Master of Letters (MLitt) Degree

The Master of Letters program aims to enable students to achieve mastery of a specialization within the fields of literature, pedagogy, and/or the creative arts.


To be eligible for admission, candidates must hold an MA in English. To earn the MLitt, students must complete the equivalent of 10 one-unit courses, receiving a grade of B- or better in each. Seven of the 10 required courses must be in the MLitt candidate's field of concentration (see below).

Though students have 10 years to complete the degree, most take the equivalent of two courses per summer and finish the degree in four or five summers.

A maximum of two graduate courses (the equivalent of six semester-hour or nine quarter-hour credits) may be transferred from another institution.

Students may attend any of Bread Loaf’s three campuses, but at least one summer must be spent in residence at the School of English in Vermont.

Designing a Program of Study

Students are accepted provisionally for the first summer. During that summer, MLitt candidates design their own fields of concentration, in consultation with Bread Loaf's associate director.

Readmission is based on the successful completion of the first summer’s work and an approved program of study. Rarely is a candidate for the degree denied readmission, but students will not be allowed to register for second-year courses until the program of study has been approved.

Culmination of the Degree

Although no thesis is required, in the final summer any student pursuing a literary track must pass a comprehensive written and oral examination, which covers the field of concentration and is based on texts and issues the student has defined as central to the program of study. Ordinarily, writing students will present a portfolio of creative or pedagogical work, and theater students will produce an appropriate dramatic project; in both cases, this work may be carried out in conjunction with an Independent Reading Project. Students should be in touch with the associate director during the penultimate summer to discuss plans for the culminating work.

Go to the "Admissions" page of this site to apply to the MLitt program. If you have any questions, contact Dana Olsen or Karen Browne in the Bread Loaf office