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Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Department of English

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Application Process

Transfer Credit


Non-degree Status


Distance Education



Requirements for Acceptance to MA in English


Do I have to have a BA in English to be accepted?

While you may apply to the MA in English with a BA in another field, your preparation for literature and creative writing courses may not be the same as students with a BA in English. However, if you had an English minor, or took a number of electives in English, you should be able to handle the coursework. Other concentrations may be appropriate for BAs in other fields. Consult with Director of Graduate Studies for more information.


What are the application deadlines for MA?

May 1, Fall admission

October 15, Spring admission

March 1, Summer Session I

April 1, Summer Session II

Please note that the time of application and acceptance affects the courses you are able to register for.
Apply early.

Students seeking an assistantship beginning fall semester should apply by March 15th.  Students seeking an assistantship beginning spring semester should apply by October 1st.

Application process


What is the application process?

Applications are made through the ECU Graduate School. The Graduate School will gather your application materials and determine if you meet ECU’s minimum requirements for admission to graduate study. The English Department Office of Graduate Studies will then make a decision about acceptance.


What is the program code for the Master of Arts program in English?



Should I send my application directly to the department?

No. All applications and supplemental materials (including letters of recommendation and your statement of purpose) must go to the Graduate School.


What supplemental materials should be included in the application?

Supplemental materials include three letters of recommendation (at least two should be academic references) and your statement of purpose.


Can I submit the supplemental materials online?

Yes. You will submit all supplemental materials together online to the Graduate School.

Are there additional materials necessary for admission to the concentration in creative writing?

Yes. You should follow the instructions listed on the admissions section of the English Department website.


Where can I find information about the costs of tuition, fees, etc?


What standardized admission tests are required?

GRE general test is required, but you may substitute the MAT. For other tests, please check with the Director of Graduate Studies.


Are these tests offered on campus?

Yes. Contact the Testing Center at 252.328.6811.


Where do I send GRE scores?

Scores for the GRE or any other standardized test are sent automatically to the ECU Graduate School if you put in the ECU code. If you took the test in a previous year, you should report the scores to the ECU Graduate School.


What are the minimum scores required?

The general rule for admission to the graduate program is that your test scores should be at or above the 30th percentile either on the GRE (verbal+quantitative sections) or MAT. In general, if you have a low GPA, your test scores should be higher, or with a high GPA, you may have lower test scores. Your statement of purpose and recommendations letters as well as your undergraduate gpa are also important.


Is the subject test of the GRE required?

No. You need only to take the general test, but remember that we do look at all three scores on the GRE: verbal, quantitative, and analytic writing.


How does the graduate school get my transcript?

You should notify the school where you obtained your BA—and an MA in the case of an application to the PhD program—and request that they send an official copy of your transcript to the ECU Graduate School.

NOTE TO ECU GRADS: You can help to facilitate your application process if you request that your transcript be sent to the graduate school. If an assistant in the graduate school has to request it, this action may delay your application and your ability to enroll in the classes you want.


What is the format for the letters of recommendations?

Access the Graduate Admissions Management App and enter the names and email addresses of your references.  They will be able to submit their letters electronically.  This site is accessible the day after you submit an application and payment to the Graduate School.


I have been out of school for many years and no longer have contact with former professors. Whom should I ask to write my recommendation letters?

You can ask supervisors and colleagues from your current workplace. But, if possible, you should get a letter from someone with the ability to speak authoritatively about your intellectual abilities and skills necessary for graduate work.


Transfer Credit

What is the process for transferring courses in to the program taken at another University?

First, you should speak with the Director of Graduate Studies to make certain that these courses can be applied to your degree.  Once that is determined, you and your advisor will complete “The Request for Transfer Credit” form, available in the English Office of Graduate Studies.  The form must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies who then sends it on to the Graduate School for approval.


I was enrolled in another Graduate Program at ECU and want to transfer credits to the MA in English. What is the process for transferring Degree Graduate courses from ECU?

First, you should speak with you advisor to make certain that these courses can be applied to your degree. Once that is determined, you or your advisor should speak with the Director of Graduate Studies. Once you receive approval for the DGS, you and your advisor will complete the advising check sheet that will include those courses. NOTE: the DGS and you advisor will determine the number of degree credit hours to be applied to your program.


What is the process for transferring non-degree graduate courses from ECU?

Only 9 credit hours of non-degree graduate coursework in English will be applied automatically to your program.  If you wish to have more than 9 credit hours applied to your program, you and your advisor need to complete “The Request for Transfer Credit form.”  The form must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies who then sends it on to the Graduate School for approval.


Can Non-English non-graduate courses be applied to my program?

