American University of Beirut

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Applying to be an Undergraduate English Major
  • What are the deadlines for application to AUB?

The application deadline for fall admission is the end of February. For spring admission the deadline is end of November. For early admission to fall semester, the deadline for application is end of November. Check the AUB catalogue(Admissions section) for exact dates.

  • What is a major?

A major means that you specialize in English as an undergraduate student.  Your choice is either English Language or English Literature.  Some courses are shared by both of these specializations.

  • Do I need to choose a major when I apply to AUB?

Yes.  You can choose to be considered for  three majors.  In the department of English, we offer two majors: English Literature and English Language. You can also have another major and do a minor in English literature or English language. That minor, however, is declared in the last semester before you graduate.

  • Can I double major (=have two majors) in English and some other topic?

Currently you can major in English and any other subject outside of FAS.  Starting soon, you will be able to double major inside of FAS.

  • How do I apply to be an English major?

You fill out an application form and provide required documents. All applications and documents must be submitted to the Admissions Office. Be sure to list ELNG or ELIT in your application.

  • Do I need to take a special English language test to be accepted as an English major?

You don’t need to take an English test specifically to be submitted to the Department of English. However, you do need to take the SAT I which is a requirement for general admission to the university and you must satisfy the English Language Proficiency Requirement. For more details check the ELPR (English Language Proficiency Requirement) section in the catalogue under Admissions Office.  The Writing section of the SAT I is used for placement into English Communication Skills/Writing courses.

  • Is there cut-off score to be accepted as an English major?

No, there is no specific cut-off.   Undergraduate admission is based, however, on a composite score taking into consideration the applicant’s high school grades for the last 2 years of schooling prior to high school graduation (grades 10 and 11th) and the SAT I(Verbal and Mathematical Reasoning).   This composite score applies to all majors, not just English.

  • Do you offer English language and writing courses?

Yes. Our department offers communication skills and writing courses. Your placement will be decided based on your SAT I or equivalent scores.

  • How long does it take to complete a degree on full-time basis?

A BA in English is a three-year program for students entering at the sophomore level, and a four-year program for those entering at the freshman level.

  • How do I apply to be an English major if I enter AUB as a freshman student?

Check the table of credit requirements for the completion of the freshman year (30 credits).  It lists the desired distribution for students.  A minimum cumulative average of 70 in English courses taken in the freshman year is required.  The degree will take 3 years after the freshman year is completed.

  • Can you be a part-time English major?

No.  AUB students have to take at least 12 credits per semester.

  • Can I minor in two subjects?

Yes, however, you will have to take all the courses required for those minors.  If you plan ahead and use the general education distribution to your benefit to take courses required for a minor that count also as general education, you can minimize the extra time required.  This is also particularly true of the Teaching Diploma offered by the Department of Education and the Media Studies diploma offered by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies.

  • Can I be an English major and also do a Teaching Diploma (elementary or secondary) or a Media Studies diploma?

Yes, but you have to be strategic about when you take the extra courses as to minimize the time required.

  • All my friends are business, engineering and biology majors.  What kind of a job would I get being an English major?

English majors often work as teachers. However, there are many fields in which the command of the language and critical thinking are desired. Possible jobs include: Journalism, public relations, administration, editing, social work

  • Can I be an English major and get into medical school?

Yes. Holders of any bachelor degree can apply to medical school as long as they complete the premedical core courses and requirements. For more information, check the Faculty of Medicine and Medical Center section in the AUB graduate catalogue.

  • Why be a humanities student and go to medical school?

Studies are showing that the academic performance in medical school of students with a humanities background is equivalent to those with a scientific background. Moreover, it is remarked that humanities students make more sensitive doctors and have strong observational skills.

  • How can I apply for financial aid?

You can find all the information you need by visiting the Office of Financial Aid.

Applying to be a Graduate M.A. English Student

  • How do I apply?

The application form for graduate student is electronic. You apply and provide required documents via the website of the Admissions Office.  Be sure to take the personal statement seriously.  It gives us an idea of who you are as a student and a person.

  • What are the deadlines for application?

The application deadline for fall admission is mid February. For spring admission the deadline is mid November. For more information and exact dates, check the Admissions section in AUB Graduate catalogue.

  • What exams are required for admission?

