Our program cultivates a warm, friendly, and supportive atmosphere for our students. We take a personal approach to make sure that you have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge in the fields of literature and literary theory that matter most to you. You will leave our program with wide-ranging knowledge of the discipline of English; refined interpretive and writing skills; and a clear understanding of the professional options for those with an advanced degree in English. In addition to placement in nationally prominent Ph.D. programs, our recent graduates have found exciting jobs in the Philadelphia area in publishing, advertising, community college teaching, university administration, and private school teaching. For more reasons to study literature at Villanova, explore the links below.
The graduate faculty comprises professors who balance an active scholarly life with a deep commitment to teaching. Several of our graduate faculty members have won or been short-listed for the prestigious Lindback Teaching Award, an annual honor that designates a single professor among the over 500 faculty at the university as the most outstanding teacher. Others have recently completed scholarly books that reflect the department’s active participation in shaping the discipline.
Your coursework will be conducted in small seminars with a maximum enrollment of fifteen students. Upon completion of coursework, you have the option of either writing a thesis or taking a field examination. In either case, this final stage of the Master’s degree affords you an opportunity to pursue an area of interest deeply, while receiving extensive guidance from a faculty advisor of your choosing.
One of the most enriching aspects of graduate study is the opportunity to interact with those who share your love of literature and ideas. While some of our graduate students are dedicated to becoming professors of English, others are seeking the M.A. because (1) they want to learn more about the discipline in order to decide whether a Ph.D. is right for them, (2) they wish to advance their careers as teachers of secondary school, or (3) they simply love literature and want to immerse themselves in it. Some come directly from undergraduate programs, while others have pursued other careers and are finally returning to school to pursue a life-long ambition. To read about some of our current students, click here.
Our seminars encourage you to gain expertise in the most influential literary texts produced from the medieval period to the present. The courses are typically constructed to explicate both a historical period and a particular scholarly theme or question. You are asked to consider the primary texts in a variety of contexts, including the historical moment in which they were created, the body of literary criticism that has been generated concerning them, and contemporary theoretical paradigms that pertain to them.
In recent years, recipients of the Master’s degree in English from Villanova have been admitted to highly competitive Ph.D. programs, including those at Harvard, Rutgers, Princeton, Penn State, UCLA, Tufts, and the Universities of Kansas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Others have elected to use the degree to pursue teaching positions at the excellent secondary schools adjacent to the university. Still others have chosen to pursue careers in publishing, university administration, marketing, non-profit work, library science, and other fields that demand the verbal acumen and analytical rigor our program cultivates.
Villanova is situated on the historic Main Line, in a beautiful western suburb of Philadelphia. Philadelphia offers a wide variety of museums, libraries, concerts, and other cultural opportunities (please see the PDF "Villanova Philadelphia Area Brochure" below). Home to the greatest variety of eighteenth-century buildings in America, the city is also enjoying a renaissance in modern architecture, restaurants and the performing arts.
By car or train, the campus is only thirty minutes from downtown. It is two minutes from the Blue Route (Route 476) and five minutes from the PA Turnpike, Schuylkill Expressway and Route 202. With ample parking and mass transit stops right on campus, students can travel easily to and from the campus by car, bus, or train.
We are happy to work with you as an individual to make the program a manageable and positive experience. With our part-time option, you may enroll in a single course per semester, taking up to six years to complete the degree. All of our courses are conducted in the evening, permitting part-time students and those without financial aid to work during the day. We welcome you to use our special streamlined application process for “special students” if you would like to take two courses as a non-matriculated student.
We are willing to accept up to six transfer credits from another graduate institution. You are also free to tailor your program to accommodate interdisciplinary interests by taking up to six credits in other graduate programs in the university. Our Post-M.A. Certificate allows those who have already received a Master’s degree in English or Education to advance their graduate study by taking five courses in a curriculum that they design.
Villanova offers two forms of financial aid, including tuition scholarships and full fellowships that provide for both tuition and living expenses. International students are eligible for both forms of financial aid. If you are admitted but do not receive aid packages, our graduate school will assist you with the loan application process. You can also receive a discount on tuition if you work as a teacher.
Villanova offers a Teaching Internship Program that allows you to work one-on-one with a graduate faculty member as a teaching intern. Unlike other graduate programs that require students to serve as TA’s, TIP is a strictly optional program that offers you a unique opportunity to assist a faculty member in the teaching of an upper-level English course. Teaching interns meet with the faculty member weekly to discuss the class, design and execute lesson plans under their guidance, and conference with students on their written work.
The Graduate Studies Office offers grants to fund attendance by graduate students at research conferences. The funds pay for travel, housing and registration costs. You will also have the opportunity to apply for Summer Research funding to support travel and other expenses related to your research while in our program. Through the Villanova Irish Studies Program, you can compete for the opportunity to receive funding to travel to and work at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
The Professional Research Option (PRO) is a three-credit independent study that provides you with an opportunity to generate a research paper exploring the history and future prospects of a field of interest, as well as current information about the requirements of the work, geographical information about centers of activity for the profession, and desirable employers. As part of your final project, you develop a cover letter outlining the ways your M.A. training in English makes you suitable to work in this field. Your final project will be shared in a special section of the Graduate English Program blog.
TThe M.A. Program offers a set of important workshops and forums each year exploring topics ranging from the nuts and bolts of applying for the Ph.D. to career options outside the classroom. At our popular annual Thesis and Field Examination Symposium, students who are completing the program present their research. Villanova University also offers a rich array of talks and special events each semester through its Gender and Women’s Studies Program, Africana Studies Program, and Irish Studies Program.
The Falvey Memorial Library houses about 600,000 volumes and 3,000 periodicals. An interlibrary loan system operates with the efficiency of email, and a variety of literary and historical databases are also available on-line. Special holdings include the McGarrity and Worthington collections, major resources of literature and periodicals about Irish history, Irish-American relations, and writings by and about James Joyce. The library is located in the middle of the campus and includes many public-use computer stations.
For more than a decade, Villanova has hosted an annual literary festival, bringing five to six major poets and fiction writers to campus each spring to do readings and meet with students. Visiting fiction writers have included Jonathan Franzen, Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis, and Diana Abu-Jaber. Poets have included Marilyn Chin, Robert Creeley, Mark Doty, and Harryette Mullen. This event reflects Villanova’s commitment to celebrating and cultivating the ongoing role of literature in American life.