English (M.A.)

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

Tailor your program by selecting from courses in literature, cultural studies, linguistics, critical theory, digital humanities, research methods, and composition.

36 Hours of Coursework

6 Hours of Methods Studies

3:1 Student to Faculty Ratio

2 Options for Capstone Project

Why Pursue a master’s degree in English?

A master's degree in English prepares students for doctoral work and careers in a variety of professional fields, enhances your professional credentials by serving as a companion to other advanced degrees, and continues to hone a student’s communication and creativity skills, skills which have high currency for employers in a variety of industries. Moreover, as the global culture continues to move toward content-based, online marketing strategies (e.g. websites, blogs, social media, video) to drive consumer interest and promote a brand, more companies are looking for people who can create effective and persuasive content. A master’s degree in English enables you to do this and much more. 

Why Study English Here?

Our small program enables students to get individualized attention with award-winning and research active faculty. The interdisciplinary approach of the program enables students to interact with students and scholars from other programs as well, in areas such as philosophy, history, africana studies, sociology. Students can also engage with students and scholars in our own graduate programs including artists for the MFA in English’s Visiting Writers Series and the speakers and researchers in the PhD Prorgam in Rhetoric and Writing. The program also offers electives that cover a broad range of topics, allowing you to personalize your degree to your area of interest while developing a variety of diverse skills which employers desire. Finally, Virginia Tech is a top-notch research institution and the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences where English is housed possesses a variety of opportunities available to students which enable students to excel. 

What You'll Study

The Master of Arts Program in English at Virginia Tech is a general master's degree in the study of literature and language. Students explore their own interests in British and American literature through a variety of courses. Some classes are shared with the Masters of Fine Arts students in our Creative Writing program. Some classes are shared with doctoral students in our Rhetoric and Writing program. The interdisciplinary nature of English studies enables students to also take classes in other programs such Women's and Gender Studies, Science & Technology Studies, Africana Studies, and History. This cross-disciplinary focus provides students with exposure to various dimensions of English studies. Students then apply that exposure and pursue independent research either as a thesis or capstone project. Students work in a close relationship with our award-winning faculty to develop their thesis or capstone projects toward their unique career and academic goals.

Careers of Program Graduates

Since our program builds core competencies in critical reading, writing, research, and analysis that can be applied in a variety of ways beyond the MA degree, our graduates typically move into a variety of fields including business, law, technology, marketing, design, teaching, and technical writing. More recently, our students move in one of three directions upon completion of their degree: enrollment in a PhD program in literature or writing; high school or instructor-level teaching; writing or document-related jobs in technical writing.  

Professional Development & Research Support/Opportunities

The English MA program supports students’ professional development through GTA mentoring, funding for conference travel, workshops, guest speakers, and job market preparation. The Graduate School at Virginia Tech also provides professional development opportunities, as does the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Our Faculty 

  • African American Literature and Aesthetics
  • African American Women’s Literature
  • Contemporary African American Poetry
  • Postcolonial Literature
  • Cajun English
  • Cajun French
  • New Orleans English
  • Language and place
  • Language in Louisiana
  • First-Year Composition
  • Rhetoric of Race and Identity
  • Writing Assessment
  • Writing Centers


  • Chaucer and Chaucer Studies
  • Digital Humanities
  • History of Humanist Education
  • Neomedievalism
  • Modern rhetorical theory
  • Writing pedagogy
  • Language, violence, and nonviolence
  • The essay
  • Rhetorical constructions of autism

View Profile


  • History of rhetoric
  • Contemporary rhetorical theory
  • Rhetoric of health and medicine
  • Genetic risk
  • Material rhetorics

Kelly Pender, English

  • Displacement narratives
  • Human rights rhetorics
  • Identity and self-representation
  • Performative autobiography
  • Displacement narratives


  • Eighteenth century and romantic poetry
  • Lord Byron
  • Digital humanities
  • Book trades
  • Documentary editing


  • Cultural rhetorics
  • Asian american rhetoric
  • Information design
  • Computers and writing
  • Digital rhetoric


  • Celtic linguistics
  • Indo-European linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Language change
  • African-American literature
  • African-American women’s literature
  • Nikki Giovannis poetry
  • The black arts movement
  • English Romantics
  • Charles Darwin
  • Jane Austen
  • Literature
  • Lord byron
  • Biography
  • Comparative literature
  • Individualism
  • Intellectual history


  • Pickwick Papers
  • Reading public
  • Serial fiction
  • American Literature
  • American Women Writers
  • Digital Humanities
  • Digital pedagogy
  • Religion and secularism
  • Fantasy fiction
  • Medieval literature
  • Online education
  • Science fiction

English Highlights

English Graduate Student Organization

The English Graduate Student Organization is a professional and social organization for our graduate students. We host a number of annual events including book fairs, a graduate student conference, and social outings. You will receive regular invites to the meetings and functions.

Learn More

English Club

Students interested in applying to the English (M.A.) degree should contact the program director, Dr. Gena Chandler-Smith, by email at gechandl@vt.edu or by phone at 540-231-7796.

Visit our office at 213 Shanks Hall, 181 Turner Street NW, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Domestic Application

*Fall: February 22, 2019

International Application

*Fall: February 22, 2019

*Deadline for admission with full consideration for funding: February 22, 2019


Program Inquiries

Dr. Gena Chandler-Smith

Director of Graduate Studies

213 Shanks Hall

(540) 231-7796

Application Inquiries

Sally Shupe

Graduate Programs Coordinator

310 Shanks Hall

(540) 231-4659


Department of English

Shanks 323 (0112)
181 Turner Street NW
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061