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For Information Contact:

Graduate Office
Sattgast 323
Phone: 218.755.2027

Rosalie Weaver
Graduate Director
Office: HS 330
Phone: 218.755.3355

Larry Swain
Chair, Department of English
Office: HS 333
Phone: 218.755.2428

Graduate Student FAQ

Graduate Study in English

We have a way with words….

To apply for graduate study in the English Department:

This is a two-part process: you must apply for graduate study at Bemidji and for admission to a specific program, in our case the MA or MS in English.
  • Apply for admission to graduate study at Bemidji State, following Graduate School guidelines . The Graduate Office will send copies of your documents to the English Department.
  • Submit to the School of Graduate Studies Office, Sattgast 325, additional materials for admission to graduate study in English. These documents will be forwarded to the English Dept. Your application for the English Department must include the following:
    • A letter of application for graduate study in the English Department, addressed to the English Department Director of Graduate Studies. The letter should include the following information:
      • the degree you wish to obtain (MA, MS)
      • if you are applying for a Graduate Assistantship (GA), a statement to that effect
      • a statement regarding your reasons for applying for graduate study, and for applying for a GA, if you are doing that
      • a summary of your experience, academic study, skills and interests that you will bring to your studies
      • other information you would like the English Department to consider regarding your application.
    • Letters of recommendation: The Graduate School requires two letters of recommendation. The English Department accepts those used for the Graduate School and also requires a third. If you are applying for a teaching Graduate Assistantship, ask the recommenders to comment on your potential as a classroom teacher. All three letters must be sent to the Graduate Office in Decker Hall. They will send copies of the letters and other materials to the English Department.
  • Deadlines
    • Applications are accepted at any time for graduate study in English.
    • Applications for Graduate Assistantships must be received by February 15 for assistantships for the following academic year. Applications received later than February 15 will be considered if assistantships are available.
  • Graduate Assistants in the English Department usually teach one section of Academic Writing each semester. They also enroll in a pre-teaching workshop, a composition seminar and a class in rhetoric and composition.
  • Master of Arts Language Requirement: To graduate with the MA in English, students must demonstrate competency in a second language at the second year, second semester level (minimum grade of B).
  • Comprehensive Exams: For the MA and MS, satisfactory completion of three essay exams is required.
  • Thesis Defense: For the MA and MS, satisfactory completion of an oral thesis defense is required.

Frequently Missed or Misunderstood Details

  • All application materials—for admission to Graduate Study and for admission to an English master’s program—go to the university Graduate Office, BSU # 27, Sattgast 322. The Graduate Office sends copies to the English Department Graduate Director.
  • Three letters are required for the English Department. Two of them may be the ones used for admission to graduate study at Bemidji.
  • Two years of a second language is required for graduation with the MA. See details in the Graduate Catalog.

Recommended Study & Thesis Time Line

First Semester

  • Begin discussions with teachers and advisors regarding a thesis topic.

Second Semester

  • With an advisor (does not have to be your academic advisor), determine topic and begin researching/writing.
  • With your thesis advisor, arrange for two additional members for your thesis committee. (The Graduate Office will assign a fourth member, the Graduate Representative. The Grad Rep does not vote on your thesis defense.)

Third Semester

  • Complete forms as required by the Graduate Office.
  • Complete a draft of your thesis and, with consent of your thesis advisor, distribute it to your thesis committee members.
  •  In consultation with your thesis advisor, arrange thesis defense for fourth semester.

NOTE: The thesis needs to be complete and ready for defense at the end of the semester prior to your graduation. The graduate office needs about two months to format your thesis and prepare further formatting instruction for you. You need time before the defense to complete preparation of the document. This cannot be done at the last minute. If your thesis is not complete at the end of the semester prior to your graduation, your thesis defense may be delayed a semester. Remember that most faculty are not available to serve on thesis committees during the last few weeks of a semester or during the summer.

Fourth Semester

  • By the first week of your final semester, submit your approved thesis to the Graduate Office for formatting. NOTE: Except under the most urgent of circumstances, preparation for the thesis defense, including completion and formatting of the thesis, must be completed by March 1.
  • Complete forms as required.
  • Schedule thesis defense.
  • Take comprehensive exams.

Sometimes conventional formatting does not work for a creative thesis. These guidelines may be used when necessary and appropriate.

How Long it Takes

  • The English MA requires 30 credits. At six credits per semester, the course of study takes five semesters or four semesters plus six credits of summer or independent study. If undergraduate courses are required to make up preparation deficiencies (in literature surveys, for example) or to complete the language requirement, additional time might be required.
  • The English MS requires 32 credits.


Check List

Application for Admission

___ Form 1 for graduate study at Bemidji State.
___ Letter of application for graduate study in the English MA or MS program.

Applications and forms required by the Graduate Office   

___ Form 2, Application for Candidacy
___ Form 3, Graduate Research Paper/Thesis Approval
___ Form 4, Application for Graduation and Curriculum Vitae
___ Form 5, Pre-Defense Signature
___ Other forms as requested or required

Academic Requirements

___ Competency: Second language competency for MA, Statistics for MS
___ Three written comprehensive exams (last semester)
___ Thesis and defense