MA in English

Pursue your passion while developing relevant and cross-functional skills that are in demand throughout industries, organizations and geographic areas. Whether you want to do research, write, teach, produce digital media or branch out into law, marketing or more, our MA in English positions you for career success. 

UB's Department of English helps you enhance your education with high-impact experiential learning and extracurricular activities. 

Infographic that says, 10 Skills Employers Want: Research, Critical Thinking, Global Perspective, Written Communication, Oral Communication, Diversity and Cultural Appreciation, Leadership, Professional Conduct, Project Management .

Be Career Ready

Employers often cite the skills profile of applicants as the most important factor in their recruitment and job offer decisions.

Here is how we help you develop 10 critical skills:

1. Research

Ask questions, discover new evidence, prove existing theories and solve problems through research. 

An ideal venue for a wide range of research interests, the UB University Libraries are home to numerous rare and special collections including:

  • The James Joyce Collection, the largest Joyce collection in the world containing his private library, first editions, notebooks, holograph drafts, typescript pages, corrected galleys and page proofs, personal letters, portraits, photographs, personal artifacts, media clippings and more
  • The Poetry Collection, founded in 1937, now one of the world’s largest collections of poetry first editions and other titles, little literary magazines, broadsides and anthologies
  • The Rare and Special Books Collection, comprised of over 14,000 titles including 17th-century folios by William Shakespeare; first editions of Edmund Spenser, John Milton and Walt Whitman; other first and historically significant editions; and other collections including presidential signatures, ancient Greek and Roman coins, drawings and much more
  • The George Kelly Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection, comprised of over 25,000 pulp fiction books, comic books and magazines, that all started when George Kelly’s mom “threw out my comic book collection while I was away at summer camp”

Receive support for research projects through the Riverrun Research Fellowship and Mark Diamond Research Fund.

2. Critical Thinking

Use logic and reasoning to identify and solve complex problems by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches. Showcase your ability to engage in reflective, independent thinking and sound judgment in your scholarly thesis or oral exam project.

Recent examples Masters’ thesis and oral projects include:

  • Robert Michienzi. “War and Nothingness in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian” (2015)
  • Rachel McCabe. “Electroshock Therapy and Cold War Literature: Physiological and Narrative Therapies and Their Roles in Exploring Sanity.” (2013)
  • Kevin Scott. “The Devil We Are Possessed By: Flannery O’Connor and Girardian Mimesis.” (2012)

Interact with academic and industry professionals through department sponsored events, for example:

  • Participate in the Exhibition X Fiction series, which showcases experimental and innovative fictions: from new novels to anti-novels, from criti-fictions to cross-genre writing, from hypermedia to the avant-pop…to whatever comes next, whatever that may be. Recent speakers include:
    • Mitchell Jackson, Clinical Associate Professor of writing, New York University. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years was praised by publications including The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Times of London. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award.
    • Shelley Jackson discussed her new novel, Riddance or, The Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children (Catapult Books, 2018). She is most widely recognized for an electronic text, Patchwork Girl, a hypertext reworking of the Frankenstein myth, and for SKIN, a story published in tattoos on the skin of volunteers. As for ink on paper, she has left her ineradicable stain on Conjunctions, Fence, Grand Street, The Paris Review, and many restaurant napkins. Her first book, The Melancholy of Anatomy, was published by Anchor in April 2002, her second, the novel Half Life, by Harper Collins in 2006.

3. Global Perspective

Expand your world view and prepare to work in our interconnected global economy. Students have the opportunity to participate in study abroad experiences to conduct research and further their understanding of how societies and culture shape our approach to issues. In turn, national and international scholars frequently come to campus to present guest lectures and participate in conferences to expose students to a multitude of world views. 

4. Written Communication

Organize your knowledge and interpretations into convincing arguments, and convey meaning through well-constructed text. From essays and research papers to memorandums and non-academic reports, learn to convey your message with clarity and ease.

Examples of notable recent student work includes:

  • Micaela Donabella presented her paper, "Resistance through Poiesis: Responding to Heidegger in the State of Software Ubiquity,” in February 2019 at the 5th Annual SEGUE, SUNY Brockport Graduate Student Symposium
  • Georgeann Kenney participated in a roundtable discussion, “Open and Vanishing Cities: Urban Space & Contemporary Fiction,” at the Northeast Modern Languages Association Conference (NeMLA) in Washington, DC in March 2019. She discussed her paper, “Fragmentation, Fluid Temporality and the Palimpsest: Responsibility in Teju Cole's Open City."
  • Steven Keilich presented his paper, “What's Eating Leopold Bloom?: Investigating Food and Memory in Ulysses,” at the Literary Studies Society Conference at Buffalo State College in May 2018.

