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Master's Degree in English

IshbuIshbu Registered User regular
edited January 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hello all,

More and more I've been considering getting a masters degree in English. I want to use it to teach at the high school level for a few years, and then eventually move to get my PHD in education to try and work to reform education, specifically helping to fight illiteracy, in the United States.

The problem: I majored in computer science for my undergraduate degree. I took very few courses in English while I was in college. Most places need you to major in English as an undergraduate first to get a master's in English. I could get another bachelor's degree, this time in English, but that seems like an awful long time and an awful lot of money. Does anyone know any English programs that offer conditional enrollment to let me take a few undergraduate courses to gain enough preparation for a master's degree? I have no problem with spending a couple of semesters taking undergraduate coursework, but I don't want to spend three years on a B.A. and then another two years to get the M.A.

Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative that my degree in CS got me a job. But I have a huge passion for literature and literacy education and I want to make that my career. In short, I want to follow my dreams.

Play my game and serve beer to angry dwarves: The Tavern
Ishbu on

Posts

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    talk to universities. ring up the course convenors and the professors and the deans; tell them your situation and ask them what you'll need to do. some may shut you out, but others will help you greatly. in any event, it's a wise move to get at least some undergraduate study under your belt before you jump into an MA; if only because you might find that literature is very different in academia than it is on the shelf at Borders, especially at higher levels.

    and good luck. having just finished an MA in a very similar field (creative writing) i can assure you that it's worth doing and will be very rewarding, if that's what you're passionate about.

    bsjezz on
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  • QuothQuoth the Raven Miami, FL FOR REALRegistered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Also, look into the requirements for teaching high school in your area. I know that where I live, you have to have a teaching certification or be in a high-demand subject and concurrently taking the required courses for certification. Typically, you also need to have your degree in the subject you are teaching, but getting the MA might cover that requirement.

    Did you take many literature courses as an undergrad, even though you majored in something else?

    Quoth on
  • IshbuIshbu Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Quoth wrote: »

    Did you take many literature courses as an undergrad, even though you majored in something else?

    I didn't take many literature courses at all. Mainly my experience with literature has been self taught: reading a variety of books (from Vonnegut to Dante), reading nonfiction books on writing/grammar (seriously, who does that for fun unless they really like the English language? :lol:), listening to recorded lectures, and personal experiences I've had while writing.

    I know this might sound like I don't know what I'm getting myself into, and there may be some validity to that. But I do know that I really enjoy the subject matter, and I have to get out of the soul crushing realm of CS/engineering (no offense to those who enjoy those lines of work, it's just not for me) and start making a positive impact on the world at large through my passion.

    Ishbu on
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  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    What about an English post-baccalaureate teaching certificate program? Might that suit your needs?

    Also, why an English Masters? You could probably teach computer science or math once you get the certification. If you specifically want to teach English that's one thing, but if you just want to teach, there are other subjects.

    oldsak on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    no point in getting a masters, honestly - you have to pay for it. Any PhD program worth its salt will pay you, and you can take english courses in the process of getting the PhD in many programs. You're not going to need a masters in english to teach - if you're a recent graduate, you should do teach for america for 2 years. If you're not, you'll have to get credentialed. This varies by state. If you'll need something like a masters, it will usually be in education, rather than a subject area. What state are you in?

    kaliyama on
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  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    no point in getting a masters, honestly - you have to pay for it. Any PhD program worth its salt will pay you, and you can take english courses in the process of getting the PhD in many programs.
    Is the system completely different down in the US, or what? Here in Canada, you pretty much cannot jump straight from a bachelor's degree into a PhD program; you need a master's degree to be considered for admission to doctoral work. And I'm actually being paid to do my master's right now in English, through scholarships and a well-paid graduate TA position. The thought of a master's degree being an optional side-step on the academic chain is profoundly weird to me.

    Kate of Lokys on
  • DaenrisDaenris Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    kaliyama wrote: »
    no point in getting a masters, honestly - you have to pay for it. Any PhD program worth its salt will pay you, and you can take english courses in the process of getting the PhD in many programs.
    Is the system completely different down in the US, or what? Here in Canada, you pretty much cannot jump straight from a bachelor's degree into a PhD program; you need a master's degree to be considered for admission to doctoral work. And I'm actually being paid to do my master's right now in English, through scholarships and a well-paid graduate TA position. The thought of a master's degree being an optional side-step on the academic chain is profoundly weird to me.

    Yeah, it's apparently different here. A lot of people go into PhD programs with only an undergrad degree. In most cases, it's actually a combined Masters/PhD program and you technically get awarded a Masters after 2 years or whatever. But if you want to go for just your Masters, you usually have to pay your own way.

