12 Good Reasons to Complete a Master's in English at La Sierra

As a graduate student, you won’t be required to take a variety of General Education courses. Instead, you’ll focus on all aspects of literary studies:

  • English literature
  • American literature
  • World literature in translation
  • Literary criticism
  • English language history and development 

Underpinning all of La Sierra’s programs is the recognition that God created humans to be culture-producers. As fantasy writer and Christian J.R.R. Tolkien argued, since God is a creator, and since humans are designed in God’s image, humans are also creators; Tolkien referred to this impulse as sub-creation, and suggested that pursuing creativity is one of the most important mechanisms by which humans can honor God.

Our M.A. program recognizes literature as one of the most powerful mechanisms by which we can understand the world God made and the cultures humans make.

La Sierra’s English faculty have generalist backgrounds that allow them to teach a wide range of literature, while also specializing in an area of particular interest. All faculty have acquired terminal degrees (Ph.D.s for literature professors, and an M.F.A. for our creative writing professor). Literature professors actively pursue scholarship with presentations at literary conferences and publications in academic journals.

The following list shows some of the areas of specialization of La Sierra’s English faculty:

  • 18th-Century English Literature – Dr. Lora Geriguis
  • C. S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien – Dr. Debbie Higgins & Dr. Sam McBride
  • Children’s literature – Dr. Winona Howe
  • Creative Writing – Prof. Sari Fordham
  • Daniel Defoe and Robinson Crusoe – Dr. Lora Geriguis
  • Drama – Dr. Marilynn Loveless
  • Early American Literature – Prof. Jill Walker Gonzalez
  • Ecocriticism – Dr. Lora Geriguis & Dr. Melissa Brotton
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Dr. Melissa Brotton
  • Literature in English from outside England and the United States – Dr. Winona Howe
  • Mark Twain – Prof. Jill Walker Gonzalez
  • Medieval and Renaissance Literature – Dr. Debbie Higgins
  • Memoir Writing – Prof. Sari Fordham
  • Native American Literature and Theory – Prof. Jill Walker Gonzalez
  • Postmodern literature and the arts – Dr. Sam McBride
  • Victorian English Literature – Dr. Melissa Brotton & Dr. Winona Howe

Literary Analysis – build your knowledge of literary terms and apply them in analyzing poetry, fiction, and drama

Literary Theory – examine the variety of methodologies for critiquing literature, from Aristotle’s poetics to contemporary trends such as Postmodernism, Feminism, & Ecocriticism

Academic Writing – learn to write focused papers with the depth and style expected from Ph.D. programs and academic publishers

M.A. students may apply for La Sierra’s College Writing Instructor (CWI) program. As a CWI you will teach one section of College Writing (Freshman English) each quarter, under the guidance of supportive faculty. In contrast with some Teaching Assistant programs, in which TAs serve faculty as glorified Readers, you will be the “Instructor of Record,” fully responsible for the classroom experience all the way from syllabus creation to assigning final grades.

Looks great on a resume!

Oh, and did we mention: CWI Assistantship pays for 85% of your tuition.

Our M.A. in English expands your knowledge of English and American literature, giving you a clearer understanding of our literary heritage. From the Renaissance to the Postmodern, from the London literary scene to the Postcolonial diaspora, you’ll make connections among the periods and places of English-language literature.

Each year La Sierra’s English Department hosts Natures, an interdisciplinary academic conference with an ecocritical orientation. Grad students can attend Natures events, hearing cutting-edge scholarship on a wide variety of literary and cultural subjects. Grad students can also assist in planning and coordinating this event (another terrific resume item). Even more important, grad students may submit proposals for paper presentations at Natures; if your paper is accepted, you’ll be among a roster of scholar-presenters from around the world.

If you’re planning on applying to Ph.D. programs, an M.A. in English is often a necessary step. Even for Ph.D. programs that accept holders of Bachelor’s degrees, the La Sierra M.A. will increase your preparedness to handle Ph.D. work as well as boost your GRE English Subject Area score.

If you plan to teach high school or elementary school, or if you’re already employed in teaching, the La Sierra M.A. increases your subject area credibility (and your salary range). Plus you’ll be qualified to moonlight at the local Community College.

The M.A. in English forms a worthwhile bridge to other areas:

  • Law school – M.A. students specialize in interpreting texts and communicating effectively, two skills essential to an attorney
  • MFA programs – Want to enter a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program? Finishing an M.A. in English in the meantime sharpens your skills in literary analysis, boosting your ability to self-critique your writing
  • Religious and theological studies – Students with a Religious Studies emphasis appreciate literature’s emphasis on culture-as-it-is-lived; students with a theology emphasis appreciate the practice in textual analysis
  • Editing and publishing – Learn about the written word from literary greats and augment your skills in revising the works of others
  • Business – Corporations need employees with strong communication and critical thinking skills; plus you never know when you may need to drop a pithy quotation in the midst of a boring board meeting



  • Dynamic drama program, including Improv
  • Active Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society
  • Writing Center employment opportunities
  • Quarterly readings by current authors
  • Occasional guest faculty
  • Vibrant University newspaper (housed in the Department of Communication)
  • Colleagues who value literature like you do
  • See number 12