Frequently Asked Questions – MA English Program

Can the MA English Program at National University be taken 100 percent online, or do I have to travel to San Diego for a residency?

The program is 100% online. Although San Diego is a great place to visit, you will not be required to travel here.

How old is the MA English Program at National University and is it accredited?

The program, launched January 2002, was the first 100% online MA English program on earth. As with all the degree programs at National University, the MA English is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Do you have to have your BA in English in order to be admitted to the program? A Bachelor of Arts in English, or a closely-related field in liberal arts or humanities, is recommended.  If you do not have this preparation, you should discuss it with the program director, fpotter@nu.edu.

Have any graduates of the MA English program at National University been hired at community colleges? What other things can people do with the degree?

Yes, many of our graduates are now teaching at community colleges. A large number of students in this program are high school English teachers from all around the country who are looking for advancement in the careers they already have. Other students are preparing for doctoral studies in English, community college teaching, or other careers in writing, editing, or publishing.

How long does it take to complete the MA English program at National University?

There are 10 required courses in the program, and each is one month long, except for ENG 699, the capstone course, which is two months. Students take one class at a time. The program can be completed in 11 months though it takes most students a little over a year.

What are the enrollment deadlines for the program?

Courses run monthly and you can begin the program whenever you are ready.

Do I need to take the required courses in any particular order?

No, you can start the MA English program at the beginning of any month. Except for ENG 699, the capstone course, the courses can be taken in any order although we recommend you take ENG 599: Introduction to Graduate English Studies early in your program. ENG 699 English Capstone is the last course of the program. A total of five core courses and four electives, as described in the Degree Requirements for the Program, must be completed before enrolling in the Capstone course.

How much work is required for each course, and can someone with a full-time job handle the workload?

The work is intensive. Most of the program’s current students have full-time jobs and while the workload is demanding, it is very manageable. Each course is reading intensive and requires the same writing as a regular on-site graduate seminar.

How are the online classes run, and are lectures included in each class?

As with on-site classes, professors have different teaching styles. Some online professors post their lectures for you to read, others have videos of their lectures. Other professors prefer to run the course by Socratic discussions rather than by lectures. In all your classes you will be expected to post answers to discussion questions and interact with your fellow classmates by responding to their postings. In most classes you have to post a couple of times a week in asynchronous threaded discussions….that is, you will post by, say, Wednesday night.  Some professors utilize Class Live Pro which is a classroom in real time, but these are voluntary because students living in various time zones are not able to join the chats at the same times. In all graduate seminars you will submit a critical essay by the end of the class.

Can I take electives not listed in the catalog program description?

Yes, with approval of the program director. You will need to complete some additional paperwork, which the program director needs to approve, to have different electives count toward your degree.

What is the capstone project, and can I begin it before taking the Capstone course?

The capstone project is a sustained, independent, intellectual effort that represents your best scholarship and best writing. It is original research on a literary topic of your choice. Some students write expand an essay written from one of their seminars, although that is not required.

  • The capstone essay is a scholarly article appropriate for publication in a scholarly journal typically 25 pages in length. You will use current articles published in the journals of your choice as your models.  Some of our graduates have been successful in publishing their capstones in peer-reviewed journals.
  • A total of five core courses and four electives, as described in the Degree Requirements for the Program, must be completed before enrolling in ENG 699: English Capstone Course (or ENG697, for Rhetoric-specialization students). Exceptions may be made if within two courses of program completion, but only with permission of the Lead Faculty.