Master of Arts in English Composition

Requirements (48 units)

The Master of Arts in English Composition is designed for students interested in pursuing studies in the fields of composition, literature and linguistics. The concentration in English Composition focuses on writing—how written texts work rhetorically and stylistically; how historical and social conditions affect what we write and how we construct meaning as we read; and how to teach people to write effectively. The literature concentration allows students an option to focus on advanced studies in literature as well as composition. The concentration in Applied Linguistics and TESL emphasizes the application of current linguistic theories to ESL pedagogy and familiarizes students with a wide range of teaching approaches and methods.

The program is firmly grounded in theory and research, with a strong emphasis on pedagogy. The internship component gives students practical classroom experience. Students also have opportunities to tutor in the Writing Center and to work as teaching assistants. In addition to teaching, graduates may go on to Ph.D. and M.F.A. programs as well as careers involving writing, editing, and researching.

The Graduate Committee, under the leadership of the coordinator, has general supervision of the program and the work of students, including approval of thesis proposals. Students are required to consult regularly with the Graduate Coordinator for advising. Petitions for waiver of requirements must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Dean of Graduate Studies when appropriate. Note: Effective Fall 2010, students may not be concurrently enrolled in the M.A. in English Composition and M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

Admission to the Program

The Graduate Committee cannot act on applications until they have been reviewed by the Office of Admissions and Student Recruitment and have met university admissions requirements. The following schedule of dates has been established for Graduate Committee decisions.

Application and other materials must be received by:

To begin the quarter of Application and other materials must be received by For decision contact the Graduate coordinator after
FallJuly 1Aug. 1
WinterNov. 1Dec. 1
SpringJan. 23Mar. 1

A student who meets all entrance requirements except one or more course prerequisites or the minimum grade requirements may be admitted to the program as a conditionally classified graduate student. Conditionally classified students must fulfill certain conditions (such as taking or retaking prerequisite courses) within a specified period of time. Prerequisite courses cannot be counted toward the units required for the master's degree.

The specific requirements for admission as a classified graduate student in the English Department are:

  1. A grade point average of 3.0 ("B") in all undergraduate upper-division courses;
  2. Applicants who do not possess a bachelor’s degree from a postsecondary institution in a country where English is the principal language of instruction must receive a minimum score of 575 (computer-based score of 233 or internet-based score of 90) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL); or receive a minimum score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  3. Three letters of recommendation supporting the student's application. Letters should be from people able to make relevant comments on the student's likely success in English Composition with a Concentration in Composition, English Literature, or Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language, and on the student's competence in speaking and writing English;
  4. A one-page, typed statement of purpose briefly explaining the student's reasons (i.e. career objectives and research interests) for pursuing a graduate degree in English Composition with a Concentration in Composition, English Literature, or Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language;
  5. One writing sample (5-10 pages) that reflects the student's ability to write in edited English a balanced, well-reasoned argument or a clear, coherent presentation of information, such as a college term paper or a work-related report;
  6. Fulfillment of the graduate entrance writing requirement by passing, with a "B" (3.0) or better, ENG 306 (or an equivalent course) or the Writing Requirement Equivalency Exam (WREE), within seven years prior to acceptance into the program. Students who do not satisfy this requirement may be conditionally classified and required to take or repeat the course or exam;
  7. The following undergraduate courses or their equivalent with a minimum grade of "B" in each, taken in conjunction with a major in English or some other major:
    1. For the Concentrations in English Composition and English Literature:
      ENG 311The English Language4
      One of the following:4
      Theories of Language Acquisition and Learning
      English Grammar I
      History of the English Language
      One of the following:4
      Analysis of Poetry
      Analysis and Writing of Poetry
      Analysis of Drama
      Analysis and Writing of Drama
      Analysis of Prose Ficition
      Analysis and Writing of Prose Fiction
      Analysis of Nonfiction Prose
      Analysis and Writing of Nonfictin Prose
      ENG 385Literary Theory and Criticism4
      One upper-division course in British literature.
      One upper-division course in American literature
      One upper-division course in ethnic literature, literature of diversity, or literature by women.
    2. For the Concentration in Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL):
      ENG 311The English Language4
      ENG 312Theories of Language Acquisition and Learning4
      ENG 420English Grammar I4

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, the student must have:

  1. Achieved classified status;
  2. Completed at least 16 units of coursework required by the program with a grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B");
  3. Filed a program plan approved by the Graduate Coordinator.

