English, MA (Writing)

Master of Arts Degree in English with a Emphasis in Writing

University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Fully Online
  • 36
  • $315.00
  • $504.00

Program Overview

The online Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in Writing degree program is designed for students interested in the advanced study of composition and genre. The English, MA (Writing) offers students the opportunity to study literature, composition, language and creative writing.

Students Choose the English, MA (Writing) program to:

  • Improve their writing skills and instructional strategies.
  • Gain critical thinking and communication skills as they better understand and are able to critique the writing of others.
  • Diversify their writing skills through coursework covering a variety of areas including poetry, fiction, drama and creative nonfiction writing.
  • Earn an advanced education in a flexible format with no residency requirement
  • Low student to faculty ratios foster a more engaging classroom environment
  • For personal enrichment and educational accomplishment.

Note: Although this program does not grant certification to teach English, many students utilize their skills to improve their own writing or instructional strategies in existing teaching career paths.

Students select one of the following focus areas:

  • Literature. Students will explore written and aural works that are considered to be of artistic or popular merit across a range of cultures, regions and contexts.
  • Creative Writing. Students will focus on the experiential practice of writing through the creation of original poems, stories, creative nonfiction essays, etc.
  • Childhood and Youth Studies. Students explore literary texts and visual/other media written and produced for or aimed at children and youth.
  • Composition, Rhetoric and Language. Students will combine the study of rhetoric, composition and English language studies.

Career Outlook: Communication, critical thinking and writing skills are some of the most sought-after skills in any career field. These in-demand competencies span the job market. 

The English, MA (Writing) serves a variety of career paths and individual goals, including:

  • In-service teachers who seek graduate credit
  • Students who wish to deepen their knowledge and advance their careers
  • Individuals who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in English
  • Creative writers sharpening and refining their skills for publication or an MFA program
  • Career professionals in the area of editing, publication, professional and technical writing and business

This program has the opportunity to help students expand their career options as it complements the following career paths:

  • Teachers
  • Lawyers
  • Professors
  • School administrators
  • Web developers
  • Corporate communicators
  • Authors
  • Technical Writers

When looking at employment growth, you must look at generic employment growth since the program provides a strong foundation for a wide variety of careers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for those with master's degrees is 16% higher than those with undergraduate degrees.

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

  2. Completed coursework

    18 credit hours in English

  3. Taken the TOEFL

    (Only required if English is not your native language)

  4. A written personal statement

    1–2-page letter of application describing the candidate's motivation for pursuing graduate work at UNK, experience in the discipline and educational goals.

  5. Official transcripts from all previous schools

  6. Submit a writing sample: the writing sample should be related to an aspect of English studies and 10 pages in length (for creative writing, 5 pages creative writing and 5 pages critical/analytical writing; for all other interest areas, 10 pages critical/analytical writing).

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

To apply to this program:

  • Complete and submit the online application for admissions
  • Pay the $45 non-refundable application fee

