Here are some of the most frequently asked questions (grouped by program):


Professional Writing Program

MAT Program

First Year English Program

Undergraduate Program FAQs 

Q. Do I need to take a foreign language?

Yes. To satisfy your foreign language requirement, you may test out (see the Foreign Language Department) take and pass 101, 102, 201, and 202 of the same foreign language (12 credits) take and pass the 202 course of a foreign language of your choice (3 credits)

Q. Must I take a Tier II Information Technology Literacy course?

Yes. If you are Writing, Communications, and Rhetoric student, you must take one of the computer intensive courses (ENL 361, ENL 368, ENL 369). If you are a Literature and Criticism student, you must ENL 259 Critical Methods, which has a Tier II requirement.

Q. Must I take an "O" (gen ed oral presentation req.) in the English Department?

Yes. English majors can satisfy their Gen Ed O requirement by taking any of the ENL courses that satisfy the "O" requirement, including ENL 258 — Literary Studies.

Q. If I get a D in an English course, does it still count?

No. You must get a C- or better in each of your English courses for them to count toward your degree. If your concentration is in Writing, Communications, and Rhetoric, you must also earn a B- or better in ENL 260 Intermediate Composition to continue on in that concentration.

Q. Can I take a 200-level literature course and have it count toward my major?

No. We encourage you to take as many literature courses as possible. Only 300 and 400-level literature count toward the 36 credits in the English major. 200 level courses in literature will count as electives in your overall program of study.

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Professional Writing Program FAQs

Below we answer some of the questions you may have regarding our Professional Writing Program.

Q. How long will it take to complete my degree?

For full-time students, it normally takes two years. For Teaching Assistants and part-time students, it normally takes three or four years, depending on the person's course load.

Q. What is the deadline for application to the Professional Writing program?

We review applications throughout the year and admit students on a rolling basis. However, for applicants also interested in securing one of our limited Teaching Assistantships (which provide substantial financial aid), we recommend applying promptly once the decision has been made to seek admission.

Q. When will I hear about my application?

Applicants are usually notified of our decision within 4-6 weeks from receipt of the completed application.

Q. What test scores and other materials are required with my application?

You will need to submit the following materials:

  • A portfolio of your writing or evidence of a distinguished record in a technical field. Submit a 10-30 page portfolio, which can include excerpts from academic papers, reports, significant letters, policy documents, articles, and creative works.
  • Your personal statement explaining your goals and background as a writer, student, or employee.
  • Recommendations from at least three people familiar with your written work or potential as a writer.
  • An official undergraduate transcript, and results from the Miller Analogy Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Q. How difficult is it to get into the program, and what are you looking for from applicants?

The program is competitive, and we are seeking students who are skilled, fluent writers who can demonstrate success, preferably with publications. We want students who are committed to a career in writing. We seek students who have done very well as undergraduates, not only in writing courses, but in a spectrum of disciplines. Many applicants have jobs in a variety of professions. Some of these people take a few writing courses in the beginning as "Special Students" and then apply to the program.

We are interested in applicants who have established evidence of professionalism, discipline, determination, and talent. Not all of our students have writing backgrounds. Some have degrees in sciences and social sciences but have shown a long interest in and a talent for writing.

Q. Can I take classes without being accepted for admission?

Yes, you can take up to 12 credits (4 courses) as a special student for credit toward your degree without officially applying to the program.

Q. Do you offer evening courses?

Not at this time; however, we recognize that many of our students hold daytime jobs, so our graduate courses are offered in the late afternoons.

Q. Do you offer summer courses?

Not at this time.

Q. Do you have satellite or extension classes?

All courses are taught at the UMass Dartmouth campus.

Q. Will an advisor assist me once I am admitted?

Yes, you will have an advisor who will work with you to personalize the program that is most appropriate for you.

Q. Are computers an important part of the program?

Yes. All of our courses require that students use computers and become adept at complex word processing and computer-based research. Those interested in advanced computer applications have the opportunity to take courses requiring state-of-the art software. Most students come here with their own computers, but the program has a small lab with all the applications used in the program. For word processing we use MS Word, for desktop publishing and design we use Adobe InDesign, for Web design we use Dreamweaver, and across all of these areas we use Adobe Photoshop. We also recommend a number of open source software programs that resemble our proprietary selection.

Q. How large are classes, and are faculty available for help and advice?

We have a class size limit of 15, and most of our classes average from 10-15 students. Faculty are readily available for consultations, either face-to-face or by e-mail. 

Q. What kinds of theses do students pursue?

Most theses are writing projects with a strong emphasis on publication. In journalism, students often write a series of investigative articles or in-depth pieces. Some students carry out projects for various employers or regional companies. Some are public relations projects involving newsletters, brochures, special reports.

Many students have written technical reports for companies or institutions. Some have written educational materials or more traditional theses about educational problems, issues, or research.

Some students have written novels, short story or poetry collections, and in recent years, many have developed ambitious Web sites.

In all cases, students must have supporting course work and a record of accomplishment and professional promise. We look upon the thesis as the culminating final piece to graduate study, an important "showcase" portfolio piece of publishable quality.

Q. Are the classes mostly lecture?

No, most classes are workshops or discussion classes that involve much classroom interaction, frequent student presentations, critiquing of other students' writing, and considerable feedback and open exchange of opinions.

Q. Is there a lot of work?

YES!  You can expect a lot of writing and re-writing, in some classes a large volume of reading, and in all cases a commitment toward excellence and professionalism. We do our best to replicate the demands of the profession, and they are considerable.

