I. Overview

The Master of Arts Programs in English serve the personal and professional needs of various students: those currently teaching or intending to teach high school; those intending to teach at the community college level; those anticipating doctoral studies; and those simply interested in the personal growth that advanced studies in English provide. In an attempt to meet students' needs and interests, the Department offers three main concentrations and two combinations leading to the Master of Arts in English:

  1. in the literature of Britain and the United States (MA-LIT);
  2. in rhetoric and teaching writing (MA-RTW);
  3. in teaching English to speakers of other languages (MA-TESOL);
  4. in combined RTW and TESOL; and
  5. in combined Lit and RTW.

Students planning to continue on to a Ph.D. should complete the concentration in either Literature or RTW. Students planning to teach overseas or in the multicultural classroom should complete the TESOL concentration. Students planning to teach at the Community College level should consider one of the combinations, depending on their areas of interest.

II. Admission

Application forms and program information may be obtained from the Graduate School. Documents should be submitted to the Graduate School for processing. Applications can be completed via the Internet.

Effective September 2009, for Fall admission, student applications must be received by the Graduate School by 1 May and complete applications must also be received by the English department by 1 May for review; for Spring admission, student applications must be received by the Graduate School by 15 September and complete applications must also be received by the department by 15 September for review in the Fall. Students who cannot meet application deadlines may be admitted to the program on a rolling basis, if possible. Students will be notified about the state of their applications approximately two weeks after the completion of departmental review.

The applicant must also submit to the English department two letters of recommendation from former instructors or others who can comment on the applicant's ability to succeed in graduate school. The applicant must submit a 5 to 10 page writing sample. (A critical or an analytical study written for an undergraduate class would serve as an appropriate sample.)

Applicants with a B.A. in English and a 3.0 GPA can be admitted as fully classified students. Applicants with non-English BAs or a GPA below 3.0 may have to submit scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE); in which case, program admission would require a score of 500 on the Verbal Test. Students not admitted to the University Graduate School or English graduate program may NOT apply courses taken through University Extension to MA degrees.

International students must take both the TOEFL and the Test of Written English, achieving a minimum of 575 on the TOEFL if their score on the Test of Written English is 4; or at least 550 on the TOEFL if their score on the Test of Written English is 5.

Questions about recommenders or other appropriate writing samples should be directed to the English Graduate Coordinator (Tony Perrello, tperrello@csustan.edu).

Requirements for Admission to the MA-LIT and MA-RTW Concentrations

In addition to fulfilling all requirements for admission to the University, applicants to the MA-LIT and MA-RTW Concentrations normally should have a BA degree in English. Those who do not may be required to complete additional prerequisite coursework.

Requirements for Admission to the MA-TESOL Concentration

Non-English majors may be required to take the GRE Verbal test for classified status in the TESOL Concentration. English majors who graduated from the CSU with 3.0 GPA or higher can start the program conditionally classified. For the non-English major, the prerequisites for the MA-TESOL concentration consists of the following:

  1. American Literature after 1865 (ENGL 2210, or its equivalent) (3)
  2. Masterpieces of World Literature (ENGL 3920, or its equivalent) (3)
  3. Applied Writing (ENGL 3009), or its equivalent (3)
  4. ENGL 3750: Introduction to Linguistics (4), ENGL 3700 Introduction to Language (3) or their equivalents.

Students for whom English is a second language must pass the TOEFL and Written Test of English and demonstrate fluency in spoken English before acceptance into the program.

III. Advising

Once admitted to the graduate program, students should consult the English Graduate Coordinator and the Concentration Advisor, who will assist students in determining appropriate plans of study. Normally, the Coordinator of the chosen concentration (LIT, RTW, TESOL) is the student€™s program adviser.

IV. Undergraduate and transfer units in the MA program

A maximum of six units of approved post-baccalaureate upper division undergraduate studies may be applied to MA/RTW and MA/TESOL requirements. Three units may be applied to the MA/Lit.

Students taking any upper division undergraduate class must identify themselves as graduate students to the instructor of the undergraduate class. For students following the LIT and RTW tracks, the Department requires that they do additional work comparable to that of an ordinary graduate seminar; they may NOT choose to do less work and take the class for undergraduate credit.

Ordinarily only six units of graduate credit may be transferred from another institution. The English Graduate Committee will determine which transfer units will be accepted toward the degree at Stanislaus.

V. Classification Status

Students with a BA in English, at least a 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and a 5-10-page writing sample may be admitted to the program as fully classified students. Some non-English BAs may be admitted as fully classified as well, depending on their major, experience, and writing. No more than nine units earned as a Post baccalaureate Unclassified student shall apply to the MA degree.