If you were an undergraduate English major (Language or Literature) at AUB you do not need to take any exams. For more details check the Admissions section in the Graduate catalogue. If you did not study at AUB, and you were not an undergraduate in North America or the UK, you have to take the TOEFL exam and submit your scores in time for admission.  The GRE exam is no longer required for admission.

  • What scores do you require?

There is no cut-off score.

  • What grade point average (GPA) score do I need to be considered?

There is no strict cut-off average.  Your major average should be about 80.

  • Will I be required to provide any written work in support of my application?

It is not required to provide written work. However, you can include written work if you think that it will help support your application (for example a course paper from an undergraduate course).

  • What are the possible statuses for admission for graduate students?

You can be admitted as a regular graduate student, on probation, or as a prospective graduate student. For more details check the Admissions section in the Graduate catalogue.

  • How long does it take to earn an MA in English?

The MA in English is a two-year program if taken on a full-time basis.

  • Is it possible to take graduate courses without enrolling in the MA program?

As a “special student not working for a degree,” yes.  This can be for one semester, extendable to two semesters by petition.  See the graduate catalogue for details.  It is better to contact the Chairperson first to see about eligibility.

  • If I am an MA student somewhere else in the world, can I take courses in Beirut temporarily?

Yes, as a visiting graduate student.  This is called being a special student not working for a degree. This can be for one semester, extendable to two semesters by petition.  See the graduate catalogue for details.  It is better to contact the Chairperson first to see about eligibility.

  • What kind of courses do you offer at the MA level?

All students take a methodology class in the first year. The MA program currently does not have concentrations, but instead offers general courses in literature and language. Course offerings vary from semester to semester.

  • Can I take courses on a part-time basis?

Yes, but GA students have to register for two courses per semester.

  • Can I take courses in other departments and have them count toward my major courses?

Yes, but you need the approval of the department of English before enrolling in courses in other departments.  Not more than two courses can be considered.

  • Can I transfer MA course credit from other programs or universities?

The department will consider the transfer on a case-by-case basis. The maximum number of credits that can be transferred is nine.

  • My undergraduate degree is not in English. Does that matter?

No. Many of our graduate students are not English majors. You will be admitted as a prospective graduate student until you complete a number of prerequisite courses to make up for deficiencies in undergraduate preparation.

  • Is financial aid offered to graduate students?

Yes. AUB offers graduate assistantships (GA) and a work-study program.

  • What is a graduate assistantship (GA)?

A GA is not awarded to all students. It’s a separate decision made by the faculty for exceptional students. Some students opt not to have a GA because it entails a specific number of hours in the department, researching and working closely with one or two professors. It can also include working in the Writing Center.  Basically, if you are awarded a GA, in exchange for fourteen hours of work per week, you become exempt from tuition and you receive a modest monthly stipend.  Some fees remain to be paid by you.

  • What qualifications do I need to have to be awarded a graduate assistantship (GA) upon admission to the MA program as a regular student?

A GA can be awarded to students coming to us with a very good GPA.  We are also looking at your overall record, your potential for being a hard-working student in your MA coursework and for writing a strong thesis.  If you have been a very good undergraduate with a GPA above 80, or the equivalent thereof in your institution, there is a good chance of you getting a GA.  The decision is not based solely on the GPA, but it is an important indicator of your achievement.  You should be aware that a specific timeline for completion of your coursework and thesis proposal applies for those holding a GA.

  • If I am admitted as a prospective student, how do I become a regular graduate student?

If you get the requisite average, you should file an online petition (for change of status) once your grades have come out at the end of the term.

  • If I am become a regular graduate student after satisfying the undergraduate course requirements, can I apply for a graduate assistantship (GA)?

Yes, you should submit an "Application for Graduate Assistantship" (found in the graduate application materials) in the term you are finishing your prospective requirements so that you can be considered.  Even if you submitted the application for graduate assistantship when you applied the first time for the MA, you need to resubmit one to the department chair.

  • If I begin as a regular graduate student without a graduate assistantship (GA), can I apply for one in a subsequent semester?

Yes, but it only goes into effect after you are granted one and it is not retroactive.

  • If I receive a GA, can it be taken away?

Yes.  They are reviewed every semester and renewal is dependent on continued excellent performance of the student, regular attendance in seminars and steady progress on one's thesis.

Current English Majors

  • If I am an English major, should my required courses be taken in a specific order?
The department has a recommended sequence of major courses.  Students enrolled before 2012 in the major are not required to follow this sequence.

