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, applicants must hold an MA in English. While we encourage Bread Loaf MA graduates to apply to the MLitt program, the successful completion of the Bread Loaf MA degree does not guarantee acceptance into the MLitt program. For all applicants, admittance depends on the strength of the MA record, the writing sample, the proposed course of study, and what we understand to be the fit between the project and the Bread Loaf curriculum.


To earn the MLitt, students must complete the equivalent of 10 one-unit courses, receiving a grade of B- or better in each, although a student earning a B or below will be placed on Academic Probation. 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

During the first summer of candidacy, MLitt students design their own fields of concentration in consultation with Bread Loaf's associate director. By the last day of classes, MLitt candidates must submit a revised program of study which must be approved by the associate director and will serve as a guide throughout the degree. Students must meet with the associate director every summer to review and revise their plans.

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.

Be sure to read the detailed description of the MLitt program within the Bread Loaf Handbook. 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