5. Oral Communication

Hear and respond to others constructively through active participation in intellectual discussions and debates with colleagues. Interact with peers, researchers and industry experts at a myriad of professional and social events designed to strengthen your communication skills and expand your network.

Each year UB students take the stage at national conferences to present their original work. Recent examples include:

  • Tasneem Hamead presented, “Futures Unmoored: The Muslim Other in Othello and Sri Lanka, at the South Asian Studies Association Conference in March 2019 held at Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA.
  • Michael Barr presented "Before & After Theory: The Place of Ambiguity in the Age of STEM,” at Georgetown University Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference , Anguish, in March 2019.
  • Tyler Coughlin was a panelist discussing, “Amakta and the Threat of Queer Legibility,” at the Northeast Modern Languages Association Conference (NeMLA) in Washington, DC in March 2019. Last year he was a panelist at the Queer Theory Reading Group Conference at UC Irvine, in Irvine, CA, where he presented, “Feminist SF, Straight Failure, and Queer Temporality: The Homomatriarchies of Tiptree and Russ." He was a panelist discussing, “Gay Men and Their Bullies: The Homonormative Agenda in Teen Television” at the 15th Annual English Graduate Students Society Conference at the University of Montreal, Montreal, QC. And, he was a panelist discussing, “Enhanced Intelligence in Queerwave Science Fiction.” Panelist. SEGUE 5th Annual SEGUE, SUNY Brockport Graduate Student Symposium, Brockport, NY in February 2018. 
  • Micaela Donabella presented, "Resistance through Poiesis: Responding to Heidegger in the State of Software Ubiquity," at SEGUE 5th Annual SEGUE, SUNY Brockport Graduate Student Symposium, Brockport, NY in February 2018.
  • Cherie Jacobs presented, “#MeToo as A Catalyst for Revelation and Revolution,” at the Northeast Modern Languages Association Conference (NeMLA) in Washington, DC in March 2019. The previous year, she presented “Kimchee and Chitlins: How Competing Choruses Accentuate Inclusion and Exclusion” at the NeMLA conference.
  • Steven Keilich presented " What's Eating Leopold Bloom?: Investigating Food and Memory in Ulysses," at the Literary Studies Society at Buffalo State College in May 2018.

6. Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity

Gain an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding diversity, a hallmark of UB’s English program. Develop cultural self-awareness and learn to appreciate and value diverse views.

For example, the Riverrun Global Film Series presents a curated selection of films that moves beyond national frameworks to account for an increasingly transnational imagination of film production, reception, and distribution. The 2018 Global Film Series focused on Mexican films and filmmakers.

Below are just a few examples of opportunities to open your mind to a multitude of world views through participation in interdisciplinary groups that bring together faculty members, graduate students and thought leaders from throughout the University and the world:

  • Graduate Group in Cultural Studies (GGCS) is an interdisciplinary group of graduate students and faculty members dedicated to cultural studies research and instruction. Members share their work at regular monthly meetings and formal Works-in-Progress Symposia. The group sponsors visiting speakers and events to strengthen connections among cultural studies scholars at the University at Buffalo and in the field in general.
  • Graduate British Studies Group is committed to promoting and enhancing the intellectual community of scholars working on British and Commonwealth literature and culture at the University at Buffalo. In addition to monthly meetings, the group regularly sponsors distinguished outside speakers and graduate student colloquia. The group is developing a faculty works-in-progress series.
  • Graduate Group for Queer Studies is an interdisciplinary group comprised of students across the humanities, aimed at promoting collaboration between those disciplines and students. The group recognizes queer studies as a heterogeneous mode of inquiry that interrogates and critiques the various technologies of power that administer and pathologize non-normative modes of identity, sociality, sexual ethics and erotic praxis.

7. Digital Literacy

Explore the crossroads of technology and the humanities. Advance your ability to find, evaluate, produce and communicate information on and through various digital platforms. Develop and use complex databases related to archival and other materials stored and accessed by audiences of all stripes. Master the latest social media to ensure your organization’s communication is relevant and delivered effectively.

There are numerous experiential learning opportunities. For example, students participating in the Folger Shakespeare Library Codathon helped encode a major unpublished dataset from the vaults of the Folger Shakespeare Library—a day-by-day account of Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603). Encoding the dataset allowed Folger to create a digital platform that can help visualize the data and created search features and links to other related documents. In this free two-day workshop or "codathon," students learned XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a coding technique that can make historical documents machine-readable.

8. Leadership

Rise to the challenge by gaining experience and leadership skills in some of the hundreds of University at Buffalo extracurricular and governance organizations, civic groups and volunteer activities.