  • Can I take courses in other departments and have them count toward my major courses?
All AUB students have a distribution of courses; major requirements, choice from major courses, humanities electives and general education courses. Check the Department of English section in undergraduate catalogue and the degree requirements for English literature and English language on the Registrar’s website.

  • Do you have creative writing courses?
 Yes.  And they count as English Literature courses in the distribution.  For some of them, you must have taken the introductory course (ENGL 236).

  • Can I take courses at other universities and have them count towards my English major?
Yes.  To be sure that they count, you should have them pre-approved for equivalence by the Chairperson.  The grade does not count towards your cumulative GPA.

  • If I want to go on an exchange program abroad, what do I need to do?
See the website of the Office of International Programs.  They offer lots of information.  The important thing to remember is that before you go on a study abraod exchange, you should pre-approve your courses at the other institution so that getting equivalences here is easier.

  • When students are ready to graduate, is there any form to fill in?
Graduating students do not have to fill in any form before their graduation.  The Registrar will notify by email them if they are ready for graduation. They can also check whether their names appear on the list for Expected Graduates found on the Registrar's website.

  • How many credits are required to graduate?
If you begin as a freshman, 120; if you begin as a sophomore 90.

Current English MA students

See this useful chart of Graduate Regulations for MA Programs.

  • How do I pick a thesis topic?

Based on your research interests.

  • How do I pick my thesis adviser?

Depending on your topic, you pick an adviser whose research interest matches yours. This could be a professor whose MA course you particularly enjoyed.

  • How long is the thesis?

Generally, students write 80-120 pages.

  • How do I get my thesis ready for deposit in the library?

Check the library thesis manual for information.

  • What is the thesis proposal?

A thesis proposal is an outline of your project that must be submitted for approval before proceeding with the thesis.

  • When do I have to submit the thesis proposal?  What if I have a GA?

At the beginning of the semester prior to the one in which you plan to defend.  If you have a GA, on the other hand, you have to submit your thesis proposal electronically just after your pass your comprehensive exams and just before the semester in which you are registering thesis.

  • If my thesis involves human subjects (surveys, observations, etc.) and I need the approval of the Institutional Research Board (IRB), does this approval need to be secured before the thesis proposal is submitted?

No.  It should be mentioned in the proposal that you are applying for IRB approval.  Students handle IRB approvals with their advisors as part of planning at the beginning of the thesis.  It should be done with dispatch so that the thesis is not delayed.

  • How do I go about choosing my thesis committee?

You choose your committee in consultation with your adviser. There are three readers on a committee; your adviser and two other professors who agree to read the thesis.

  • Is a reader from outside AUB permitted?

Yes.  That person is usually a third reader and is not remunerated.

  • How long does it take to complete an MA?

This depends a bit on whether you take 2 or 3 courses per term and whether or not you have a graduate assistantship.  It also depends on how early you choose your thesis topic and how quickly you are able to write it.  If you are very organized, it can be done in two years (and a summer).  In any case, the maximum you can take is four years after admission.  Beyond this period you must petition the graduate committee.

  • How long do I have to finish after submitting my thesis proposal?

You have four semesters to finish. Beyond four semesters you must petition the graduate committee.

  • Do I have to pay everytime I register for the thesis?

No. You pay the first time you register for thesis and then you can register three more times without paying.

  • Is there a residency requirement?

Yes.  See the graduate catalogue for details.

  • Do I have to register for thesis?

Yes. The thesis is a course that you have to register every semester.  If you register in the summer it counts as a semester though for your total semesters allowed to finish.  If you have a graduate assistantship, you must have your thesis proposal approved before registering your thesis (by the very beginning of the term in which you intend to begin the thesis).

  • What if my thesis committee changes?

You make a petition to the graduate committee.

  • What if the course called thesis is not in AUBsis with my adviser’s name on it?

In this case, see the chairperson. S/he will have a new section opened for you.

  • If I am in the English Language section and I have already taken some kind of statistics or data analysis class, is it required to take EDUC 227?

Students can petition the Graduate Committee to have this requirement waived, but they must make sure that the same topics are covered in the courses.

  • Is it possible to take a leave of absence while in the graduate program?

