Graduate Programs

MFA in Creative Writing

Butler houses one of the premier MFA programs in the Midwest, supported by a lively literary community in the country’s 12th largest city, Indianapolis. Learn more about this prestigious program.

MA in English

The Master of Arts program in English at Butler University consists of course work and individual studies in English and American as well as European and World Literatures. Additional topics for study include Minority Literatures, Gender Studies, Colonial and Post-colonial literatures as well as Literary Theory and Post-Modernism. In some cases, courses may also be taken for graduate credit in Composition, Rhetoric, and Creative Writing.

The program is flexible enough to accommodate a wide array of academic interests and career goals. The learning environment is highly interactive due to small class sizes and close relationship among faculty and students. A variety of special events and programs further enrich literary studies at Butler, including the University’s Visiting Writers Series, The Writers Studio, workshops, lectures, and presentations.

MA in English Information

The Department offers two programs leading to the MA degree:

  • A 30-hour degree which consists of 24 semester hours of course work
    • Plus EN 710, Research Problems (3) and EN 711, Thesis (3)
  • A 36-hour degree which consists of 36 semester hours of course work.

Both programs require the following:

  • EN 387, Studies in Literary Criticism: students should plan to take EN 387 as early as possible in their program
  • Course-work in the seminar format: for the thesis program, a minimum of six hours (two courses); for the non-thesis program, a minimum of nine hours (3 courses)
  • An overall average of at least B for all courses attempted for graduate credit
  • A comprehensive exam: A minimum grade of B on the exam is required to complete the program. This is ordinarily taken during the last six hours of the students’ program. It is given twice a year in mid-November and mid-April.

Graduate students take classes along with undergraduates, but instructors demand greater scope and sophistication from them as well as additional work, both written and oral. In some cases, graduate students may be called upon to assist the instructor in various capacities.

Candidates for the degree of Master of Arts in English are expected:

  • To have completed 30 hours of undergraduate credit in English (beyond the first-year level)
  • To have a minimum GPA of 3.0

To apply, candidates should submit the following:

  • Butler application
  • A sample critical essay (8–15 pages);
  • A 500-word personal statement outlining the candidate’s undergraduate work in English/Literary Studies (or related field), and their goals for graduate work;
  • Two letters of recommendation;
  • Official transcripts or copies of official transcripts from all colleges and universities where candidates:
    • Earned a degree
    • Earned more than 15 credits (undergraduate and graduate)
    • Completed any program prerequisite (regardless of number of credit hours)
    • Completed courses for which candidates are applying for transfer credit


Copies of official transcripts may be uploaded in the online application for application review only. Applicants who receive an offer of admission will be required at that time to submit official final transcripts issued directly from the institution(s) for verification prior to enrollment. More information is available in the application for admission.

International applicants must additionally submit the following:

All application materials should be sent to:

Graduate Admissions Office
Butler University
4600 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208

Deadlines for application: February 15 (fall admission) and September 15 (spring admission). Late applications may be considered, please contact the MA Director with questions.

Students must file “A Request for the Transfer of Graduate Credit” form to have graduate course work taken elsewhere accepted at Butler for our degree. The form may be obtained from the Office of Registration and Records. Only courses with grades of A or B taken at regionally accredited colleges will be considered for transfer and only the hours will be transferred to the Butler transcript; grades do not transfer. Students pursuing the 24 hour thesis track may transfer nine hours; 36 hour, non-thesis students may transfer 12 hours. The Exam will not include material covered in courses transferred from another university for graduate credit nor courses to be counted toward a minor.

  • EN 300, Advanced Grammar
  • EN 301, Topics in Advanced Composition
  • EN 319, History of the English Language
  • EN 321/421; 322/422, Comparative Literature 1 and 2
  • EN 341/441, Topics in Nineteenth Century American Culture
  • EN 342/442, Modern American Literature
  • EN 361/461, Medieval Literature
  • EN 362/462, Renaissance Literature
  • EN 363/463, Shakespeare
  • EN 364/464, Seventeenth-Century Literature
  • EN 365/465, Eighteenth-Century Literture
  • EN 366/466, Romanticism
  • EN 367/467, Victorian Literature
  • EN 381/481, Studies in Major Authors
  • EN 382/482, Studies in Poetry
  • EN 383/483, Studies in Fiction
  • EN 384/484, Studies in Drama
  • EN 385/485, Studies in Literary Criticism
  • EN 386/486, Studies in Rhetoric
  • EN 387/487, Studies in Literary Theory
  • EN 493, Special Topics in Literature
  • EN 495/96, Independent Study
  • EN 710/711, Research/Thesis

Daniel Barden, Assistant Professor (MFA, Columbia University)

  • Creative Writing
  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting
  • Playwriting
  • Fiction and Personal Essay

Natalie Carter, Instructor  (PhD, George Washington University)

  • 20th–21st-Century American Literature and Culture
  • Trauma Theory
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies

Joseph Rocky Colavito, Professor (PhD, University of Arizona)

  • Composition Theory
  • Writing Pedagogy
  • The History and Theory of Rhetoric
  • Popular Culture

Hilene Flanzbaum, Allegra Stewart Professor (PhD, University of Pennsylvania)

  • 20th-Century American
    • Especially Poetry, Creative Writing, Holocaust and Ethnic Studies

Chris Forhan, Assistant Professor (MFA, University of Virginia)

  • Creative Writing
  • Modern and Contemporary Poetry

Lee Garver, Assistant Professor (PhD, University of Chicago)

  • 20th-Century British Literature
  • Modernism and the Historical Avant-Garde
  • Film

Jason Goldsmith, Assistant Professor (PhD, University of Virginia)

  • Romanticism
  • 19th-Century British Literature and Culture
  • Literary Theory

Andrew Levy, Edna Cooper Professor (PhD, University of Pennsylvania)

  • American Literature
  • American Studies
  • Non-Fiction Writing

Susan Neville, Demia Butler Professor (MFA, Bowling Green University)

  • Fiction
  • Creative non-Fiction Writing

Carol Reeves, Professor (PhD, Texas Christian University)

  • Rhetoric
  • Writing Theory, Satire and Humor

Ania Spyra, Assistant Professor (PhD, University of Iowa)

  • Transnational and Postcolonial Literatures
  • Theory, World Literature
  • Comparative Literature

Brynnar Swenson, Associate Professor (PhD, University of Minnesota)

  • Early American Literature and Culture
  • Literary Theory

William P. Walsh , Professor (PhD, University of California, Riverside)

  • Shakespeare
  • Renaissance Literature
  • Restoration Drama

William Watts, Associate Professor (PhD, Boston University)

  • Chaucer
  • Medieval Literature
  • History of the English Language

For more information, please contact:
Brynnar Swenson, MA Director
Department of English Language and Literature
Butler University
4600 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208