Gain leadership skills and network with colleagues with similar interests and challenges in graduate student groups hosted by the Department of English:

Participate in UB's REALM Program (Real Experience and Leadership Mentoring), a full-day career shadowing experience for students who are interested in learning about leadership in the context of a professional setting. Students shadow a professional in their chosen field for a day and learn what skills have made them successful, followed by a networking reception.

9. Professional Conduct

Gain insight into the demands and expectations of employers through credit-bearing and, in some cases, paid internships. Students displaying knowledge, professionalism and a solid work ethic are oftentimes offered full-time positions. Explore internships via UB’s Bullseye.

Interact with academic and industry professional through department-sponsored events, for example:

  • Juxtapositions, the annual lecture series established scholars and emerging voices across a range of periods, areas, and topics.
  • Poetics Plus brings contemporary experimental poets to UB to read from their work, present seminars and lead workshops. Recent guests include:
    • Hugo García Manríquez, a PhD candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Berkeley and author most recently of Anti-Humboldt: A Reading of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Litmus Press/Aldus Editorial, 2015), presented a reading.
    • Jill Magi, a member of the literature/creative writing and visual arts faculty at NYU, Abu Dhabi, led a seminar and workshop, “Taking Imbalance Seriously: The Leap and the Fall as Recognition Moment”
    • Luke McMullan, a PhD student in the Department of English at NYU, is a poet and translator from Belfast, Northern Ireland, presented a reading. His most recent work, RUIN (BlazeVOX, 2018), is a conceptual translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem called “The Ruin.” McMullan’s other books are Dolphin Aria/Limited Hours: A Love Song (BlazeVOX, 2015) and n. (Wide Range, 2012).
    • Catherine Wagner, professor of English and president of the AAUP Chapter (a labor advocacy organization) at Miami University, presented a seminar and workshop, “On Settlement: Creative Labor and Collective Work”

Prove your abilities and make powerful industry connections through leadership positions in regional and national professional organizations. Whatever your interests, passions or ambitions, below are just a few possibilities of organizations where you can advance your skills and expand your professional network.

10. Project Management

Acquire the knowledge and skills to initiate, plan, execute, control, and close projects to achieve specific organizational goals. Negotiate reasonable and achievable deadlines and milestones, and report results to multiple stakeholders.

Thesis projects require excellent project management skills; below are a few successful examples: 

  • Ian Murray. “We the People do Not Know What Kind of World We Should Imagine”: Archibald MacLeish and Democracy in the 1930s.” (2012)
  • Lucas Nelson. “Cut the Word Lines”: The Evolution of the Cut-Up Method as Revolutionary Weapon in William S. Burroughs’s Nova Trilogy. (2012)
  • Sara Blakeley. “Flannery O’Connor and the Irony of Self-Creation.” (2012)
  • Matthew Dunham. “Literary Theory and Pedagogical Praxis:  De Man, Barthes, Jameson, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. (2011)
What Job Title Is In Your Future?


* Grant Writer
* Technical Writer
* Speech Writer
* Editor
* Secondary Teacher
* Social Media Specialist
* Senior Policy Advisor
* Proposal Coordinator
* Development Officer
* Policy Coordinator
* Research Specialist
* Public Relations Specialist

About one-third of UB’s MA in English graduates pursue careers in other fields, most often law, business management and marketing.

Meet Alumnus Ward Tefft

Image of interior of Chop Suey Bookstore.

If you're in Richmond, Virginia, stop by and introduce yourself to UB alumnus Ward Tefft, owner of Chop Suey Books. With over 45,000 titles under its roof, you can buy, sell and trade books of all genres. Read more in the April 2019 New York Times article, "A Southern Bookstore Serving Up a Little Bit of Everything." (The article is free, but you must register on the website.)

How Much Can You Earn?

Choose from a wide variety of career paths and industries with a Master's in English. Below are just a few examples of the median annual wage for associated job titles according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics using May 2017 national data. Wages vary based on industry, experience and location.

Average annual salary bar graph for Social Media/PR Specialists.
salary graph high school English teachers.
Average annual salary bar graph for Editors.
Average annual salary bar graph for Writers and Authors.

Young Alumni

Below are a few recent alumni who are making a difference in their profession and their communities. They're looking forward to helping you expand your professional network.

  • Alison Fraser, MA ’18, Assistant Curator of the Poetry Collection, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
  • Dan McKeon, MA ’18, Associate Editor, General Code, Rochester, NY
  • Matthew Pieknik, MA ’11, recently earned a Master of Social Work from New York University and he has a private psychotherapy and psychoanalysis practice, Manhattan, NY
  • Jill Twist, MA ’09, Assistant Proposals Coordinator, Ecology and Environment in Lancaster, NY
graphic with a generic map and location pointer; headline reads, Where will you go from here?