Courses You’ll Take

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
Select one of the following:3
ENG 806 Principles of Literary Criticism | ENG 809 Theory of Rhetoric and Composition | ENG 864 Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature & Culture | ENG 885 Narrative Strategies | ENG 886 Poetic Strategies
Select one of the following:3
ENG 883 Colloquium: British Literature through 1700 | ENG 884 Colloquium: British Literature: 1700-Present
Select one of the following:3
ENG 857 Colloquium: US Literature through 1855 | ENG 859 Colloquium: US Literature 1855-Present
ENG 805The Teaching of Composition3
Study of topics and issues related to rhetorical theory and the teaching of expository writing in college classrooms.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
ENG 823/PFiction Writing3
The study, writing, and reading of contemporary prose fiction, with focus on students composing and workshopping their own writing and analyzing elements of fiction in published writing. Class particularly examines forms of miniature fictions, linked stories, and the novel. Repeatable with permission.
ENG 822/PPoetry Writing3
An opportunity for students to write their own poetry and investigate what it means and how it works. Students will enhance their analysis skills as they critique each other's poems and explore the writings of contemporary published poets. Repeatable with permission.
ENG 826Prosody: The Music of Poetic Form3
A course devoted to the art of versification, including a study of metrical structure, rhyme, stanza forms and their relationship with the ideas of poems.
ENG 827Colloquium: Creative Writing3
An in-depth study of creative writing. Topics and approaches may vary from semester to semester and may include workshop-exclusive classes in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction; intensive studies of particular subgenres or creative forms; or themed creative writing classes.
ENG 885Narrative Strategies3
Creative fiction writing course offering in-depth study and practice of the narrative strategies needed to produce high-quality literary fiction, including style, pacing, structure, point of view, imagery, dialogue, setting, character, and plot. Aim is for students to demonstrate mastery of techniques in their own writing and identify them in the literary works of others.
ENG 886Poetic Strategies3
Understanding the poetry writing process as a series of choices with consequences, this course encourages students to expand and develop their skills with a variety of poetic techniques. While courses such as ENG 822, Poetry Writing encourages students to write in their preferred styles, this course requires students to study and apply a range of (perhaps unfamiliar) methods to develop particular skills.
ENG 889Creative Writing Thesis Workshop3
lan and compose the beginning of a creative writing thesis in prose or poetry while reading and analyzing selected texts and class members' writing. Aim is for students to develop a cohesive plan for a longer manuscript of literary quality, define their artistic goals in the context of the larger literary landscape, and gain constructive feedback from the instructor and a small group of writing students on their writing. Students must submit a creative writing sample for admittance into this course.
ENG 895Directed Readings1 - 3
Individual research under the guidance of a graduate faculty member. Proposals for Directed Readings must be approved in advance by the Graduate Director and Department Chair.
ENG 825Creative Nonfiction3
This course examines the concept and contemporary forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, biography, essay, letter, journal, prose poetry, and combined forms, as well as crossover with fiction in both writing techniques and content shaping. Students will be expected both to critically examine and to write nonfiction.
ENG 899Special Topics in Writing1 - 3
This course is intended to provide opportunity for the offering of literary topics not covered by the regular curriculum. Topics are not limited to but can include the study of a single author, a particular genre or theme, and/or comparative or world literature.

Other Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
ENG 803Descriptive Linguistics3
An introduction to descriptive linguistics with emphasis on phonology, syntax, and morphology, as they apply to the study of English as a language.
ENG 806Principles of Literary Criticism3
Covers methods and principles of literary criticism with special attention to critical vocabulary and the various strategies of reading literary texts.
ENG 808English around the Globe3
An exploration of the role of English as the dominant language of international business, politics, and communication. Topics to be covered include: the factors that led to the establishment of English as a "global language," the social and political implications of global English, the development and features of unique world "Englishes," and the future of English on a global scale.
ENG 832Colloquium: World Literature3
A colloquium of a selected period, movement, or motif from western and/or nonwestern literature. The topic and approach may vary from semester to semester.
ENG 847Children's Literature3
A study of texts recommended to or popular among children, informed by readings of literary criticism and historical discourses on childhood.
ENG 848Literature for Adolescents3
A study of texts recommended to or popular among teens and young adults, informed by readings of literary criticism and historical discourses on adolescence.
ENG 851Literature of Puritanism and Early American Nationalism3
A study of the emergence and development of American national literature from the Colonial period to the early nineteenth century. Selected authors and works may differ from semester to semester in accordance with specific instructional emphases.
ENG 852Literature of the American Renaissance3
A study of American literature from the early nineteenth-century to the pre-Civil War period. Authors and works under study may change from semester to semester depending on the organizational design of the course.
ENG 853Literature of American Realism3
A study of American Literature from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century. Authors and works may vary according to instructional emphasis.
ENG 854Modern American Literature3
The seminar covers the literature of the period roughly from the turn of the century through World War II, focusing on the later development of realism and naturalism and the rise of modernism. Authors, genres, and approaches may vary from term to term.
ENG 861Fairy Tales & Folklore3
This course will cover popular culture historically associated with young people, including fairy tales (from oral, written, and pictorial sources), nursery rhymes, legend, ethnography, childlore, and games.
ENG 863The Graphic Novel3
Course will focus on the broad genre of art-writing known as "visual narrative" in comic strips, art books, collage novel, silent film, graphic journalism, single-panel cartoons, comic books, picture books, and graphic novels, including heroic, saga, adaptation, and memoir.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Note: Student records fee is $4 / semester

Sam Umland, Ph.D.
Professor, Department Chair

Sam Umland's areas of specialization are literary theory, popular culture and film and media studies. He was the recipient of the Pratt-Heins Award for Distinguished Research in 2004 and named Department Chair in 2011.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall SemesterJul 10
  • Spring SemesterNov 10
  • Summer SessionsApr 10