Department of English

(Photo above) UNCW Graduate school students Tracey Robertson (l) and Tayleen Hill (m) chatting with associate professor Sarah Hallenbeck (r) before giving their presentations on effective learning in and out of the classroom at the Seahawk Composition Pedagogy Symposium. - Photo by Hanna Wickes

(Photo above) UNCW Graduate school students Tracey Robertson (l) and Tayleen Hill (m) chat with associate professor Sarah Hallenbeck (r) before giving their presentations on effective learning in and out of the classroom at the Seahawk Composition Pedagogy Symposium, Spring 2018. - Photo by Hanna Wickes

Graduate Program

Master of Arts

The Department of English enrolls more than thirty students in its Master of Arts Program. Students, in consultation with their advisor, tailor their course schedules to their own career objectives and interests, selecting a variety of courses in literature, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, literary theory, cultural studies and professional writing.

Teachers in secondary schools who wish to obtain graduate level teacher certification (M.Ed.) or inquire about the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) should consult the Graduate Coordinator in the Watson School of Education (telephone: 910-962-4142) or visit the Watson School's website:

More of what to expect from this course of study on our Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) page (opens as a PDF).

See our brochure here (opens as a PDF) or take a look at our video that shows how universal and useful a graduate English degree can be.

Teaching Assistantships and Scholarships

Teaching Assistantships in the amount of $13,000 are available and are awarded on a competitive basis each Spring to the top five or six candidates among the applicants who submit their complete application by the March 15 deadline and plan to enter the program the next Fall.

These assistantships are renewable for a second year, assuming satisfactory performance, which includes successfully completing 18 hours of graduate-level coursework. Teaching Assistants receive training in the teaching of writing and literature and work approximately 20 hours per week, tutoring students in the Writing Place, assisting in faculty's 101/103/201/110 classes, assisting program coordinators, and eventually teaching English 101/103/201/110. Applicants interested in being considered for an assistantship should check the appropriate box on the application form

Christopher Gould Fellowship in English

Awarded each year to an incoming graduate student in English working toward an M.A. degree, the award provides funds to be used towards in-state tuition, fees, and books. The award shall be evenly divided between Fall and Spring semesters.
List of fellows

Degree Requirements

The Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education prepares educators/professionals for leadership positions in instructional technology and secondary education. Our commitment is to the development of highly competent professionals to serve in educational leadership roles.

The MA degree in English requires a total of 36 hours of graduate coursework. These hours must be distributed according to the following guidelines:

  • 30 of the required 36 hours must be taken in residence.
  • All students are required to take English 501: Introduction to Research Methods in English. In addition, all students are required to take either English 502: Introduction to Literary Theory or English 552: Rhetoric and Culture. Beyond the two required courses, students are encouraged to consult with the Graduate Coordinator to tailor their program of study to their personal and professional needs.
  • Students may select a thesis or non-thesis option. Students pursuing the thesis option must complete 30 semester hours of graduate course work, register for ENG 599 thesis (6 hours) in their last two semesters, and present and defend a thesis, acceptable to the student's thesis committee, prior to graduation. Students pursuing the non-thesis option will complete 36 hours of graduate course work.
  • As many as 6 of the 36 hours may be transferred from another regionally accredited institution, subject to the approval of the English Department's Graduate Coordinator. A student enrolled in the UNCW English Graduate Program who wished to take one or more graduate English courses elsewhere for graduate credit must obtain prior approval from the Graduate Coordinator and the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Students may substitute one course (3 hours) from outside the department for an English course with the prior approval of the Graduate Coordinator.
  • Students must successfully complete a qualifying written comprehensive examination. Normally the examination is taken in the third semester of full-time enrollment.
  • All degree requirements must be completed within five calendar years.

Top Ten Reasons to come to UNC Wilmington for a Master of Arts in English

1. Post-graduate Employment

An M.A. in English will increase your ability to research and think critically; it will also enhance your writing skills. Proficiency with skills such as these can set you apart from others. Students who have graduated with an M.A. in English from UNCW have gone on to work in fields such as

  • Teaching (at the middle school, high school, and college level)
  • Publishing
  • Copy Writing/Editing
  • Professional and technical writing positions
  • Public relations
  • Marketing/Advertising
  • Journalism
  • Event Planner
  • Law
  • Nonprofits

Also see "What can I do with a Master's Degree in English" for more information (pdf)

