Can You Go To Grad School For Something You Didn’t Major In

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 3 minute read

If you didn’t major in English in college, you may find it difficult to get into an online master’s program in English literature, despite the fact that it is one of the most accessible.

Getting into a master’s program in English doesn’t necessitate an undergraduate degree in English, but it may be more difficult if your undergraduate studies were unrelated. In order to pursue a master’s degree in literature, you may first need to take some literature courses at the undergraduate level and think about how to best demonstrate your suitability for the program.

Requirements for an MA in English Literature Program Completion

Most people who apply for a master’s degree in literature do so because they have a background in the humanities. Unless you can show that you have the analytical thinking and writing skills necessary to succeed in the program, not having this background could prevent you from pursuing a master’s degree in literature.

Prior to applying to a graduate program in English Literature, students are typically expected to have completed a substantial amount of upper-division literature coursework. While earning a bachelor’s degree in another subject, it’s possible that you only took enough literature courses to meet the general education requirements.

In a good way, this issue isn’t that hard. Students who are interested in pursuing a career in literature can take a few undergraduate courses to get a better understanding of the field. It’s always a good idea to check the specifics of what the program you’re considering wants to see when applying to graduate programs in English literature. A strong background in literary theory and concepts, as well as a solid grasp of English literature from both the United States and the rest of the world, is a must.

It’s a good idea to brush up on your literature knowledge before enrolling in a master’s degree program, even if the program doesn’t require any prerequisite literature courses. An undergraduate course may be easier to get back into the swing of things for those who haven’t taken college English in a while.

Additionally, the literature courses you take in preparation for a graduate English literature program provide you with high-quality literary analyses that you can use in your application to graduate school. It’s more important for the English department to see your current work than a paper from a previous academic period when you were more interested in another subject.

In some universities, students may be able to bypass these requirements if they meet or exceed other requirements, such as a high score on the GRE.

How to Get Accepted to an English Department

Getting into a master’s degree program in English literature if you didn’t major in English as an undergraduate can be a challenge. You’ll be noticed by the English literature department because your background isn’t typical of the students it typically accepts. You’ll have to persuade the professors in the department that, despite or even because of your unconventional background, you’d make an excellent graduate student in English.

Is there anything you learned in your previous career that you can apply to your studies now that you are a literature student? For example, if you previously studied history and want to focus your graduate literature studies on a specific historical time period, you could argue that your in-depth knowledge of that period gives you an advantage over other literature majors.

Like African American studies or gender studies, if you majored in African American literature or feminist literature in college, you’d be well-equipped to pursue graduate work in these fields.

It’s possible that as an undergrad you decided to pursue a degree that would better prepare you for a career path, even though you were always drawn to the study of literature.

Going back to school to earn a master’s degree in order to pursue a lifelong dream is nothing to be ashamed of. If you don’t show that passion in your application, you risk making it look like your background is out of sync with your goals.

Your personal statement essay is a chance for you to explain why you think you’d be a good fit for the school’s graduate English literature program.

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