Frequently Asked Questions
You can find a list of our graduate programs and details from the Department of English’s Graduate Programs page.
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. Our program makes it possible to pursue a general MA in English or an MA in English with a specialization in either English Teaching or Professional Writing and Rhetoric.
The specialization in English Teaching is often the best fit for high school or middle school teachers who wish to advance in their profession by obtaining an advanced degree. Such teachers might want the MA for personal knowledge and experience or in order to teach certain courses such as honors or Advanced Placement courses, dual-enrollment courses that earn college credit, or community college courses. The online MA provides a combination of courses in language, literature, and writing, as well as the teaching of writing and of literature. The online MA may also be suitable for those who have been working in post-secondary education, such as community colleges, and seek qualifications for teaching at that level.
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.
As part of the degree, students can complete a graduate certificate (somewhat like a minor, but for an MA) in International Scientific and Technical Communication, which may open up further opportunities. You can find information on the IS&TC graduate certificate from the Graduate Programs page on the Department of English website.
The MA in English online programs are designed such that the entire degree can be earned online and at a distance. Hoever, if a student lives nearby and wishes to take courses face-to-face, that is possible as well.
This type of degree is best for self-motivated, self-starting students. In our online degree programs, courses are taught asynchronously: they generally do not meet at a specific time each week, so you can work around your job or personal schedule.
We follow the BGSU academic calendar: 16-week semesters for fall and spring; summer consists of two separate 6-week terms. Summer courses are shorter overall but involve a higher time commitment per week. See the BGSU Academic Calendar for details.
Courses consist of reading, online discussions with the course or small groups/partners, research and presentations of ideas in writing and on the web in video, images, etc. Courses vary in their subject matter and style of interaction.
Additionally, BGSU uses Canvas as our course delivery system for most courses. Our courses are small, with most graduate courses capped at 15 students, which gives you significant time and attention from the course professor.
Our MA in English with a specialization in English Teaching does not require a license in teaching, but it also does not include teacher licensure. Our main population is comprised of current teachers (at the high school, community college, or middle school level) who wish to earn a subject-area Master’s degree (an MA in English). For some of those students who are teachers, the MA in English can lead to promotion or higher pay. For others it makes it possible to teach at the community college level or to teach Advanced Placement or Honors classes at the high school, or to teach what are sometimes called “dual enrollment” courses, meaning courses taught by the high school teacher that earn college credit.
Our degree is an MA in English, rather than an MA in Teaching or an M. Ed. degree, and we also enroll a number of students who are not teachers but who desire an MA in English and prefer a some emphasis on pedagogy, while also desiring a program that is flexible enough to allow students to pursue their specific interests.
As you will see in the list of required courses, two of the five core courses focus on pedagogy. In many courses, students can adapt in-class assignments to their particular needs or areas of interest: those more interested in pedagogy can undertake a more pedagogy-focused or pedagogy-inspired project in some non-teaching classes; those less interested in pedagogy or wanting to branch out explore other projects.
If you’re interested in teacher licensure, you can find details about teacher licensure at BGSU here: http://www.bgsu.edu/registration-records/admission-services/enrollment-guest-students/four-year-degree-seek-teacher-licensure.html
Yes, it might be exactly the right program for you! Many recent applicants to our programs are interested in College Credit Plus in Ohio or in a similar dual-enrollment program (in which courses taken in high school classes can earn college credit) in another state.
If you are looking for a subject-area Masters degree in English, that is what we offer, and our graduate courses count towards that degree. However, please confirm with your school district that the MA in English or graduate coursework in English is acceptable for your district and situation.
Here are some options you might consider:
- MA in English at BGSU: Apply to and enroll in one of our online MA in English programs. Enrolling in the MA specialization in English Teaching, the MA specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, or the MA individualized track would put you in pursuit of a Master of Arts in English, which is one way of qualifying to teach College Credit Plus courses. Being accepted and enrolled in an degree program gets you access to enroll in courses before non-degree-seeking students and at a lower cost than would be associated with taking courses as a non-degree-seeking student (see below).
