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THE DEGREE PROGRAM: Rutgers University offers a 30-credit general Master’s Degree in English on the Newark campus, an urban yet intimate and leafy environment near downtown easily accessible by public transportation. Our students take six electives in addition to four required courses: Introduction to Graduate Literary Study, two in pre-1800 literatures, and one in American literature. Those choosing to concentrate in Women’s and Gender Studies take two interdisciplinary core courses in feminist theory and methods (see separate description) and two W&GS-designated literature courses in the English Program (such as Women in Medieval Literature, Jane Austen, Autobiography and Gender, or Race, Gender, and the Holocaust, three recent offerings by our strong women’s studies faculty in the English Department). All must pass an examination on a common reading list, offered in March, and a one-hour translation test, rendering a passage of literary biography or history written in a foreign language into idiomatic English. These tests are scheduled throughout the year during Department office hours at the individual’s convenience.
COURSE OFFERINGS: We mount 14-16 courses a year in the literatures and cultures of the Americas, Britain, and the English-speaking world as well as literature in translation. Besides more traditional courses (Chaucer) and innovative versions of traditional subjects, like Race and Gender in the Renaissance, or Global Romanticism, we offer considerable topical variety: for example, Transnational Muslim Fiction; The Vietnam War and American Culture, 1945-2009; African Diaspora Literature; The Gilded Age; Harlem Renaissance; Empire and the Spy Novel; War Stories; various film offerings; and courses on postcolonial, feminist, marxist, narrative, or other critical theories. Courses in Rhetoric and the Teaching of Writing, in Advanced Research and Archives, and in Editing and Publishing offer professional development. We also have occasional graduate Summer Session courses.
At Pre-Registration time (early November for Spring term, February for Summer, early April for Fall), professors’ detailed descriptions become available on our web site http://english-newark.rutgers.edu and on paper (along with other Program materials) in a rack outside the English Department office in Hill Hall 504. Prospective students can write the teacher for the syllabus or text list, or set up a conference to discuss an upcoming course.
Degree students may arrange with a professor for Independent Study or a course of Advanced Readings tailored to their interests; some choose the two-semester Master’s Thesis, although this is not required for the degree. (Tailored studies must be arranged with the professor a semester in advance.) Seminars are small (8-15), allowing for personal attention from professors and lively exchange with peers. Three classes constitute full-time status; given their busy lives, most students are part-time, registering for one or two courses per term. Each class is held once a week, 5:30 to 8:10, Monday through Thursday, allowing people to attend school after work. Occasionally we schedule a Saturday class. Degree students who need to take time out from their studies register for Matriculation Continued, which holds their place in the Program.
The front section of the Graduate School–Newark online catalog, which can be found at gsn.newark.rutgers.edu, answers many general questions about study here. Under “English” you will find the list of our distinguished faculty, our generic course descriptions, and the M.A. Program’s graduation requirements.
EXPANDED OPTIONS: Some people apply for non-degree study, putting in an application, personal statement, and transcripts from previous institutions, to see if the Program is right for them or to buy time to put the full degree application together. One may take up to 4 courses as a non-degree student. Many love it so much they apply to the degree program, with fresh academic writing samples, GRE General Test scores, and recommendation letters, which can come from our faculty; after a semester here, their completed course work is transformed into degree credits. Although most students do their whole course of study here, the R-N Graduate School allows up to 40% of one’s degree credits to be transferred with the Director’s approval from other graduate institutions. For us, that’s four courses (12 credits) offered in traditional seminar format.
Admission to any Rutgers graduate degree program allows one to request permission to register for courses in other Rutgers graduate programs, including New Brunswick’s doctoral programs in English, Comparative Literature, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Complementary courses in other R-N Master’s Programs—such as History, Political Science, Liberal Studies, Global Affairs, and Jazz Studies (Music Criticism)—can be approved by the Director to count toward the English M.A.
