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English Graduate Handbook

Course Registration

Fully enrolled graduate students will receive an early registration appointment from the Registrar's Office. They will not need the Graduate Coordinator's approval or electronic permission to register unless they wish to enroll in (a) ENC 6941 Practicum in Teaching Composition, (b) LIT 6941 Practicum in Teaching Literature, (c) LIT 6905 Directed Independent Study, or (d) ENG 6971 Thesis. Post-baccalaureate students must first receive both the Graduate Coordinator's approval to enroll in any graduate course. Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator Dr. Betsy Nies ( to discuss the registration process, choice of classes, and Graduation Review Checklist before signing up for classes. Here are a few tips for registering: 1) Check the website for descriptions of graduate courses for the upcoming semester. 2) Go to and log in. a) Under “Registration Tools and Resources,” check “Registration Status.” b) Clear any holds. c) A time ticket (or information regarding a time ticket) will be posted. d) Click on “Look up classes.” e) Click on “Add Classes” once you are able to register according to the terms of the time ticket.

Course Load

The Department of English Graduate Program recommends the following pace for completing a M.A.: 1) three courses, no other employment, 2) two courses, twenty-hours-per-week of employment, or 3)one course, forty-hours-per-week of employment. The Program discourages students from enrolling in four courses even if they are not working.

Recommended Course Schedule

Students must see the Graduate Program Coordinator Dr. Betsy Nies, Building 8, Room 2653 ( as soon as they are accepted into the program, before registering for classes. Students are responsible for keeping a record of requirements met using the Graduate Review Checklist and maintaining contact with the Graduate Coordinator for the duration of their studies.

Students should take ENG 6019 Literary and Critical Interpretation (offered in the Fall) as soon as possible after entering the Graduate Program.

Students interested in pursuing a concentration in Composition and Rhetoric should take one of the 6000 classes in composition and rhetoric offered every fall, and a second 5000/6000 level classes as soon as they offered. Students should complete at least one (and preferably two) composition classes before taking a teaching practicum in a composition classroom. Students must earn eighteen hours of credit before taking a teaching practicum. In order to complete a practicum, students should check the teaching schedule of graduate faculty members who teach ENC courses at the undergraduate level.

Degree Completion in Six Years

All coursework for a graduate degree must be completed within six years of a master's degree-seeking student being admitted to a graduate program. All exceptions must be approved in writing by the Graduate Program Coordinator and the Dean of the Graduate School.

GPA Requirements

Students must maintain a 3.0 average to remain in the M.A. Program in English. Courses in which students earn grades of C+ or lower will not count toward completion of the degree requirements. Students who earn two “C’s” or maintain an average below 3.0 will be dismissed from the Program.

Trial Program

Students admitted for a “trial program” must maintain a 3.0 average for their first semester. Students who fail to do so or withdraw from two or more courses for academic reasons face possible dismissal from the Program. Appeals can be directed to the Graduate Committee after consultation with the Graduate Coordinator.


Each student is honor-bound to complete only his or her own work, to fully acknowledge his or her use of any information, ideas, or other matter belonging to someone else, and to properly document the source in question; and to offer for credit only that work which he or she has completed in relation to the current course.

The University of North Florida Student Handbook identifies several types of violations; these include but are not limited to cheating; fabricating and falsifying information or citations; submitting the same work for credit in more than one course; plagiarizing; providing another student with access to one’s own work to submit under this person’s name or signature; destroying, stealing, or making inaccessible library or other academic resource material; and helping or attempting to help another person commit an act of academic dishonesty. The University of North Florida authorizes any instructor who finds evidence of cheating, plagiarism, or other wrongful behavior that violates the University of North Florida Academic Integrity Code to take appropriate action. Possible action includes, but is not limited to, failing the student on the work in question, failing the student for the course, notifying the appropriate academic dean or Vice President for Student Affairs, and requesting additional action be taken. The consequences of a breach of academic integrity may result in an F, which is unforgivable, regardless of withdrawal status.

Students who plagiarize during coursework for the completion of the M.A. in English may be dismissed from the Program pending a decision of the Department’s Graduate Committee and/or Graduate Program Coordinator.

Directed Independent Study (LIT 6905)

Students have an opportunity to pursue independent research with a faculty member. The student must have a clear line of research she could like to pursue that matches the faculty’s research interests and background. Additionally, a faculty member must agree to supervise the DIS.


