Apr 21, 2024  
General Catalog 2023-2024 
General Catalog 2023-2024

English - Literature Option, M.A.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

Literature Option

The Master of Arts program in English, Literature Option, serves several categories of students: those teaching high school and community college, those anticipating doctoral studies, those studying creative or expository writing, and those simply interested in extending and intensifying the knowledge acquired in their undergraduate studies.


Admission to the Master of Arts program in English assumes preparation equivalent to an undergraduate major in English or a related field in the liberal arts. Students who do not already have a bachelor’s degree in English will need to take 16 units of upper-division undergraduate preparation in order to attain classified standing and before being allowed to enroll in English graduate seminars. These courses are prerequisites and will not count toward the 30 units of the M.A. Such students must successfully complete the following prerequisite courses:

  1. ENGL 105 , Introduction to Literary Analysis
  2. British Literature: One of ENGL 146 , ENGL 147 , ENGL 150 , ENGL 151 , ENGL 152 , or ENGL 156  
  3. American Literature: One of ENGL 153 , ENGL 154 , or ENGL 155  
  4. World Literature: One of ENGL 112 , ENGL 113 , ENGL 114 , or ENGL 167  

In lieu of meeting the above undergraduate course requirements for classified standing, students may take the Subject Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and submit a score above the 50th percentile. A GRE score in literature is not required for admissions into the program, but is recommended for students intending to pursue a doctorate.

To achieve classified standing, both English and non-English majors must have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better in their major. International students must also submit IELTS or TOEFL scores. A minimum Band 7 score is required on the IELTS; minimum Band scores of? are also required in the Writing and Reading subsections . A minimum overall TOEFL score of 94 is required; minimum scores of 22 in the Reading subsection and 24 in the Writing subsection are also required.

In addition, all candidates must submit a writing sample to the graduate committee, whose approval is necessary for admission to the program. This writing sample is due to the department by April 15 for admission the following fall semester, or by Oct. 15 for admission the following spring. Applicants are encouraged to apply as early in the previous semester as possible for eligibility for Admissions, Financial Aid, and Teaching Associateships.

The admission writing sample should be devoted to a sustained analysis (8-12 pages in length) of a text or related texts; it should demonstrate comprehensibility in exposition, clear and logical organization and presentation of ideas, and should establish a sound scholarly argument with thorough and complete documentation. The critical analysis should be modeled on MLA style guidelines and will reflect a knowledge and awareness of contemporary analytical theory in literary studies.

The admission writing sample will be evaluated by members of the English Department to determine- whether the applicant is denied entry into the M.A. program or admitted under either Classified or Conditionally Classified Standing. After understanding suggested coursework and obtaining no less than a B in such course(s), those admitted under Conditionally Classified Standing will be given one opportunity to submit one additional revised or new writing sample for review. If the second writing sample is not approved, the candidate will not be admitted into the program.


The M.A. in English, Literature Option is a 32-unit program, divided among core requirements and electives. Under the direction of a graduate coordinator, each student prepares and submits a coherent program, individually designed within the following framework:

Core Requirements

Total: 32 Units

ENGL 205  should be completed during the first year of a student’s program of study. The maximum number of combined ENGL 290  and ENGL 291  units that may be applied to a student’s program is 4 units. Students will usually enroll in ENGL 299  (2 units each) over two consecutive semesters.

Specific Requirements

Breadth Requirements: The following breadth requirements provide the necessary foundation for advanced literary study. They may be completed either at the undergraduate or graduate level:

  • Chaucer (one course)
  • Shakespeare (one course)
  • British Literature (two additional courses)
  • American Literature (one course)
  • World Literature (one course)

Most core courses must be completed in the English Department; however, electives may be selected from outside departments in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator. Of the 30 units required for completion of the M.A. degree in English, Literature Option, no more than 8 units may be from undergraduate, upper-division courses. Undergraduate, upper-division courses that do not count towards the English major may not be used for the M.A. degree.

Foreign Language Requirement: The English Department requires candidates for the M.A. in English, Literature Option to demonstrate a reading knowledge of one foreign language. This requirement can be satisfied at the undergraduate or graduate level through two years (four semesters) of coursework in a modem language other than English, one year (two semesters) of coursework in classical languages, or by taking a translation examination approved by the English Department. Students must satisfy this requirement prior to advancing to candidacy.

Graduate Writing Skills Requirement: The university mandates that M.A. candidates demonstrate the ability to write “commensurate with society’s expectations of persons who hold advanced degrees” and “in formats and styles appropriate to their disciplines.” In order to comply with this requirement, the department evaluates a sample essay that emerges from work in a graduate seminar. Evaluation can occur at any point once the program has begun; it must be met before the candidate can advance to candidacy and thus qualify to write a culminating project. Students must satisfy this requirement prior to advancing to candidacy.

Consult the English Department’s graduate coordinator every semester for program planning.