M.A. in Language and Literature

The M.A. in Language and Literature is an academically rigorous degree program at the graduate level.

Signum University’s M.A. in Language and Literature focuses on close, critical readings of classical and contemporary texts in their historical and conceptual contexts.

Program Goals

The Master’s Degree in Language and Literature is designed with the following objectives in mind:

  • To equip our students to rediscover languages in their literary contexts by pursuing language acquisition for scholarly research.
  • To develop in our students the ability to enjoy, research, and discuss literary texts in a meaningful way, bringing depth and creativity to ongoing academic conversations.
  • To encourage our students to connect with other scholars and creatives in their specific fields of interest.
  • To guide our students through the process of creating and presenting a quality capstone project.

These goals have informed the following four expected Program Outcomes for students who successfully complete the Master’s Degree in Language and Literature:


Graduates will be able to understand and interpret texts in at least one historical language through acquired language skills or philological methods.

Textual Analysis

Graduates will be able to use independent research and analytical readings of primary and secondary sources to develop oral and written evidence-based arguments about literary texts and their origins, contexts, or long-term influence.


Graduates will be able to contribute to academic conversations in which they evaluate and support the ideas of others in meaningful, constructive ways.


Graduates will be able to compose and defend substantial scholarly works, including a thesis, that demonstrate independent research and textual analysis and contribute to further discourse in their areas of interest.

M.A. Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Language and Literature requires a total of 36 credit hours. These credits are divided as follows:

  • 3 credit hours LITZ 5302 Foundations in Critical Reading and Research
  • 6 credit hours dedicated to any of Signum’s language courses*
  • 6 credit hours dedicated to any of Signum’s literature courses*
  • 12 credit hours dedicated to a combination of Signum’s language or literature courses
  • 9 credit hours dedicated to thesis planning and writing (after completing the above requirements)

*Some classes may be eligible for either literature or language credit. For special circumstances, speak with your advisor or contact the University.

The University offers a flexible timeframe to complete these requirements: Students are granted a minimum of two (2) years and a maximum of eight (8) years to finish their degree program. During that time, students are welcome to take most courses at the pace that best suits them.

These degree requirements effective 1 August 2022.

Core Courses

LITZ 5302 Foundations in Critical Reading and Research

Beginning in the Fall 2022 term, all credit students are required to take LITZ 5302 Foundations in Critical Reading and Research. This course must be completed within the first two (2) calendar years of the M.A. program. Students admitted before Fall 2022 are encouraged but not required to take this course.


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

All students seeking a M.A. Degree in Language and Literature are required to complete a capstone project, often referred to as the thesis.

In its final form, your thesis should be suitable for publication in a scholarly journal and/or presentation at an academic conference. While it might originate from an idea you explored in a previous course project, the final thesis will be the result of new research, substantive revision, and significant expansion.

The capstone project is divided into three semesters. These courses are taken after the student has successfully completed the required number of credits and the thesis application has been accepted by the Thesis Director.

  • LITZ6390 Thesis Preparation
  • LITZ6391 Thesis Development
  • LITZ6392 Thesis Revision and Presentation

This three-credit sequence is optional for students who have passed their seventh course toward their M.A. before the beginning of the Fall 2022 term, who may elect the prior two-credit sequence. If a student who meets this criterion elects to take the two-credit sequence, they must enroll in the first semester by Fall 2024 and complete the sequence by Summer 2025. The three-credit sequence is mandatory for all other students.

See the Master’s Thesis Guidelines for more information about thesis requirements and the Academic Calendar for application deadlines.

Watch the Thesis Theater presentations of Signum’s previous students in our playlist on YouTube.

M.A. Advisory Council

The Advisory Council for the M.A. in Language and Literature program at Signum University was formed in 2020. Our Advisory Committee has three members whose areas of expertise were chosen to align closely with our program and its mission.

Our Advisory Council meets once per year as part of our annual program review process. Their feedback is solicited every term as part of our semester-long course review process.

Dr. Holly Ordway, Fellow at the Word on Fire Institute, Visiting Professor, Houston Baptist University

Holly Ordway is a celebrated writer on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. She received her PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts in 2001, and she has been a literature professor for fifteen years. For the last nine years, she has been a Professor of English at Houston Baptist University, and served as Department Chair for the first three of those years.

Dr Adam Oberlin, Senior Lecturer, Princeton University

Adam Oberlin received his PhD in Germanic Medieval Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2012 and has taught Germanic languages, literatures, history, culture, and world geography to students ranging from middle school grades to retirement in a variety of schools, universities, and adult educational institutes. His research and teaching interests include historical and corpus linguistics, digital approaches to textual analysis, and content-based instruction.