Department of English

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Main Departmental Office
Auditorium Building, 112
P.O. Box 311307
Denton, TX 76203-1307
(940) 565-2050
Web site:

James T. F. Tanner, Chair

Graduate Faculty: Armintor, Baird, Benet, Bond, Chelliah, Cooke, Cukor-Avila, Duban, Foertsch, Holdeman, Kesterson, Larson-Hall, Marks, Menzer, Montler, Muyumba, Peters, Pettit, Preston, Raign, Rodman, Ross, Shillingsburg, Simpkins, Sims, Tait, Tanner, Upchurch, Vanhoutte, Warde, Wright.


The faculty of the Department of English is a very dynamic one with divisions devoted to English literature, creative writing, technical writing, linguistics and English as a second language (ESL).

The literature division offers a range of courses in British, American and world literature from the earliest periods to the present day. Courses in literary criticism and theory educate students in orthodox and postmodern modes of analysis, and various special topics courses offer students the opportunity to study literature and culture across conventional boundaries of period and discipline. The division prides itself not only on the quality of its teaching, but also on its international scholarly reputation. Professors routinely publish their work in top academic journals and, increasingly, in monographs and editions published by university presses. The department also sponsors two literature journals, Studies in the Novel and American Periodicals. The department is also home to two on-going critical editions, The Works of Tobias Smollett (University of Georgia Press) and the Selected Works of Eliza Hawood (Pickering & Chatto) as well as to the reprint-series, British Ideas and Issues, 1660-1820 (AMS Press).

The creative writing faculty consists of several nationally recognized writers, qualified not only as creative practitioners, but also as mentors and critics. Their books have been published by Dutton, BOA Editions, University of Georgia Press, Sarabande Books and other presses. Stories, essays and poems by faculty regularly appear in such journals as The Paris Review, Story, The Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, The Ohio Review, The Georgia Review and Creative Non-Fiction. One of the distinctive strengths of graduate creative writing studies at UNT lies in how closely the literature and creative writing faculties work together, exploring ways in which knowledge of diverse literary traditions facilitates the development of one’s own craft. In addition to its form and theory classes in fiction and poetry and its graduate workshops in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and screenwriting, the department offers a creative thesis option (as part of its MA in creative writing) and a creative dissertation option (as part of its PhD in English). Each year the university sponsors a Visiting Writer Series in which students may attend both readings and pedagogical sessions with distinguished authors. Students also have opportunities to pursue editorial positions with the department’s national literary journal, American Literary Review, and with the local student-run journal, North Texas Review, which in turn sponsors its own reading series involving faculty and students.

The University of North Texas is one of only two universities in Texas to offer a graduate program in technical writing. Students graduating with a master’s degree in English with a major in technical writing have enjoyed a 100 percent job placement rate since 1990. These graduates work in a variety of industries such as manufacturing, electronics, computer software and hardware, airlines and telecommunications. Through the program, students have the opportunity to work with faculty who not only are highly qualified teachers, but are also published scholars and consultants. The faculty have published in major journals, such as the Technical Writing Quarterly, Technical Communication: Journal of the Society for Technical Communication and Journal of Business Communication. They have also published books on technical communication and writing for publishers such as Houghton Mifflin. Our faculty also work as consultants for companies across the United States, such as IBM, SBC, Ericsson and Centex. The technical writing program at the UNT offers students the opportunity to gain the theory and practice to work as technical communicators in any industry.

The linguistics division offers the MA degree both in linguistics and in English as a second language. All of the faculty in the division are well-known scholars with national and international reputations. They are uniquely qualified not only across the core areas of linguistics (phonetics/phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), but also in their various specializations: Native American linguistics, Southeast Asian linguistics, linguistic theory, language acquisition, sociolinguistics and applied linguistics. Students seeking the MA in linguistics receive the kind of personal attention and support that has invariably resulted in subsequent placement into PhD programs of the highest caliber. Those seeking the MA in ESL likewise receive personal attention; the extremely high placement rate of the division’s MA/ESL graduates speaks for itself.

