Graduate Diploma

Many people enjoy learning what they love, but do not necessarily want or need a full Master of Arts degree.

For those students, we have created a program that allows them to take our graduate-level courses and earn credit toward a diploma in one of several concentrations.

The courses students may choose for the diploma program are exactly the same as those taken for M.A. credit. For a graduate diploma, students will take only five credit classes (15 credit hours), do not need to meet specific language and literature requirements, and are not required to complete a thesis.

Graduate Diploma Goals

Our Graduate Diploma student outcomes are specifically distinct from the expected outcomes for our MA program, who complete twice as many courses and also write and defend a scholarly MA thesis. These goals have informed the following three expected Program Outcomes for students who successfully complete the Graduate diploma in Language and Literature:


Recipients will be able to contribute meaningfully to discussions and debates in their specific areas of interest.

Textual Analysis: Support

Recipients will be able to develop evidence-based arguments about literary texts and/or literary translations.

Textual Analysis: Synthesis

Recipients will be able to compose written arguments or translations that synthesize primary and secondary texts.

An additional program outcome is expected for students who choose to complete a Capstone Project:


Recipients will be able to design and produce an extended scholarly or original creative work that identifies and appropriately speaks to a specific genre, audience, and form.

Diploma Requirements

Students in our diploma program take the same courses as students in our M.A. in Language and Literature. While there are fewer requirements to complete a diploma, these are nonetheless graduate-level courses, and earning a diploma requires a certain level of discipline and diligence.

To receive a Graduate Diploma in Language and Literature from Signum University, students must:

  • Have already earned a Bachelor’s degree.
  • Submit an application.
  • Complete five for-credit courses (15 credit hours) from our M.A.-level offerings.. 

While any five courses may be taken, interested students who elect to take four or more classes in one of Signum’s established concentrations will have this concentration noted (e.g., Graduate Diploma in Language and Literature with a concentration in Germanic Philology).

After the completion of 15 credit hours, students will conduct a check-in with an advisor from our Student Support Team. Students who have completed 15 credit hours may choose to add a Capstone project to their accomplishment or may wish to continue their studies to complete a full M.A. in Language and Literature. The decision to add on a capstone or to transfer into the M.A. program ultimately belongs exclusively to the student; their advisor will administratively support their choice.

Upon successfully completing the required courses and conducting a check-in, students who do not wish to continue their studies will be awarded a graduate diploma.

These requirements effective 1 August 2022.


Students admitted to the M.A. program or the graduate diploma program may choose one of four concentrations:

One course for each concentration is offered every term. However, it is not required that students choose a concentration in order to complete the Graduate Diploma (or the MA degree). 

Students choosing to pursue a concentration must take at least five (5) courses from that concentration for the M.A. degree or four (4) courses for the graduate diploma.

At least one language course is offered in every term.

Capstone Project

The Capstone project is an optional add-on to the Graduate Diploma in Language and Literature at Signum University. Students may elect to complete a creative or academic Capstone after completing five graduate courses (the full Graduate Diploma program). Students interested in continuing on to earn a a Master of Arts in Language and Literature should not complete a Capstone, as they will have the opportunity to complete a full MA thesis at the end of the MA program.

During the Capstone semester, students will enroll in the three-credit Capstone class and work closely with a faculty mentor to complete a scholarly or creative writing project.

Prior to beginning this phase, all students will need to complete and submit an application outlining the proposed project, necessary sources, the structure of the finished work, and a loose timeline for the semester. It will be used by the thesis coordinator to help you find a suitable mentor.

See the Academic Calendar for application deadlines.

2022-23 Coordinators:

Upon approval of your application, you’ll be able to register for your capstone semester.

Capstone Options

Academic Capstone


  • 5000-10000 words, not including the abstract and works cited page.

A student may elect to complete a new project or may adapt a previous (class) essay into an extended scholarly piece (substantial revisions would be expected). Since the Capstone is intended to be a single-semester project, care should be taken to ensure that the project is manageable; consultation with the Capstone Coordinator is recommended.

Creative Capstone


  • Creative prose: 10000-15000 words. A shorter prose work would often include a more complex concept or conceit, such as expansive worldbuilding, an invented language, or extensive historical research, but the possibilities are endless. 
  • Creative poetry: approximately 2000-4000 words of poetry.

All creative Capstone projects must be accompanied by a preface or introduction of 1500-2000 words that provides scholarly or publisher-appropriate context for the writing, including its place in contemporary literature or its suitability for a particular audience. 

Frequently Asked Questions

If I start the diploma program and then decide to pursue a full M.A. degree, do I have to reapply?

No! We love it when students decide they want to keep learning, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. If after completing the requirements for a diploma you decide that you want to pursue a full M.A. in Language and Literature, simply speak with your advisor during your program check-in. Your advisor will complete a short form to note your decision, and you can sign up for your next credit class right away.

Can I get more than one diploma?

Absolutely! However, you should note that by the time you complete a second diploma, you will be very close to meeting the requirements for completing a full M.A. in Language and Literature. If you really want to complete two diploma programs, we would advise you to talk with your advisor to see if completing an M.A. is right for you.

I am an M.A. student, but I will not be able to complete the M.A. program fully. Can I get a diploma instead?

We want to support our students in every way possible, and our objective is always to help students meet or exceed the goals they have set for themselves. With that in mind, we will provide as much support as necessary to help students receive the degree that they set out to earn.

That said, we understand that sometimes life disrupts even the best-laid plans. Any graduate student who cannot complete the M.A. program can be considered for a diploma in one of two situations:

  • After completing five courses (15 credit hours), each M.A. student will conduct a check-in with their Signum Advisor. If the advisor and student agree that the likelihood of completing an M.A. is unrealistic at that time, and if all the requirements for earning a diploma have been met, a diploma will be issued.
  • If some other life event occurs after the five-course check-in that will prevent the student from completing the M.A., students may contact their advisors to discuss the possibility of receiving a diploma instead of completing the M.A. program.