Master's Program

Students in Graduate Seminar

MA students are a vital part of the English department community, enjoying an environment with a longstanding tradition of critical innovation and research excellence.

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Why UB English?

From Medievalism to Modernism, from psychoanalysis to popular culture, UB English offers a truly eclectic course of study that combines historical range with theoretical expertise. The Master’s Program provides highly motivated students the opportunity to study literature at an advanced level in an English department with an international reputation. With only two required courses, the MA degree is among the most flexible and interdisciplinary programs in the nation. Emphasizing dialogue between fields, the MA encourages students to experiment and explore.

The home of the James Joyce Collection, one of the world’s finest archives of Joyce’s manuscripts, notebooks and visual material, as well as a world-class poetry collection, together with the George Kelly Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection, UB’s libraries provide the ideal venue for a wide range of research interests.

The UB English Department is the home of the Poetics Program, the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture, as well as interdisciplinary affiliations with the UB Humanities Institute, the Center for Disability Studies and Techne: Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies. Students may also coordinate their study with a Certificate in Innovative Writing, as well as in other certificate programs at UB.

The Masters program offers an affordable degree in one of the most affordable cities in the US, with a varied and vibrant intellectual and artistic scene that includes such mainstays as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Shea’s Performing Arts Center as well as more experimental venues such as Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and Squeaky Wheel. There are also over twenty theater companies.

The English Department at the University at Buffalo now offers the option of a fifth-year BA/MA degree to qualified English majors. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Those students accepted into the program will take two graduate-level courses in the fall semester of their senior year (English 501—Scholarly Methods, and English 502—Introduction to Critical Theory). In the spring semester, they can take one graduate seminar if they have already completed all requirements for their BA in English. In the fifth year, they will continue at the University as MA students and take six additional graduate courses. They must also complete a thesis or an MA project (oral exam and 30-page essay).

What you can do with an MA in English

Approximately a third of our MA students go on to pursue a PhD in literature or related fields, such as Art History, Anthropology, and Philosophy. Recent Master’s students have been accepted at places like Cornell, NYU, OSU, Notre Dame, UNC, Brown, UC-Irvine, and, of course, UB.

Another third of our students now have jobs in secondary education or writing, working as editors; technical, professional, and freelance writers; communications specialists; and grant writers for not-for-profit organizations.

A final third of MA students pursue careers in a range of fields, including most often law, business management, and marketing.

What are the requirements for completion?


The full degree program consists of 30 credits distributed as 8 seminars. This includes two required courses, both taken in the first semester:

  1. "ENG501: Introduction to Scholarly Methods" focuses on the practical skills necessary to succeed in the graduate study of literature, including editorial, bibliographic, and archival work;
  2. "ENG502: Introduction to Critical and Cultural Theory," is an advanced survey of contemporary criticism.

The degree can be completed in a year, although on average students finish in three semesters.

Thesis or Oral Exam and Project

To complete their MA, students usually write a critical and scholarly thesis of modest length (about 60-80 pages), read and approved by their Thesis Director. The completed thesis must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Alternatively, MA students may pass an oral exam based on a pre-approved reading list along with a suitable written project of about 20-30 pages.

How do I apply?

Apply online.

Undergraduates must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered for the MA. Students with a GPA of 3.6 or higher do not need to submit GRE scores.

The priority deadline for applications to the MA program is February 15. We will continue to review applications after that date on a space-available basis. Students wishing to be considered for the Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship should apply no later than December 15. 

Tuition and Fees

New York State residents with at least a 3.0 GPA are eligible for an MA application fee waiver. Instructions for applying for the waiver can be found at:

Please note that some applicants may be eligible for the Schomburg Fellowship for Minority Students. This Fellowship provides tuition and a stipend. Because applications for fellowships are due before the cutoff for applications to the MA program, you must apply to UB no later than January 1 if you want to be considered for a Schomburg Fellowship.  Additional information on the Schomberg is available at:

Contact Us

William Solomon

Associate Professor; Director of the MA Program

407 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3596


Joyce Troy

Administrative Assistant

Graduate Office

302 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-2567