A Master of Letters degree (MLitt or LittM; Latin Magister Litterarum or Litterarum Magister) is a postgraduate degree.



Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University offer MLitt degrees. Trinity has offered them the longest, owing largely to its tradition as Ireland's oldest university and anglican heritage. MLitts are on offer from the School of Law and the School of Humanities.School of Law[1]

The National University of Ireland offers MLitt degrees across the Human Sciences/Arts. Often students register initially for the MLitt programme before being 'promoted' to PhD studies. Different schools and institutes have different requirements for an MLitt. Generally a number of seminars in the relevant area need to be completed as well as the substantial dissertation researched and written over the period of 4 semesters (6 part-time).

United Kingdom


The Master of Letters degree is a postgraduate degree awarded by a few select British, predominantly within the ancient English and Scottish universities.



Within the English University system MLitt degrees are not offered in all institutions, nor in all disciplines. An M.Litt. may be awarded as an alternative to the Master of Philosophy research degree and is usually placed higher in the hierarchy; starting with degrees such as the postgraduate Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc), then Master of Philosophy, and finally Master of Letters. Note that this varies from the position in Scotland. Students attending English Universities may apply for an MLitt in the first instance; for others who have completed two years of a Doctorate (such as a PhD or DPhil) and who do not wish to, or cannot, continue with the final year(s), there is the option to write up their completed research so far and graduate with an MLitt degree.



The MLitt is awarded within Scottish Universities on its own merit on the basis of a one-year taught,[2] or two-year research course of postgraduate study[3] rather than as a sub-PhD compensatory alternative as in the English model. This designation also distinguishes postgraduate degrees from the award of the undergraduate degree of Master of Arts by the ancient universities of Scotland (St Andrews, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh). Postgraduate study for both taught and research degrees at this level may be undertaken on campus or by distance learning, depending on the university. For example, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the University of Aberdeen both offer full MLitt courses by distance learning.[4][5]

The taught MLitt requires study of 180 ECTS credits, including a research-led dissertation (often 60 to 75 credits) usually of 15,000-18,000 words in length.[6] The MLitt (Research) may be awarded to a student whose postgraduate course of special study and research represents a significant contribution to knowledge. The period of full-time study is two years and the thesis is normally 40,000–70,000 words.[7] In all cases, the MLitt is usually awarded in Arts, Divinity, Fine Art, Humanities, or Social Sciences.

The University of Edinburgh does not designate degrees as MLitt, normally offering the degree of MSc for a one-year taught postgraduate degree. It offers research degrees as either a one-year Masters by Research, two-year Master of Philosophy, or a PhD.[8]

United States


Most American universities do not award the Master of Letters degree. It is awarded by some schools in the United States.

  • Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey, offers the Master of Letters as an interdisciplinary graduate degree in the Humanities through its "Arts & Letters" programme. The M.Litt. degree requires 30-33 credit hours and the option of submitting a three-credit 50- to 75-page thesis. It is an intermediate degree in the programme, which also offers a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) program—the only earned/non-honorary Doctor of Letters degree in the United States.[9]
  • Middlebury College offers the degree for the advanced study of English and writing beyond the Master of Arts through its Bread Loaf School of English.
  • Mary Baldwin University awards a unique M.Litt. degree requiring two years of study for in-depth research in Shakespeare and Performance, which it offers as an intermediate degree in its three-year MFA program.
  • Omega Graduate School in Tennessee offers an M.Litt. degree in Family Life Education and Organizational Leadership.[10]
  • The Davenant Institute offers a 72-credit hour M.Litt. in Classical Protestantism through its Davenant Hall. Its goal is "to retrieve the riches of classical Protestantism in order to renew and build up the contemporary church."[11]



The M.Litt. is awarded by two universities in Australia:

  • Central Queensland University offer the degree only by distance education through the School of Humanities, Psychology and Social Work, as a 50% coursework, 50% research course, taking two to three years part-time.
  • The University of Sydney's M.Litt. is available to students who have previously completed an MA in a relevant discipline. Students can specialise in Creative Writing, English, Theology, History, Linguistics, Museum Studies, or Peace and Conflict Studies.

The Australian National University, Monash University and the University of New England once offered the M.Litt., but have both discontinued the course. Monash, however, retained the Bachelor of Letters as a postgraduate arts degree.

Difference from other master's degrees


The main difference that distinguishes a Master of Letters from a Master of Arts is its specific nature. An M.Litt. degree, while requiring similar coursework to an M.A. degree, can be much more specific with its field and coursework. For example, an M.Litt. degree from Mary Baldwin’s Shakespeare & Performance program can qualify an individual to teach English and Theater, since the degree is essentially a hybrid between the two fields. Whereas an MA degree, while still a higher degree, usually only covers a single field without a huge amount of specificity.


  1. ^ "School of Law - Courses | Trinity College Dublin".
  2. ^ For example, the taught MLitt programme in History at the University of St Andrews: "Modern History MLitt - Subjects - University of St Andrews". www.st-andrews.ac.uk. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  3. ^ For example, as offered by the University of Glasgow: "University of Glasgow - Postgraduate study - Research opportunities A-Z - English Literature". www.gla.ac.uk. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  4. ^ "MLitt History". www.uhi.ac.uk. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  5. ^ "Scottish Heritage - Online MLitt". On-demand Learning. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  6. ^ University of Dundee
  7. ^ "Colleges - College of Social Sciences - Graduate School - Research opportunities - MLitt". University of Glasgow. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  8. ^ "Research degrees". The University of Edinburgh. 2020-06-19. Retrieved 2023-09-26.
  9. ^ Drew University – Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. "Arts & Letters: About the Program". Retrieved 23 December 2013. Note: The thesis option requires 27 credit hours of classes (typically 9 classes) and a three-credit thesis for a total of 30 credits for completion. The non-thesis option requires 33 credits (typically 11 classes) for completion.
  10. ^ https://ogs.edu/degree-programs/ [dead link]
  11. ^ The Davenant Institute, "Our Mission," https://davenantinstitute.org/about/