Category Archives: Useful Program Info & Tips

Please complete the “blue course survey” for each course before 12/14

Mercy College’s semester-end feedback surveys aka the “Blue Course Surveys” are now active for each of your MA courses. You should see links to the surveys in the left-hand side of your main Blackboard screen after you login. Please complete the survey for each MA course you are in. These are 100% anonymous and remain anonymous forever. Your professors don’t see the anonymous results until after final grades are locked in (likewise, the survey closes on 12/14 before professors finalize and submit your grades). Your professors are currently able to see the response-percentage for each course, but that’s it. These surveys are your VOICE and provide you with a way to express your thoughts, positive or negative, about your MA courses and professors. These are taken very seriously by the college.

After the semester, each of your professors will read your anonymous feedback for their class. The MA program director, the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, and the Associate Dean will review all of the surveys for all MA courses. The college’s President and Provost will review the response-percentages for the MA program and for the School of Liberal Arts and may review some of your particular responses too. Your voice and feedback matter and influence the courses we run, how we run them, and who runs them. The response-percentages matter and can effect things such as the college’s investment in and even respect for our graduate program and the School of Liberal Arts overall.

So please, complete the survey for each of your MA courses before the surveys close on 12/14. Your voice and your feedback are critically important to helping us measure if our MA English students are being well-served in their MA courses, and how we might improve as a faculty and a program. Thank you.

ENGL 599 students take note: Front-End Format for the final Thesis Paper

Students currently working on their 599 thesis papers this fall semester, please take note. Although the thesis paper follows MLA style in elements like quoting and citing, and the Works Cited, the front-end of the final draft of your paper is to be done differently. Click here to see a PDF of the way the front of the paper needs to be formatted. You can’t actually manipulate that PDF, it’s provided here only as a format-locked view of how the front of the final draft of your thesis should look. Click here to access a Word (.docx) template which you can manipulate and use when formatting the final draft of your thesis paper. Formatting of the .docx might break when opened in different versions of word-processing software, and across different computer platforms. So after opening it, check the format of the .docx template against the PDF and adjust as necessary so that the final draft of your paper looks correct.

Note that only the final draft of your thesis requires this special format.

The easiest way to use the .docx template is to copy and paste your thesis into the appropriate place (the fourth page, which is the first regularly-numbered page: this will make sense once you look at the actual template). Be sure to complete the necessary fields in brackets [ ] on the title page (the paper title, your name, the date). Do nothing on the faculty signature page. Replace the text on the acknowledgement page with whatever you want; and if you don’t want to put anything there you can just leave the page blank. Then on the fourth page, which again is the first regularly-numbered page, make sure you’ve put your last name into the [Last Name] field in the top-right corner.

You do not have to use the actual .docx template and can just re-create this front-end format on your own, if you know how to, and if it’s easier for you to do so (using page-breaks and other tools to create different sections and headers in your own document). Just make sure that the final draft of the thesis paper that you send to your mentor is formatted as you see in the PDF linked above. If you have any questions speak to your mentor and/or email me at

Quick FYI: All Aspects of the MA Degree Requirements Can Be Completed At Distance/Online

This is just a quick FYI to all current and prospective students who might be reading the blog, and hopefully just repeats information which is already well known, but to be completely clear: students can complete all aspects of the MA degree through our MA English program remotely, meaning through distance learning, meaning online, meaning how current students are doing it already, meaning from wherever it is you are located in the world. This includes the coursework, the comp exam, the final thesis paper: everything. No one will ever need to travel to Mercy’s physical campus in NY, or to any testing center, in order to complete any of the degree requirements or to receive the actual degree. Some grad students do voluntarily travel to our physical campus at various times for various reasons (to attend the spring symposium, to talk with profs, if they happen to be in the area, etc.) but this is not required for the degree.

I’m posting this note because it’s been brought to my attention that Mercy College periodically sends out some sort of generic form-letter to all graduate students taking online coursework informing them that they might need to travel or make other arrangements to complete some degree requirements. That is not the case for the MA English degree. Again, you can complete all requirements through distance learning and will never have to travel or make special testing arrangements. We’ve got that all figured out here in the program. As always if you have any questions drop me a note at

Call for Papers: NEMLA 2019 Panel

Mary Reading, a colleague of our Dr. Fritz, is chairing a panel at the 2019 NEMLA convention on the topic of: “In, Beyond, Between Bodies: Transgender Identity through Interpersonal Spaces in Visual Media.” The call for papers (CFP) for potential panelists is open until September 30. You can learn more about the CFP, including contact info and submission guidelines, here on the UPENN bulletin board (which if you didn’t know is pretty much where everyone in the profession goes to look for CFPs since the UPENN board collates CFPs from around the country and world.) You can learn more about the 2019 NEMLA convention here. Any Mercy grad students working in this area of inquiry (or interested in working in this area of inquiry) and who can be in Washington DC in March 2019 to attend the convention should put together a paper proposal and submit it before the deadline. Any questions about the panel should be directed to Mary Reading at:

A Note About Courses Coded 514, 515, 540, and 560.