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MAT Program FAQs

Q. How long will it take to complete my degree?

For full-time students, it would take two years. For part-time students, it would take approximately five years.

Q. Do I need to have provisional certification before applying?

No, but you should be working on your Initial Certification and you must have passed both sections of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL).

Q. Will I get teacher certification along with my Master's degree?

Yes, it is called a professional (permanent) license.

Q. Can I get teacher certification without a Master's degree?

Yes, it is called an "Initial Teaching License," and would expire in five years.

Q. What is the deadline for application to the MAT program?

There is no deadline. Once your application is complete, it will be processed by the department. Applicants are usually notified of our decision within two weeks. However, we do recommend that you apply early so you would be competitive for the graduate assistantships.

Q. What test scores are required with my application?

You need to take either the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Q. Can I take classes without being accepted for admission?

Yes, you can take up to 15 credits as a special student without officially applying to the program.

Q. Do you offer evening courses?

Yes, some courses are offered in the late afternoon while others are in the evening.

Q. Do you have satellite or extension classes?

Most courses are taught at the UMass Dartmouth campus, but in recognition that many of our students hold daytime jobs, our graduate courses are offered in the late afternoons and some courses are offered in the evening through the School of Continuing Education. Courses are also offered during the summer.

Q. Do you offer graduate assistantships?

Yes, most graduate assistantships would be in the form of teaching assistantships.

Q. Will an advisor assist me once I am admitted?

Yes, you will have an advisor who will work with you to personalize the program that is most appropriate for you.

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First Year English Program FAQs

Q. What do I do if I want to make an appointment with my First Year English instructor?

Your First-Year English instructor should have contact information at the top of the syllabus they hand out to you on the first day of class. Using this information you may call or email your instructor to set up an appointment. Instructors should also have office hours posted on the syllabus, or will announce their available times in class.

You should not hesitate to approach your instructor if you wish to schedule time with them. You may also find out your instructors' availability by consulting the list of instructors, class times, and office hours posted in the English Department office on the third floor.

Q. Why are my instructor's absence policies so strict?

Individual instructors design their own absence policies. It is common First Year English policy, however, to allow no more than three absences for MWF sections, and two absences for TTH sections. Most instructors will drop a student's grade by a certain percentage point if a student exceeds the absence limit. If a student misses more than six classes, he or she risks failing the course.

These absence policies are not simply bureaucratic rules devised to torture students. The university catalogue and the student handbook specify that students must attend class. Beyond this, however, English 101 and 102 are not lecture courses; they are hands-on classes that provide students with opportunities to practice writing and critical reading, and to work collaboratively on writing and reading. Simply put, if you exceed your allowed number of absences, you are not taking responsibility for your own learning and you are missing out on valuable practice and instruction.

Q. Why do I need to keep my English handbook for both English 101 and 102?

Not only should you keep the handbook for English 101 and 102, you should keep it for all courses in which you need to write and research. The handbook contains valuable information about grammar, punctuation, brainstorming, drafting, organizing, and revising papers, as well as research and source citation methods.

The reason your instructor wants you to keep the handbook for both classes is so that you, your classmates, and your instructor will have a common reference point when discussing writing issues and using the handbook. Also, you save money by keeping the handbook for both courses.

Q. Why are some classes required to meet weekly with tutors but others are not?

If you are required to meet weekly with Writing and Reading Center (WRC) tutors, it is because your placement essay indicated that you needed extra writing support. Therefore you were placed in a English 101 sections with other writers who could benefit from similar support.

The WRC service is free, and you should look at this requirement as an opportunity to improve your writing and expand your critical reading skills. Doing so will help you write and read better in all of your classes. Remember also that the WRC is not just a place for remedial writers. Writers of all levels and abilities go there for feedback, including graduate students and faculty. Even if you did not place in a supported section of English 101, we encourage you to make appointments with the Center to talk over your writing with a tutor.

For more information on the WRC, please visit them in the Group I building on the second floor or vist them on the web.

Q. My English 101 class is in the computer room one day a week; what do computers have to do with writing?

Your English 101 class is scheduled in a computer equipped classroom for several reasons:

  • English 101 and 102 are required university courses that fulfill Tier I computer and information literacy General Education requirements.
  • In the computer equipped classroom you will learn the fundamentals of researching, writing, and formatting college papers on computers, how to use library, and Internet databases.
  • The First-Year English program is based on the assumption that students learn how to write by actually writing; thus you will be asked to brainstorm and draft papers in the computer room, as well as respond to your peers' papers on the computers.
  • Learning how to research well means knowing how to navigate library and Internet online sources, and also how to evaluate those sources. You will learn how to do these things in the computer equipped classroom.

Q. Why do the types of writing required of First Year English students vary from section to section? 

While First-Year English sections may share common textbooks and similar syllabi, individual instructors are free to design their courses in order to meet First-Year English objectives (see English 101 and English 102 objectives). Like students, instructors bring to their courses particular talents and interests, thus enriching the program with diversity, while still working towards common goals.

Q. Why does my instructor have me write multiple drafts of a single essay?

Through drafting and revising texts, students formulate and revise their ideas, while clarifying their thinking for particular audiences and contexts.

Q. Who do I contact if I have other questions about the First-Year English program?

You may contact the First-Year English Program Administrator. Contact information for the FYE Program Administrator is located on the English home page.

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