Students can pursue full degree programs for a Master of Arts or Master of Letters in English at Bread Loaf.
The Master of Arts Degree
The Bread Loaf MA provides a broad exposure to British, American, and world literature and allows students to select from Bread Loaf’s incomparable course offerings in these literatures, creative writing, pedagogy, and theater arts.
Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college to be eligible for admission, although we also allow exceptional undergraduates with strong backgrounds in literary study to apply for admission to Bread Loaf after the completion of three years toward their bachelor’s degree.
The master’s degree can be earned in six-week sessions over four or five summers, at least one of which must be spent in residence at the School of English in Vermont.
A Bread Loaf School of English MA is awarded by Middlebury, and Bread Loaf degree holders are Middlebury alumni.
Master’s degree candidates must complete ten units, including five distributional requirements, and receive a grade of B- or better in each. No master’s thesis is required.
Though students have 10 years to complete the degree, most take two units per summer and finish the degree in four or five summers. Each one-unit course at Bread Loaf receives the equivalent of three semester hours or 4.5 quarter hours of graduate credit.
The curriculum is divided into six groups:
- Group 1 Writing, Pedagogy, and Literacy
- Group 2 British Literature: Beginnings through the 17th Century
- Group 3 British Literature: 18th Century to the Present
- Group 4 American Literature
- Group 5 World Literature
- Group 6 Theater Arts
Degree candidates are required to take one unit from Group 2, one from Group 3, one from Group 4, one from Group 5, and one additional unit from any of these groups. The remaining five units are electives.
A maximum of two graduate courses (the equivalent of six semester-hour or nine quarter-hour credits) may be transferred from another institution.
The Master of Letters Degree
The Master of Letters (MLitt) program allows students to design and explore a specialized concentration 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 your field of concentration.
- 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 refine their proposed fields of concentration in consultation with Bread Loaf’s associate director. By the last day of classes, MLitt candidates submit a revised program of study which must be approved by the associate director and will serve as a guide throughout the degree. Students 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 in the Bread Loaf Handbook. If you have any questions, contact Dana Olsen firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Browne email@example.com in the Bread Loaf office.