The Literature Program

Bard M.A.T.

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program at Bard College responds to an urgent need for change in public education. This transformation requires teachers who can help secondary school students develop the thoughtful self-determination that builds from a genuine enthusiasm for learning.

Bard M.F.A.

Students interested in creative writing can apply to Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in this area; these programs are entirely separate from those preparing students to teach literature.
Students contemplating graduate work in Literature might bear in mind that there is no equivalent to Bard’s Program in Literature with its combined offerings in literature, foreign languages, and creative writing. Instead, there are departments of English (where students are expected to study the literature of the British Isles, the United States, and other anglophone countries), departments of French, German, Italian, etc. (where students are expected to study the literature of these national traditions), and departments of comparative literature (where students are expected to study multiple literatures in their original languages). There are also a few graduate programs in rhetoric, for students interested in argumentation and discourse studies.

Master's Programs

Master’s programs prepare students to teach at private high schools or junior colleges. (To teach at public high schools, it is necessary to obtain, not an M.A. in literature, but a teacher’s certification or a Masters of Arts in Teaching [M.A.T.], which is a separate process.) In order to obtain a master’s degree, students take a certain number of classes and either pass master’s exams or write a master’s thesis. When students are accepted into master’s programs, they are not normally provided with financial support for their studies by the university and, as a result, tend to support themselves with loans and part-time jobs.

It takes between one and two years to obtain an M.A., depending upon the particular program and the financing the student receives.

Doctoral Programs

Doctoral programs prepare students to teach at four-year colleges or universities and to become scholars in their fields. In some programs, students must obtain an M.A. prior to proceeding to the Ph.D. level, while in other programs they proceed directly to the Ph.D. In order to obtain a doctorate, students must write a dissertation, which constitutes an original contribution to the scholarship of one’s field. When students are accepted into doctoral programs, they are normally provided with financial support for their studies by the university, in the form of fellowships or teaching assistantships.

It takes between four and seven years to obtain a Ph.D., depending upon the particular program and the financing the student receives.