Children's Literature

Simmons launched the first Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature in 1977 to provide a rigorous, disciplined study of children’s and young adult books for those who are — or who intend to be — involved in teaching, library services, publishing, writing, or related fields. Students apply high-level scholarly analysis to materials ranging from folklore and fantasy to contemporary realistic fiction, nonfiction, and picturebooks. With an emphasis on historical and critical analysis — including gender studies, ideological, and multicultural perspectives — our interdisciplinary curriculum draws upon literature, art, history, education, sociology, psychology, and media studies.

This is a 36-credit program with only four mandatory courses. Students can tailor their program experience with a large list of elective courses as they immerse themselves in a wide range of genres — poetry, nonfiction, fantasy, young adult realistic fiction — and investigate the ways that children's literature constructs childhood.

Why study Children's Literature?

From picture books to young adult literature, classic works to contemporary prize-winners, you will explore the artistry of literature for children and young adults. Dare to discover new audiences and stories all your own.

Our Master’s program explores the multiple social, cultural, and professional perspectives that shape literature for today’s children and young adults. Coursework addresses topics such as book publishing, folklore, orality, poetry, nonfiction, writing fiction for children and young adults, and the multiple ways children’s literature constructs and reacts to constructions of childhood.

Our faculty come from academic and professional fields. Each student works closely with a faculty advisor to tailor their program to specific interests and future goals. Throughout the year, we offer a number of two-credit courses that use intensive weekend, week-long, or short-term models.

What can you do with an MA in Children’s Literature?

Simmons University’s MA in Children’s Literature prepares students to work in creating, analyzing, and publishing books for our youngest generation.

Students take advantage of career exploration and internship opportunities while in Boston or Amherst. Programs sponsored by the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature afford them networks of editors, authors, illustrators, critics, reviewers, teachers, and librarians. Our partnerships include The Horn Book, Inc., the Boston Book Festival, and Children’s Books Boston (a collaboration of Simmons with local children’s book publishers), among others.

Our alumni contribute to all areas of children’s and young adult book studies and publishing. Employers such as The Sheldon Fogelman Agency and publishers including Scholastic, Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Roaring Brook Press, Lee & Low Publishers, and Charlesbridge hire graduates from our programs for a variety of editorial and marketing positions. Many graduates go on to leadership positions; the founder of the Boston Book Festival and the children’s book editor of Kirkus Reviews are both Simmons Children’s Literature alumni.

Our graduates have published best-selling and award-winning work for children and young adults. They also teach at places such as Boston Collegiate School, Sonoma Academy, and the University of Memphis. They work in youth services at the Boston Public Library. They translate works for international audiences.

Scholarships, Discounts, Fellowship and Teaching Assistantship Opportunities 

All applicants are considered for a range of university scholarships, including endowed and departmental awards; new and returning students may apply for selective fellowships to help fund their degrees. Students who have completed at least eight credits are eligible to apply for teaching assistantships to gain experience in the classroom and help finance their degree. Additionally, Simmons is proud to offer teachers, librarians, affiliates of partner organizations, and Simmons alumnae/i reduced tuition and other benefits.

 

Degree Requirements (36 credits)

Graduate students in the MA degree program typically carry between eight and ten credits in the fall, spring, and summer semesters after their first semester of eight credits. Students considering registering for more than ten credits per term must consult with the graduate program director.
CHL401 Criticism of Literature for Children 4
CHL403 The Picturebook 4
CHL413 Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Young Adults 4
CHL414 Fantasy and Science Fiction 4

 

CHL 4XX 

 

History Electives

Coursework in the history

of children's literature,

selected from courses with 

a chronological focus

To total 4.00

CHL 4XX  

Genre

elective/s

 Coursework in genres of 

children's and/ or young adult literature

To total 

4.00

 

 

Programs at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

All Children’s Literature degree and dual degree programs are offered on the Boston campus. In addition, the MA in Children’s Literature, MFA in Writing for Children, the dual degree MA/MFA are also offered at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. Students can complete the MA in Children’s Literature/MS in Library Science with MA courses at the Carle and LIS courses on the Mount Holyoke campus. Founded by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Carle is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

In collaboration with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Simmons offers all four graduate programs in Children's Literature onsite at The Carle. This includes our M.A. in Children's Literature, M.F.A. in Writing for Children, M.A. in Children's Literature/M.F.A. dual degree, and M.A. in Children's Literature/M.S. in Library Science dual degree offered in collaboration with Simmons's School of Library and Information Science program at Mount Holyoke. Founded in part by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art. The Carle is located in Amherst, in the heart of the Five Colleges area of Western Massachusetts. Learn more about the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Spotlight on Children's Literature Students and Alums

A row of children's books on a shelf. Robyn Budlender robzy_m, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Children’s Literature Editor Karen Boss ‘95 ‘13 Champions Diverse Authors in Successful Career Change

Karen Boss ’95 ’13MA earned a double Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Sociology and returned to Simmons twenty years later for her Master’s in Children’s Literature. She is a senior editor at Charlesbridge, where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books, and middle-grade and young adult works.


A side by side image with Julie Bliven alongside the cover of her book "Sometimes Shy"

Julie Bliven ’05 ’08MA Shares the Power of the Simmons Community

Charlesbridge Publishing Children’s Book Editor Julie Bliven ’05 ’08MA worked with Simmons classmate Elaine Dimopoulos ’08MFA on her most recent novel, and this year published her debut picture book. She shares how being a writer has helped her be an editor, and vice versa.


Ariel Richardson hoding a number of children's books

Ariel Richardson ’09MA Edits Sibert Medal-Winning Picture Book

Ariel Richardson ’09MA is the Senior Editor in Children’s at Chronicle Books, located in San Francisco. We caught up with Richardson about her role, her time at Simmons, and her recent award-winning picture book.


Photo of Stephanie Seales with her dog

Children's Literature Alumna Shares Fresh Perspectives for Children's Books

Stephanie Seales '09MA has touched many aspects of publishing throughout her career, and is using her understanding of the industry in her works as an author , career coach, book reviewer, and authenticity reader. What led you to study children's...


Photo of Ariel Vanece - Adriana Arguijo Photography

Ariel Vanece MA '22 Imbues Children's Literature with Intergenerational Friendships

Ariel Vanece, who completed the dual Children's Literature MA and Writing for Children MFA program in 2022, recently secured a two-book deal with Penguin / Rocky Pond Books. They spoke with us about what motivates them to write and how...


Photo of Megan Litwin

Megan Litwin '02MA Publishes her First Children's Book

In her new book Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night , author Megan Litwin '02MA captures the enchantment of winter. She spoke with us about her interest in children's literature and her experience at Simmons. Tell us about your new book and...


Main College Building cupola with fall leaves

Elissa Gershowitz '00MA, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Offers Titles to Add to Your Reading List

This October, Elissa Gershowitz '00MA was officially named Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Inc. , publisher of a review journal of children's and young adult literature. We caught up with her about her role at the Horn Book...


Jo Knowles

In Spite of Book Challenges, Author Jo Knowles '92 '95MA Forges Connections Through Stories

Adjunct Jo Knowles ’92 ’95MA shares news about her latest book, and reflects on the rise in book challenges aimed at her work for young readers.