  1. Secure approval from the faculty member before the start of the semester for the DIS.
  2. Secure the form from the front office or the Graduate Coordinator for completing a DIS.
  3. Fill out the form and generate a syllabus for the course with the faculty member.
  4. Secure the signature of the faculty member and Graduate Coordinator, and Chair.
    Note: Applying for a DIS does not insure approval at all three levels.
  5. Submit the form to the main office. The secretary will contact the student via UNF’s e-mail system once the registration block is lifted.

Note: A DIS may only be requested provided that no other alternative courses exist to meet the student’s needs. A DIS should draw upon research for which the student already has a well developed knowledge base.

Teaching Practicums in Literature and Composition

After completing eighteen hours of coursework, a student may register for either a practicum in teaching in a composition classroom (ENC 6942 Teaching Practicum in the Writing Classroom, a course that counts towards the Concentration in Composition and Rhetoric) or a literature classroom (LIT 6941 Practicum: Teaching Literature). For the composition concentration, students must have taken two composition courses previously before signing up for a practicum.

A teaching practicum is a three-credit-hour course. A practicum allows a student to shadow a graduate faculty instructor in a specific undergraduate course and help conduct the class under the instructor's supervision. As with the independent study, the instructor and the student generate a study plan before the beginning of the semester. Students must locate a faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty who has will be teaching an undergraduate course appropriate for the student’s background the following semester. For those who are taking a practicum in the Concentration in Composition and Rhetoric can take from any graduate faculty member who is teaching an undergraduate course with an ENC prefix.

Research Resources

All incoming students should make a research appointment with a librarian if they are not familiar with the UNF library databases and resources. Students should learn to use the International MLA Bibliography, One Search, Oxford English Dictionary, catalog search, and processes for retrieving articles and books from Interlibrary Loan and UBorrow. Go to the library's homepage and scroll down to "Research Consultation."

Graduate Organizations

The English Graduate Organization (EGO) is a social and professional organization. It co-hosts the semi-annual Graduate English Conference, offers graduate students support and information through regular meetings, and organizes sessions to discuss topics of interest to graduate students. For more information, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator Betsy Nies ( or visit the EGO Facebook page.

Sigma Tau Delta is the International English Honors Society, and the UNF chapter, Alpha Pi Sigma, was founded in 2009. The benefits of membership include scholarships, publishing opportunities, and opportunities to present at local and international conferences. For graduate membership, a 3.3 GPA is required, and a student must have already completed one semester at UNF. The membership dues are $45. Please see for more information or contact Dr. James Beasley (

Employment Opportunities

Many UNF graduates of the Masters of Arts in English teach in Duval and St. Johns County public and private schools. Some have adjunct positions in our department, at Flagler College, or at community colleges. Others have positions in Internet-related enterprises, television and radio production, journalism, advertising, marketing, technical writing, editing, trade publishing, script writing, bookstore management, corporate in-house education and training, fund raising, consulting, university admissions, continuing education, GED Program teaching and administration, archival management and research, and teaching English as a second language. A number of graduate students have been accepted into Ph.D. programs or have gone on to law school.Locally, employs a number of our writers as a copywriters; The Florida-Times Union employ a number of our graduates in public relations.

In general, there are job possibilities wherever employers need someone who is a smart, articulate, research-skilled, analytically adept, communicatively expert, and independent-minded self-starter. The Small Business Administration has long recognized that the key factor in business success is communication skill, and that the major sub-factor is being able to write well. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), written communication ranked third (only by two percentage points below the first two categories) after leadership and team building skills on the list of skills employers seek in job applicants. In 2012, NACE’s Salary Survey indicated that those holding a master’s degree in English earn 20.1% more than those holding a bachelor’s degree. Communication and writing abilities are foundational for someone who wants to thrive in an information and communication-based economy.

Doctoral Program Admission Preparation

A student can take a number of steps to increase the possibility of acceptance to a doctoral program:

  • maintain a high GPA (3.75 or higher);
  • enroll only in 6000-level courses;
  • develop a reading facility in a language other than English (some doctoral programs expect their students to be able to gain a reading proficiency in one or two foreign languages by the time they graduate or often expect students to pass a reading test in another language within the first year)
  • establish good relations with two or three professors so that they can write positive and detailed letters of recommendation;
  • select an area of scholarly interest, that is, a study field such as postcolonial, film, gender,rhetoric and / or composition, literacy, African-American, eco-criticism, digital or new media, disability studies, queer theory, etc.;
  • begin settling on a period such as American literature up to the Civil War, 19th century American, 20th-century British, Old English, Medieval, Early Modern, Restoration, eighteenth-century, Romanticism, Victorian etc.);
  • join a society linked to the student’s budding scholarly interest;
  • sign up for the society’s listserv;
  • find out if the society has an auxiliary group for graduate students (many do) and join it;
  • attend one of the society’s annual conferences, and, if possible, present a paper at the conference;
  • speak with several graduate faculty who graduated within the last five years from doctoral programs to gain information about the process;
  • start becoming familiar with current critical methodologies and theoretical approaches;
  • present a paper at UNF’s Graduate English Conference or explore conference opportunities through the University of Pennsylvania’s conference site where upcoming conferences are posted from across the nation:;
  • form a writing group with other Ph.D.-bound students and critique one another’s scholarly writing;
  • become thoroughly familiar with appropriate citation styles such as MLA, APA, or Chicago;
  • develop a well-written essay of literary criticism that will serve as a writing sample to accompany the application to a doctoral program; this paper should aim to take part in an ongoing scholarly discussion; it can accomplish this goal by engaging with an appropriate range of secondary material that establishes the context of the broader conversation into which the essay is entering;
  • keep track of everything academic one does in order to build an academic CV—every grant and / or scholarship received, every academic committee on which he or she has served, every paper presented at a conference (record the date and for what occasion), every scholarly organization, every class he or she has taught, and so forth.

Types of Academic Positions

Adjuncts: Over the past several decades, universities and colleges in the United States have depended more and more on adjuncts to carry out the institution’s teaching mission. Some people adjunct because they enjoy teaching and have retired or earn a good living at a regular ‘day’ job. Others adjunct because they are trying to get ‘a foot in the door.’ Instead of operating under contracts, they are hired and paid by the course. They sometimes are not given their own office space, and do not receive medical or other

Instructors: Instructors may secure one-to-three-year contracts or find a permanent position. Typically,they are not expected to do research or service, but instead teach a higher number of courses than tenureline faculty. They may or may not receive benefits or research support.

Tenure-line faculty: Following the completion of a Ph.D. (or sometimes during the course of trying to earn a Ph.D.), graduates may secure a tenure-track position; they now may work towards gaining a tenured position, typically applied for after five or six years of work. Since tenure-track positions are limited nationwide, new graduates can expect to potentially be on the job market for several years, hopefully occupying temporary positions as they work towards building publications. A willingness to relocate geographically is essential for anyone who intends to find a tenure-track position.

Depending on the institution, to achieve tenure, an assistant professor must be teaching classes that win high approval ratings from students, providing service to the institution, and publishing. A professor who has earned tenure enjoys a relatively high degree of job security. Currently, tenure-line professors receive benefits (medical, retirement, sick leave, disability, etc.).

Types of Academic Institutions

Community colleges: At community colleges, permanent tenured faculty usually are required to teach a 5-5 load (five or more courses in the fall semester and five or more in the spring); no one expects publishing. Instructors teach massive numbers of students. Most post-secondary teaching jobs in the United States exist at this level. When they become available, which is not often, permanent (tenured) positions often go to holders of the Ph.D.

Large four (or more)-year state universities: At the “4-4 load” institution (four courses per semester), no publication, or minimal publication, is the norm. The 29-campus California State University System (i.e. San Francisco State, San Diego State, Sacramento State) requires its professors to teach 4-4 loads. Far more jobs exist at this level than at the research institutions (see below).

Hybrid schools: A hybrid school is one requiring both teaching and publication. UNF is such a school: professors are expected to carry a “3-3 load” and to publish articles. Jobs at this level are hard to obtain; however, more jobs exist at this level than at the research institutions (below).

Research institutions: At a research institution, a professor teaches a 2-2 load (two courses in the Fall and two in the Spring), a 1-2 load, or even a 1-1 load, is aided by teaching and research assistants, and is expected publish books and articles with considerable frequency. Tenure is extremely difficult to earn. Schools such as Berkeley, UCLA, Cornell, the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Wisconsin
(Madison), the University of Toronto, Stanford, NYU, Emory, Yale, Duke, etc., are research institutions. Probably less than 10% of the available jobs in the United States are housed in such universities. Hiring committees for these universities give jobs to Ph.D.s coming out of other, similar, highly ranked research universities.

Readings to Prepare for a Master's Degree

Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.
This dictionary contains hundreds of succinct essays explicating terms and concepts useful in discussing literature. Each entry consists of an explanation of a term’s meaning and examples drawn from a wide array of literary texts. Using accessible prose, this reference guide also elucidates terminology associated with literary theory and periodization.

