Category Archives: Useful Program Info & Tips

Author Event with Patricia Engel, Hosted by Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Wed. 9/28

On Wednesday, September 28, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile of the Mercy College English Program will be hosting a discussion with author Patricia Engel, regarding her book Infinite Country. Mercy College MA students are strongly encouraged to attend this event; you can attend on zoom, or can join a larger viewing party in the Mercy Hall Rotunda on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Click here to register for the zoom webinar. Or click here if you plan to attend the viewing party in the Rotunda.

Attention students and alumni: please complete this program survey!

Every five years, as a part of Mercy College’s accreditation, the MA English Lit program is required to perform a “program self-study.” This involves the Program Director gathering together data and other info, including student & alumni feedback, and then reflecting with the MA faculty and college administrators on what these elements reveal. The goal is to identify where the program is succeeding, and where it needs improvement, based on what we learn from the “self study.”

Few things are as meaningful and as valuable for these purposes as student feedback, so please, if you’re an incoming student, active student, or alum, take some time and complete the survey linked here. Complete as much of it as makes sense (you don’t need to answer every question) and then click the submit button down at the bottom. Your voice is so important and so I hope that each of you will raise your voice and express yourself through the survey.

Survey responses are anonymous.

The direct link to the survey form, in case your browser is blocking the embedded link above is:

Any questions about the survey? Please write to

MA English Lit program learning goals and learning outcomes, updated 2022

As a part of Mercy College’s accreditation, the MA English Literature program (like every program at Mercy College) is required to maintain and occasionally share among our graduate student community what our accreditors refer to as “program learning goals” and “student learning outcomes.” These things have very particular meanings in accrediting parlance, and those meanings don’t always translate to or encompass the spirit of humanities disciplines such as graduate English literature, a spirit which by its nature involves complexities, nuances, shadows, and wonderworkings which to some degree resist reductionist measurement and assessment (and since reductionist measurement and assessment form the basis of all 21st-century college accreditation, this puts English literary studies in a strange situation).

The MA program has necessarily, then, developed program learning goals and student learning outcomes which work to speak true to our curriculum and to the needs of our accreditation requirements, while also remaining flexible and generic enough so as to not betray the more nebulous spirit and explorations of graduate English literature study.

Below are the MA in English Literature program’s current program learning goals:

  • Students will develop their knowledge and comprehension of a variety of literary texts (Program Learning Goal 1)
  • Students will develop their knowledge and comprehension of critical approaches and literary concepts (Program Learning Goal 2)
  • Students will develop their critical and creative thinking, and their research and writing skills, toward the aim of developing a professional-level proficiency in these areas (Program Learning Goal 3)

Below are the program’s four student learning outcomes. Such outcomes require an even more particular phrasing: they must signal something that a student is expected to be able to do at the end of coursework, as a result of coursework, that they could not do, or could not do as well, at the start of coursework. So: By the end of the MA English Literature program, students are expected to be able to:

  • Analyze and interpret literary texts (Student Learning Outcome 1)
  • Apply critical approaches and concepts to the analysis and interpretation of literary texts (Student Learning Outcome 2)
  • Conduct research relevant to the field, and evaluate source quality (Student Learning Outcome 3)
  • Create original research topics and produce writings on those topics which demonstrate clear writing and accurate documentation style (Student Learning Outcome 4)

In one way or another those goals and outcomes undergird all of the curriculum in the MA English Literature program. If anyone has any questions about any of this, feel free to contact the Program Director at Thank you.

Info about the SLA Graduation (Commencement) Ceremony on 5/18

This Wednesday, 5/18, the School of Liberal Arts (SLA) will hold its graduation commencement ceremony on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Below you can see the tent being set up for the event on the western athletic field.