Registration has recently opened for summer and fall 2018 courses. For those who might not know, the program has four course numbers (514, 515, 540, and 560) which are not coded to specific courses, but instead work as shell numbers under which we cycle an assortment of different courses, sometimes our more experimental or newer courses. You are free to take as many instances of courses by these four numbers as you like to meet your field requirements or electives, including multiple instances of courses running by the same number: as long as the courses aren’t actually the same.

So in other words a student can take ENGL 540 Magic in Literature and ENGL 540 Mastering the Past, two different courses running at different semesters by the same 540 course code. Or, a student taking ENGL 560 African and Caribbean Lit. this spring semester can take ENGL 560 Hemingway: Modern Cryptography in the fall. As long as you’re keeping your ten-course/30-credit requirement in view, and are adhering to it, all will be fine. As a reminder, here’s that ten-course/30-credit degree requirement:

I should note that when you have multiple instances of the same course number on your transcript, it doesn’t immediately show up on your self-service degree audit in DegreeWorks (accessible in Mercy Connect, in case you didn’t know). We here go through the audits every year and manually flip a switch in the computer system that makes multiple instances of the same course number apply to the degree. That’s only to explain why if you do take multiple instances of courses running by one of these four numbers they might not immediately show up on your audit.

More info on Joining Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society

Hi all, in response to my post from 2/12 a number of you have already been in contact with Dr. Horton about joining Sigma Tau Delta. Great! Here’s some more information about the organization, the membership process, and, for anyone who can attend, the induction ceremony:

Sigma Tau Delta was established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature, and writing. It now includes 825 chapters in the United States and abroad. Membership in this prestigious honor society is something you can list on your resume under “professional organizations” and membership will also provide you with resources and networking opportunities in our field of English. To be eligible graduate students must be actively enrolled in a graduate program, have completed six credits of graduate coursework, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA.


Lifetime membership requires a one-time fee of $40. If you are eligible and would like to join, please submit a $40 check or money order made out to Mercy College. (Just to be clear, we send the entirety of this fee to Sigma Tau Delta, but the college collects all fees and then cuts one check to send on behalf of our college’s Alpha Alpha Phi chapter. Any check or money order that is not made out to Mercy College will be returned to you as we will not be able to deposit it).

When writing a check or money order include your name and Mercy ID# in the memo-line of the check. Mail (or hand deliver) the check or money order to:

Dr. Dana Horton
Mercy College
Maher Hall #208
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry NY 10522

Students may also pay in cash but you cannot send cash through the mail. You must hand-deliver cash to Dr. Horton or to the department administrator, Linda Dubiell, in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus.

The deadline for receiving this payment of $40 is Tuesday, March 20, 2018.


Inductees, along with family and friends, are cordially invited to Mercy College’s Honors Day Induction Ceremony taking place on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, beginning at 5:00pm in Lecture Hall on Dobbs Ferry campus with a dinner reception to follow in the Main Hall Cafe. There is no limit to the number of guests you may invite; we only ask you to let Dr. Horton know now how many will attend so that we can order adequate catering. Attendance at the May ceremony is not required for membership.

We of the English literature faculty at Mercy College hope that you will join the Alpha Alpha Phi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a tradition here at Mercy College since 1991. If you have questions, please reach out to Dr. Dana Horton at

Interested in Joining the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta?

If you’re interested in joining Sigma Tau Delta, which is the International English Honors Society, registration is about to open. To be eligible graduate students must be actively enrolled in a graduate program, have completed six credits of graduate coursework, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA. Dr. Dana Horton ( is the Sigma Tau coordinator this year and is the one to contact about this, but please let me know as well if you intend to join ( There is a one-time membership fee, the payment of which you would coordinate with Dr. Horton. A Sigma Tau induction ceremony takes place at the end of each spring semester on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Inductees and any families/friends are invited and encouraged to attend though attendance is not required for membership.