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 2nd ed. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2002.
A clear-speaking introduction to theoretical approaches, including structuralism, post-structuralism, and deconstruction, postmodernism, psychoanalytic criticism, lesbian/gay criticism, Marxist criticism, new historicism and cultural materialism, postcolonialism, narratology, and ecocriticism. See the helpful one page lists of “What each kind of theorist does.”

Bennett, Andrew and Nicholas Royle. Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 2nd ed. New York: Prentice Hall, 1999.
Bennett and Royle accurately claim that their “clear and accessible [book] . . . offers new ways of thinking about literature and about what is involved in reading critically.” The book includes 28 short chapters (each 8-10 pages) on “key critical concepts all of which have more or less familiar names.” The opening chapter is on the idea of “The beginning,” the concluding chapter on the idea of “The end.” In between are chapters on “Readers and reading,” “The text and the world,” “Monuments,” “The Uncanny” “Narrative,” “Character,” “Voice,” “Figures and Tropes,” “Laughter, “The Tragic,” “History,” “Me,” “Ghosts,” “Sexual difference,” “God,” “Secrets,” “Pleasure,” and so on. The authors apply the concepts to literary texts, their “primary focus . . . [being] on what is powerful, complex and strange about literary works themselves.” The result is a fear-allaying, even enjoyable introduction to what might otherwise appear to be frightful literary theory.

Gibaldi, Joseph, ed. Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literature, 2nd ed. New York: MLA, 1992.
One of the few texts written specifically to serve as an introduction to graduate studies. Includes general introductory essays on Textual Scholarship, Canonicity and Textuality, Literary Interpretation, Historical Scholarship, and Literary Theory. Also includes a section on Cross-Disciplinary and Cultural Studies, with essays on Interdisciplinary Studies, Feminist and Gender Studies, Ethnic and Minority Studies, Border Studies, and Cultural Studies.

Gilbaldi, Joseph, ed. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: MLA, 2009.
A reference guide to the standard formatting of critical writing on literature.

Graff, Gerald. Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind. New Haven: Yale UP. 2003.
Gerald Graff’s book addresses the breach between students who feel alienated from the professional discussion of literature that occurs in critical and theoretical journals, and professional scholars and teachers who are frustrated and perplexed by their students’ resistance to engaging in critical arguments about literature. Graff suggests that those on each side of the divide can take more responsibility for building bridges rather than walls. Academic professionals need to realize that they sometimes make “ideas, problems, and ways of thinking look more opaque, narrowly specialized, and beyond normal learning capacities than they are or need to be.” And students need to realize that critical and theoretical “talk about books and subjects is as important educationally as the books and subjects themselves.”

Greenblatt, Stephen and Giles Gunn, ed. Redrawing the Boundaries: The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies. New York: MLA, 1992.
A slightly dated, but still very informative account of the field(s) of literary studies, the book contains essays on literary periods (Medieval Studies, Renaissance/Early Modern Studies, Seventeenth-Century Studies, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Romantic Studies, Victorian Studies, Modernist Studies,Postmodernist Studies, American Literary Studies to the Civil War, and American Literary and Cultural Studies Since the Civil War) and on fields of literary theory (Feminist Criticism, Gender Criticism, African American Criticism, Marxist Criticism, Psychoanalytic Criticism, Deconstruction, New Historicism, Cultural Criticism, Postcolonial Criticism, Composition Studies, and Composition and Literary Studies). The essays are by experts in the areas of focus and sometimes use specialized language.

Lentricchia, Frank and Thomas McLaughlin. Critical Terms for Literary Study. 2nd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P,1995.
This collection of essays offers an engaging and accessible introduction to key concepts in the field of literary and cultural study. In the simplest terms, it provides the conceptual language of theory: “representation,” “rhetoric,” “culture,” “ethnicity,” “desire,” and more. This collection offers not only extended definitions, but a vivid sense of the value and use of these concepts. A very helpful reader for student and teacher alike.


Contact the Graduate Coordinator to be sure you have completed your requirements and for additional instructions. Then apply for graduation through myWings.

Students with Disabilities

This program is fully committed to serving the needs of people with disabilities. Students with disabilities who seek reasonable accommodations in the classroom or other aspects of performing their coursework must first register with the UNF Student Accessibility Center (SAC) located in Building 10, Room 1201. SAS staff members work with students to obtain required documentation of disability and to identify appropriate accommodations as required by applicable disability laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After receiving all necessary documentation, the SAS staff determines whether a student qualifies for services with the SAS and if so, the accommodations the student will be provided. SAS staff then prepares a letter for the student to provide faculty advising them of approved accommodations. For further information, contact the SAS by phone (904) 620-2769, email (, or visit the SAC Website.