Internships, Independent Study, and Thesis Work

Both MA programs provide opportunities for students to pursue independent research and professional applications for graduate work in English. After consultation with MA Program Directors, students may choose to substitute an independent study, an internship, and/or thesis research for conventional elective courses. When deciding to undertake one of the following alternative courses, students should keep in mind that independent work requires extra effort, time, and self-discipline. Consult with your MA Program Director as you decide whether one of the following options is for you.

Graduate Internships (ENG 509)

MAE and MAWP students can qualify for a variety of internships, receiving significant on-the-job experience in such areas as research, writing, editing, publishing, law, corporate communications, non-profit work, and library science. Students have worked with book publishers, literary agencies, magazines, museums, in public relations, theater, and TV; they have also worked as research assistants with poets, novelists, nonfiction writers, and professors on various book projects. Please contact Prof. Chris Green, director of internships, for more information.

Most internships are non-paying, though some offer a stipend. Students can receive as many as 4 hours of credit toward their degree. Students might locate an internship on their own or receive assistance from Professor Green. Professor Green will send students emails about quarterly internship opportunities. To receive credit, your internship will need to consist of substantive work (i.e. editing, writing, reading, etc.) and requires approximately 10-15 hours of week for ten weeks or 100-150 hours).

Once Professor Green has approved your internship for credit, you register via an online application process here. You will be registering for an online course: ENG 509 English Dept. Internships. See the class description below:

ENG 509, “Internship in English,” is a four-credit online course designed to complement your English course of study along with your internship experience (100 hours of internship work). Using literature, film, and career guides, the class explores both academic and pragmatic aspects of work. We will analyze definitions of and strategies for career success, what makes work meaningful, the positive and negative power of technology in the workplace, and issues of ethics and social justice for employers and employees. Most practically, we will explore current career opportunities for English graduates and reflect on your ideal career paths, ask you to create job-finding strategies, and improve your resume and cover letter writing along with your interviewing skills. Ultimately, we will relate our readings and discussions to your internship and apply what we learn to your future career. There is no pre-requisite or prior knowledge needed to take this course.


Two-Year College Teaching Internships

Teaching internships are designed to help familiarize talented and mature graduate students with the challenges, responsibilities, and rewards of college teaching. As interns, students will attend their course regularly, shadow the faculty member from the planning stages through the completion of the course, and assist in instruction and assessment.

Teaching internships are designed to provide teaching experience to students who plan to apply for adjunct positions or full-time employment after they complete their degrees. To be competitive for a teaching internship, students should have completed either ENG 474 Teaching Literature or ENG 480 Teaching Writing and must be in their second year of study. A maximum of four quarter hours of ENG 509 Internship may be applied to the forty-eight quarter hours required for the MAE or MAWP degree.

Before applying for an internship, please consult Professor Carolyn Goffman at Then you may submit the following:

  • Cover letter explaining your interest in the internship program
  • Curriculum vitae (résumé)
  • Sample of writing (such as a class paper)
  • Copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts

Independent Study (ENG 500)

The Independent Study fulfills elective credit in both Master’s programs. This option allows students to undertake intensive and advanced study of a topic, which culminates in a major research paper or project. The Independent Study should not be used to fill requirements in the MA programs except in special circumstances to be approved by the Program Directors. Instead, students should pursue an Independent Study to focus more intensively on an idea or a skill previously developed in their regular coursework. Some recent MA in English Independent Study topics include women and courtly love in medieval English romances, psychoanalytic theory, and gender and power in selected Shakespeare plays. An Independent Study may also serve as a gateway to the writing of an MA Thesis: as preparation for taking Thesis Research (ENG 501) students may generate, in consultation with a faculty adviser, an extensive annotated bibliography and prospectus for a thesis. Students interested in undertaking an Independent Study must first discuss their plans with an MA Program Director and with the prospective supervising professor, under whose general areas of expertise the intended topic falls. Approval of an Independent Study requires completion of a short proposal detailing the scope and objectives of proposed research and describing the written work that the study will produce.


Thesis Research (ENG 501)

Thesis Research involves research and writing of a substantial (50-100 pages), original contribution to a particular area of scholarly inquiry. The thesis option is intended for those students who, near the end of their coursework, possess particular expertise in an area of literary, rhetorical, or composition-related study or in a creative writing project, and who demonstrate exceptional ability at independent research and writing. Ideally, a thesis will develop from a research paper or project completed for a graduate course. Students must assemble a Thesis Committee comprising one faculty director and one second reader.

Thesis projects typically take two or more academic terms to complete, and students in the MA programs may substitute four credit hours of Thesis Research for one elective. Further work on the thesis may be supported by taking “Candidacy Continuation” (ENG 502), which involves only a nominal registration fee and allows students to continue using the library and other university resources. Note that students electing to count thesis hours toward their MA degrees must complete the thesis in order to graduate.

To discuss this option, see your Program Director. Find out more information on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website under Graduation Requirements and consult the English Department’s requirements for MAE Thesis Option and MAWP Thesis Option.