As our faculty interests indicate, English at Minnesota has embraced the expansion of what is read, studied, and discussed, so that a wide range of written texts is brought into creative and critical tension with both the traditional canon and extra-literary discourses from popular culture, film, digital media, legal documents, and the visual, musical, and acoustic arts. Partly through the contributions of more than 15 new faculty members in the past decade, the department has opened up different approaches to those texts and discourses. Within our graduate curriculum, contemporary theories and fresh approaches to traditional rhetoric and criticism provide dynamic ways to read and interpret, as do the lenses afforded by cultural, social, political, and economic contexts.
As the central humanities department of the College of Liberal Arts, the Department of English is committed to maintaining creative connections within the University and beyond. The University of Minnesota is one of the largest single campus universities in the nation. English graduate students can delve into an incredible array of departments and interdisciplinary programs. Our faculty and students are enthusiastic participants in extra-departmental collaborations, symposia, and speaker events. The holdings of the University of Minnesota Libraries system, the 16th largest research library in North America, reach around the globe and far into the past. Further, our urban campus is located in the heart of the Twin Cities, an area known for architectural and artistic innovation: Minneapolis and St. Paul provide ample opportunities to witness, critique, and collaborate within theater and dance, literary culture, music and the visual arts.
We invite you to consider graduate study in English at Minnesota if you seek a focused, coherent advanced degree that caters to your personal interests, be they focused on research, creative production, or teaching.
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The Ph.D. is a research degree in which your professors in English and other university departments prepare you to do original research and writing. You are encouraged and even required to see your research in a multi-disciplinary perspective. This might include exploring theories from such disciplines as philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies, as well as immersing yourself in the history and ideas of the culture in which your primary texts reside.
Our faculty is highly respected throughout the university community not only for its research and creative work but also for its teaching. Indeed, many of its members have been honored with teaching awards. An important part of our faculty’s teaching responsibilities is preparing our Ph.D. candidates to teach: graduate students are offered a variety of teaching experiences during their six years of study, from assisting faculty in large lecture courses to teaching stand-alone courses of their own design in their chosen research area. While most of our Ph.D.s continue into college level instruction, a significant number have gone on to successful careers in professional writing and editing, college administration, government, or business. The skills that are the core of our doctoral program—critical thinking, excellent and sustained writing, and the ability to do original and independent research—are valued widely, as you can see in the range of the narratives collected on our alumni pages.
Who should apply? Our graduate students typically arrive with a good general reading background and a willingness to deal with difficult texts of all sorts—experimental fiction, epic poems, web sites, post-anything theory, to name a few. Most have majored in English, although each year we admit students from other humanities fields and a few from the social sciences. About a quarter of our Ph.D. candidates have master's degrees—again, more in English than other fields.
Minnesota offers the Master of Arts degree, an individually designed degree, which you plan in conjunction with the Director of Graduate Studies and other faculty in the department. We recognize that students come to our program with a wide range of personal and work-related goals, and we try to plan a course of study that fits your interests. M.A. candidates take courses and seminars with our doctoral and M.F.A. students and work with our research faculty.
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is the degree of choice for professional writers. It prepares candidates for careers as writers, teachers of writing, editors, and publishers, as well as for positions in a variety of literary arts organizations. Our three-year degree provides advanced, graduate-level coursework in writing, language, and literature, as well as study in a related field. The third year of the Program focuses on the final development of a book-length manuscript suitable for publication. The Program encourages experimentation across genres, fostering the discovery of new and varied forms for a developing voice.