MA in English (Online)

Master of Arts in English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric


Offered entirely online, the MA in English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric is designed to prepare students for successful employment as writers, editors, and writing instructors in various industries and institutions, including business, technology, science, and two-year colleges. This specialization allows students the flexibility of selecting a focus on Professional Writing or Rhetoric and Writing.

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Required Courses (15 credit hours):

  • ENG 6050: Visual Rhetoric and Practices of Writing
  • ENG 6200: Teaching of Writing
  • ENG 6400: Professional/Technical Writing
  • ENG 6410: Resources and Research in Professional/Technical Writing
  • ENG 6460: Professional/Technical Communication & Rhetoric

Electives (15 credit hours) from such regular offerings as:

Recommended electives:

  • ENG 6420: Professional/Technical Editing
  • ENG 6430: Ethics in Professional/Technical Writing
  • ENG 6450: Science Writing
  • ENG 6470: Topics in Professional/Technical Communication*

Other electives:

  • ENG 5860: Writing Process for Online Documents
  • ENG 6800: Seminar in English Studies*
  • Or other English elective courses

Capstone Experience (1 credit hour):

  • English 6910: Master’s Portfolio

Total for degree: 31 credit hours

* A student can take multiple different versions of this course number, with each one counting toward the total credit hours for the degree, as long as the topic of each course is different.

Up to 12 hours of these elective courses, if available online, may be taken from outside the English Department and may count toward the degree; students should meet or correspond with their  advisor or the English Graduate Coordinator to determine options.

Note: Students who are geographically close enough to do so may substitute face-to-face versions of these courses if they choose to do so. Any such substitutions should be cleared with the English Graduate Coordinator before enrolling.

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Course Descriptions 

Please see the sections below for admission and application requirements for the MA in English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric.

Statement of Purpose

  • 2 pages, double spaced. At the top of the first page, include your name and MA in English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric
  • Describe your academic and career background, your preparation for graduate study in your particular field, your areas of academic interest(s), and your motivation for pursuing the MA program
  • Tell us how the degree will help you achieve your goals

Critical Writing Sample

  • Roughly 15 pages (double spaced). If you do not have a single writing sample of that length, you can include 2 or more shorter pieces that total 12-20 pages. Choose writing that demonstrates your current abilities as a writer
  • You can draw from undergraduate writing, other graduate courses, technical writing, or professional writing from your field, academic plans, reports, a teaching philosophy, a discussion of teaching methods, proposals for courses, etc.

Three Letters of Recommendation

  • Submit contact information for 3 academic or professional references who can attest to your academic ability, your critical thinking skills, your academic and/or professional writing abilities, your responsibility, etc.
  • Please confirm in advance that your recommenders are willing and able to write letters of recommendation before the application due date. Let each recommender know to expect an email from BGSU at the email address you provide
  • Effective letters of recommendation tend to be 1-2 single spaced pages and should speak to your preparation for graduate study

GPA and Transcripts

  • Follow the steps in the online application. An unofficial transcript is all you need for the application process.
  • Upon admission, an official transcript will be required from each college or university where you earned a degree
  • Candidates are expected to have an overall GPA of at least 2.7 and a 3.0 in your major; the entirety of the application is taken into consideration if a GPA does not meet this threshold

Standardized Test Scores

Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a U.S. 4.0 scale (or its equivalent) and applicants with a previous graduate degree from an accredited university are not required to submit standardized test scores. For applicants who do not meet the GPA requirement or who do not have a previous graduate degree,  the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test is the preferred test for our programs, but the MA in English (online programs) can accept one of the exams listed below instead of the GRE.

Test type

Test Code / Name

Expected scores

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

General Test (or revised General Test)

Verbal score of roughly 159 (around 80th percentile or better), Writing score of roughly 4.5.

Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE)

020 English Language Arts exam

Passing score for Ohio.

Praxis Subject Assessments

5039 English Language Arts: Content and Analysis

Average state passing score.

Praxis Subject Assessments

5047 Middle School English Language Arts

Average state passing score.

Praxis Core

5712 Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading*

5722 Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing*

Average state passing score.

Praxis II**

0041 or 5041 English Language, Literature, and Composition

Average state passing score.

Praxis II**

0049 or 5049 Middle School English Language Arts

Average state passing score.

Praxis II**

0044 or 5044 English Language, Literature, and Composition: Content and Analysis

Average state passing score.

* If submitting Praxis Core, both the Reading and Writing test scores are required.

** Praxis II are older exams and can no longer be taken. If the score is still current and reportable by the testing service (usually if within 10 years of when it was taken), we can accept these exam scores.

We can accept a passing or strong passing score on other state-approved teacher licensure exams in the English or Language Arts field, with approval of the English Department Graduate Coordinator. If you would like to inquire about another test, please contact Kimberly Spallinger.