Requirements for Graduation

  1. A minimum of 48 quarter units of acceptable graduate-level work in the formal program, with no fewer than 35 completed at this university and with at least 34 units gained from 600-level courses in English. Students must gain approval in advance from the Graduate Coordinator to count 300-, 400- or 500-level courses as electives;
  2. Advancement to candidacy;
  3. A grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B") in all graduate course work and research fulfilling the requirements of the student's concentration and grades of "C" (2.0) or better in all courses in the program;
  4. For students in the English Composition Concentration, English Literature Concentration and Applied Linguistics and teaching English as a Second Language Concentration, demonstrated minimal competence in a language other than English at the level of a foreign language 103 course given by the Department of World Languages and Literatures. Can be fulfilled by one of the following, but note that courses taken to fulfill the language requirement cannot be applied toward any graduate degree unit requirements:
    1. One year of college course work (with a grade of A, B, C, or CR) studying a language other than English,
    2. Passage of a language competency exam in a language other than English at a level of Intermediate (ACTFL Stage 2) or above or equivalent,
  5. The graduation writing requirement is met upon successful completion of the thesis or comprehensive examination;
  6. The program must be completed within a seven-year period. No more than seven years may elapse between the time of registration for the earliest course listed on the program and the completion of all requirements for the degree. Students who have taken any required or elective course that expires because it exceeds this seven-year limitation will be required to retake the course or its equivalent as designated by the Graduate Coordinator, regardless of the grade originally earned. Petitions to waive this requirement will not be approved.

Note: Students interested in pursuing dual concentrations should contact the Graduate Coordinator about dual concentration requirements.

Degree Requirements (48 units)

English Composition Concentration (48 units) (Program Code: ENGC)

Before enrolling in courses, students should consult the course descriptions for course prerequisites.

ENG 600Critical Approaches to Literature4
ENG 609Perspectives on Research4
ENG 612Contemporary Composition and Discourse Theory4
ENG 613Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition4
Four units chosen from:4
Discourse Analysis: Theories and Applications
Contrastive Rhetoric
Linguistics Pragmatics
Stylistics
ENG 633The Western Rhetorical Tradition I4
or ENG 634 The Western Rhetorical Tradition II
Twelve units chosen from:12
Approaches to Imaginative Writing
TESL Methods and Materials for Speaking and Listening
TESL Methods and Materials for Reading and Writing
Writing Center Studies
Approaches to Professional Writing
Sites of Praxis
Computers and Writing: Literacy and Technology
Issues in Teaching College Composition
ENG 662Internship in Composition2
ENG 695ACulminating Experience Preparation: Thesis Preparation2
or ENG 695B Culminating Experience Preparation: Comprehensive Examination Preparation
Electives. Students who are completing the Thesis Option under Culminating Experience below must take four units of electives; students completing the Comprehensive Examination option must take eight units of electives. Electives must be approved in advance by the Graduate Coordinator.4-8
Culminating Experience. Choose one of the following two options:0-4
Thesis Option:
Thesis
Thesis and Research
Comprehensive Examination Option:
Comprehensive Examination
Total Units48

English Literature Concentration (48 units) (Program Code: ENCL)

Before enrolling in courses, students should consult the course descriptions for course prerequisites.

ENG 600Critical Approaches to Literature4
ENG 609Perspectives on Research4
ENG 612Contemporary Composition and Discourse Theory4
Four units chosen from:4
Discourse Analysis: Theories and Applications
Contrastive Rhetoric
Linguistics Pragmatics
Stylistics
ENG 621Approaches to Imaginative Writing4
Twelve units chosen from:12
Seminar in Poetry
Seminar in Dramatic Literature for Stage and Film
Seminar in Fiction
Seminar in Nonfiction Prose
Seminar in a Literary Topic
ENG 633The Western Rhetorical Tradition I4
or ENG 634 The Western Rhetorical Tradition II
ENG 663Internship in Literature2
ENG 695ACulminating Experience Preparation: Thesis Preparation2
or ENG 695B Culminating Experience Preparation: Comprehensive Examination Preparation
Electives. Students who are completing the Thesis Option under Culminating Experience below must take four units of electives; students completing the Comprehensive Examination option must take eight units of electives. Electives must be approved in advance by the Graduate Coordinator. 4-8
Culminating Experience. Choose one of the following two options:0-4
Thesis Option:
Thesis
Thesis and Research
Comprehensive Examination Option:
Comprehensive Examination
Total Units48

Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Concentration (48 units) (Program Code: ENAL)

If TESL concentration students have completed ENG 523 and ENG 524 with grades of "C" or better in their B.A. degree, they must take eight units of graduate-level English electives, approved in advance by the Graduate Coordinator, in lieu of ENG 523 and ENG 524 in the M.A. program.

Before enrolling in courses, students should consult the course descriptions for course prerequisites.

