Skip to this page's content

Master of Arts in Children's Literature

Master of Arts in Children's Literature

Simmons's Center for the Study of Children's Literature (CSCL) provides a rigorous, disciplined study of children's books, with an emphasis on historical and critical analysis, including feminist, ideological, and multicultural perspectives. To develop a critical vocabulary essential for appraising text and illustration, students analyze children's literature ranging from folklore and mythology, to contemporary realistic fiction and nonfiction.

"If you love the true literary study of YA and middle grade novels and picture books — and/or if you're interested in writing them — check out Simmons. The Children's Literature program is rigorous, invigorating, and inspiring, and it changed my life in all the best ways."
—Kristin Cashore, '04 M.A. Children's Literature
Author of an award-winning YA debut novel, Graceling

The interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Children's Literature curriculum draws upon art, history, education, sociology, psychology, and media studies. Coursework addresses topics such as book publishing, literacy and orality, poetry, nonfiction, writing fiction for children, and the multiple ways that children's literature constructs perception of childhood. Students have the option to do a thesis or complete an independent study project with a practical application, such as literature education, publishing internships, or other projects that apply the degree to professional fields.

CSCL students are discriminating readers, writers, and advocates of children's literature who recognize the value and influence of fine literature. In the decades since the CSCL opened in 1977 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the field of children's literature has continued to grow, opening up to more critical study and job opportunities. Our graduates pursue careers as authors, editors, scholars, and critics, as well as librarians and teachers. They also use their children's literature degree as a steppingstone to doctoral programs and entrepreneurial work in children's literature.

Degree Options

The 36-credit Children's Literature program leads to a Master of Arts in Children's Literature. Most students choose to complete the program in four to six semesters, enrolling in a maximum of two courses per semester in order to explore their interests more thoroughly. Students may take up to five years to complete the degree program. Most courses meet once a week in three-hour seminar. Although not required, proficiency in a second language is strongly recommended, particularly for students who intend to pursue further graduate work, college-level teaching careers, and research.

Simmons offers the following dual-degree options:


There are five required courses for the Master of Arts in Children's Literature: Criticism of Literature for Children, The Picturebook, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and one course in the history of children's literature selected from courses with a chronological focus, such as Victorian Children's Literature, 19th Century American Children's Literature, or Folk and Fairy Tales. Students have the option to do a thesis or an independent study project during the final semester.