For any graduating students traveling to campus to attend here are a few things you should know:

First, the SLA event runs from 2pm to 4pm. Earlier that day, from 10am to noon, is the School of Business’s (SBUS) commencement ceremony. No one knows if the two hour window between the two events will be adequate for the SBUS attendees to exit the campus to clear the venue and parking spots for the SLA attendees arriving. This is the first time the college is holding commencement at the Dobbs Ferry campus so there are a lot of unknowns. The college’s other schools are holding their commencement ceremonies on other days this week.

Anyone who has registered for commencement should have received a temporary parking permit. You must have a parking permit to drive onto the campus. Security will turn you around at the campus entrance otherwise. If you have registered for the event but have not received a temp parking permit, contact immediately. FYI the Ardsley on Hudson Metro North station, on the MTA Hudson River Line, is just through those trees on the right side of the above image.

There will be coffee, water, snacks, bathrooms, and a place for our graduating MA English students (and other SLA students) and their families to sit prior to the event in the Gratia Maher Hall conference room. The room will be open from about 11:45am until about 1:30pm. Faculty will be moving in and out of the building that day in preparation for the ceremony, but you might see a few familiar faces in passing if you’re sitting in Maher Hall that afternoon.

Of course you don’t need to attend commencement to actually graduate. Commencement is a purely ceremonial event. Everyone who has met all of the requirements for the MA degree will be conferred their degree this month. Your physical diploma will be mailed out later, over the summer, but you will officially hold the MA degree once it has been conferred by the Registrar of the college. Any questions write to

Planning to Graduate This Spring? Complete the Degree Conferral Form by 3/15

MA students for whom this spring is their final semester must complete the degree conferral form in order to be considered for degree conferral in May. The procedures and form are online here. The form is where you will indicate things like the mailing address to where your diploma should be mailed, contact info, degree info (Master of Arts in English Literature). Be sure to complete the form if you are on-track to complete your degree requirements this semester.

Summer Fellowship (Paid Internship) Opportunity in Professional Publishing

The Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), and their non-profit sister organization Literary Agents of Change (LAOC), are sponsoring fellowships for summer 2022. Mercy College English students, grad or undergrad, with an interest in the field of publishing are strongly encouraged to apply. Those selected will receive a grant of $6,000 each and be paired with one of AALA /LAOC’s 450+ members for a 10 week internship. This flyer provides more info, and this document/contract provides even more specific information (it sets forth expectations for the fellowship/internship program and ensures legal compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act).

The application can be found here: 

The deadline to apply is March 15th.

AALA/LAOC has created this promotional video to give Mercy College English students a bit more information about this opportunity and the role of a literary agent.

If you have any questions please contact:   

How to Get a Student ID Card

If you are an active MA student and you want a student ID card, but live at a distance from the campus, here is what you do:

Using your email account, send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID number) to Amanda McKenzie at:

Full photo guidelines are:

  • Submit a color photo of just your face taken in last 6 months
  • Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
  • Submit a high-resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixelated
  • Use a clear and unedited image of your face; do not use filters such as those commonly used on social media
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view
  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Use a plain white or off-white background

Let Amanda know in your email that you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and that you would like a student ID card. She will explain the process further and get you the ID card.

Student ID cards can be useful for securing discounts at various places, and perhaps more importantly for your graduate studies will get you access to local university and college libraries in your area that would be otherwise inaccessible. Just check with those libraries before venturing to them to make sure they’ll admit graduate students from another college, with a current ID, for purposes of doing research.

Tips for Grad Students: Decorum in Correspondences with Professors

One thing that I hope our graduate students will note is that every professor teaching in the Mercy College MA program holds a doctorate. In order to be qualified to teach in our graduate program at all, the professor must hold a doctorate and therefore be, technically, a Doctor. This is one of the things that makes Mercy’s graduate program special, that all of our faculty have achieved what’s known as the terminal or final degree in the field. In correspondences with any professor in the program, therefore, it’s appropriate to begin with a salutation such as “Hello Dr. [last name],” or “Dear Dr. [last name],” or even simply “Dr. [last name].” It’s also quite normal to instead begin a correspondence with something like “Hello Professor [last name].” But as earning a doctorate and the formal academic title of Doctor takes a great deal of sacrifice, work, risk, time, and cost, many people who have achieved this distinction will be taken aback, especially in an academic setting, if not addressed, at least in early correspondences, in an appropriately professional way. What we’re talking about here is decorum.

