Carnegie Mellon University

Why Come to CMU and the M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies?

The M.A. in English is intended to appeal to two kinds of students: (1) those wishing to supplement a traditional bachelor's degree in English with rigorous training in literary or rhetorical theory, and (2) those teaching now or planning to teach in secondary schools or community colleges and wanting an opportunity to study recent developments in theory and pedagogical applications of theory.

The small number of students admitted to the M.A. in English allows advisors to give close attention to an individual student's needs and interests. In both concentrations students have substantial opportunity to work with advisors in designing a program of study to suit their special needs. The M.A. in English is also appropriate for people wanting background for more specialized doctoral study and research; however, anyone wishing to do doctoral work in Carnegie Mellon's Ph.D. programs in Literary and Cultural Studies or Rhetoric should apply for admission directly to either of those programs. Although M.A. work at CMU may be helpful, admission to either of the doctoral programs requires a separate application.

The Master of Arts with a concentration in Literary and Cultural Studies introduces students to some of the major texts and discussions which have shaped literary and cultural studies. It focuses on the study of a broad range of culturally significant texts and the historical and ideological conditions under which they were produced and received. The degree can prepare students to take up doctoral work at Carnegie Mellon or elsewhere with a working sense of some of the directions English Departments have taken recently in rethinking the discipline.

Students undecided about their plans for doctoral work in English can use this one-year degree to help them make an informed decision. Still others will want to make use of this year of study to help them understand literature and culture in order to take up careers in professional, corporate, or public sector work. CMU's graduate program in Literary and Cultural Studies, founded in 1986, was among the first of its kind in the U.S. It was designed in response to the growing emphasis in English and related disciplines on cultural, literary, semiotic, and other theories. The innovation of our program lies in the rethinking of theoretical and methodological problems in the study of literature and culture. The M.A. in English with the LCS concentration foregrounds training in theory, while allowing students to do additional theoretically informed course work in literature, film, and media, and other aspects of culture.

The M.A. program is open to part-time as well as full-time students. Full-time students normally receive partial tuition remission and have opportunities to act as paid research assistants to faculty members or on research projects. Master's students do not receive teaching assistantships.

Both of the concentrations require 30 credit hours or 90 units (3 units = 1 credit hour) of course work. The program can be completed in two semesters. To receive the degree, students must complete the 30 credit hours of course work with an average grade of "B" or better.

Our attention to traditional concern, our flexibility, and our focus on recent research advances make the English Department at CMU an ideal place to consider for M.A. work.