Frequently Asked Questions
Who is my advisor?
Regular MA students are advised by Dr. Koster. MAT students are advised (in the Department) by Kara Beasley.
When should I be advised? And when do I register?
Newly-admitted graduate students should contact Dr. Koster as soon as they receive their admissions letter to set up an advising appointment. Currently-enrolled graduate students should participate in the regular advising period, which takes place immediately after Spring or Fall Break. Thesis students must make sure they are advised so that override codes for their thesis advisors can be issued.
How are graduate courses graded? Do I have to maintain a minimum GPA?
Graduate students can receive grades of A, B, C, or F in their courses. Beginning in Fall 2011, you can also receive grades of A-, B+, B-, and C+ if your professor chooses to use plus/minus grading. Graduate students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to retain their graduate status.
Can I set up an independent study course? How do I do that?
In very rare circumstances, we may be able to set up an ENGL 620 class for you to meet specific needs in your program. Use of these courses is being limited by the College for accreditation and other internal reasons, so if you need to set up one of these courses, consult Dr. Koster early. It may not be possible, but we will look into it.
How do I set up my oral exam?
M.A. students schedule their oral exams in their final semester of graduate study by meeting with Dr. Koster early in that semester. You'll be expected to develop a reading list of works from each graduate class you have taken at Winthrop and to identify three faculty members who have taught you to join Dr. Koster on your examining committee. Deadlines for completing this examination are tied to the Graduate School calendar and must be completed before thesis defenses begin; consult the Guidelines for Graduate Oral Examinations for more details. The purpose of the exam is to determine how well you have achieved the goals for graduate coursework, so it would be appropriate for you to review them as you plan to take your exam.
How do I set up a thesis committee?
See the guidelines for ENGL 695 & 696. (pdf- 353 kb)
Where do I find the University guidelines for writing a thesis?
These are maintained by the Graduate School (pdf- 115 kb). Candidates in English are expected to use the MLA form of documentation.
I don't have an assistantship. Can I apply for one?
Certainly. The application for an assistantship is available on the Graduate School webpage; download it, fill it out, and send it to Dr. Koster. We usually have internships open beginning in the fall, but sometimes we (and other parts of the University) have internships that become available in the Spring or Summer. We strongly encourage you to have your applications complete by Feb. 1 to be considered for assistantships in the Department, which normally begin in the Fall. Watch the postings list on the Grad School webpage closely!
I already have an assistantship. What do I need to do to keep it?
First, do well in your assistantship! Normally these are automatically renewed each semester (for a total of four semesters) if you've been doing a good job and have maintained a 3.0 GPA. In some divisions of the institution, however, you'll have to reapply; make sure you consult your immediate supervisor to find out if that's necessary, and keep up with all the e-mails from the Graduate School about deadlines, paperwork, etc.!
Where can I find out about applying to Ph.D. programs?
You can talk to your course professors and to Dr. Koster for suggestions. If you're searching the web, try:
How do I apply for a job in English?
Dr. Koster and Dr. Hecimovich will be happy to discuss the procedures for applying for academic jobs with you; Dr. Koster will be glad to help you edit your curriculum vitae, teaching statement, and other application materials. Make an appointment with her if you would like to do so.
Should I be trying to publish as a Master's student?
Absolutely, and our M.A. program has a great track record of students giving papers at professional meetings and submitting articles for publication. Students have given papers in venues as exotic as Granada (Spain), Trieste (Italy), Hawaii, and Montana, as well as many papers at conferences in the Southeast region. Some travel funding is available through the University, both from the Office of Student Research and in some cases from the Dean of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School. Begin by talking to the professor from the course where you wrote the paper about possible conferences where you might present it; you can also talk to Dr. Koster about strategies for submitting papers, writing abstracts, and so forth. We really encourage you to think professionally--becoming part of the professional conversation in your field is one way you can distinguish yourself from other candidates when you are competing for jobs or positions in Ph.D. programs.
How do I prepare a conference paper?
Giving a conference paper requires different rhetorical strategies than writing a class or seminar paper because of the changed nature of the audience and the need for effective oral presentation. We recommend "A Guide for the Conferentially Perplexed" provided by the Texas Medieval Association as a starting point. Consult with the professor for whom you wrote the original paper if you have specific questions about adapting it for oral presentation at a conference. The English Major's Handbook has handouts on preparing abstracts and giving conference papers.
Where can I find a list of calls for papers to be submitted?
The English Department at the University of Pennsylvania maintains a listserve and web page for calls for papers. It's the best place to start looking for opportunities. Check the bulletin boards on second floor Bancroft and ask your professors about appropriate venues for presenting your work.
Where can I publish my poems and fiction?
The magazine Poets and Writers is a good place to start looking; its classified section always has a list of contests and manuscript requests. Check the bulletin boards near Dr. Richardson's office for announcements and discuss possible opportunities with Ms. Weeks, Dr. Dustin Hoffman, and Dr. Martin.