WHO WE ARE: Even though most students are part-time and commute, we form a surprisingly close-knit community of 21 graduate English faculty and more than 40 students, diverse in age, interests, ethnicities, and nationalities. Some students live on campus. Our faculty are serious research scholars and writers who publish regularly, participate actively in professional organizations, receive national and international recognition for their work, and love to teach. Two of our Full Professors hold University Chairs; other colleagues both teach and provide administrative direction for other campus units, such as the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing, Women’s and Gender Studies, and African American Studies. Dr. Jack Lynch, our 18th- century specialist, manages a guide to literature web sites at <http://newark.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Lit>.
Film and other courses are sometimes taught by experts from the Metropolitan area. A distinct advantage of studying here is the prospect of being helped along with recommendation letters, introductions, and publication advice from well-connected professionals.
Our students’ statistical profile: In case you’re wondering, in a typical semester our degree students are 65% female; about evenly divided between the age groups of 21-34 and 35-44, with a handful of older students. In 2004, 50 identified themselves on their applications as Caucasian, 10 as Black, 3 as “Other Hispanic,” 4 as Asian, the rest unidentified. 90% or more of our degree students live in New Jersey, with some having moved here to establish NJ residency. We are also pleased to welcome international students–recently, from Japan, Turkey, France, South Africa, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Overall R-N is the most diverse university campus in the nation.
Students’ vocational plans and interests: The fact that our students arrive with a variety of agendas makes for an interesting mix in the classroom, and for reasons we can’t claim to understand completely, diversity really ‘works’ in our Program.
Those planning on doctoral study choose courses that ground them in literary theory and find Rutgers–Newark a superior place for conducting serious research, given the resources of the University’s many libraries, including the Dana and Rutgers Law Libraries on our campus, networked with hundreds of others nationwide. Graduates also choose to study library science or earn education Ph.D’s in Rutgers-New Brunswick’s highly-regarded graduate schools in these field.
Graduates often find college teaching work without the Ph.D.; a few find it even before they receive the M.A. A strong presence among us are seasoned, beginning, or aspiring high school teachers, who come to deepen literary learning, enhance their options in their institution, and enjoy intellectual exchange among peers. We also attract students who are pivoting for career changes, working journalists and professionals in other media fields who are hungry for literary study, people who seek intensive study of literature to feed their own creative writing, late bloomers, and the recently unemployed who’ve decided to return to school.
We do admit applicants who weren’t college English majors or are working in various business fields, computer science, public relations, or law but have been reading literature extensively on their own. Introduction to Graduate Literary Study helps all students make the transition with instruction and practice in the latest scholarly research methods and literary theories.
Applicants continually surprise us by the diversity of their outside interests and experiences. Enlivening our seminars are people who have traveled the world, or studied or taught abroad; ESL teachers, editors, and journalists; seasoned corporate managers; music-makers from classical to jazz to blues guitar; athletes and body-builders; mountaineers and surfers; community volunteers and activists; First Responders, craftspeople, actors, working moms, stay-at-home dads, grandparents, photographers, and cinema buffs who enjoy the New York film festival scene just a PATH train ride away across the Hudson River.
FUNDING, WORK, AND NETWORKS: The Graduate School–Newark provides one-course tuition scholarships for the English Program to distribute each AY. The University also sponsors several fellowship competitions to increase diversity in the M.A. Programs. Although Rutgers offers no Teaching Assistantships for academic M.A. students, many of ours gain life-changing experience teaching in the college Writing Program or at nearby institutions, such as the New Jersey Institute of Technology across the street, and/or tutoring at the Writing Center, which serves R-N day and evening undergraduates as well as graduate students. The Center is a great place to meet peers, pays at competitive rates, and offers superb mentoring. Other students teach for the Program in American Language Studies Program (PALS) on campus or garner staff positions in campus housing units that pay their tuition. As other opportunities for paid work, internships, conferences, competitions, and publication come along—and they regularly do--one of the many advantages of studying here is that you’re in the Rutgers network.