Cal State LA Department of English | MA Comprehensive Exam

English MA Comprehensive Exam

The MA Comprehensive Exam in English can be taken in any one of the following exam areas:

American Literature

Beginnings to 1865 (current through Spring 2017) | (revised effective end of Spring 2017)
1865-1914 (revised 3/10/2017)
1914 to present

British Literature

Restoration and Eighteenth Century
Nineteenth Century
Twentieth Century

World Literature in Translation


Postcolonial and Anglophone Literatures (1947 to present)

Writing Studies

Children's Literature

At least one semester before they sit for the Comprehensive Exam, students must select their examination area and inform the Graduate Studies Committee of their choice.

Students will write two three-hour exams: one exam on a historical period selected from the list above and one exam on a specific text from the same historical period selected in advance by the Graduate Studies Committee in consultation with faculty members specializing in the period.

Students opting to take the Comprehensive Exam in the Writing Studies and Language area will write two three-hour exams: one exam derived from readings on the Writing Studies list and one exam derived from readings on the Language and Literacy list.

Students are allowed three attempts to pass each part of the Comprehensive Exam. NOTE: Once a Comprehensive Exam is attempted, students cannot make a program change to another culminating activity.

A passing exam will demonstrate a student’s ability to convey a deep understanding of a particular period or area and to develop sophisticated textual analyses.