- Graduate Certificate in College Writing: Theory and Practice. Apply to and enroll in our Graduate Certificate in College Writing: Theory and Practice. This 18-hour graduate certificate can be earned either (A) on its own or (B) alongside an MA degree, with courses double-counting towards both the MA and the certificate. Being accepted and enrolled in a certificate program gets you access to enroll in courses before any non-degree-seeking students enroll.
- Take courses as a Non-Degree-Seeking student: You can take courses as a "Non-Degree-Seeking Student" either (A) instead of enrolling in one of our MA programs or certificate programs, or (B) before or after applying for a degree or certificate program, but before the term in which you would begin as a student enrolled in that program. Please see the next question in the FAQ ("Can I take courses without enrolling") for more details about Non-Degree status, including how to apply for Non-Degree Student status.
Yes, you can take courses without being enrolled in a graduate program or before your enrollment term, for those who have been accepted into a program. You can do so as a Graduate Non-Degree-seeking student. Here are some examples of how one might use this status:
- A potential student who has not decided whether or not to apply to the MA program can take a course as a Graduate Non-Degree-seeking student in order to better understand the program and what it's like to take course online.
- A student who has been accepted to the MA program for a certain semester (e.g., the fall) but would like to take a course in the spring or summer semester before that fall term can also take courses 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 webpage. You will want to read the section entitled "Graduate Non-Degree-seeking student" that covers the lower half of the page, and follow the link on that page for the Printable Graduate Non-Degree application.
With Non-Degree-seeking status, you can earn unlimited course credits without being admitted to a graduate program or before the starting term for a program into which you’ve been admitted. However, anyone considering non-degree status should keep a few things in mind:
- A maximum of 9 credits earned while in Non-Degree Status can be applied to one of the MA in English online programs at BGSU, should you apply and be accepted. Please see the current BGSU Graduate Catalog for details (search for 'Graduate Non-Degree status"): Graduate College Catalogs & Policies.
- Non-degree students register for courses after those enrolled in one of the department’s graduate programs. Courses sometimes fill up. Applying to and being enrolled in one of our MA programs will give you the best chances of getting the courses you desire!
- Non-resident fees and general fees for non-degree students are assessed according to the Main Campus fee schedule (as opposed to the Distance Learning fee chedule, which applies to students enrolled in an MA in English online program). The Main Campus non-Ohio-resident and other fees are significantly higher than those paid by Distance Learning students. See our Tuition, Costs, and Financial Aid page for details. Please contact the Office of the Bursar for a full fee schedule and to ask any questions about tuition and costs.
- Being enrolled as a Non-Degree-seeking student does not guarantee you acceptance to one of our graduate degree program. If you have taken a course or courses through our department and have done well in them, that success will be taken into account when we review your application, as would your work in any other university-level coursework you have taken.
You'll need to complete these steps:
- Fill out and send in the Graduate Non-Degree application. You can find a link to it, as well as information about the process, from the BGSU Registrar’s Graduate Application Process webpage. You will want to read the section entitled "Graduate Non-Degree-seeking student" that covers the lower half of the page, and follow the link on that page for the Printable Graduate Non-Degree application. (Note that Graduate Non-Degree-seeking students are charged non-Ohio-Resident and other fees under the "Main Campus" fee structure, which is higher than the cost for students enrolled in the online MA program. See Tuition, Costs, and Financial Aid and its links for details.)
- You will receive confirmation (via email) that your Graduate Non-Degree application has been processed. That information will give you a BGSU student ID number and lead you through the process of setting up your BGSU email address and web portal access. The confirmation of your Non-Degree-seeking status might point you to the BGSU Class & Course Information page or invite you to register for classes through MyBGSU. However, those are not the way we handle graduate courses in the Department of English.
