Master of Arts in English

Program Overview

The Department of English and Modern Languages at Georgia Southwestern State University is proud to offer an MA in English with a focus on Critical Literacy and Communications.  Within classes that are a part of this program, faculty help students unpack traditional definitions of literacy and explore how new technologies change the way scholars and the public think about reading and writing.  Through an intensive study of the history of literacy, students learn how dramatically our understanding of reading and writing has changed over time. Furthermore, our students become equipped with scholarly techniques not only for reading literature, but other forms of cultural production such as film, nonfiction, the visual arts, philosophy, digital media, and even video games.  This program is designed to help teachers and other working professionals gain knowledge in literacy studies and critical pedagogy as well as related fields including cultural studies, composition, literature, linguistics, the history of the book, and rhetoric.   Designed with teachers and other working professionals in mind, our small classes are often taught in an online or hybrid environment.

Student Outcomes

Graduates of the Master of Arts in English with focus on Critical Literacy and Communications will be able to:

  • Demonstrate breadth of knowledge of the scholarly literature in critical literacy, literacy studies, and a related field.
  • Understand, critique, and use the scholarly methods associated with the program including textual analysis, ethnography, interview, and survey.
  • Critique standards of literacy and analyze the cultural implications of those standards.
  • Write for an audience of scholars in critical literacy, literacy studies, and other allied fields.
  • Use approaches and insights from rhetoric, cultural studies, or a related field to identify and critique various discourses and codes of power in various media.
  • Critically analyze and interpret texts, including major works of literature, in their specific historical, cultural, social, political, technological, and economic contexts.

Application Process

New students may enter the program at the beginning of each Fall Semester.  Students need to apply early in the spring/summer in order to be considered for the current year’s enrollment.

  1. Go to: www.gsw.eduUnder the Admissions tab, locate Graduate Admissions, and click on this tab.
    1. Locate the application to graduate admission, enter your information,
    2. Include fee with your application. 
    3. Contact all former colleges and universities you have attended and request copies of your certified transcripts to be sent to GSW Graduate Admissions.  A charge may be included for this service at the prior schools you have attended.
  2. Take the GRE verbal, quantitative, and writing tests. Request scores to be sent to the Director of the English Graduate Program.  Be aware that it takes up to six weeks for GRE scores to be received and processed.
  3. Send your Statement of Purpose, Writing Sample, and three letters of recommendation addressed to the Graduate Admissions (to be mailed by the recommenders, no special forms required).


Before taking the qualifying exams, typically by the end of the second semester, the MA student must form an advisory committee.  At any time after the committee is formed, the student is free to change the membership of this committee with the approval of the Director of the Program.

The advisory committee consists of three faculty affiliated with our program.  One of the faculty members should be designated as chair.  The student’s advisory committee must be approved by the Director of the Program.

The advisory committee does the following:

  • Helps the student develop material for his or her qualifying exams.
  • Serves as the thesis committee for students choosing that option
  • Serves as the examination committee for students choosing the portfolio option.

Once the student submits a Report of the Advisory Committee for MA work (which lists the advisory committee chair and members), the chair of the advisory committee becomes the student’s advisor.  Students should consult regularly with their advisors as they prepare for the final steps in the program.

Academic Standards

Students pursuing a master's degree must adhere to the following standards:

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better must be maintained.
  • Only two courses with grades of C can be applied to the degree.
  • No course with a grade below a C will be applied toward a degree. In any graduate degree program, all requirements, including course work at Georgia Southwestern State University, transfer credit and transient credit course work, must be completed within seven (7) calendar years from the date of initial enrollment in course work, without regard to the initial admission status and without regard to credit hours earned.
  • Graduate students who fail to maintain academic standards will be placed under academic review at the end of the semester in which their status falls below the required standards.

Students under Review [link from about section]

  • Students who have been placed under review will have early registration cancelled for the following semester. These students will not be able to register online and must report to their graduate advisor.
  • The Registrar will send the names of students under review to the Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages and the graduate advisors.
  • A student under review must meet with his or her graduate advisor to develop an Individual Remediation Plan (IRP) to demonstrate how the student can return to good standing. The plan will be forwarded to the Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages for approval before being placed in the student's file. A copy of the form will also be sent to the Registrar's Office.
  • At the end of the probationary semester, if the student is not successful in returning to good standing, the Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages will send a certified letter of dismissal to the student with a copy to the student's graduate advisor and the Registrar's Office.
  • Graduate students who are dismissed from the graduate program may follow the Academic Grievance Policy outlined in the graduate student bulletin.
  • Re-admitted students who do not return to good standing after the initial probationary semester will be dismissed from the program and the University.
  • Dismissed graduate students may re-apply for admission to the program after three calendar years. If the student is readmitted, he or she must meet all requirements for the degree program at the time of re-enrollment. The years completed prior to dismissal will count towards the total seven (7) years to complete the degree. Re-admission is not automatic. Each application will be considered individually.

Application for Graduation

Each student admitted to the MA program must apply for graduation one semester prior to completing degree requirements. Application deadlines are as follows and application forms are available in the Registrar's Office as well as under “Student Forms” on RAIN and the GSW Homepage. Students should contact their graduate advisors to initiate the application process.

Graduation Term

Apply no later than the date below of the prior to the term you plan to graduate.


May 1


August 1


January 1


Students pursuing the Master of Arts in English with focus on Critical Literacy and Communications should refer to the linked curriculum sheet and program requirements.