Students may attend Bread Loaf for one or more summers of continuing graduate education, or, depending on their eligibility, they may earn an MA or MLitt 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 ten units within a 10-year period (though, under exceptional circumstances, may apply for an extension of that time (see Credits), 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 electives 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 groups with an elective.
- All MA candidates must attend the Vermont campus for at least one summer. Students may petition the director for a waiver of the residency requirement, but such waivers are rare. 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. 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 will 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 (though, under exceptional circumstances, may apply for an extension of that time (see Credits), 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.
- Candidates must submit a proposal for the program of study by November 15 after the first summer; all proposals must be approved by the associate director. Only students in good standing with an approved program of study will be eligible for re-enrollment in the MLitt program for the second summer (see Re-enrollment). Any significant changes to the focus or curriculum of the approved MLitt program of study must be approved by the associate director; revised proposals should be submitted to Sandy LeGault in advance of any change.
- In the final summer, degree candidates must either take a comprehensive examination or produce a final project to qualify for the degree. The associate director will consult with each candidate to determine which option is most suitable. 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. Students may petition the director for a waiver of the residency requirement, but such waivers are rare. 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.
- The terms of the examination will be set by an examining committee (appointed by the associate director) of two faculty members. The written examination usually consists of 3-5 essay questions; it may be open or closed book. The oral examination may probe questions already covered on the written part, or it may introduce new questions.
- In consultation with the committee, students will schedule both parts of the exam, all of which needs to be completed by the fifth week of the session.
- In preparation for the examination, candidates will submit to the associate director a list of all field courses, as well as 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. Examiners will use these as a guide to the student’s focus.
- After the oral component is complete, the committee will determine the grade for the whole using a Pass/Fail designation.
- 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).
- The project will be reviewed by an examining committee (appointed by the associate director) of two faculty members, who 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. In consultation with the committee, the candidate will schedule dates for the submission of the project and for the oral follow-up, all of which needs to be completed by the fifth week of the session.
- In preparation for the project review, the candidate will submit to the associate director a list of field courses taken, a list of 5–6 key questions and 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.
- To receive course credit for the MLitt project, candidates may complete the project in the final year as an Independent Reading Project or Independent Summer Project in Theater Arts (see IRP and ISP).
- The project and oral examination will be graded pass/fail; if the candidate is submitting the project as an IRP or ISP, the faculty supervisor will submit a letter grade and a narrative evaluation to the Bread Loaf office.
- 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. A course that has been applied to an undergraduate degree cannot be used for graduate credit in the future.
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.