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Graduate Program

The English Department at the University of Hawai‘i offers both the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. We currently have around 100 graduate students, with roughly 55 in the M.A. program and 45 in the Ph.D. program. While most of these students have roots in or connections to Hawai‘i, others come from throughout the Pacific region and from many parts of the United States, and we also have students from Canada, Europe, Africa, and Japan. Students are drawn to the Department by the strength of our faculty, by the diversity of our graduate program, and by the opportunity, with all the challenges that it implies, to study literature and writing in a multicultural setting.

Master's and Ph.D. students take many of their classes together, but the two programs have substantively different purposes. The M.A. program is designed to give students a broad overview of the changing field of contemporary English studies while also allowing them to work within an area of concentration of their own choice. Students take courses both within and outside of their concentration. They are encouraged to explore the ways in which methodologies and assumptions are evolving in their own area of interest and how each part of English studies is being affected by developments taking place throughout the discipline. For students who choose to concentrate in Literary Studies in English, Composition and Rhetoric, or Cultural Studies in Asia/Pacific, the culmination of their studies is provided by their Master's project, in which they are encouraged to apply the theoretical and methodological perspectives of more than a single course to the study of a particular group of texts or other forms of cultural production or to a particular theoretical problem. Students in Creative Writing complete their M.A. with a creative thesis, which they are then asked to place, in their oral thesis defense, within the context of other works in the same genre.

The Ph.D. program is intended for highly motivated students who have a clear sense of direction and who are likely to significantly contribute to the field. The program is based less on course work than on independent study and research. Students are required to take a small number of courses, both within the department and outside of it, but the focus of their study is determined by the students themselves in consultation with their advisors, and their preparation for their examinations takes place largely outside of class. The culmination of the Ph.D. program is the dissertation, an original work of research or writing that demonstrates the student's readiness to assume his or her place within the profession. As in the M.A. program, Creative Writing students produce a creative work as their dissertation, while meeting all of the other requirements for a degree in English.

The information on this web site supplements that contained in the University's Catalog, which can be found online at Other general information about the University of Hawai‘i is available at

Specific questions about the graduate program in English should be directed to the Graduate Program Office at enghi(at)hawaii(dot)edu or (808) 956-9137.