VI. General Requirements For The Master's Degree

The following requirements describe the minimum of prerequisites and courses that candidates must complete to receive the MA degree. To develop historical, theoretical, and methodological expertise in the field, students are encouraged to take courses and seminars in a variety of areas.

To receive an MA in English, a student must

  1. complete at least 30 units;
  2. maintain a grade-point average of at least 3.0 in all units applicable to the degree program, with no grade lower than a B- in any course;
  3. pass comprehensive exit examinations;
  4. in the case of project or thesis, present an oral defense.

VII. Dual Concentrations

LIT/RTW Dual Concentration:

A student may choose to combine the two concentrations by taking at least 37 units. Comprehensive exams will consist of two exams in literature and one in RTW, administered as is customary for the particular concentration.

The degree requirements for this dual concentration comprise:

  1. MA-RTW core courses: 18-21 units (5001, 5010, 5020, 5870, 5894, 5941)
  2. MA-LIT core courses: 15 units (5000, at least three 5000-level Lit seminars, and one literature elective)
  3. LIT thesis or RTW project, with topic for either encompassing both areas 6 or 4 units (students not completing a thesis or project must substitute two 5000-level seminars, at least one of which must be in Literature)

RTW/TESOL Dual Concentration:

This dual concentration will also require a minimum of 39 units and will require the MA-RTW core listed above. See the TESOL coordinator for additional specific course requirements.


Students in all three concentrations should consult the Graduate Coordinator concerning the formation of an appropriate three-person graduate Advisory Committee. Students should form that committee no later than one semester before that in which they plan to take exams. Students in the LIT concentration should form an Advisory Committee before registering for the term in which they intend to take comprehensive exams or one term prior to taking ENGL 5990.

Students in the RTW and TESOL concentrations should form an Advisory Committee at least one semester before taking the comprehensive examination or beginning the prospectus for the advanced project.

The student's MA Advisory Committee will be responsible for administering the student's comprehensive examinations, and for reading and evaluating the thesis or advanced project. To allow time for Advisory Committee members to read theses or advanced projects, students must turn in these materials at least one month before the expected graduation date. For information about comprehensive exams, check the link for the concentration in which you are interested.

IX. Colloquium, Or Oral Examination

Students completing a thesis or project must give an oral defense or participate in a Department colloquium. These consist of interested students and professors, gathered together to listen to and discuss MA candidates' presentations relating to their research or courses of study.

X. Continuing Enrollment Requirement

Since Winter 1998, irrespective of catalogue year, any student who has completed all other degree work, is pursuing the project or thesis, but has not completed the thesis or project, must sign up for one unit of Extended Education credit each term in order to remain affiliated with the university until the thesis or project has been submitted. A student who is not affiliated with the university may not use any university facilities or consult with faculty.

XI. Application For Graduation

A candidate for an MA degree must file an application for the degree at the Admissions and Records office in the first two weeks of the term (or first week of a summer session) in which he or she expects to complete all requirements for the degree.

XII. Teaching Associateships

The Department offers qualified graduate students in English an opportunity to support their MA studies financially and to gain valuable teaching experience by serving as Teaching Associates in the composition program. Students may apply for an assistantship when they seek admission to the Graduate Program, but to be eligible for a TA position they must normally have attained classified graduate standing in English.

Candidates are selected for the TA program on the basis of the quality of their academic background, previous experience, and their promise as classroom instructors. ENGL 5894 Teaching College Composition and Literature is required as a pre- or co-requisite for teaching and is applicable to all three concentrations. For information about teaching associateships, salaries, applications, and deadlines, contact the Director of Composition (John Wittman at jwittman@csustan.edu).

XIII. The Teaching Internship Program

Knowing that many graduate students in English aspire to teach at the university/college level, the Department has designed an internship program for qualified graduate students interested in attaining supervised practical experience in teaching literature, composition, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Students who sign up for the internship program will work with a supervisory instructor.

The student and the supervising instructor will decide jointly the specific duties for which the student will be responsible. Students who intend to serve as interns must take ENGL 5940: Internship or ENGL 5941: Internship in Teaching Writing. Note that a student may serve as an intern more than one time; however, only three units of Internship can be applied toward the MA-RTW and MA-TESOL. Internships CANNOT be applied towards MA-LIT after Fall 1998.

An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Handicapped/Title IX Employer.

For further information, contact Department of English.

Updated: January 31, 2023