Interested in the UAB Department of English Master's 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 if you have further questions please don't hesitate to ask. We are easily accessible by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or by telephone (205-934-4250). You can also contact specific program directors through the Graduate Programs Contacts page.

How long does it take to complete the M.A. program?

The program is designed to take two academic years for full-time students. Regardless of theme, 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 theme 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 longer to complete the program.

Do I have to be a full-time student or can I take classes on a part-time basis?

More than half of 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.

How do I apply to the M.A. program?

Applications for graduate study in UAB English are handled by the Graduate School. Although anyone who has completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited institution may register for courses as a non-degree graduate student, applicants seeking the M.A. in English must submit a full application. Both the non-degree and degree-seeking applications are handled through the Graduate School's application system. UAB English expects degree-seeking applicants to have an undergraduate degree in English or equivalent preparation; we do not require a standardized exam such as the GRE or MAT, but the Graduate School application will require:

  1. a well-composed statement of purpose,
  2. at least three recommendations from persons able to assess the applicant's qualifications for graduate study, and
  3. transcripts of all undergraduate coursework.

In addition, applicants should submit a writing sample—typically a paper written for an undergraduate course—that demonstrates the applicant's ability to write academic prose. The writing sample should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies.

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 transcripts don't show sufficient coursework equivalent to a B.A. 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.

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.

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.

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.

How much does it cost?

Current tuition rates are available on the UAB website; see the Tuition and Fees page for the most current information.

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.

What can I do with a M.A. in English?

The employment possibilities for UAB English M.A. 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 M.A. is sufficient background to teach in the junior college system — no further teaching certification is required.)

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.

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.

What is distinctive about a master's in English at 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. Rhetoric and Composition students 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 M.A. 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.