan II). During the first academic year students typically concentrate on academic coursework; during the second, students typically focus their attention either on writing a thesis or studying for and then taking the Area Exams. Of course, students who are only taking courses on a part-time basis may take somewhat longer to complete the program. top
Do I have to be a full time student or can I take classes on a part-time basis?
More than half or the students in the program are taking classes part time while simultaneously pursuing other professional or personal interests. The program is happy to accommodate such students so long as they are making some methodical progress toward a degree. top
How do I apply to the MA program?
Applications to the graduate program are handled through the "Apply Yourself" system which is accessible through Graduate School website at top
What are the requirements for an application to the MA program?
A complete application should contain several different elements:
  • undergraduate transcripts,
  • GRE or MAT exam scores,
  • the application form itself with a brief application essay,
  • three letters of recommendation,
  • a brief sample—8-10 pages typically—of the student's creative work (creative writing students only).
The English Department and the Graduate School have established admission thresholds for some of these items. For example, the transcripts should show an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and should show that the applicant has a Bachelor's degree in English (or the equivalent); the exam scores should rank the student at the 50th percentile or higher—that's 1000 in the combined verbal and quantitative scores on the GRE, or about 400 on the MAT. Ideally the letters of recommendation will speak to the applicant's ability to perform well in the academic study of English language and literature. top
What if my credentials are not quite up to the minimum requirements?
We frequently receive applications from candidates who are lacking in some required element—say, for example, the standardized test scores are marginally lower than the UAB threshold, or the transcripts don't show sufficient coursework equivalent to a BA in English, or the letters of recommendation are more personal or professional than academic, etc. In such cases, assuming the application also has its strengths and the applicant is motivated to do so, we may suggest that the student take classes as a "non-degree graduate student" and then reapply to the program after demonstrating his or her ability to succeed in graduate-level English classes. top
What is "non-degree" graduate student status?
Students can register to take graduate coursework without necessarily going through the full application to a particular program or department. In many cases, non-degree graduate status is entirely appropriate--for instance, if a student just wants to take a class or two without really pursuing a graduate degree, or if a student's regular application is too late to be considered for a particular semester, or if the student's credentials are not currently sufficient for regular admission. In the English department non-degree graduate students can register for any course (except the 600-level creative writing workshops), though if a class fills up, the regular degree-seeking students will have priority. Non-degree graduate students who are subsequently admitted into a regular degree program can then transfer as many as 12 hours of non-degree coursework into their degree programs. Non-degree Graduate Student applications are available on the Graduate School website. top
Can I begin the program in the middle of the academic year?
Yes. While most new full-time students enter the program in the fall semester, it is also possible to begin in the spring or summer semester. top
Do you offer classes online or classes otherwise accessible to people with regular daytime jobs?
Yes. While our online offerings are minimal, we strive to schedule a substantial number of graduate courses, seminars, and workshops during the evening time periods so that people with other daytime responsibilities can still attend. top
How much does it cost?
Current tuition rates are available on the UAB website; see this page for the most current information. During the 2007-08 academic year, the Graduate Student tuition rates stand at $182.00 per credit hour for in-state students and $455.00 per credit hour for out-of-state students. top
Are there scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships available?
Yes. The Department offers several teaching/research assistantships. The terms of these assistantships differ depending on the source of funding.  Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information. top
What can I do with an MA in English?
The employment possibilities for UAB English MA recipients are as diverse as our students' inclinations. Several of our recent graduates have gone on to pursue PhDs with the ultimate aim of continuing in the profession as professors and scholars. Others have chosen to teach within the two-year college system here in Alabama. (An English MA is sufficient background to teach in the junior college system—no further teaching certification is required.) Other recent graduates, and some current students, are employed in various printing and publishing enterprises here in Birmingham and elsewhere. The range of such occupations is quite large—from technical writing and copy-editing to news and feature writing and database management. And a substantial number of our graduates are already employed as teachers in and around Birmingham; we are delighted that the knowledge and skills they have developed in the Graduate Program can further enrich the lives of our students' students and of north-central Alabama more generally. top
What is distinctive about a masters in English from UAB?
We have a fine faculty, including many professors who publish and present their scholarship in venues all over the world. At UAB, you can be assured access to faculty who are not only excellent teachers but are also influential in the field on a national and even international scale. Over the last few years many graduate programs in English have split apart, with the rhetoric/composition people approaching their subject matter and coursework in a mode completely different from the literature people, and both areas completely removed from the creative writers. At UAB, our emphasis has been on inclusion and integration. Students concentrating in Rhetoric and Composition will often be sitting next to students writing Creative theses—all in a course in Literature. Our effort has been to knit such diverse students and approaches together such that they illuminate one another. The result is that a UAB MA in English offers students a more comprehensive and diverse approach to the study of English than would be available in a more fragmented and specialized program. UAB is located in the heart of Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama. Birmingham itself offers an array of cultural activities and employment opportunities that would be the envy of many other universities. What is more, since UAB is a large and vibrant research university, we have excellent library facilities and other campus support for graduate student activities and graduate student life.

While every effort is made to keep information on the Department of English web site as accurate and up-to-date as possible, students are responsible for verifying course requirements and program status by seeing the appropriate university advisor(s) and program director(s).