Yes. The leave of absence application can be up to one year at a time. The maximum period of approved leave of absence is for two years. Beyond two years, you must reapply to the program. Details can be found in the Leave of Absence application form from the Graduate Council.

For more information about preparing and writing the thesis, check the thesis writing guide prepared by the writing center.

  • What is the comprehensive exam?

The comprehensive exam is a day-long set of written exams on different topic fields (or periods of literature).  There are three questions: a period question, a comparative question and a focus question (related to the student's thesis proposal).

  • When do I take it?

The comprehensive is usually taken in the semester after you finish your coursework.

  • How do I register?

It is a course that you register for.  You must see your academic adviser before the registration period and s/he will inform the chairperson of your eligibility to register for the exam.  The course is listed under the name of the Chairperson and s/he will give you a space in the course.

  • How is the comprehensive exam graded?

It is graded pass/fail.

  • Is it possible to fail the comprehensive exam?

Definitely it is.  Professors are reading your exams for your overall knowledge and ability to answer specific questions.  Students who do not pass the first time can retake it one time only.

Transferring to the English Major

  • If I am a freshman student, how do I transfer from being majorless to being an English major?

Freshman students need to fill in the Freshman Transfer to a Major form.  Freshmen who meet the requirements must apply within two weeks after the end of each semester.  Admission will be effective as of the beginning of the next regular semester.

  • How can I transfer to the department of English from another department in AUB?

The rules are different depending on how many semesters you have been at AUB.  Passing some introductory courses and a specific GPA are required. See the catalogue for more details.   Majorless students, as well as student who belong to another major, may apply as soon as they have completed the interdepartmental transfer requirements for joining English.  See the catalog for more details.

  • If I have not been accepted yet into the English major, do the courses I took towards the major count once accepted?


  • If I’m planning to transfer to English, who do I get advising from?

You must get your alternate PIN from your current adviser, but you can see the chairperson or the associate chairperson of the Department of English for advising.

  • Is it possible to transfer from being an English major at another university to being an English major at AUB?

Yes.  Transfers from other universities must have good GPA and must submit course syllabi with their admissions materials for all courses taken elsewhere that they want transferred.

  • How can I transfer to the Department of English from another university? What documents are required?

All students, whether English majors or not, transferring from another university should submit their applications to the Admissions office, following the instruction for transfer applications.

  • If I am transfer student and I have taken English courses, do the credits transfer?

Yes.  All transfer applications are reviewed for equivalence and credit transfer.  The syllabi of courses taken should be included with the admissions materials.

  • If I was a freshman student and I took math and sciences classes then and I become an English major, do those courses count for my general education?

What you take to complete the 30 credits of the Freshman year does not count in lieu of general education in later years.  If you take ENGL 203 and/or ENGL 204 in the freshman year, you take humanities or language courses in their place once you become a sophomore.  If you begin as a freshman you must have 120 credits in the end.  No double dipping.

  • What happens if I take a sophomore-level course as a Freshman student that satisfies a sophomore requirement?

It will satisfy the requirement, but you still have to take another elective course to get the necessary total credits in the end.

Advising and Registration

  • How do I register?

Online, using AUBsis. The registration period is listed in university calendar, and the specific time you can register is mentioned in your AUBsis account under ‘view time ticket’.

  • What if the course is full?

Currently, the policy of the Department of English is not to open capacities in full courses. If you are an English major or you can demonstrate progress towards an English major, exceptions can be made. The chair reserves the right to prioritize needs for any possible opening of capacity.
Watch during the second phase of registration and during the drop and add period for openings in courses of your choice.

  • What do I need to register?

You need a number called an alternate PIN that you get from your academic adviser.

  • When do I need an alternate PIN?

Alternate PINs are needed by new undergraduate and graduate students as well as those who are on, or were just removed from, academic probation.  By new students is meant new matriculating students as well as those undergraduates who are joining a new major, or transfers from other majors or from majorless status.

  • How do I know who my adviser is?

The adviser’s name appears on your AUBsis.  Your adviser is your mentor at AUB.  S/he can help you make decisions about courses and other academic matters.  The adviser is the first step in getting your issues resolved.

  • For what purposes do I have to make a petition?

Students have to make petitions for any exception to the rules and regulations of the university.  Petitions are submitted online from the FAS website.

  • What do I do if I can’t find my adviser?

The chairperson is the secondary adviser for all students. You can see him/her if your adviser is not available.

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