Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences
Shanks Hall houses the departments of English and Communication.
181 Turner Street NW, Shanks Hall 323 A, Mail Code 0112 Blacksburg VA 24061
Shanks Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MA
MA Degree in English
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Feb 04
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The Graduate School
Shanks Hall

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Department Chair : Rebecca Weaver-Hightower
Associate Department Chair : Kelly Pender
Graduate Program Director(s) : Gena Chandler-Smith (MA Program Director), Gena Chandler-Smith (Director of Graduate Studies)
Professors: Charlene Eska; Joseph Eska; Virginia Fowler; Thomas Gardner; Kenneth Hodges; Nancy Metz; Derek Mueller; Su Fang Ng; Kelly Pender; Katrina Powell; David Radcliffe
Associate Professors: Katie Carmichael; Sheila Carter-Tod; Gena Chandler-Smith; Katharine Cleland; Anthony Colaianne; James Dubinsky; Shoshana Knapp; Ashley Reed; Jennifer Sano-Franchini; Karen Swenson; Abby Walker
Assistant Professors: Sweta Baniya; Silas Cassinelli; Carolyn Commer; Julie Gerdes; Cana Itchuaqiyaq; Chris Lindgren; Tyechia Thompson; Andrew Wadoski; Avery Wiscomb
Alumni Distinguished Professor: Thomas Gardner
Clifford A. Cutchins III Professor of English: Su Fang Ng
Assistant Professor of Practice: Megan Weaver

Master of Arts Program in English

The Master of Arts Program in English at Virginia Tech is a general master's degree in the study of literature and language. Students explore their own interests in British and American literature through a variety of courses. Some classes are shared with the Masters of Fine Arts students in our Creative Writing program. Some classes are shared with doctoral students in our Rhetoric and Writing program.
Students will develop core competencies in

  • British, American, and World Literatures
  • the analysis of texts
  • the writing and development of arguments
  • defining a problem and/or creating a research question
  • the processes of academic research

The interdisciplinary nature of English studies enables students to also take classes in other programs such Women's and Gender Studies, Science & Technology Studies, Africana Studies, and History. This cross-disciplinary focus provides students with exposure to various dimensions of English studies. Students then apply that exposure and pursue independent research either as a thesis or capstone project. Students work in a close relationship with our award-winning faculty to develop their thesis or capstone projects toward their unique career and academic goals.   

Since our program builds core competencies in critical reading, writing, research, and analysis that can be applied in a variety of ways beyond the MA degree, our graduates typically move into a variety of fields including business, law, technology, marketing, design, teaching, and technical writing. More recently, our students move in one of three directions upon completion of their degree: enrollment in a PhD program in literature or writing; high school- or instructor-level teaching; writing or document-related jobs in technical writing.  The interdisciplinary nature of English studies allows students to strengthen these core English competencies while developing and shaping a curriculum that speaks to students' individual interests and career goals.  

Applicants who are interested in our assistantships should apply no later than Friday, February 4, 2022. For more information about our Master of Arts degree in English, please consult our website:

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
    • Paper
      • 577.0
    • Computer
      • 233.0
    • iBT
      • 90.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :
The MA in English requires 36 hours of coursework. All students must take two required courses in Literary Research (ENGL 5014) and Critical Theory (ENGL 5024). Students who are funded as a teaching assistant in the composition classroom must also take a course on the theory and practice of university writing instruction (ENGL 5004). The final requirement is the completion of a "Capstone" project. The Capstone Project has a thesis (6 credits) and a non-thesis (3 credits) option. Because work in literature and language frequently is interdisciplinary, students are permitted to take six of their credits outside of the department. Students may also work toward a graduate certificate offered by the Virginia Tech Graduate School in a related field. Possible fields include ASPECT (Alliance for Social, Political, and Cultural Thought), Africana Studies, Future Professoriate, Material Culture and Pubic Humanities, Public History, Race and Social Policy, Religious Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and Women and Gender Studies.

*Currently, the GRE general and subject test are NOT REQUIRED for admission to the Virginia Tech M.A. Program in English.*

*For International Students*

International students seeking admission must receive a minimum TOEFL score of 90 or an IELTS score of 6.5 for admission.  Students must also receive a TOEFL score of 20 or higher in the Listening, Writing, Speaking, and Reading subsections. In addition to these tests, English proficiency can also be demonstrated through a conferred bachelor's degree from an accredited university where English is the medium of instruction. In this instance, the Graduate School will code a waiver of the English proficiency requirement into the student's application. Students can confirm degree conferral and English as the medium of instruction by submitting their official transcripts with the application.

For more information about policies and the application process for international students, consult the following links:

Testing Requirements Graduate School

International Student Resources

Direct additional inquiries to Ms. Sally Shupe, Graduate Programs Coordinator, or 540-231-4659.

English Facilities Introduction


The 360 Digital Studio at Virginia Tech


The 360 Digital Studio at Virginia Tech is located on the second floor of the English Department (Shanks Hall 360).

Students enrolled in any English classes at Virginia Tech may use the 360 Digital Studio to 

  • Print Assignments for Classes
  • Work on group projects using any one of the 6 large tv screens and other resources
  • Access professional software (40+) with various design, word processing, and data analysis capabilities

For more information about The 360 Digital Studio, consult the following link:

The Center for Rhetoric in Society

The Center for Rhetoric in Society is located on the third floor of the English Department (Shanks Hall 340 E) on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Center’s mission involves studying rhetoric and writing in action, with a particular interest in writers and speakers who face rhetorical challenges related to their social positions and circumstances. We believe, with Jacqueline Jones Royster, that “groups who have honed their crafts at the margins may be the rhetors from whom we can learn and be inspired." 

We are always looking for new collaborators and graduate assistants. If you have a project that connects with our mission or if you are studying at Virginia Tech and pursuing an advanced degree related to rhetoric, composition, or technical communication, we would be happy to hear from you. Learn more about opportunities to get involved with the center and contact us if you’d like more information at or consult our website at

The Linguistics Speech Lab

The Linguistics Speech Lab is housed on the second floor of the English Department (Shanks Hall 254). The Speech Lab is 

  • A venue for meetings
  • A place to process linguistic data
  • A place to collect linguistic data (through interviews or experiments)
  • The home of linguistic corpora
  • The home of useful equipment and a mini-library

The Lab is available to faculty, undergraduate, and graduate researchers. For more info, please contact Abby Walker at or Katie Carmichael at or consult our website at

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