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Graduate Catalog 2019-2020

Literature M.A.

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Graduate studies in Literature at UHCL lead to the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree. Students may study literature from the distant past to the present. Concentrations are available in American Studies and in Writing Theory and Practice.

Admission to the Program

Applications and inquires should be addressed to the university Office of Admissions or the HSH Office of Academic Advising. Applicants who reside or who received a B.A. in a country where English is not the first language must submit a writing sample of at least 2,500 words on a subject in literary studies with their application for admission.

Undergraduate students in the final semester of their Literature B.A. and Post-Baccalaureate students enrolled in their final six hours of required undergraduate LITR coursework may, with permission from their faculty adviser and their course instructor, take two graduate (5000-level) LITR courses. However, undergraduate students may not count a graduate course toward their undergraduate degree. 


Every M.A. student is assigned an adviser from the full-time Literature faculty. Early in the first semester, the student must initiate a meeting with the faculty adviser to create an individual Candidate Plan of Study (CPS).

Degree Requirements

The Literature M.A. offers two 36-hours plans of study featuring different capstones:

  • Coursework-Comprehensive Examination Option (default plan): 36 hours of coursework + comprehensive written exam (LITR 6909, a zero-credit-hour course).
  • Thesis Option: 30 hours of graduate coursework + minimum of 6 hours thesis (LITR 6939) + thesis defense conference.

Incoming students are automatically enrolled in the Coursework-Comprehensive Examination Option. This option offers the broadest exposure to literature and is the shorter, lower-cost path for completing the M.A. in Literature. Unlike the Thesis Option, the Coursework-Comprehensive Examination Option it rarely requires additional semesters.

Required Coursework

First year of graduate work
All candidates for the M.A. in Literature must take
LITR 5132 Literary Theory
Credit Hours: 3
18 hours of Literature courses focused on analysis of literary texts
  • TWO courses in British Literature, one pre-Restoration and one post-Restoration;
  • ONE course in American Literature;
  • ONE course in Multicultural/World Literature; and
  • TWO additional courses devoted to the study of literary texts.
Capstone Options

Each capstone option requires the specified number of graduate LITR courses.

  • Coursework-Comprehensive Examination Option: at least 27 of the 36 coursework hours must be graduate LITR (5000-level) courses.
  • Thesis Option: at least 24 of the 30 coursework hours must be graduate LITR (5000-level) courses.

All non-LITR courses must be approved by a student's faculty adviser and support an intellectually coherent plan of study, or they will not count toward the hours required for the M.A.

Undergraduate LITR courses (4000-level and lower) will not count toward the M.A. Students interested in completing an Independent Study (LITR 5939) should consult with program faculty about opportunities for such work.


Comprehensive Examination Capstone

The comprehensive examination requires students to think comparatively about the courses they have taken and texts they have read, to demonstrate knowledge of those texts and literary history, and to exhibit competence in critical thinking and composition. Examinations are designed to reflect and to support the student's chosen course of study. 

The comprehensive examination is offered on two weekends each semester; students may opt for either weekend. Special accommodations for students with disabilities may be made according to university policy: communicate with faculty adviser and the Office of Disability Services. For complete examination guidelines, consult the Capstone Options Guide for Literature M.A. Students, available from the Literature program director. 

Thesis Capstone

Students who wish to pursue the thesis option must petition for reclassification as they approach the 30-hour coursework minimum. A thesis may be an original essay in criticism and/or scholarship or an original creative work of substantial complexity and quality that demonstrates clear mastery of its form. A creative thesis must also include a substantial "learning commentary" describing the thesis's background and composition, its literary models, and its potential for continued development. Students wishing to write creative theses must take at least one of the genres offered through the graduate Seminars in Creative Writing (LITR 5430). Students cannot be enrolled for thesis hours (LITR 6939) until they have a complete and approved proposal on file in the HSH Office of Academic Advising. 

Master's theses require continuous registration in all fall and spring semesters until completion for a minimum of six hours. If students do not maintain continuous registration in LITR 6939, previously accumulated thesis hours will not count toward the 6-hour minimum of LITR 6939 registration required for the Master's degree.

For complete thesis guidelines, consult the Capstone Guide for Literature M.A. students, available from the Literature program director. 

Concentration Requirements

The Concentrations in American Studies and Writing Theory and Practice have additional requirements as set forth below.

American Studies Concentration

The concentration in American Studies provides a broad understanding of the relationship between American literature, history, and culture. It prepares students to study for the Ph.D. in American Studies or Literature or to pursue careers in government or Foreign Service.

American Studies Concentration
Students complete the requirements of the Literature degree and include the following in their plans:
LITR 5132 Literary Theory
Credit Hours: 3
Two courses from (may be repeated for credit when content varies.)
For ANTH 5032, the following may be substituted:CRCL 5032
LITR 5431 American Literature
Credit Hours: 3
One course with American (Western Hemisphere) content from:


Note: One of the above courses must be in ANTH or SOCI.

Writing Theory and Practice Concentration

Students may obtain a Literature M.A. with an emphasis in Writing Theory and Practice. Depending on their course choices, this concentration prepares them either to teach writing at the community college and university levels or to work in advanced business communication and creative communication fields.

Required Courses (9 hours)
LITR 5130 Composition: Theory and Practice
Credit Hours: 3
Six additional units from any of the following:
LITR 5039 Editing
Credit Hours: 3
LITR 5430 Creative Writing
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5131 Writing Pedagogy
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5137 Grant and Proposal Writing
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5138 Multimedia Composition and Theory
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5139 Digital Rhetoric
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5230 Collaborative Writing Pedagogy
Credit Hours: 3
WRIT 5939 Independent Study in Writing
Credit Hours: 3


  Academic Standards

As with all academic standards in the UHCL Graduate Catalog, the following academic performance standards apply to all LITR M.A. students regardless of the catalog under which they entered the university.

  Minimum GPA for Graduation

All courses for the M.A. in Literature, including all courses on the CPS and all courses transferred in for credit must be completed with grades of B or higher. 


Students who are suspended from the program and wish to return should refer to UHCL's policy on reinstatement found in the "General Program Requirements" section of this catalog. 

  Timely Completion of the M.A.

All requirements for the M.A. in Literature must be completed within five calendar years of first enrollment in the Literature graduate program. Students whose period of enrollment in the Literature M.A. exceeds five continuous years will be dismissed from the program and may not apply for readmission. Students who withdraw from the program before five years have elapsed are eligible for readmission; however, courses previously completed expire five years from the end of the semester in which they were taken.

  Hours Completed as a Non-Degree Graduate Student

The advising and degree-planning process is integral to the student's educational experience. The Literature program therefore will accept toward the number of required hours no more than two graduate (5000-level) LITR courses completed while a student holds Graduate Non-Degree Student status. These courses will remain current for five years from the end of the semester in which they were taken.


Students are responsible for working with their faculty advisers to ensure that all coursework and plans of study comply with catalog provisions. Variances will be approved only in exceptional cases; students desiring a variance must petition the LITR program and the department chair or associate dean through their faculty adviser.