TOEFL or IELTS scores

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores are required only for students whose first language is not English. If your first language is English you do not need to submit these scores. If your first language is not English but you attended an undergraduate institution in which all instruction (save foreign language instruction) was conducted in English, you might not need to submit these scores. Check with BGSU's Graduate Admissions if you have any questions.

The online MA in English programs work best for students interested in a Master of Arts in English but who, because of schedule or location, do not find an in-person degree program to be the best fit. The Professional Writing & Rhetoric specialization might be the best fit for those interested in professional or technical writing as a career, in further graduate study focused on composition and rhetoric, or in the teaching of writing at the community college level or other level.

The program is designed so that the entire degree can be earned online and at a distance. This type of degree is best for self-motivated, self-starting students. Courses are taught asynchronously; they do not usually meet at a specific time each week, so you can work around your job or personal schedule. Most graduate classes are capped at 15 students, giving you significant time and attention from the professor.

Classes consist of reading, online discussions, research, and presentation of ideas in writing and on the web in videos, images, etc. Courses vary in subject matter and interaction styles. BGSU uses Canvas as our course delivery system for most classes.

Online degrees follow the BGSU academic calendar: 15-week semesters in fall and spring, and two 6-week terms in the summer. Summer courses are shorter, but require a higher time commitment. See the BGSU Academic Calendar for details.

Yes, you can take courses before or without being enrolled in a graduate program if you enroll as a Graduate Non-Degree-seeking student. You can find more information about applying for Graduate Non-Degree status at the Registrar's Graduate Application Process page.

Enrolling as a Non-Degree-seeking student does not guarantee acceptance to graduate degree programs. However, performance in graduate courses at BGSU and elsewhere is taken into account during application review.

Keep in mind that a maximum of 9 credits earned while in Non-Degree Status can be applied to the online MA program. Non-resident and general fees for Non-Degree Status students are assessed according to the Main Campus fee schedule (as opposed to the distance learning fee schedule, which applies to students enrolled in an online MA in English program).

You will need to complete the following steps:

  • Complete the Graduate Non-Degree application. Once your application has been approved, you will receive email confirmation, a BGSU student ID number, and information on setting up your BGSU email address.
  • Visit the course descriptions for the online MA in English programs, which provide information on the classes and instructions for enrollment. English Department graduate courses are marked as "closed" until the second day of enrollment to guarantee that degree-seeking students can register for required courses.
  • Contact Jeanne Berry regarding the courses you wish to enroll in, including the course number, section, and class number.

Go to the online application to submit all required application materials, including statement of purpose, writing sample(s), transcripts, and test scores. The online application is where you will also request letters of recommendation and pay the application fee. There is an application fee of $45 for U.S. residents and $75 for international applicants.

On the "Academic Interest" page of the online application, choose "Degree Type: Master's," then the correct Program of Study:

  • English: Professional Writing and Rhetoric - MA (Online Program)

Yes! A number of our students have undergraduate degrees in fields other than English. When we evaluate applications, we look for writing and analytical ability, and preparation for graduate work in English. Such preparation can come from undergraduate education in many disciplines, work experience, and elsewhere.

The GRE general test or another standardized exam is required as part of our application process, even if you have a previous graduate degree. See the Admissions tab above for standardized test information.

You can submit application materials at any time. We strive to make application decisions within 1-2 months of the priority deadline for the program. You will be notified of the decision via an email from the Graduate Coordinator of the English Department and an email from BGSU's Graduate College.

No. A committee evaluates applications based on their statement of purpose, writing sample, academic record, test scores, and letters of recommendation. The committee's goal is to admit students who are likely to be successful within coursework for the degree, and whose career and academic goals will be aided by the degree.

The online MA programs do not offer graduate assistantships; students are responsible for all tuition and fees. However, financial aid and awards information can be found at the following sites:

International Students should look here:

You will consult with the Graduate Coordinator or another assigned advisor to discuss courses and a plan for your degree. Coursework does not need to be taken in a specific order.

The Course Descriptions page for the MA in English online programs includes copies of course descriptions. Please also visit the Course Rotation page to determine when specific classes will be available.

No. The Class & Course Information system that allows you to conduct a Class Search will list Department of English courses as closed until the second day of open enrollment. This is so that the department can control enrollments and be sure that students enrolled in our graduate degree programs have the best chance of getting a space in a course necessary for their degree.

Each semester, the Department of English will post course descriptions online and email descriptions to all students. You will consult with your advisor and email your list of courses to the Graduate Secretary, Ms. Jeanne Berry, who will sign you up for classes during the first day of enrollment. See our Course Descriptions page for more information.

Please note that the Department of English keeps all English graduate courses closed until the second day of enrollment to ensure degree-seeking students can be registered for the courses they need. After that, all courses are open to any BGSU student. The only way to guarantee a spot in your required courses is to send course requests to Jeanne Berry by the requested due date.

At times, a course outside the Department of English may be a good match for your academic and career interests. BGSU's Class and Course Information page can provide you with information about available courses. Any course outside the Department of English must be approved by your advisor before it can count towards your degree.