    Daenris on
  • OrikaeshigitaeOrikaeshigitae Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2009
    well, if he's in canada then he's got very little chance of getting into an english MA with no formal study under his belt. master's classes require a very strong theoretical grounding in various methods of formal critical analysis, and your thesis will definitely require strong essay-formatting and conceptual skills. you're going to need an honours bachelor's degree in english 'or equivalent', which it doesn't sound like you have.

    Orikaeshigitae on
  • supabeastsupabeast Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    If you want to teach anyway you should look into the New York City public schools teaching fellowships.

    supabeast on
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    well, if he's in canada then he's got very little chance of getting into an english MA with no formal study under his belt. master's classes require a very strong theoretical grounding in various methods of formal critical analysis, and your thesis will definitely require strong essay-formatting and conceptual skills. you're going to need an honours bachelor's degree in english 'or equivalent', which it doesn't sound like you have.

    ^this.

    on the upside, it's quite possible to get extensive funding for an MA in Canada. My MA was fully paid for by an admission scholarship, on top of a guaranteed TAship and a stipend.

    Evil Multifarious on
  • ThylacineThylacine Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    My mom got her undergrad in rehabilitation psychology about 20 years ago. She went back and got her masters in English and her teaching certification about 3 years ago and she didn't have any problems with that.

    I didn't read the whole thread, but like someone above said, call or go visit the schools you are interested in and investigate what you would need to get to get your Masters in English. As far as I know, for several of my mom's English courses she was in the same classes as some of the others, but she was expected to do more and/or more difficult assignments in order for it to count as a master's level class.

    If anyone we're from the US and she went to school in Missouri.

    Thylacine on
  • OrikaeshigitaeOrikaeshigitae Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited January 2009
    master's programs in canada and the us differ by a wide margin, by the way - so if you're not in canada disregard my above advice and go find out for yourself.

    Orikaeshigitae on
  • IshbuIshbu Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    So it turns out that in California (where I wanted to move anyway) does not require an English undergraduate degree to enter into a Master's in Teaching English program (at least that's what I'm hearing from USC and UC Santa Barbara). I'm probably going to go along that route. Anybody been to a Master's in Teaching program before?

    Ishbu on
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  • SamSam Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    no but the head of english dept at my high school had less experience but a Master's in English ed. so there's that

    Sam on
  • ThylacineThylacine Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    My mom has. She managed to get a job teaching at a school rather than just doing the student teaching, so you might look into doing that. BUT she already had a lot of volunteer classroom experience, and jobs teaching special ed so she probably had the advantage there.

    A masters doesn't typically take as long to complete as bachelor's so that's a bonus at least.

    Do you mind if I ask what your dreams are based on? Do you have any classroom experience?

    Thylacine on
  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Is the system completely different down in the US, or what? Here in Canada, you pretty much cannot jump straight from a bachelor's degree into a PhD program; you need a master's degree to be considered for admission to doctoral work. <snip> The thought of a master's degree being an optional side-step on the academic chain is profoundly weird to me.

    Actually, one of my best friends did this last month in a Canadian university, so it is possible. If it makes any difference, he's on the sciences side.

    an_alt on
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  • VanguardVanguard But now the dream is over. And the insect is awake.Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    In the US, there are PhD programs that give you a MA along the way. The requirements vary from program to program, but there are some that will let you in as long as you can pass the GRA in your subject field.

    You can also use your background as a strength, in my opinion. Having a great technical handle on CS stuff combined with a desire to teach for literacy allows you to sell yourself as a prospective student (and eventual employee) that understands the issues of imparting reading and writing skills in a digital world.

  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    Ishbu wrote: »
    So it turns out that in California (where I wanted to move anyway) does not require an English undergraduate degree to enter into a Master's in Teaching English program (at least that's what I'm hearing from USC and UC Santa Barbara). I'm probably going to go along that route. Anybody been to a Master's in Teaching program before?

    Don't go to California to teach.

  • CptKemzikCptKemzik Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    kaliyama wrote: »
    no point in getting a masters, honestly - you have to pay for it. Any PhD program worth its salt will pay you, and you can take english courses in the process of getting the PhD in many programs. You're not going to need a masters in english to teach - if you're a recent graduate, you should do teach for america for 2 years. If you're not, you'll have to get credentialed. This varies by state. If you'll need something like a masters, it will usually be in education, rather than a subject area. What state are you in?

    I just wanted to point out that this is only the case if you're looking at getting a masters only in a graduate program that focuses on PhD students. Obviously the money is going to be going to the phd students (or the ones clearly on the phd track) unless you're god's gift to [insert department]. There has been a solid amount of advice already given here, but looking at schools with a reputable terminal master's grad program is an option if you want to get that first and not have to pay for (all of) it. If your ultimate goal is getting an Ed.D, putting in the effort of applying as a phd english student (with the intention of dropping out after getting the masters) will require a lot more remedial undergrad coursework.

    CptKemzik on
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