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MA in Literature, Language, and Theory

Hunter College's Masters in Literature, Language, and Theory program offers students an opportunity to meet and work with top researchers, scholars, and writers in New York City. Our diverse faculty and student body collectively cultivate an environment of energy, community, and rigorous academic study. Faculty members offering courses in the program facilitate stimulating seminars that represent a wide array of critical practices and disciplines, including medieval literature, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality studies, Shakespeare and Renaissance studies, Romanticism, Victorian literature, modernism, American studies, linguistics, and rhetoric. We pride ourselves in the accessibility of our faculty members, all of whom are dedicated to providing students the support and guidance that they need to develop as readers, thinkers, and writers. Our class offerings allow students of varying interests to take courses that are meaningful and relevant to their individual goals. Classes are held in the evenings to provide availability and flexibility for all students, including working adults. In addition to coursework, the program includes the completion of a Master’s Thesis, an extensive writing project undertaken with the supervision and mentorship of faculty members. Students choose the MA in Literature, Language, and Theory for professional and academic advancement as well as for personal enrichment. Many students go on to pursue doctoral studies or careers in writing, education, and the arts. 

Please see our Full-Time Faculty list for details about faculty projects and areas of specialization.


  • 30 credits of satisfactory graduate work in English, including at least one course in pre-1800 literature, ENGL 779 (Thesis Research and Proposal Workshop) and ENGL 789 (Thesis Research).
  • Demonstration of a reading knowledge of Latin, French, German, Spanish, or another approved foreign language either through successful completion of a departmental examination (given once per semester in November and April) or through a course taken in the Language Reading Program at the CUNY Graduate Center (students may take either a Level I or Level II Language Reading course to fulfill this requirement). For specific departmental language exam dates, please see the Information Letter provided by the graduate advisor at the beginning of each semester. 
  • Passing a comprehensive examination in British, American, and world literature in English. This exam is offered once per semester in November and April. For specific dates, please see the Information Letter provided by the graduate advisor at the beginning of each semester. For sample exam prompts, please see the English MA Blackboard site.
  • Completion of a Master's Thesis, preferably an expansion of a term paper. The thesis proposal must be submitted during the semester prior to registering for thesis credits. For instructions on drafting the thesis proposal and the thesis, and for samples, please see the English MA Blackboard site. Click here for thesis submission guidelines.


  • A Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution acceptable to Hunter College.
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 in English.
  • 18 credits of advanced undergraduate courses in British, American, and world literature in English, exclusive of journalism, writing courses, and required introductory courses in literature.
  • A Statement of Purpose of approximately 500 words indicating your objectives for pursuing a Master's degree in Literature, your preparation for this course of study, and your specific interest in the Literature, Language, and Theory program at Hunter College.
  • An Academic Writing Sample of about 10 pages (usually an undergraduate research paper).
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (preferably written by professors who are familiar with your work).
  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test only. The department does not have a minimum GRE score requirement. GRE scores are considered in correlation with the multiple parts of your application. It is important that applicants arrange to take the GRE at least six weeks before the application deadline to ensure that test scores arrive in time to receive full consideration. Note also that test scores must be from within the past five years.
  • All other Requirements of the Graduate Admissions Application.

Frequently Asked Questions

How large are graduate seminars?

  • In order to maintain small and engaging seminars, each course caps at 15 students. A limited number of overtallies into each course may be granted by the professor and approved by the graduate advisor.

How many credits from previous master's courses can I transfer into the program?

  • Students who are accepted into a graduate program and register for courses may request transfer credit for up to 6 credits taken within relevant graduate programs at regionally accredited institutions, including credits taken at Hunter College while enrolled in another degree program, whether or not a master's degree was awarded.
  • Transfer of credit is subject to the approval of the department or graduate advisor and to the regulations of the Hunter program in which the student is enrolled. The following additional limitations apply:
  1. The course(s) for which transfer of credit is requested must have been completed within four years prior to the awarding of the Hunter graduate degree.
  2. Credits for courses in which the student earned a grade below B, or took a non-letter grade such as a pass/fail are not transferable.
  3. Courses used to satisfy entrance requirements, as well as courses used as part of a previously completed bachelor's program, may not be transferred.
  4. Grades in courses transferred from other institutions, or from a prior master's degree program taken at Hunter College, will not be calculated into the student's grade point average (GPA), nor will these grades be posted on the current Hunter College record.

Can I audit a graduate seminar or take a course as a non-degree student?

  • We only allow students to audit an MA course if they are already enrolled in the program and have received permission from both the graduate advisor and the professor of the course. Admitted graduate non-degree students may register for graduate courses upon approval from the graduate advisor. However, no more than 9 credits may be taken as a non-matriculant of the program.

Do I have to be registered for a certain amount of credits each semester?

  • The department does not require students to be registered for a specific amount of credits per semester. However, please be sure to check with the Office of Financial Aid regarding enrollment requirements for financial support.

Can I take a temporary Leave of Absence from the program?

  • Yes. If, however, your leave extends beyond one semester, you must apply for readmission through the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Can I take courses in other departments while pursuing the MA in Literature, Language, and Theory?

  • Taking demonstrably relevant courses in other departments is possible with prior approval from the graduate advisor, but courses outside the Department of English should not exceed 6 credits.


For additional questions or further information, please contact the Literature, Language, and Theory Graduate Advisor:

Professor Janet Neary
Room 1204 HW

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