Yes, but you will need permission from the Director of Graduate Studies to have these courses applied to your program and you will still need to complete any requirements for your English Department graduate concentration/program.


Readmission Process


Do I have to reapply if I had a lapse in enrollment?

Yes, you must reapply to the program if you are not continuously enrolled. 


How do I reapply?

Submit an application online the Graduate School website.


Is there a reapplication fee?



Non-degree Graduate Status


Who should apply as a non-degree graduate student?

Students who are thinking about pursuing a MA in English but are undecided; those who need to take courses for a career move but do not need the Master’s degree; those who are unsure of their undergraduate record; or those who have been out of school for many years and aren’t certain that graduate school is for them. You are encouraged to enroll in one of our certificate programs.


What is the application process for non-degree status?

Submit an application online at the Graduate School website along with the application fee to the Graduate School, located in Ragsdale 131.


Do I have to take the GRE or MAT to enroll in graduate classes?

Yes, if you intend to work toward an MA. However, no standardized test is required for status as a certificate or non-degree student.



What do I need to do if I am currently in a degree program at ECU but want to switch to English?

You need to request a meeting with the Director of Graduate Studies by calling 252.328.6660.


How will I be notified if I am admitted?

The department’s graduate administrator will notify you once the process is complete.


Am I eligible for deferred acceptance since I was accepted last year and was unable to attend?

Yes. However, you need to ask the Graduate School to defer your admission.


Are transfer students eligible for assistantships?



I applied to ECU Graduate School several years ago for another program. Do I need to get recommendations or can you access my file?

Since you applied for a different program, you should ask for new recommendations that address your interest in an English MA.




What is an assistantship?

Graduate assistantships are available to full-time on-campus students in good standing in a graduate program. The English Department has several types of assistantships available: research, editorial, classroom, writing consultant and teaching. In addition, other offices on campus also offer assistantships.


What work does a graduate assistant do?

Research assistants work with faculty members to help with research activities that a faculty member is doing for an article or a grant, for example. Editorial assistants work with journal editors doing various tasks involved with the production of a journal. Classroom assistants help faculty who teach large sections of a course by leading small group discussions and performing other appropriate activities, such as grading. Writing consultants engage with students one-on-one in the Writing Studio, which provides tutoring services to freshman enrolled in one of the two composition classes, and attend workshops once a week. Teaching assistants have full responsibility for a section of composition and meet weekly with the Director of Composition. Other assistantships with various job descriptions are available throughout the university.


How can I obtain one? Is there an application?

You should notify the department’s graduate administrator in the Office of Graduate Studies that you are interested in an assistantship and fill out an application.


Can I register for distance education sections?

If you have an assistantship you must be enrolled as a campus student. DE students are not eligible for assistantships.


What is the stipend for MA students?

As of Fall 2013, MA graduate assistants have 4 semesters of support as long as they maintain satisfactory progress toward their degree. Stipends of $5250 per semester are paid for 20 hours of work per week. In general, a student will be assigned 10 or 20 hours of work per week. Graduate teaching assistants receive a stipend of $6750 per semester for 20 hours (usually 2 courses).  Each course taught is the equivalent of 10 hours of assistantship work.


What are the qualifications for a teaching assistantship?

You must have 18 hours of graduate coursework in English, and you must have successfully completed ENGL 6625. In addition, you must attend a weekly meeting with the Director of Composition.


What if I don’t finish my MA degree in 4 semesters? Can I get additional support?

You may request an assistantship for a 5th semester, but the English Department offers only teaching assistantships for these students.


I’m interested in an assistantship, but I already work for the university. Is it possible for me to have an assistantship?


Should I apply early to be considered for an assistantship?

Yes, students seeking admission beginning fall semester should apply by March 15th.  Students seeking admission beginning spring semester should apply by October 1st.


Distance Education and Online Classes


Would I be able to complete the MA in English while working full time?

Yes. We offer evening classes, and some concentrations offer online classes.


How much of the program is offered online?

Students in Technical and Professional Communication or Multicultural and Transnational Literatures are able to take all of their courses online. While other concentrations do offer online coursework, these concentrations cannot be completed online.


Can I get an MA in Creative Writing or Literature completely online?

Not at this time.


General Questions


My husband recently completed his military service. We have lived in NC for a year and paid NC state taxes? Would I be considered “in state” for tuition purposes?

You can link to to learn about qualifying for residency. Contact Dr. Belinda Patterson at if you have specific questions.


Do you offer summer classes?

Yes, although the summer offerings are more limited than the regular session offerings. However, we cannot guarantee that appropriate faculty will be available to complete the thesis or comprehensive assessment project over the summer.


I have been out of school for 10 years and graduated with a BA, but my GPA was under 3.0. What are my chances of getting in?