ENG 523English Grammar II4
ENG 524Sociolinguistics4
ENG 609Perspectives on Research4
Four units chosen from:4
Contemporary Composition and Discourse Theory
The Western Rhetorical Tradition I
The Western Rhetorical Tradition II
ENG 615Discourse Analysis: Theories and Applications4
ENG 616Contrastive Rhetoric4
or ENG 617 Linguistics Pragmatics
ENG 619Second Language Acquisition4
ENG 626TESL Methods and Materials for Reading and Writing4
Four units chosen from:4
Writing Center Studies
Sites of Praxis
Computers and Writing: Literacy and Technology
Issues in Teaching College Composition
ENG 664Internship in Applied Linguistics and TESL2
ENG 695ACulminating Experience Preparation: Thesis Preparation2
or ENG 695B Culminating Experience Preparation: Comprehensive Examination Preparation
Electives. Students who are completing the Thesis Option under Culminating Experience below must take four units of electives; students completing the Comprehensive Examination option must take eight units of electives. Electives must be approved in advance by the Graduate Coordinator. 4-8
Culminating Experience. Choose one of the following two options:0-4
Thesis Option:
Thesis
Thesis and Research
Comprehensive Examination :
Comprehensive Examination
Total Units48

Culminating Experience

Students select either the Thesis Option or the Comprehensive Examination Option. Successful completion of either option satisfies the graduation writing requirement.

Thesis Option

Students electing the Thesis option must select from among two thesis project models and are required to complete a thesis project appropriate to their concentration: English composition and rhetoric, literature, or applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language. Dual concentration students must devise a thesis project relevant to both concentrations.

The first thesis model option is a traditional thesis: an independent project that demonstrates mastery of both the subject matter and the written discourse of the discipline and results in an original manuscript of approximately 60 pre-formatted pages plus bibliography.

To pursue this option, students develop an acceptable thesis project and prepare a proposal in accordance with program guidelines, consisting of a 1000-word proposal and an annotated bibliography. To develop a proposal and obtain approval of it, students carry out the following steps:

  1. Complete ENG 695A with a grade of "B" or better;;
  2. Gain the support of a committee of two English Department faculty members (the thesis reading committee) and acquire a letter of endorsement in support of the proposal;
  3. Submit the Thesis Proposal and annotated bibliography to the full graduate committee (8-10 members) and carry out any revisions requested to achieve its approval.

The second thesis model option is an interrelated sequence of scholarly texts that demonstrate mastery of both the subject matter and the written discourse of the discipline an includes: a) a 25-30 page article of publishable quality suitable for post-graduation submission to a scholarly journal in the student's field of study; b) an 8-10 page conference paper on the same subject, suitable for delivery at an identified professional conference; c) an abstract or conference proposal for the selected conference. Students complete this work by presenting their conference papers at an English department sponsored event.

To pursue this option, students develop an acceptable thesis project from work begun in one of the M.A. program seminar classes and prepare a 500 word thesis proposal that: a) announces the article project and purpose and explains how the work contributes to the field; b) identifies an appropriate professional journal to which this work might be submitted; c) identifies and appropriate professional conference at which a conference paper related to this work might be presented.

To develop a thesis proposal for this project and obtain approval of it, students carry out the following steps:

  1. Complete ENG 695A with a grade of "B" or better;;
  2. Gain the support of a committee of two English Department faculty members (the thesis reading committee) and acquire a letter of endorsement in support of the proposal;
  3. Submit the Thesis Proposal and letter of endorsement to the coordinator of the student's concentration(s) for approval.  Upon consultation with the sponsoring readers, the coordinator(s) will approve the proposal or refer it to the graduate committee for consideration.  Students are responsible for revisions when necessary.

Note: To undertake the Thesis Option, a student must have minimum GPA of 3.7 overall in degree-applicable courses or the permission of the graduate coordinator.

Comprehensive Examination Option

Students electing the Comprehensive Examination Option must take the examination no earlier than in the last quarter of program coursework, and after successful completion (with a grade of "C" or better) of ENG 695B.

Students must declare their intent to take the examination at least one quarter in advance and register for ENG 999. The comprehensive examination is offered twice yearly, in fall and spring quarters.

The reading committees for the comprehensive examination in each concentration will be established annually by the graduate program, and will consist of two English Department faculty members and the graduate coordinator or associate coordinator responsible for each concentration.

The comprehensive examination addresses both the program's core curriculum and the student's concentration. The examination will be graded pass/fail. No student will be permitted to take the comprehensive examination more than twice. Candidates who re-take the examination must do so within one calendar year.