As you develop your collegial relationship with various professors over individual classes, and over the whole of your graduate career, and as your degree of familiarity with certain professors increases over time, it will (or might, depending on the professor) make more and more sense to be more casual with one another in correspondences. Some professors might even ask you to refer to them by their first name rather than their title, or in some other way might indicate that it’s okay to be less formal in salutations and correspondences.

But prior to such familiarity, and prior to a professor indicating or inviting any such thing, please be considerate of corresponding with professors with an awareness of decorum. It is not appropriate, for example, to begin a correspondence with a professor in the graduate program by writing something like “Hey you,” or even by not including any salutation at all and just writing as if you were texting a friend, or sending a message to customer service. Please just reflect on and be considerate of such things when you’re engaging with your professors.

It is entirely appropriate, if you’re unsure or have questions or thoughts about such things as this, to ask your various professors directly about them. Communicating about things is how we develop. The faculty are here to help develop our grad students’ expertise in the fields of literature and writing; but we are also here to help develop our grad students’ sense of decorum appropriate to the field of academia, so to help professionalize and prepare our grad students for potentially entering the field. Thank you, everyone.

Grad-Student Editors Needed for Red Hyacinth, The Mercy College Literary Magazine. [Updated 9/29]

Update: Red Hyacinth Journal editorial positions for the 2022 issue have been filled. The Department thanks everyone for their interest. Please keep an eye out for a “call for submissions” sometime in early-to-mid October.

Very soon there will be a call for creative-writing submissions to the college’s literary magazine, Red Hyacinth. Before that, though, the faculty who manage the journal need to assemble a team of student-editors. In the past this has been comprised mostly of undergraduate majors working in an actual office on campus. However this year, since the collaborative editing work can take place through zoom and other online platforms, the managing faculty are hoping to involve our graduate English Literature students on the student-editing team. If you’re interested in volunteering, here’s what you should know:

About Red Hyacinth

Red Hyacinth Journal is an annually published, perfect-bound literary magazine that showcases the writing and art of Mercy College students and alum. The journal’s first issue was produced in 2018 through the generosity of the family of the late Professor Valerie Lewis, a former instructor in the English program, and the creative writing fund established in her name.  Over the past few issues, Red Hyacinth has featured the creative work of over 200 graduate and undergraduate students from across many majors and disciplines. Student editors from the Departments of Literature and Language and Communication and the Arts collaborate on the editorial decisions, design, and concept. The journal’s student editors receive hands-on experience in the editorial and production processes as they select the work (poetry, drama, nonfiction, fiction, and art) in a blind-review process, prepare the magazine for press, and communicate with the college community regarding its release. The journal’s website can be found at 

As we put together a 5th annual issue (2022) we are looking to assemble an all-volunteer staff of Editors. Many literary magazines are produced by not-for-profit entities such as colleges and art collectives, and as such, most rely on an all-volunteer staff. While the positions are not compensated, the Editors’ names appear in the Masthead of the journal and editorial service can be listed on one’s CV and referenced in job interviews. Serving as an editor provides a graduate or undergraduate student with invaluable, relevant hands-on experience in editing, publishing, and arts administration, and allows one to make an important contribution to the Mercy Community, one that will endure for years to come. The journal is a “living” artifact, representing not only the students and editors who collaborate on an issue, but the challenges and aesthetics of the time the journal was produced in.  