You have several options. You can take the GRE and apply for full graduate status. You can apply as a non-degree student and take 9 hours, which may then count toward the degree if you choose to pursue one. If you do well in these classes, you can ask those professors to write recommendations for you when you apply for full graduate status. You can also apply for a certificate program, and once you have established that you are interested and do well in these classes, you can apply for full graduate status. These latter two options allow you to wait before taking the GRE, allowing more time to prepare for it. These options may improve, but do not guarantee, your chances for acceptances.


Are courses in teaching in the community college offered online?

Not at this time. The fact that the courses focus on teaching practices—and often involve teaching demonstrations and/or links with community colleges—make them less suitable to delivery entirely online.


Can I complete the degree taking one class a semester?

Yes, but there is a time limit for completing the degree. For all graduate work the limit is six years.


Can I begin my coursework in the spring semester or the summer?

Yes, applications for the MA are reviewed for the fall, spring, and summer sessions as space in courses allows.


PhD in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication


What are the deadlines for the PhD applications?

January 15 for Fall. PhD students are only accepted for the fall semester.


NOTE: Please see the questions and answers above about the application process and the standardized tests.


Does the same requirement for standardized test apply to the PhD program applicants?

You must take the PhD.


In addition to the application, what supplemental materials are required for admission to the PhD?

Official transcript documenting successful completion of a masters degree, scores on the General GRE (taken within the past five years), a TOEFL score of no less than 600 points (International students), three letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae, a statement of purpose, and writing sample.


What is the stipend for PhD graduate assistantships?

PhD students in good standing are eligible for $7000 per semester for 20 hours of work. Assistantships in other departments or those funded by grant monies are also available.


What is a tuition remission (waiver) and am I eligible for one?

A tuition remission covers only tuition. Students are responsible for fees. To qualify for a remission, you must score at or above the 30th percentile on the GRE (verbal+quantitative sections) , and an overall GPA of 2.7 or a senior year GPA of 3.0.


Can 6000 level courses count toward the doctorate?

Yes, but you must request approval from the Director of Graduate Studies before you enroll in the course. The majority of your courses should be at the 7000 or 8000 level.


Is the program online? If not, how much time is required on campus?

According to the department’s Guide to the Doctoral Program in Technical and Professional Discourse, a doctoral student “must complete at least five consecutive semester/sessions in residence. Residence is defined as taking courses on the East Carolina University campus or at a designated off-campus site.”


Can I get an MA in English or only a PhD?

We do have an MA program, which is separate from the PhD.

Frequently Asked Questions of Students enrolled in the MA program



Comprehensive Assessment Project


What is the comprehensive assessment project?

In lieu of a thesis, each concentration offers an alternative project. The option requires an additional six hours of coursework in lieu of thesis hours. You may NOT enroll in thesis hours to help you prepare for this project.




Do I have to register for English 7000 if I need to take thesis hours?

Yes, 6 hours of ENGL 7000 are required for MA students writing a thesis.


Do I need to register for thesis hours in the semester I graduate?

If you have registered for thesis hours in a previous semester, you do not have to register for thesis hours in the semester you graduate, BUT you must be registered for a course in the semester you graduate.


Do I need to be registered in the semester I graduate?



Is English 7000 a regular class?

No.  English 7000 does not require class face-to-face meetings designated at a specific time.  However, you are required to regularly communicate with your thesis director and committee members.


Will I receive course credit for thesis hours?

Yes.  However, you must complete your thesis paper and defense before you receive six credit hours for thesis.


When should I register for thesis hours?

You may register for thesis hours in the semester after you have completed or during semester in which you are completing your coursework. You are required to have a minimum of 6 hours of ENGL 7000 to graduate.

Do I have to register for thesis hours in the summer?

If you have completed all coursework and were registered in the spring semester, you do not have to register for anything in order to graduate.  Please refer to the graduate catalog under the “continuous enrollment” section for further details.



Directed Readings


What are directed readings?

Directed readings, or independent studies, are courses in which a student works directly with a faculty member outside of a classroom setting. A student and faculty member together determine the reading list and assignments. Directed readings are meant to allow students the opportunity to study materials that are not regularly taught in other classes.


Who should I ask to direct the directed reading?

You and your advisor, and perhaps the Director of Graduate Studies, should determine the best faculty members to supervise this research. Much of the decision will be based on the subject of your research.


What is the process of registering for a directed reading?

Once you and a faculty member have agreed to work together, you must fill out a form, available in the Office of Graduate Studies.  The form is then emailed to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval. Once approved, it is listed as a course. You must receive approval and have the course listed in order to get the appropriate credit.