- Instead, go to our MA in English online programs Course Descriptions page, which will provide you with detailed descriptions of our course offerings for a given semester and also provide you with specific directions about how to request courses through our Graduate Secretary, Jeanne Berry (contact information on this page).
Please note that before we can enroll you in any one of our courses, one of the following situations must apply:
- You have been accepted into a degree program and the course in which you are interested is being offered in the semester in which you are due to enroll (or a subsequent semester after you have already started classes). For example, if you are accepted to enroll in the fall semester and you want to take a class in the preceding summer, you cannot enroll in classes until fall. (If this applies to you, you can fill out a Graduate Non-Degree application and take a course as a Non-Degree-seeking student in the semester before your MA program begins.)
- Your Graduate Non-degree application has been accepted and processed by the university, and you have a BGSU student ID and BGSU email address.
Until one of those criteria is met, we cannot enroll you in a course because you will not show up in the BGSU course sign-up system. Once your Graduate Non-Degree application has been processed by the Office of Registration & Records, you will receive information about setting up your BGSU email and web portal access. Once you have those activated, you can contact our Graduate Secretary, Jeanne Berry, and she will enroll you in classes.
Yes! A number of our students have undergraduate degrees in fields other than English. When we evaluate applications, we look for writing ability, analytical ability, and preparation for graduate work in English. Such preparation can come from undergraduate education, from work experience, and elsewhere. For more information, see the What We Require tab on our Application information.
The GRE General Test or another standardized exam is required as part of our application process, even for those with a previous graduate degree. We also accept some state-approved teacher licensure exams (such as certain Praxis exams, a specific Ohio Assessment for Educators, and others). For details about the application process and what standardized tests we accept, please see our Application page.
Whatever the exam, scores must be considered valid and reportable by the testing service. For example, GRE scores are valid for five years; the Praxis exam is considered valid for ten years. Please see the website for the specific exam (GRE, Praxis, or other) for details about how long scores are valid and reportable by the testing agency.
Our standard is the GRE General Test; when we look at scores, we attend to the verbal and writing portions of the GRE.
Whether we can accept another exam depends mostly on whether that exam offers an evaluation of the same general skills and knowledge as the verbal and writing portions of the GRE. A state-approved teacher exam that focuses on language, literature, and writing is one we might be able to accept. A licensure exam that is strictly about pedagogy is one we would be less likely to accept.
As with the GRE, we can only accept scores that are still valid and can be sent directly from the testing service to BGSU’s Office of Admissions.
If you have questions or if you would like to request approval for a specific exam, please contact the English Department Graduate Coordinator (contact information on this page). In your email, include all relevant information about the exam, including:
- The specific exam (or exams) you have taken.
- What the exam tests; especially useful are details and/or language from the testing service website that explain whether the exam tests knowledge similar to the GRE general exam (verbal and writing skills) or the Praxis II exams we accept (language arts content knowledge and writing ability), along with links to the specific pages that provide that information.
- Links to the testing service website that provide details about your specific exam.
- The date you took the exam.
- Your score and information about the average score range, what counts as a passing score, the levels of passing, etc.
- Links to information about how long the testing scores from this service are considered valid and are reportable by the testing service.
You can begin submitting application materials at any time. For application deadlines and for a link to the online application system, please see our Application details.
We strive to make most admissions decisions within 1-2 months of the priority deadline for the program.
You will be notified of acceptance by email from the Graduate Coordinator of the English Department and by email from BGSU’s Graduate College.
No. A committee will evaluate applications based on five factors: Statement of Purpose; Writing Sample; Academic Record; Test Scores; and Letter of Recommendations. The committee's goal is to admit those students who we think will be successful within the coursework for the degree and whose career and academic goals will be aided by the degree.
Coursework and Advising
Each specialization features different required courses. Information specific to each specialization can be found on the corresponding page linked in the sidebar navigation panel. There you will find both the required courses and a course rotation chart telling what courses should be offered for the coming couple years.