We are looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to fill the following positions for the 2021-22 academic year. The positions start immediately and generally run until June 2022. All positions will currently operate remotely,and applicants must have access to a computer, Zoom, reliable Internet, and the ability to meet once or twice a month to collaborate with other editors; some daytime availability is preferred for meetings. Editors cannot publish their own work in the issue they are serving on. If interested, please send your resume and a brief letter starting your interest to Dr. Kristen Keckler,

Below are more details about specific Editor positions. Positions will be filled as soon as possible. Hours vary; it is a significant time commitment, but one that is spread over many months so that it is manageable.

1 Managing Editor 

The Managing Editor position will manage the day-to-day operations of the literary journal for one cycle/issue, with the opportunity for renewal for another issue cycle if the candidate so desires. The Managing Editor will coordinate with the content and design editors to ensure that the team stays on task and that deadlines and benchmarks are met at key junctures in the production schedule. The position requires strong organizational skills and ability to create effective spreadsheets using Google.  

Responsibilities include: 

  • Manage the email and Google drive for the journal 
  • Communicate with students/alum who submit to the journal 
  • Create spreadsheets to track submissions and ensure a blind submission process (submissions will be numbered and all identifying information removed from the submission and tracked in the spreadsheet). 
  • Create and monitor Google doc for Content Editors to mark as they review submissions 
  • Call and manage editorial meetings 
  • Communicate with faculty advisor about progress  
  • Update the journal’s website with relevant deadlines 
  • Ensure names of contributors are correctly reflected in journal and titles of pieces are accurate 

2 to 3 Content Editors 

Content Editors will review submissions in various written genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, etc.) and determine the artistic merit/potential of each piece and its suitability for the issue of the journal.  

Content Editors’ responsibilities include: 

  • attending Zoom meetings to discuss the submissions and decide on which content is most suitable for the issue in terms of showcasing a variety of themes, styles, voices, and genres.  
  • collaborating to decide on the order and “arc” of the journal’s creative work, deciding on, for example, which pieces have connections that can be highlighted through juxtaposition and ordering 
  • assisting in light copy editing and review of proofs for errors/omissions 
  • assisting with outreach to classes and potential contributors about the journal 
  • other assistance as needed from faculty advisor and managing editor 


We are now accepting applications for online TA position for fall 2021. We anticipate being able to employ three or four TAs this fall.

Experience as a TA can be a valuable line-item in a curriculum vitae. And assisting in an online classroom will provide a first-hand look at how an actual online college English course unfolds over a semester. TA positions are excellent experiential opportunities for anyone who aspires to teach at any level. For anyone who is already an active or experienced teacher, TA positions offer you a chance to use your expertise to make a significant positive impact on the development of undergraduate students who very much need your help.

Duties of the TA vary from class to class depending on the needs of the instructor. For more information, including qualifications for holding a TA position, consult the TA guidelines linked here. Review as well the TA Netiquette form linked here.

We anticipate that TAs this fall semester will be working 3 paid hours per week (remotely) and making $15/hour. The semester is 15 weeks long so the pay for the semester would be $675. The pay is therefore minimal. The real value of the TA position is the experience it provides.

To apply for a fall 2021 TA position send an email to by the end of Friday, July 16, using the subject line ENGLISH TA APPLICATION, and with the following materials attached:

  1. Resume
  2. The name of one MA faculty member who will recommend you (just list the name — we will check with the faculty member to confirm their recommendation; make sure you establish with that person beforehand if she or he will recommend you).
  3. A short statement of purpose, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words) expressing why you are interested in being a TA at Mercy College.
  4. A short statement of your philosophy of teaching, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words).
  5. The completed activity linked here.

If you applied before for a TA position but were not offered a position you can resubmit, if you like, the same materials you submitted previously. If you worked for us as a TA in the past you can be considered anew for a TA position simply by indicating your interest (you do not need to resubmit the application materials). Please note that our priority with these positions is giving as many students as possible a chance to be a TA, so those who have already worked as TAs will be prioritized after other applicants.

Please send any questions to Thank you.