Students can structure their time in the online MA program to meet their personal and academic needs. The program is flexible and allows students to decide what type of course load works best for them. The online English MA is designed as a part-time program, but it is possible to take a full course load.

Most students, especially those who are working or have other demands on their time, enroll in 1 or 2 courses per semester. Graduate courses are more labor-intensive than undergraduate courses; a full-time graduate student course load is 3 or 4 courses per semester (9 to 12 credit hours).

For graduate students who are working full-time and/or have other commitments, we suggest 1 course per semester, especially in the first semester of the program, and no more than 2 courses in a semester.

The maximum amount of credit hours a student can enroll in per semester is 12 (4 courses). Taking 12 credit hours per semester is only recommended for students who have very few other obligations.

Students can take a semester off by simply not enrolling in courses for the semester. Please let the Graduate Secretary, Ms. Jeanne Berry, know that you plan to take the semester off and when you plan to return.

If you have a medical or personal reason for taking the semester off and wish to pause your time-to-degree clock, you can request a Leave of Absence. Please review the University policy regarding a Leave of Absence and email the Department of English Graduate Coordinator. In your email, specify the semester(s) during which you will be absent and the semester when you plan to return to coursework.

Yes. You must complete the degree within six years from the end of the semester of the first course used to fulfill degree requirements. This means that the date of the first course used to fulfill degree requirements includes any course taken elsewhere for which you request transfer credit, even if that course was taken before you enrolled at BGSU.

The online MA in English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric is a 31 credit hour degree, which includes 15 credit hours of required courses, 15 credit hours of electives, and a 1 credit hour capstone experience. Students have finished in two years or less by taking roughly 2 courses each semester, including the summer.

Yes. You make take up to twelve hours of relevant electives, if available, outside the Department of English. However, you must consult with your program coordinator or the Graduate Coordinator to determine whether a particular course is suitable. Any outside courses must be approved by your program coordinator or the Graduate Coordinator before it can be counted as an elective toward your degree.

Some graduate course and credits earned elsewhere can transfer into the MA program, although restrictions apply, including:

  • Credit transfer cannot be guaranteed in advance. A student must be admitted to the program and have earned at least 8 hours of graduate credits at BGSU before transfer credits can be officially reviewed and considered.
  • BGSU policy states that 24 credit hours must be earned through BGSU. A maximum of 7 graduate credit hours can be earned elsewhere and transferred. A maximum of 2 courses are generally accepted as transfer credit.
  • Graduate credits toward a degree or certificate that you earned cannot be transferred. However, if you did not complete the other program or took more graduate credits than were counted, you may be able to transfer credits into BGSU.
  • The MA in English online programs accept external credits or courses only as substitutes for elective courses.
  • All transfer credit requests must be evaluated by the Graduate Coordinator.

To request transfer credit, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully read the BGSU graduate transfer policy
  2. Email the Graduate Coordinator with a written request that includes
    • The course name and title for transfer credit
    • Semester and year taken, credit hours and grade earned
    • A copy of or link to the course catalog in which the course is listed
    • The course syllabus
    • The professor's name and contact information
    • An official copy of the transcript showing the course taken and grade earned. If an official transcript was submitted with your original application, that transcript should suffice
    • The name of the graduate degree (or degrees) at the university where the course was taken toward which the course counts. Include links to any course or degree information on the university website demonstrating that the course counts toward a specific degree or certificate program
    • A brief statement (roughly 1/2 a page, double spaced) explaining the course content and how it meets your academic and/or professional goals with respect to the online MA in English with a specialization in English Teaching at BGSU

Accommodations can be made in a number of areas. All requests for accommodation go through BGSU's office of Accessibility Services. Please visit their website or call them at 419-372-8495.

Each student completes a Master's Portfolio as the capstone project for the degree. Candidates for the online MA in English must sign up for 1 hour of ENG 6910 Master's Portfolio (generally during the semester in which the student plans to finish the degree) and must submit a portfolio with a minimum of four revised seminar papers/projects along with an analytical narrative for evaluation by two faculty readers. You can find out more about this part of the program on our MA Portfolio page.

The online English MA degrees are 100% earned online, but this is a Master of Arts in English, as rigorous and complete as our face-to-face MA degree. The diploma for the specializations do not specify how they were earned. Each degree diploma will read as follows:

  • Master of Arts in the field of English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric
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Funding is available for graduate students through the university, through the Graduate Student Senate, and through the English Department.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Create effective written and visual documents for multiple audiences based on theories and concepts central to the fields of technical communication and rhetoric.
  • Evaluate the key theoretical, historical and cultural concepts of the fields of rhetoric and technical communication.
  • Plan communication strategies for creating documents for people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Create a capstone portfolio reflecting what students have learned over the course of their program.

Please contact for more information. 

Updated: 11/01/2021 01:01PM