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English MA Program Selection & Application Advice?

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Hello everyone!

I've decided - at the last minute, I know - to apply for MA programs in English Lit for next fall. As a bit of background, I graduated from college this past May with a BA in English. However, I wasn't as dedicated to my major as I could have been. I didn't write a thesis or do any kind of lengthy research project, nor do I have any kind of a background in theory or a strong grounding in any particular period. I'm kind of regretting this, now, and would like to pursue the MA in order to give English Lit another try. I'd like to catch up on some of what I failed to take advantage of during undergrad, and to figure out whether I have the interest and ability to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. I'm most interested in 19th-century British literature, and particularly the Victorian novel.

So I've been looking at lots of programs and compiling a very general list, but I'm not sure how to go about narrowing it down. What should I be looking for in a program at this level? Are fit with faculty and strong offerings in my intended area of study crucial at this point? Or should I be paying more attention to the general reputation of the department? Or something else entirely? I do know I've missed the deadline for the GRE subject test and realize that this limits my options somewhat.

Also, the SOP - any thoughts on how specific I need to be about research interests and such? I've read through a lot of SOPs for English Ph.D.s on here, and there's no way I'm going to be able to write something anywhere near as developed/detailed as what I'm seeing in these. Is it okay to have only general interests (i.e., literary period, perhaps with a few authors and titles thrown in, and some very general themes I'm interested in investigating) at this point, or do I need to work on refining my intended focus? If you happen to have or know of any good SOPs for English MA programs and would like to share, that would be great.

I'd really appreciate any and all advice. If there are any particular programs you'd suggest, I'd love to hear those as well.

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