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Class times: Most of our graduate classes meet once a week, Monday through Thursday, from 4:30-7:30. We have used these time slots so that school teachers will be able to participate in our program. Occasionally classes meet on Saturday mornings or early Friday afternoons. Our concern is always picking a time that is convenient to the most students, and we are receptive to suggestions from our students. The creative writing classes, which mix graduate and selected undergraduate students, are sometimes taught at an earlier time, again for the convenience of our students. The five-week summer sessions are typically scheduled to meet daily throughout the week like the undergraduate classes.
Class size: One of the strengths of our graduate program is our small seminar classes. We do not wish to place our graduate students in a situation in which they are mixed with undergraduates in classes of twenty-five or thirty. Our graduate classes are true seminars, ranging in size from five to fifteen. We consider ten students the ideal class size. The classes are generally taught in a seminar room intended to encourage class discussion. We want our graduate students to express themselves, and we attempt to create an environment that is conducive to that end. We encourage you to come into our graduate courses ready to talk as well as listen.
Course expectations: Class participation is important in our seminars and for that reason our courses often include oral reports. We also rely upon the seminar structure because we wish to emphasize writing skills. The writing expectation for our courses is generally 25-30 pages. One of our goals is to move our graduate students closer to the expectations of publishable essays. (Student poets and fiction writers are encouraged to submit their work to literary journals.) We encourage our students to submit seminar papers to conferences and to journals as a way of working toward this goal. Students intending to apply to Ph.D. programs are especially encouraged to be receptive to this encouragement from their professors. If your professor says that you might consider revising your seminar paper for oral presentation at a conference or for publication, we encourage you to take this advice to heart and seek guidance for your revisions.
Reading expectations are greater in graduate courses than they are in undergraduate courses and may include more reading of secondary sources along with primary works of literature. This is the reason graduate students are full-time students at nine hours rather than twelve hours. Because of the demands of graduate courses, you are not encouraged to take more than twelve hours and should not take more than fifteen hours per term.
Although significant reading and writing are part of every graduate class, other expectations will vary. For example, some of your professors may require extensive computer involvement; others may expect very little. Some may lecture frequently while others may rely entirely upon collaborative learning. Some will give exams, while others will not. Some may demand numerous references to secondary sources within your graduate papers while others may eschew secondary sources altogether. We consider this diversity a healthy mix because it exposes our students to a range of learning experiences.
Grading expectations: Within all graduate programs at APSU, students are expected to maintain a 3.00 GPA and risk probation and suspension if they are unable to do so (see Bulletin for specific grade requirements). This means that if you receive a C in one of your classes, you will need an A in another class to counterbalance it. You cannot receive your M.A. degree with a cumulative GPA below 3.00. No credit will be given for the grade of D or F, nor will students be allowed to receive a graduate degree with these grades on their record. Students may repeat one course in which a grade of less than B was made. (Permission of the Dean of Graduate Studies is required.) If you have personal difficulties that put you at risk in a course, it is imperative to follow the proper procedure for a Withdrawal (W) or an Incomplete (I). An I or a W will not adversely affect your GPA, although it is important to remember that an I, if not completed within a year, becomes an F.
Please recognize that A's are reserved for truly excellent performance and B's are to indicate that you are doing well or have done well in a course. When you are at risk of receiving a C or below, talk to your professor and use her or his assistance in considering ways to improve your performance before the end of the term.
Attendance expectations: Although we do not have a uniform policy on attendance, we do want to warn students that since seminar classes meet only once a week, missing just one class is the same as an undergraduate missing three classes on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. Therefore, you should make every effort to attend class regularly. In addition, the seminar or workshop system of our graduate classes places more responsibility on our graduate students to participate within each session. Therefore, poor attendance by a student is perceived as poor performance and weakens the performance of the entire class. Attendance becomes most important on those dates when you are scheduled to participate in an oral presentation. Please refer to each professor's syllabus for more specific policies on attendance and always talk to your professor in advance if you anticipate the need to miss a class.
English 5000: Bibliography and Methods of Research. This is the only required course within the English M.A. program and is offered every fall semester. We encourage you to take English 5000 as early as possible within your graduate program. This course is intended to prepare you for our graduate program and for work within our field of study. It provides an introduction and overview of research methods, an introduction to critical approaches, and guidance in assessing the expectations of practitioners within our field.
English 508A and 508B: Criticism and Theory. We encourage you to take one of these "Criticism and Theory" courses during your program of study. These courses are intended to survey either important critical approaches to the study of language and literature (508A) or to examine in much greater depth one critical approach to the study of language and literature (508B). These courses are particularly important for students who intend to enroll in a Ph.D. program after completion of their master's degree.
The department approves independent study courses only when they are necessary to achieve the aims of the graduate program. An independent study must be arranged with a member of the English graduate faculty and must be approved by the department chair. Bear in mind that the thesis offers the opportunity for intensive study of a special topic. If you wish to study a special topic intensively, you should write a thesis rather than take an independent study.