Master of Arts in English Studies & Communication

Program Description
ESC Class The Master of Arts in English Studies and Communication is a 37 credit program for international and U.S. students wanting to develop their understanding of and skills related to the English language, English literature, and English communication. The program has three primary goals: (1) to develop a deeper understanding of and proficiency in the English language through the studies of the history of English, American literature, and cultures of writing; (2) to develop written and oral English language communication skills; and (3) to develop an appreciation of American literary and cultural traditions.

This program may be particularly useful for:

  • Current English teachers in the U.S. and foreign countries who want to elevate their overall English language and literature skills for the purpose of teaching English;
  • English majors in other countries who want to improve their general proficiency in the English language for us in business or industry;
  • Those with a bachelor's degree in English who eventually want to pursue Ph.D. study in English or other areas in the humanities;
  • Those wanting to prepare for teaching English abroad;
  • Those wanting to obtain a general master's degree in the area of the humanities (e.g., for teaching at the community college level).

Why this program?
Special features make this program highly distinctive and attractive. For example, students:

  • Become part of a strong cohort group with similar goals;
  • May complete the program in 12 to 18 months;
  • May take an optional course in Professional & Career Development to prepare for a job search or doctoral study;
  • Gather bi-weekly at lunch to discuss issues related to their courses;
  • Take a practicum in order to refine English language, writing, and (when appropriate) teaching skills;
  • May complete an optional certificate in Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), by completing 3 additional credits beyond the 37 required for the degree;
  • Bring U.S. and international perspectives to the study of English;
  • Pay a highly competitive tuition rate with no hidden costs.
Criteria for Admission

 Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School, along with the following:

  • Undergraduate or graduate major or minor in English and evidence of English language competency;
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 550 (paper version), 230 (computer-based), or Internet Based Test (TOEFL iBT) score of at least 80; minimum IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 6; CET score of 6, or an INTERLINK Language Center Level 5, or the equivalent for non-native English speakers.

The MA in English Studies & Communication program features a continuous admission process, so application materials may be submitted at any time. Once received, the admission decision normally takes 2-3 weeks.


MA in English Studies & Communication
37 credits
General Requirements
6 credits
LS 610
Seminar in the Humanities
3 cr
LS 640
Seminar in the Fine Arts
3 cr
25 credits
COMM 645
Intercultural Communication
3 cr
ENGL 531
Advanced Composition
3 cr
ENGL 541
History of the English Language
3 cr
ENGL 601
New Literacies, Technologies, & Cultures of Writing
3 cr
ENGL 610
Topics in American Literature & Culture
3 cr
One course in Organizational Communication
3 cr
ENGL 685
Practicum in English
3 cr
ENGL 699
Seminar in English Communication (2 semesters)
1 cr
Any Graduate Writing Course
3 cr
ENGL 568
TESOL: Theory & Methods I
3 cr
ENGL 569
TESOL: Theory & Methods II
3 cr
3 cr
ENGL 568 TESOL: Theory & Methods I 3 cr
ENGL 569 TESOL: Theory & Methods II 3 cr
Other Electives as approved


Example Plan of Study

Fall (August-December)
New Literacies, Technologies & Cultures of Writing Seminar in Humanities or Fine Arts
Advanced Composition Seminar in English Communication
Spring (January-May)
History of the English Language Seminar in English Communication
Topics in American Literature & Culture Elective
Summer I & II (May-August)
Organizational Communication Interpersonal & Intercultural Communication
Seminar in Fine Arts or Humanities  
Fall (August-December)
Any Graduate Writing Course COMM/ENGL
Practicum (e.g., Daily Writing or TESOL)  

Early Entry Option for VU Undergraduates

Qualified VU juniors and seniors may apply to begin graduate course work in English Studies & Communication prior to graduation.  This unique program allows students to save time and money on their graduate programs.  For more information, students should speak with their academic advisors and contact an admissions counselor at the Graduate School.

English Studies and Communication Thesis Option
The English Studies and Communication (ESC) program provides a thesis option for qualifying students, particularly those interested in pursuing doctoral level study. Specifically, students approved for this option must take 3 credits beyond the regular ESC degree (40 credits total) and complete a 28-credit concentration.

Thesis work comprises up to 6 credits. Three credits of coursework-applied toward the elective category- are first completed as ENGL 692 Research Project or ENGL 695 Independent Study and are intended for the development of a thesis proposal. With satisfactory completion of ENGL 692/695 and approval of thesis candidacy, the student may enroll in ENGL 795 Master's Thesis. These credits may substitute for ENGL 685 Practicum in the concentration. 

Admission to Thesis Candidacy
Students meeting the following criteria may be accepted as candidates for the ESC thesis option. Prospects must demonstrate that they have met the qualifications for thesis work through an application for Thesis Candidacy. This form requires the signatures of two or more Valparaiso University faculty, one from the student's area of concentration, who have agreed to serve on the thesis committee. In addition, the prospect must provide evidence of having completed the prerequisite coursework, submit GRE scores of 1100 or above (for quantitative plus verbal), have achieved a grade point average of 3.7 of higher in all graduate coursework at Valparaiso University, and have successfully completed ENGL 692/695 with a grade of A or A-.

Thesis prospects must have completed 21 credits of ESC before enrolling in ENGL 795. Since enrollment in ENGL 692/695 is currently permitted after 12 credits are completed, the thesis proposal work may be included in the 21 credits of prerequisite coursework .

Thesis Implementation
A thesis may involve academic or applied research, or creative work . Research projects may be primarily analytical, critical, and synthetic in nature, or they may be primarily empirical (data based). To ensure an appropriate methodology, students carrying out a research project, particularly one that is empirical, may be advised to complete a course on Research Methodology in an appropriate discipline prior to undertaking thesis work.

An important step in the thesis process is selection of the thesis committee. Prospects should not assume that any or all faculty can or will agree to serve on a thesis committee. Rather, they will need to demonstrate through the quality of their graduate coursework, as well as the alignment of their topic with faculty interest and expertise that faculty mentoring is both deserving and possible.

Thesis work is generally carried out in two phases. ENGL 692/695 is intended for the development of the thesis proposal and should result in a preliminary review of the field and a detailed proposal of study or of the project (e.g., 30-40 pages plus an appropriate list of references or citations). This coursework should be carried out under the supervision of at least one of the faculty who will serve on the thesis committee. If the proposal is approved by the thesis committee, the student may enroll in ENGL 795 Master's Thesis. The thesis itself should represent a significant contribution to the field and be of publishable or exhibition/exposition quality. Upon completion, the thesis is reviewed by the faculty of the thesis committee and defended by the student at public forum announced by email one week in advance to the students and faculty of the program. Two bound copies of the approved thesis must be filed with the Graduate School Office, one of which will be placed in the University Library for archival records. 

Thesis work is encouraged during summer sessions when both faculty and students typically have more time available for more intense intellectual interaction.

Financial Considerations

Students may be surprised to discover the affordable tuition rate at Valparaiso University.  Please visit the Student Financial Services website for current tuition rates. Financial aid may be available for students taking 6 credits or more during fall and spring semesters.

For more information about the Master of Arts in English Studies and Communication program
To learn more about the Master of Arts in English Studies and Communication, visit their department website at

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