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MSU Home :: Academics :: English :: Admission FAQs

Admission FAQs

 

WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION DEADLINES?

 MSU's graduate school has open enrollment, so potential students may apply to the online MA at any time.

 

DOES ACCEPTANCE TO THE PROGRAM GUARANTEE A SLOT IN GRADUATE-LEVEL CLASSES?

 Acceptance to the program does not guarantee enrollment in courses. Registration, unlike graduate admissions, is not perpetually open. It is restricted to periods that are outlined on the Registrar’s site. Students who are admitted before the advance registration period for a given term are able to secure courses for the forthcoming semester. Students who are admitted after those dates may have to rely on waitlists or plan to attend the following semester.
 

Does MSU waive any admission requirements?

No. When we first made our program available online, we spent a great deal of time and energy discussing how we could render our admission standards both flexible and fair, and we decided then to abide by the most basic admission standards we could generate. We realize that even these basic standards aren't always ideal in all situations, but there was no other way that we could have consistency in the program and ensure that all students were given the same opportunity to enroll.

Why does the program insist that incoming students must have a 3.0 in undergraduate English coursework (coursework that is the equivalent of MSU’s major or minor) 

If students have successfully completed the equivalent of our minor, they should have the requisite knowledge needed to succeed in the program. We stress undergraduate coursework and GPA because we want to make sure that students have the preparation they need to do well in our rather traditional degree. The best way to gauge that is to look at their performance in a range of undergraduate English courses.

Why may students be conditionally admitted without the GRE but not without the required undergraduate English coursework? 

The English program has only two admission requirements, and only one of those two requirements directly addresses a student’s performance within the field of English Studies. When we decided to allow for conditional admission to the program, we decided to make the condition contingent upon the non-discipline specific standard, the GRE score. We were not willing to allow students to temporarily circumvent the requirement of undergraduate coursework because that would be tantamount to stating that students do not need to demonstrate a basic understanding of English Studies before they enter the program.

How does conditional admission differ from waiving requirements for admission?

Conditional admission grants students extra time to achieve an admission standard. Requirement waiving removes a particular standard for admission. Our program allows for the former and does not allow for the latter. Students conditionally admitted to the MA in English still have to meet the “special requirements for admission to [our] particular program” (Graduate Catalog); they are just able to take up to 12 hours of English coursework before they have to achieve the requisite score on the GRE. If they meet the score requirement, they are unconditionally admitted. If they do not, they are denied entrance to the program.
The aforementioned distinction may also help to explain why we do not offer conditional admission to students who lack undergraduate coursework in English. If we were to grant this “temporary status” to students, we would then have to request that they complete the undergraduate coursework that they lack while they are working on their graduate degree. Most students are understandably loath to do so, and we ourselves see no point in asking students to complete their undergraduate training while they try to earn graduate credit in English. We therefore require students to come to the program with the necessary undergraduate coursework.

Why does the program not consider the successful completion of other graduate degrees in its admission decisions 

Unlike undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees have no basic core that renders them fundamentally similar or makes the credit earned within them easily transferrable. Discipline-specific concerns shape both form and content, and individual programs necessarily utilize the modes of instruction and methods of assessment that are best suited to their subject matter. Given this wide and necessary divergence, it is impossible to say that successful performance in one program will guarantee successful performance in another. To gauge general graduate performance, we look at a nationally-normed test that has long been a graduate school standard, the GRE. 

Can a student be admitted with older GRE scores?

Yes. The student just needs to make sure that the Graduate Office receives an official record of the scores (either from ETS or from a school that has the student’s GRE scores on file). We do not abide by time-limits, but we do insist that scores must be officially documented by a testing or academic institution.

Can successful completion of graduate English credit at MSU be used to “prove” that a student should be admitted to the program?

No. Although all of our classes are worthy of graduate credit, they cannot (and should not) be considered microcosms of the program. Students who excel in Linguistics may struggle in Literature classes, while those who triumph in Creative Writing may find that Literary Criticism is a challenge they can't quite master. To give the most obvious example, we have a number of students who do well with methods that are embedded in specific classes but truly struggle with the general research methods in ENG 603. In consequence, we do not consider performance in one or two classes alone as an indicator of a student's ability to successfully complete the program. We look to more
holistic markers, such as the range of undergraduate coursework and performance on a general, standardized test. 

Can students who are not admitted to the program still take graduate English coursework?

Yes. Unclassified students can take up to 12 hours in any discipline, so even students who do not meet the program’s admission requirements can still take up to 4 graduate English classes at MSU.

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