Degree Programs

The Department of English offers the following degrees:

Master of Arts

Admission Requirements and Procedures

To be eligible for admission to any MA degree program in English, the applicant must have at least a 3.0 GPA on the last 60 undergraduate semester hours of work prior to receiving the bachelor’s degree, or a 2.8 GPA on all undergraduate work. Up to 24 hours of undergraduate course work may be required. For the major in technical writing, up to 9 hours of senior-level undergraduate course work in technical writing may be required before a student may register for graduate-level courses in technical writing. Prerequisite course work is determined by the chair of graduate studies on the basis of the applicant’s educational background and area of scholarly interest.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of applicants entering the department. The student must have taken the examination prior to or during the first term/semester of graduate study and must score in the 50th percentile or higher on the verbal aptitude section and a score of 3 on the analytical writing section (a score of 4 is required for the MA with a major in technical writing, for the MA in linguistics and for the MA with a major in ESL). A student who fails to comply with this requirement will not be allowed to re-register as a master’s degree candidate with a major in English except in unusual circumstances and with the consent of the chair of the Department of English and the dean of the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies. International students must also submit a score of 575 on the TOEFL paper examination or 233 on the computer examination.

Applicants to the MA degree program with a major in creative writing also must submit a portfolio of writing samples. These samples must comprise both a creative writing sample (10 pages of poetry or 15-25 pages of fiction) and a critical writing sample (a paper of 10-20 pages).

Financial Support

Beginning full-time students who meet all qualifications may apply for financial assistance in the form of the academic assistantship; those who have already completed 18 graduate hours in an area offered by the Department of English may apply for a teaching fellowship. Applications for both may be requested from the department by telephone at (940) 565-2050, e-mail at, or the department web site at

Foreign Language Requirement

All candidates pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of English must have a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. As evidence of such foreign language, a student may present the results of a standardized examination or have completed the sophomore year of a foreign language, or the equivalent, provided that the grade point average on all language courses is 2.75 or higher. A student who has permission to write a thesis or to enroll in ENGL 5920-5930 will not be allowed to register for the courses until the foreign language requirement has been met.

Degree Plan Requirement

During the second term/semester of graduate work toward the Master of Arts degree in English or linguistics, the student is required to file a degree plan in the office of the chair of graduate studies in English. Students should obtain an appointment as soon as possible after the registration period during their second term/semester’s work.

Comprehensive Examination

Candidates for all of the master’s degrees in English and candidates for both MA programs in linguistics who chose Option III must pass the master’s comprehensive examination. Candidates for the MA in linguistics who choose Option I or Option II do not take the master’s comprehensive examination. This examination is administered by the graduate committee of the Department of English and is given every February, June and October. Students must register for this examination at the appropriate time in the office of the chair of graduate studies in English. Students should consult with the graduate adviser early in their programs to learn of the specific nature of the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination may be taken twice. If the candidate fails the examination on both occasions, then permission for any retake of the examination must be granted by the graduate committee.

Candidates for both MA programs in linguistics who choose Option I or II must pass an oral defense of the written project prospectus as well as a defense of the completed project (thesis or two scholarly papers.

Application Checklist

The following materials should be sent directly to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies.

1. A completed graduate application form with the intended major indicated in the appropriate blank.

2. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores sent from the Educational Testing Service. Candidates applying for all MA programs in English must take the GRE verbal and analytical writing sections.

3. Official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) examination for students whose native language is not English.

4. Official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate academic work.

5. For the major in creative writing only, a writing samples portfolio consisting of a creative writing sample (10 pages of poetry or 15-25 pages of fiction) and a critical writing sample (a paper of 10-20 pages).

6. For the major in creative writing only, admission is granted at the beginning of each fall and spring term/semester. The deadlines for application are as follows:

Candidates also applying for an academic assistantship or teaching fellowship should send the following directly to the Department of English:

Master of Arts with a Major in English

Course Requirements

1. Required courses:

2. Area courses (non-thesis option): in addition to the required courses listed above, the student who is not given permission to write a thesis or to enroll for ENGL 5920-5930 (Research Problems in Lieu of Thesis) must complete 27 semester hours of additional course work.

3. Area courses (thesis option): the student who is given permission to write a thesis or to enroll in ENGL 5920-5930 will complete 21 hours of course work (including 6 hours of thesis) in addition to the required courses listed above. Course work to complete the additional requirements may be taken in the traditional areas of literature, writing or linguistics, as approved by the chair of graduate studies. No student who has permission to write a thesis will be allowed to register for the courses until the foreign language requirement has been met.

Master of Arts with a Major in Creative Writing

Course Requirements

All students must complete 36 hours of course work as follows:

Core Areas

3 hours:

6-12 hours:

3 hours:

Allied Areas