If you are admitted to an MA program, you will consult with the Graduate Coordinator or another assigned advisor to discuss courses and a plan for your degree. Incoming students in the specialization in English Teaching are generally enrolled in ENG 6040 during their first fall semester. 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 for past and upcoming semesters. It is your best resource to get a sense of the courses we offer.
The BGSU's Class & Course Information system that allows you to conduct a Class Search will often list as closed the Department of English graduate courses. That does not mean the courses are really closed! We often close our courses in order to manually control enrollments and to be certain that students enrolled in our graduate degree programs have the best chance of getting a space in a course necessary to the student's degree.
Please see our MA in English online programs Course Descriptions page for both a detailed listing and a set of descriptions of our online courses for each semester. The course descriptions for a given semester will also include directions about enrolling. You will need to email your course choices to our Graduate Secretary, Ms. Jeanne Berry (contact information on this page). See the Course Descriptions themselves for details and for a list of the information Jeanne will need in order to enroll you in your course or courses.
Each semester before it is time to enroll, the Department of English will post the course descriptions on this page and email course descriptions to all students. You’ll then consult with an advisor and email your list of courses to the Graduate Secretary, Ms. Jeanne Berry, who will sign you up for courses. See our program's Course Descriptions for contact information and for the information that Jeanne will need from you.
Generally speaking, you’ll be best served by courses within the Department of English. However, there might be instances in which a course outside of the department might be an especially good match for your particular academic and career interests. BGSU's Class and Course Information page can provide you with information about available and upcoming courses. You can search this way:
- Click the “Search for Classes” button.
- Choose the correct semester.
- Career: Graduate.
- Campus: All; select “Show only Distance/Online Learning Courses.”
- For courses from a specific department, choose the department name under “Subject.”
- Click the “Search” button.
Please note: Any course outside of the Department of English will need to be approved by your advisor or the Graduate Coordinator before it can be counted towards your degree. If there is a course that especially interests you outside the department, you might want to sign up for it right away to be sure you can have a spot in the course. However, consult immediately with your advisor and get permission for any outside course before the course begins. If a course in English makes more sense for your academic path, you should take that course.
Students can structure their time in the MA program to meet their own personal and academic needs. The nature of the program is flexible, allowing 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 who have other calls upon their time, enroll in 1 or at most 2 courses in a given semester. Graduate courses tend to be more labor-intensive than undergraduate courses, so a full-time graduate student course load would be 3 or 4 courses per semester (9 to 12 credit hours), as opposed to 5 or sometimes 6 courses for undergrads (15 to 18 credit hours). If a graduate student is working full-time or has other commitments, we generally suggest 1 course per semester, especially in the first semester of the program, and we do not suggest more than 2 courses in a semester for someone working full-time.
The maximum amount of credit hours a student could enroll in per semester would be 12 (4 courses). However, taking 12 credit hours a semester is only recommended for students who have very few obligations outside their coursework.
A student can also take a semester off by simply not enrolling during that semester. Please let the Graduate Secretary know that you plan to take the semester off and when you plan to return, however, so that we don't keep reminding you about the upcoming semester's courses.
If you have a medical or personal reason that will take you away from the university for a semester or more and you wish to pause your time-to-degree clock, it’s possible to request a Leave of Absence. See below for the time-to-degree rules at BGSU.
For the Leave of Absence policy for graduate students, go to BGSU's University Policies and search for "Leave of Absence"
To request a Leave of Absence, simply send an email to the English Department Graduate Coordinator requesting a leave of absence. In your email, specify the semester(s) of which the leave will consist and the semester when you plan to return to coursework. Before you request a leave, be sure you understand the Leave of Absence policy for the Graduate College.
Yes. You must complete the degree within six years from the end of the semester of the first course used to fulfill degree requirements.
The date of the first course used to fulfill degree requirements includes any course taken elsewhere for which someone requests transfer credit: even if that course was taken before you enrolled at BGSU, the date BGSU uses to calculate the time allowed for the degree is the end of the semester when you took that course.
