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Drew University’s Arts & Letters Program is Flexible—in Every Way

The interdisciplinary graduate program is designed with working professionals in mind

March 2023 – Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Arts & Letters program can be tailored to suit the professional needs of students, providing a useful and unique degree that transcends across disciplines.

The program offers both a masters (MLitt) and doctoral (DLitt) degree program with courses in seven concentrations—Creative Writing, Teaching Writing, Literary Studies, Historical Studies, Fine Arts & Media Studies, Religious Studies, and Teaching in the Two-Year College—that build upon Drew’s strengths and breadth in disciplines that spans the humanities, creative and performing arts, religious studies, and teacher education. 

“The unique program offers more breadth than depth,” said Leslie Sprout, director of the Arts & Letters program and professor of music. “Professionally useful courses provide pathways for students in an array of academic and creative fields.”

The interdisciplinary graduate liberal studies program is designed with working professionals in mind. The program can be completed part-time or full-time in small seminar-style classes that meet in hybrid modalities through specifically-equipped classrooms and guided by engaging faculty.

Both the MLitt and DLitt can be completed fully online.

“It’s easy to forget that we’re all not in the same room,” said Sprout of the hybrid modality. “We’re able to engage with students across the classroom and across the country, making for enriching and meaningful conversations with an average of 10 students in each class.”

To add to the flexibility, students who complete the MLitt at Drew can subsequently return to earn a DLitt by taking only 15 additional credits and writing and successfully defending their dissertation.

“Many students love their experience as a master’s student and return to continue their doctorate,” said Sprout.

“The Arts & Letters master’s program offers something unique, which is the ability to pursue coursework across many disciplines that ultimately interweave into a concentration,” said Terence O’Brien G’24. “I do not have to neglect one academic avenue for another, but I’m able to pursue both and find a meeting point. Through the degree, I’m building a body of academic and creative work to take with me as I continue toward a doctorate.”

The curriculum fosters individuality by allowing students to shape their own trajectories by choosing among a wide selection of elective courses with only two required courses. Faculty mentors guide students to customize each course of study tailored towards their individual goals.

“I chose the Arts & Letters program because it encourages me to explore the intersections between different disciplines in the humanities; from watercoloring to analyzing media and films like The Muppets and fantasy cinema, to honing writing techniques employed in various genres of fiction and non-fiction,” said Jenna Corrara G’23.

“I know this program will help me fulfill two lifelong goals: pursuing a doctoral degree and writing a novel as my creative dissertation,” said Corrara. “The Arts & Letters program is so much more than just an academic pursuit, it fosters a sense of community and belonging I never experienced anywhere else.”

As a further testament to the flexibility of the program, MLitt and DLitt students may concurrently earn a certificate in Drew’s Conflict Resolution & Leadership or Teaching Writing programs. Students who have already earned these certificates may apply the credits directly towards their MLitt or DLitt degrees.

Additionally, students can pursue coursework and internships offered jointly by Drew professors and the County College of Morris to transition to careers in teaching at the undergraduate level. Students can supplement curricular offerings by pursuing individual tutorials with faculty on topics of the students’ choice.

“As a high school English teacher, I wanted to pursue a degree related to my field,” said Cathy Mohrle G’24. “Literature intersects with so many other subjects in the humanities. Plus, the MLitt/DLitt is a rare and specialized degree—not many universities offer it.”

“Drew’s MLitt program is all about exploring electives that interest students,” continued Mohrle. “That flexibility was a huge draw for me because I didn’t want to be limited to a prescribed list of prerequisites. All of my classes have been student-driven and intellectually engaging. I’ll definitely continue teaching English, but this degree could open new doors for me, too. Maybe one day I might pursue something outside the realm of education. The possibilities excite me.”

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