English, M.A.





The Master of Arts degree in English provides opportunities for advanced study in literature, criticism, language, creative writing, and composition and rhetoric. The program is designed for students planning to teach in a community college or to enter a doctoral program; for students seeking to develop their skills as creative writers, to teach creative writing, or to pursue careers in the media or other areas where a combination of creative ability, communication skills, and critical faculties may be particularly valuable; or for students planning to teach writing at the school, community college, or university level, to work as professional writing consultants.













Applicants who have a degree in English should have at least a 3.2 grade point average in their upper-division undergraduate major coursework.

In addition to applying to the University, prospective students must submit a separate graduate program application to the Department of English. This includes a departmental application form, transcripts from all colleges/universities attended, and a writing sample. Applicants to the graduate program are admitted based on a comprehensive review of their application materials by the Department of English. For more information on the departmental application for admission, contact the Department of English.

Students whose major was not English should consult the principal graduate adviser about prerequisites or their equivalents. They must complete a 36-unit program of upper division prerequisites (which may include courses previously taken) prior to beginning their graduate work.






A minimum of 46 units is required, with at least 38 in 500-level courses. Students must have completed advanced course work in several major periods of British and American literature. Consult the Department of English for specific requirements and period descriptions.

Students preparing for the M.A. degree in English must complete

ENGL 501 or 
502 prior to enrolling in  

560570580, and 598.  ENGL 510 may be taken concurrently with ENGL 501 or 502. Both 501 and 502 must be completed in the first 16 units of the program.


Note: This unit of ENGL 598 will be designated for advisement, mentoring, and professionalization of new MA students, students may still take 4 units of ENGL 596 in a subject area.


In addition, with adviser approval, select two different seminars from the following list (4,4);

Select from 400- OR 500-LEVEL ENGL courses with adviser approval; 8 units may be in a related field. A maximum of 5 units in ENGL 598 can be applied to the degree. No more than 8 units at the 400-level can be applied to the degree. Students are strongly encouraged, with adviser approval, to use their electives to formulate a concentration in an area such as literary analysis; composition, rhetoric, and language; or creative writing



The culminating activity for all students in the master’s program will be the successful completion of either ENGL 596 or ENGL 599.
Students must complete coursework in the area of specialization in which their culminating activity is grounded. The culminating activity will be supervised and assessed by faculty members with expertise in the chosen field.
ENGL 596 (0 units)
ENGL 596 may not be completed earlier than the quarter in which all course work is completed. Students must notify the graduate adviser one quarter before they intend to take the comprehensive examination.

Advancement to candidacy and approval of the department’s Graduate Studies Committee are required prior to taking the Comprehensive Examination.



Students will write a thoroughly developed, analytical essay(s) in response to a question based on one of the departmentally approved reading lists. Examinations will be evaluated as “passing” or “failing” by at least two faculty members.



A project is fulfilled by the completion of an original pedagogical portfolio. Students choosing this option must possess a Single Subject Credential in English or have completed at least one course that focuses on pedagogy in English studies (ENGL 504 or a similar course approved by the graduate adviser).
The pedagogical portfolio affords students the opportunity to extend their studies by investigating issues related to teaching a specific area in English. by completing the portfolio, students will demonstrate how their graduate studies in English have prepared them to teach at the secondary school or community college level. The portfolio could take two forms, each of which is described below. Both options must be prefaced by a written abstract that details the projects significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. Option A, designing a specific course, requires students to create a course and develop pertinent, original materials for it. Option B, approaches to teaching requires students to write three to four original essays that explain how a specific text or cluster of texts should be taught and why.


Students will write a philosophy of teaching composition, language and/or literature (1,500-2,000 words) that demonstrates an understanding of current trends in pedagogical theory as practiced in English studies. Students will also produce an original, substantive curriculum plan for an English/Language arts course suitable for the secondary school or community college classroom. The curriculum plan must be for a new course that the student has not yet taught and include a course description/overview, desired learning outcomes, a detailed description of each component of the course, a sample syllabus, sample teaching materials (lecture/discussion outlines or narratives, in-class learning activities, writing prompts, assessment activities, etc.), and a bibliography. the curriculum plan must demonstrate the student’s in-depth knowledge of the texts assigned. Portfolios will be evaluated as “passing” or “failing” by at least two faculty members with expertise in the area.


These essays should be modeled upon those published in the MLA “Approaches to Teaching” series. The three to four essays in this portfolio could focus on texts in one particular historical field or area or cover a variety of texts and thus demonstrate the breadth of the student’s MA experience.


Students who choose to complete a thesis as their culminating activity will devise an original project in one of the following fields of English studies: literature (2 or 5); composition, rhetoric, and language (2 or 5); or creative writing (5). The thesis in literature or composition, rhetoric, and language will demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze texts and their contexts, generate and prove a sophisticated and original argument, and situate that argument in existing critical conversations. the thesis in creative writing will indicate the literary/critical traditions in which the original work is grounded. students who choose to complete a thesis must be advanced to candidacy before enrolling in ENGL 599. the thesis will take one of two forms, option a or option b. thesis option a is narrower in scope and has a preprofessional component in its analysis of scholarly journals in the field.


Under thesis option a, students will produce a 20-30 page original, analytical essay with potential for publication, conference presentation, or further development in a doctoral program. This artifact should, with lucid and polished prose, demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze texts and their contexts, generate and prove a sophisticated and original argument, and situate that argument in existing critical conversations. The essay could be either a thorough, substantive revision of a seminar paper or a new project. If a revision, the original, graded essay must be submitted with the final project. Students revising a seminar paper are expected to reconceptualize and restructure their arguments as necessary, conduct additional research, and demonstrate the contribution their argument makes to the field. the essay must be accompanied by a list of 2-3 journals to which the student could submit the essay, along with a detailed, written justification of the journals chosen. The structure and style of the essay should adhere to those of one of the selected professional journals. Students will form a committee of at least two faculty members with expertise in the area in which the essay is grounded who will evaluate the essay as “passing” or “failing.” there is no oral defense of the essay.


A thesis under Option B may take one of three forms:

thesis in literature should concentrate on such issues as the analysis of a text or body of texts, a literary genre, and/or the literary treatment of a theme or social development.

thesis in composition, rhetoric, and language should focus on the analysis of pedagogical approaches to the teaching of writing and the scholarship supporting that pedagogy or the analysis of a rhetorical or linguistic feature present in a text or body of discourse.

A thesis in creative writing will present a body of original work by the student with an introductory essay that significantly places the original work within its literary and critical traditions.

The length of the thesis will be determined by the subject, but will generally range from 40-70 pages. Option B requires formal approval of the thesis proposal by a thesis director and two additional thesis committee members, enrollment in 5 units of ENGL 599, and an oral defense of the thesis. (one unit of ENGL 599 is to be devoted to preparation of the thesis proposal. A student may not enroll in the remaining 4 units of ENGL 599 until the proposal has been approved.)

Under Option B, students who will be writing the thesis in literature (5) or composition, rhetoric, and language (5) must synthesize a wider range of texts and contextual materials than the option a thesis (2).