A total of 31 credit hours are required for the degree: 15 credit hours of required courses, 15 credit hours of electives, and the capstone experience (1 credit hour). Students have finished in two years or less by taking roughly two courses per semester, including the summer.
Yes. You may take up to twelve hours of relevant electives, if available, outside the Department of English. However, you will need to consult with your program coordinator or the Graduate Coordinator to determine whether a given course is suitable. Any outside course must be approved by your program coordinator or the Graduate Coordinator before it can be counted as an elective toward your degree.
Some graduate credits earned elsewhere can transfer into the MA program. Some restrictions apply, including:
- Transfer of credits cannot be guaranteed in advance. A student must be admitted to and have earned at least 8 hours of graduate credits at BGSU before transfer credits can be officially reviewed and considered.
- Each MA in English online program consists of 31 graduate credit hours. BGSU policy states that 24 credit hours must be earned through BGSU. As a result, a maximum of 7 graduate credit hours can be earned elsewhere and transferred into the MA program. (Since courses tend to be 3 credit hours, a maximum of 2 courses are generally accepted as transfer credit.)
- If graduate credits earned elsewhere were used toward another degree or certificate that you earned, they cannot be transferred into a degree or certificate program at BGSU. However, if you did not complete the other graduate degree, or if you took more graduate credits than were counted toward your other degree, you might be able to transfer credits into the MA in English at BGSU.
- Transfer credits are governed by BGSU's time to degree requirements; see the question about time limits to complete the degree, in the Coursework and Advising tab on this page.
- The MA in English online programs accept external courses to substitute for elective courses only.
- All transfer credit requests must be evaluated by the Graduate Coordinator. See below for details.
If you're enrolled in the online MA program and would like to request transfer credit, please follow these steps:
1. Carefully read the BGSU graduate transfer policy, entitled "Credit Transfer- Graduate" [PDF]. Be sure to read both the entire policy, especially the "Transfer of External Graduate Credit" and "Restrictions on Transfer or Approval of Credit" sections. You can find all policies via the current BGSU Graduate Catalog or go directly to BGSU Policies.
2. Email to the Graduate Coordinator of the English Department a written request to transfer graduate credit (this is the "written petition" referred to in the policy). The request should include:
- Course name and title.
- Semester and year taken, credit hours earned, and grade earned.
- Copy of the course catalog page in which the course is listed, or link to that information.
- Syllabus for the course.
- Professor name and contact information.
- Copy of the transcript showing the course taken and grade earned. (An official transcript must be received by the Graduate College at BGSU before the transfer credit can be counted; if an official transcript was submitted with your original application to the graduate program at BGSU, that should suffice.)
- The name of the graduate degree (or degrees) at the university where the course was taken toward which the course counts (their MA program, for example). Include links to any course or degree information on the university website, especially evidence demonstrating that the course counts towards a specific degree or certificate program at that university.
- A brief statement (about 1/2 page, double-spaced) explaining the course content and how it meets your academic and/or professional goals with respect to the MA in English at BGSU.
Accommodations can be made in a number of areas. All requests for accommodation go through BGSU’s office of Accessibility Services. For more information about the process, please see the website of Accessibility Services at BGSU or call them at (419) 372-8495.
Each student in one of the online English MA programs completes a Master's Portfolio as the capstone project for the degree. You can find out more information about this part of our 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.
English Teaching specialization:
- Master of Arts in the field of English with a specialization in English Teaching
Professional Writing and Rhetoric specialization:
- Master of Arts in the field of English with a specialization in Professional Writing and Rhetoric
- Master of Arts in the field of English
Yes. The Career Center offers a number of services, such as help with resume writing and access to the Career Center E-library. In addition, you can access Worknet, a job-listing site, through your MyBGSU portal. For more information, see the Career Services website or call them at (419) 372-2356.