Withdrawing from courses / getting tuition refunded.

Sometimes when nearing a semester you find out that you need to drop a course in which you’re registered, and for which you’ve paid or had aid allocated. It’s important to note that in order to get some or all of your tuition refunded you must officially withdraw from the course. Even if you don’t attend/log into a course after it begins, that isn’t the same as withdrawing and technically you’re still in the course until you officially withdraw. The next thing to note is that the amount that you’ll be refunded depends on when you withdraw. Below is the policy as written in the Graduate Catalog:

  • Refunds

When a student officially withdraws from any course or courses by filing a formal withdrawal notice (Drop/Add Form) with the Office of Enrollment Services, refund of tuition will be made according to the below outlined schedule. See the course bulletin for specific refund dates. The date of withdrawal is the date upon which the formal withdrawal notice is received. Withdrawal may be processed at the Office of Enrollment Services or via the Web at Mercy Connect. Fees are non-refundable once courses begin.

Date of Withdrawal / Tuition Refund

Prior to second week of scheduled course meetings /100%

Prior to third week of scheduled course meetings / 80%

Prior to fourth week of scheduled course meetings / 50%

During or after the fourth week of scheduled course meetings / No Refund

Notice that as per those instructions the specific dates for each semester’s refund schedule will be listed in that semester’s bulletin. You can always find full digital versions of the catalog and bulletins here on the site.

Fall Semester Begins Wed. 9/6. Students taking 599 this fall take note of Comprehensive Exam.

The fall 2017 semester begins on Wednesday 9/6. Even though our online courses run on a weekly unit schedule all students should sign in on the first or second day of the semester to read over the syllabus, get clear on the course policies and schedules, and see what activities your professors require of you that first week. Each professor will run her or his class a bit differently and have different requirements to which you’ll need to adhere.

For your reference you can always find the academic calendars for upcoming semesters published HERE on the Mercy website. MA courses are always “Term A” so refer to the Term A section of the academic calendars.

All students needing to take ENGL 599 this fall should be enrolled in their 599 section at this point. It will appear on your schedule like any other class if you are in fact enrolled in a 599 section. If you plan to take 599 this fall and are not already in a 599 section, contact me right now at and refer to this post for the procedures for getting into your 599 course. We will get you setup in time for the fall but this needs to get sorted now. Related: all students need to take and pass the program’s Comprehensive Exam before entering 599 and beginning their final semester. So for those taking 599 in the fall, if you have not yet taken and passed the Comp Exam contact me at now and we’ll get that taken care of.

I will be putting up my annual “welcome to the semester” post here on the blog in several weeks so check back at the start of the semester for that, and for other informational posts that might pop up this and next month.

All About the required 500 Course – When to take it, Waitlists, etc.

Let’s talk about ENGL 500, and when you should/must take it, since this is something that a lot of people have questions about.

Everyone must take 500 because it is designated in our NY State Board of Ed license as our program’s core course.

The course runs each fall semester, and only in the fall. It’s impossible for a student to complete their coursework during just a spring and summer semester so every student will be with us for at least one fall semester (and if you’re only with us for one fall semester, then of course you need to take 500 during that fall semester). If a student is with us for two or more fall semesters, though, that student can take 500 during any of those fall semesters. We recommend taking it later rather than sooner in your progress toward the degree, as 500 can be a weird and difficult course, something that might be overly confusing at the start of graduate studies. But you can take it whichever fall semester you want.

Every student who needs to take 500 during any particular fall running of the course will get into that running of the course. Students who need 500 during, say, fall 2017 are students who plan to graduate at the end of fall 2017, spring 2018, or summer 2018. Students who don’t plan to graduate until the fall 2018 semester or later do not need to take it during this fall 2017 (but may take it this fall).

Students who need 500 during any particular fall but don’t get into the course during open registration will still get in. This happens by getting on the waitlist. After the course fills we watch the waitlist for the next several months. If only several students get on the waitlist, we open the existing section of the course and give seats to those students. If, though, a lot of students get on the waitlist, then we consider opening a second section of the course. If that happens we split all of the students, both those registered and those on the waitlist, evenly across the two sections.

This is why you must get on the waitlist if 500 is full but you need to get into it. If you need to get 500 during a particular fall semester in order to graduate on time, you will get in. The one drawback to not getting a seat in 500 when seats were available during open registration is that you must be patient, as again we need several months to determine whether to open more seats in the existing section or to open a second section.

As always, contact me with any questions at