Students may attend Bread Loaf for one or more summers of continuing graduate education, or they may earn a degree over four to five summers. All applicants are held to the same admission standards, and all students must fulfill the same expectations in the classroom.
The MA program aims to give students a broad familiarity with the fields of British, American, and world literature. To be eligible for admission, MA applicants must already hold a BA (in any discipline). The requirements are as follows:
- Students must complete 10 units within a 10-year period, receiving a B- or better in each; no thesis is required for the degree.
- Each candidate must complete the following distributional requirements (five total):
one unit from Group 2
one unit from Group 3
one unit from Group 4
one unit from Group 5
one additional unit from any of these groups.
The remaining five units required for the degree are electives and may come from any of
the six groups.
- MA candidates admitted before 2013 have the option, instead, of taking the following distributional requirements (six total):
two units from Group 2
two units from Group 3
one unit from Group 4
one unit from Group 5
The remaining four units required for the degree are elective and may come from any of the six groups. Students selecting this option may request permission from the director to replace any one of the courses in the required group with an elective.
- All MA candidates must attend the Vermont campus for at least one summer. We encourage students to attend as many campuses as possible, to take full advantage of the diversity of the campus and curricular offerings.
The MLitt program enables students to achieve mastery in a field of specialization within the fields of literature, pedagogy, creative writing, or theater arts. To be eligible for admission, MLitt applicants must hold a BA in any discipline and an MA in English.
We have roughly 25 students in the MLitt program in any given year. Faculty may be asked to serve on one or more MLitt examining committees during the summer. While the coherence of an MLitt program depends on the connections that the degree candidate makes among his or her classes, within a class MLitt students are like any other students: that is, they must fulfill the specific requirements demanded by the course. Where possible and appropriate, they may ask to pursue work that brings other parts of their program to bear on class assignments, but faculty must decide if such work suits the goals of the course.
The requirements are as follows:
- To earn an MLitt degree, students must complete 10 units within a 10-year period, receiving a B- or better in each.
- During the first summer, MLitt candidates will design a specialized program of study in the field of literature, pedagogy, creative writing, theater arts, or some combination of two, in consultation with Bread Loaf’s associate director. Seven of the required 10 units must be in that field.
- In the final summer, degree candidates must either take a comprehensive examination or produce a final project to qualify for the degree. In both cases, two Bread Loaf faculty, appointed by the associate director, will serve as the examining committee.
- All MLitt students must attend the Vermont campus for at least one summer. We encourage students to attend as many campuses as possible, to take full advantage of the diversity of the campus and curricular offerings.
The MLitt examination is appropriate for students pursuing a literary/critical concentration.
- The MLitt. examination consists of two parts: a written component (which the examinee has 24 hours to complete) and a one-hour oral follow-up. In consultation with the examiners, students will schedule both parts of the exam, all of which needs to be completed by the fifth week of the session. The examining committee will submit the written examination to the campus office (with a cc to Elaine Lathrop), at least two days before the examination is to be held; electronic copy preferred. The office will distribute and monitor the written exam to make sure the student completes the work within the appropriate time span and will route the completed examination paper to the committee.
- The examining committee will set the terms of the written examination, in consultation with the associate director, deciding whether the written exam will be open or closed book, how many and what kinds of questions will be included, and whether students will receive questions in advance, by themselves or as a list of choices. The written exam usually consists of 3–5 essay questions, drawing on the materials the student has prepared: a list of all field courses; a list of 5–6 key questions defining the program of study, and a bibliography of primary and secondary texts that have been central to the program of study.
- The committee may use the oral component to go further into areas covered by the written examination or to introduce new questions. As with the written component, the focus of the oral exam should be guided by the materials the student has submitted initially to define the program of study.
- After the oral component is complete, the committee will determine the grade for the whole using a Pass/Fail designation and may notify the student on the spot. The committee should also notify the campus office and the associate director.
- A student who fails the MLitt exam may retake the exam one time in a subsequent summer.
The MLitt project is appropriate for students pursuing a concentration in creative writing, theater arts, or pedagogy.
- The MLitt project should approximate a master's thesis in scope and depth, consisting of roughly 35 pages (depending on the nature of the project).
- In consultation with the examining committee, the candidate will schedule dates for the submission of the project and for the oral follow-up, both of which need to be completed by the fifth week of the session.
- The examining committee will evaluate the project and conduct a one-hour oral examination of the candidate, addressing the relation between the project and the candidate’s program of study, drawing on the materials the candidate has prepared: a list of field courses taken, a list of 5–6 key questions, a bibliography of texts that have been central to the program of study, and a concise (1–2 page) description of the project and its relation to the program of study.
- After the oral exam, the committee will determine the grade for the whole (Pass/ Fail) and will notify the student, the campus office, and the associate director.
- If the candidate is submitting the project as an IRP, the IRP advisor will serve on the examining committee. He or she will evaluate the IRP separately (apart from the MLitt assessment), as per any another, and submit both a letter grade and a student evaluation on the project.
- A student who receives a failing grade for the MLitt project may not redo it, but withdrawal before submission is an option.
Students may enroll for continuing graduate education on a summer-by-summer basis and will receive a Certificate in Continuing Graduate Education indicating the number of semester-hour credits they have completed successfully. Continuing education students are subject to the same conditions and policies as students in the degree programs, and they may take advantage of all that Bread Loaf offers, including membership in the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. Students in good standing may elect to continue for the degree.
Advanced Undergraduate Education
Undergraduates with outstanding academic records and who have completed the equivalent of three undergraduate years are eligible for admission to Bread Loaf in the summer between their junior and senior year. Candidates may apply the credits to the bachelor’s degree (as the degree granting institution permits); or, once they have earned a BA, students may apply the Bread Loaf credits to a Bread Loaf MA.
Princeton Bread Loaf Fellows
Bread Loaf maintains a partnership with Princeton University, which sends up to five of its top English majors to the Oxford campus each summer. Our shared goal is to provide these rising seniors culturally-linked experience in advanced research which prepares them for thesis writing in their upcoming senior year. The Fellows will take a normal course load and will be evaluated in the same way as all other Bread Loaf students; they will also participate in a pro-seminar, run by an on-site mentor from the Princeton faculty and focused on their particular thesis work.