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Coterminal Master of Arts

The Department of English recognizes that the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June 2023 about the consideration of certain types of demographic information as part of an admission review. All applications submitted during upcoming application cycles will be reviewed in conformance with that decision. 

If you are an advanced undergraduate who wants to take the study of literature to a higher level, then the coterminal M.A. program is for you. You will participate in rigorous graduate-level seminars taught by the department’s renowned faculty. The option of writing an M.A. thesis in addition to coursework offers an intense intellectual experience. This program is ideal for students who are contemplating a career in teaching, or who are contemplating further study of English at the graduate level.

Degree Requirements

Note: This program is ONLY open to current Stanford undergraduates who are majoring in English or related fields, Modern Thought and Literature, American Studies, Comparative Literature, and any language and literature within DLCL and Classics.

M.A. candidates must complete program with a 3.0 (B) grade point average (GPA) at least nine courses (a minimum of 45 units), at least two of which must be 300-level courses.

Ordinarily, graduate students enroll in courses numbered 200 and above. They may take no more than two 100-level courses without the consent of the Director of Graduate Studies. No more than two courses may be taken outside the department and these must be pre-approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

The master's student may take no more than 5 units of directed reading and research (ENGLISH 398: Research Course).

No creative writing courses may be used to fulfill the requirements.

Students whose undergraduate transcripts do not show course work in the following areas are expected to take a course in those areas as part of the master's program: Medieval, Renaissance, 19th C, 20th C (American or British Literature).

M.A. candidates must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. 

Interested students should consult their faculty adviser or the graduate program adviser for further details.

Required Courses

  1. Two courses in literature before 1800 (5 units each)

  2. Two courses in literature after 1800 (5 units each)

Elective Courses

Five courses (5 units each) which should represent a mixture of survey and specialized courses chosen to guarantee familiarity with a majority of the works on the qualifying exam reading list for doctoral candidates. Candidates who can demonstrate unusually strong preparation in the history of English literature may undertake a 40 to 60 page master's thesis. Each student is responsible for finding an adviser, who must approve the proposed topic before the end of Winter Quarter prior to anticipated graduation. Candidates register for up to 10 units of ENGLISH 399. Thesis with the faculty member who supervises the thesis work. The thesis is read and graded by the adviser and one other member of the English faculty.

Candidates who write a master's thesis may petition to be excused from up to 10 units of the electives described above. The additional 35 units normally consist of the four required courses and three elective courses. These courses are chosen by the student and approved by the adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies.

For more information, see the Stanford Bulletin.

Application Procedures

Complete the Coterm Online Application

The online application requests the following:

  • Current Official Transcript (Official Stanford transcript is requested and submitted through the online application. DO NOT request an official paper transcript from the Registrar's Office.)

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Writing Sample (A critical paper of approximately 12-25 pages)

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation (Best if two letters are from Department of English faculty who teach graduate courses)

Admission to this program is limited to English majors who have completed most of the departmental requirements for the B.A. degree. The Admissions Committee will also consider applicants from related fields, such as Modern Thought and Literature, Comparative Literature, and American Studies, if they have fulfilled the requirements for the B.A. in English; it will, however, give preference to English majors. A GPA of 3.7 or better in English courses is a minimum requirement for admissions.

Selecting Entry Term: Students planning to confer their undergraduate degree in the Spring or Summer Quarter of 2023-24 must select "Spring 2023-24" as their Entry Term. This is to ensure there is one quarter of overlap between the undergraduate and graduate program, as required by University policy. All other students who will have an active undergraduate degree program in Academic year 2024-25 should select "Autumn 2024-25" as their Entry Term. Contact the student Services Manager for any questions or concerns. 

Application Deadline

Application deadline for Spring 2024 admission including Letters of Recommendation is February 2 at 11:59pm PST. Late applications will not be accepted. Students may apply upon completion of 120 units toward their undergraduate degree, but no later than the quarter prior to the expected completion of their undergraduate degree.

Be sure to review the coterminal residency requirement as described in Explore Degrees.  Please note: Coterm students are required to complete 180 units for the B.A. degree, plus 45 units for the M.A. degree. M.A. and B.A. requirements cannot double-count.

Decision & Acceptances

The Graduate Admissions Committee will evaluate current applications once per year and decisions will be announced by early March. Please send your response to the offer of admission to the Student Services Manager.

Further Resources

Department Policy

Stanford Bulletin

Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP)