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To graduate with a Master's degree in English, candidates must pass a comprehensive exam covering a designated list of texts that span a range of British and American literary periods. This list comprises works exploring major literary themes across all genres. Specific texts on the reading list are changed periodically.

Given the online nature of the program, some students may wish to take the exam close to home. Click on the links below for information about completing the exam in a proctored environment in an alternative location:


Students who have completed at least 24 credit hours toward the degree and maintained at least a 3.0 GPA are eligible to sit for the MA Exit Exam.

If you have not completed at least 24 credit hours or have not maintained a GPA of at least 3.0 in those 24+ hours, you ARE NOT eligible to take the exam.

The MA Exit Exam is held twice a year.

Spring - 9 a.m. to noon on the third Friday of April

Fall - 9 a.m. to noon on the first Friday of November

The MA in English program does not routinely offer alternate examination times. If an off-campus student is unable to secure a testing location or proctor for the scheduled date and time, s/he may file a request for a different testing date or time with the graduate coordinator, but this request:

  • Must be submitted four weeks in advance of the scheduled test date.
  • Will not be automatically granted.

Students must be able to demonstrate that there are no proctors or proctoring locations available/open at the scheduled times. Students may not request an alternate time simply because the scheduled test time is inconvenient. When students are able to document a need for an alternate test day or time, the graduate coordinator will work with the proctor to select a mutually agreeable time. No off-campus exam may take place later than the scheduled examination date.

  • On-campus exams take place between 9 a.m. and noon EST.
  • Off-campus exams in the contiguous United States will take place between 9 a.m. and noon local time.
  • ​Students living outside of the Eastern, Central, Mountain or Pacific time zones should contact the graduate coordinator six weeks in advance of the exam to set up a mutually agreeable testing time.

  • Students who take the exit exam on campus must hand in their work at noon EST.
  • Off-campus students must submit their exams to their proctors at the end of their own testing windows (i.e., noon local time). Please note that off-campus, proctored examinations must be emailed or submitted to the graduate coordinator within one hour of the test's completion. If they are not emailed or submitted within one hour of the examination, they will not be considered valid.

We need to guarantee that the examination has been completed in a timely fashion. In many ways, the one-hour turn-around time is a guarantee for students to make sure that their work is not lost or jumbled in transmission.

  • Carefully read all the works on the Permanent Reading List.
  • Complete a basic review of the criticism of each work.
  • Be prepared to locate each text in its proper historical, generic and critical/theoretical context(s). Students should also be able to:
  • Identify the genre of each work and the literary period in which it was written.
  • Describe the way the work exemplifies its historical period and/or aesthetic form.
  • Identify and explain the major themes and standard readings of each text.
Students may choose to sign up for particular classes to help them prepare for the exam, but they should be aware that these classes will not provide ready-made answers for exam questions. The courses in the program are designed to provide students with the skills they will be asked to apply in preparing for and responding to questions on the MA Exit Exam; these courses are not designed to provide answers to potential questions about a particular topic, work or author. A single author course on Milton, for example, can give students important historical context for the masterpiece that is Paradise Lost, but it will not provide clearly framed answers that can be used in the exit exam. Likewise, a course on the American Renaissance may provide students with a working definition of the Romance, but this does not mean that the course will offer students everything they might need to know about one of the exemplars of the Romance, The Scarlet Letter.

Students are responsible for independently researching the works on the Permanent Reading List.

No. However, we do have a mock-up of potential questions (and strategies for answers) for a work not covered on the permanent reading list. This mock-up shows students the types of questions they may encounter, but it does not purport to be exhaustive. The faculty reserves the right to ask types of questions that are not explicitly identified in this document.

Examinations will be holistically evaluated by members of the graduate faculty. Each test attempt will be reviewed by a minimum of two graduate faculty members. When faculty holistically evaluate exit exams, they look to see if each answer:

  • Clearly addresses and adequately answers the prompt.
  • Maintains a clear focus.
  • Uses literary terminology properly.
  • Is appropriately developed.
  • Is free from factual error.
  • Is generally free from syntactical and mechanical problems.

Examinations will be prepared for evaluation by the Monday following the scheduled test date. Depending on the volume of examinations, the evaluation period will last anywhere from two to three weeks.

Official results will be sent to students' MSU email accounts. Please note that all correspondence regarding the exam will occur over standard MSU email. Students can, however, obtain a physical copy of the feedback upon request.

Yes. Students who do not pass the exit exam the first time may retake the exam. No student, however, may take the exam more than twice.

  1. Find an appropriate proctor at least four weeks prior to the on-campus MA Exit Exam date.
  2. Complete and submit the Proctor Approval Application.
  3. Provide the specified examination date and time to your approved proctor.
  4. Comply with any payment schedule that may be required by your approved proctor or testing center.
  5. Take your exam within the timeframe that the exam is scheduled.
  6. Make sure that your proctor properly submits the finished exam to the graduate coordinator at MSU within one hour of the examination's completion.

Proctors cannot be family members, friends, or coworkers. An appropriate proctor candidate may be from one of the following categories:

  • College, university, or private testing center official.
  • Faculty or official staff member at a university or community college.
  • Educational administrator at a community college or university.
  • A military officer of higher rank than the student, if in the military.
  • Corporate training center official.

You must confirm that your chosen proctor has:

  • A business email address (exam materials will not be sent to proctors who do not have a business email address).
  • Reliable access to the internet.
  • The ability to download and print Word and PDF documents.

For assistance finding a proctor, contact a guidance counselor, academic advisor, dean of students or registrar's office at a nearby college, university or local testing center. The Consortium of College Testing Centers (CCTC) is an organization that has testing centers across the country and abroad that provide proctoring services to distance students near their homes. Centers are located in 45 states and four countries.

Yes. There are often charges for the use of a testing facility and the proctor's time to receive, monitor, and return an exam. Please be sure to determine if there is a fee, what it is, and when it must be paid. Although practices vary, testing centers often require prepayment, and the receipt of payment may serve as a ticket to the proctored exam session.

  1. Download the Proctor Approval Application.
  2. Copy and complete the student portion (section 1) of the application.
  3. Provide section 2 of the application to your proposed proctor. Have your proposed proctor or testing center director complete the proctor portion of the application.
  4. Send the file to the Graduate Coordinator of English ( The coordinator must receive both sections of the Proctor Approval form no later than four weeks before the scheduled exam.

Students and proctors receive email confirmation upon receipt of the Proctor Approval Application no later than two weeks before the exam. When the application has been approved, students and proctors will receive an email that includes details about exam policies and procedures.

  • The proctor must ensure that all necessary technologies are available and working and that the test-taking student is working without access to the internet.
  • The proctor must verify that the student has brought a sealed USB stick in its original packaging on which an electronic copy of the exam will be saved.
  • The proctor must verify that the student has prepared a stamped and addressed envelope in which the USB stick will be sent to the Graduate Coordinator of English.
  • The proctor must ensure the integrity of the test (by being the only person to handle the exam prior to and following its completion, making sure that there is only one copy of the exam prompts, and deleting any electronic copies of the exam prompts from his/her computer immediately following student completion of the exam).
  • The proctor must follow the Graduate Program's requirements for administering the exam: closed book, no notes, and on-demand writing carried out in three hours without the help of any electronic devices with an internet connection.
  • The proctor must email the completed exam to the Graduate Coordinator of English ( within one hour of the exam's completion and then ensure that the completed exam is deleted from all computers and email, including "sent mail" and "trash."
  • Immediately after the three hours have elapsed and the completed exam has been emailed to the Graduate Coordinator, the proctor must send the USB stick containing an electronic copy of the exam in the stamped envelope addressed to:
Dr. Sylvia Henneberg, graduate coordinator, English
107 Breckinridge Hall
Morehead State University
Morehead, KY 40351

Contact Us

Department of English & Modern Languages

111 Breckinridge Hall
Morehead, KY 40351

PHONE: 606-783-9448