2. The Location

  • Wilmington, NC is a popular tourist destination and is home to many top-rated local businesses, venues, and restaurants. This, combined with Wilmington's strong southern history, provides tourists and new residents with a rich sense of place.
  • Wilmington has several beautiful beaches just minutes from UNCW's campus. Wrightsville Beach, NC, in particular, is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts, photographers, and sightseers.
  • Wilmington has a strong community for people interested in the humanities and fine arts. Students interested in pursuing an M.A. in English may find that Wilmington's art community can provide them with activities and events that are relevant to their areas of interest/studies. Thalian Hall is just one of many venues in Wilmington that stages both dramatic and musical productions; it also plays host to Cinematique of Wilmington, a series of classic, foreign, and other notable films.
  • Wilmington has a thriving sports and athletic community (basketball, baseball, soccer, rugby, etc). and it is the hometown of Michel Jordan.
  • Wilmington, North Carolina also boasts a strong filming community and has been the location of numerous popular movies and television shows over the years.

3. The Faculty/Staff

  • The English department employs knowledgeable professors who are experts in both their fields of interest and in graduate instruction. Professors are more than willing to meet and spend time with students to ensure that they understand course work/assignments and are satisfied with the program.
  • The graduate school has friendly staff that will help you navigate the application process.

4. The Students

  • The students that make up the English M.A. program are a welcoming, helpful, and bright group of people. They come from North Carolina and around the country-and beyond, thanks in particular to our partnership with Nanjing University in China.
  • The Graduate English Association (GEA), a student run organization, facilitates community support and growth among graduate members of UNCW's English department. Visit them here:

5. Internships

  • The English Department can place interns in more than 60 local and national organizations. And if you don't see one you like, they are happy to explore other organizations and agencies that fit your interests. (

6. Teaching Assistant Opportunities

  • Teaching Assistantships, $13,000, are available and are awarded on a competitive basis each Spring to the top five or six candidates among the applicants who submit their complete application by the March 15 deadline and plan to enter the program the next Fall ( 

7. Travel Opportunities

  • Wentworth Travel Fellowships: Mr. Charles Green, the English Department's generous benefactor, provides funds supporting competitive fellowships for students to travel to locations connected to their literary research interests. In recent years, graduate students have traveled to New York City, India, Argentina, Japan, and France (
  • Graduate Student Travel Awards: The Graduate Student Association (GSA) and Graduate School provide awards that will fund conference travel opportunities not otherwise available to graduate students (

8. UNCW is a Top 5 University in the South

9. The Value

  • UNCW's in-state tuition is comparatively affordable as is our out-of-state tuition (
  • Scholarships and financial aid are available to those who qualify.
  • Cross campus Graduate Assistant positions are available and offer financial assistance. In recent years, English students have served as assistants in other programs and at a variety of campus organizations.

10. The Endorsements of Students and Alumni

  • "I am able to work in close proximity with faculty on a wide variety of subjects. Casting a wide net to gather new knowledge while still maintaining rigor is really possible here due to the accessibility and diverse interests of faculty. There isn't anything or anyone that feels closed off." -Jack Kelly, Class of 2015
  • "At UNCW, I appreciate being able to find and follow my own path and the encouragement I get from faculty while pursuing it. Also, all the graduate students seem to have their individual interests, but we're respectful of one another. Even my relationships with those who share similar interests are supportive and encouraging, never competitive." -Jenna McCarthy, Class of 2015
  • "While my own inquiry has benefitted from the program, it's also motivated my students to engage with more intricate, involved, and often controversial complexities. Once I finish my Master's in the Fall of 2015, I am sure that I'll no longer have any fear of setting up stone walls in my classroom and feeling too comfortable with what I already know; I now…search out communities that will support me in my profession and passions." -Justine Chew (high school teacher), Class of 2015
  • "Through the graduate program here, I have learned how to respond when someone asks me, 'So, what are you going to do with that degree in English?'" -Andrea Ingle, Class of 2014 (Upon graduation, Andrea was hired as the coordinator for the Association for Campus Entertainment at UNCW.)
  • See our grad alumni page for additional information.
The "Top Ten" was compiled by Graduate Assistant Melissa Stone

Please address all inquiries to:

Dr. Meghan Sweeney, Graduate Coordinator
Department of English
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
601 South College Road
Wilmington, NC 28403
910-962-3054 voice
910-962-7186 fax

Do not send any application materials to the graduate coordinator or
the department; these should be sent to the The Graduate School.