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College of Liberal Arts

CSULB students walk on campus

English - Graduate Programs

The Department of English offers two graduate degrees, an M.A. in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Teaching assistantships are available in both. In addition, the Department's tutoring program, the Writer's Resource Lab, employs a number of graduate and undergraduate students each semester. Application information may be obtained from the Department office, (562) 985-4223.

Master of Arts in English (code ENGLMA01)

The Department of English offers graduate study leading to the Master of Arts degree. The candidate must satisfy the general requirements stated in this Catalog as well as the specific departmental requirements stated here and, more fully, in the Master of Arts brochure issued by the department (copies of which are available upon request). Applicants must submit to the University’s Office of Admissions and Records a graduate application (available at that office or on-line). Applicants must also submit two sets of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. One set must be submitted to the Office of Enrollment Services and another set must be sent directly to the Department of English. The deadline for submitting an application for Fall semester is May 1; the deadline to apply for Spring is October 15.


An applicant may be admitted to the M.A. program in English only after satisfying University requirements for admission and the following prerequisites to this degree:

  • 1. A Bachelor of Arts degree in English from an accredited institution or a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with 24 units of upper-division English courses that offer a broad coverage of English and American literature.
  • Any deficiencies will be determined by the Department Graduate Advisor in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee. Courses used to remove course or unit deficiencies may not be included in the M.A. program.
  • 2. A 3.2 GPA in upper-division English courses.
  • 3. All applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must receive a minimum score of 600 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (applicants taking the Computer-Based Test of English as a Foreign Language must present a score of 250 or above; applicants taking the Internet-Based Test of English as a Foreign Language must present a score of 100 or above).

After Admission to Program

Students must be formally admitted to the program before they can enroll in ENGL 696, which is pre-requisite or co-requisite to all other 600-level courses.

Advancement to Candidacy

  • 1. The student must satisfy the general requirements of the University, including fulfilling the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).
  • 2. The student’s M.A. program must be approved by a faculty graduate advisor, the Department Graduate Advisor, and the Department Chair before submission to the Associate Dean of Liberal Arts.
  • 3. Advancement is possible after completion of six units toward the MA degree. Students must be advanced to candidacy at least one semester before they intend to graduate, before the deadline to file for graduation that semester. If a student is writing a thesis, he or she must be advanced before any thesis units are taken.


  • 1. A minimum of 30 units of graduate and approved upper-division courses (see MA Handbook and website for list of approved undergraduate courses) including 24 units in English;
  • 2. A minimum of 20 units in the 600 series in English at this University, including ENGL 696, which is to be completed before or concurrently with other 600-series courses. (A student will not be granted credit for 600-series courses unless admitted to the M.A. program);
  • 3. A minimum of one seminar in the 600 series in English literature before 1800;
  • 4. A foreign language requirement, which may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:
    • A. completing college course work in a foreign language equivalent to sophomore proficiency (normally 201B at this University) with “C” or better;
    • B. completing college course work in a foreign language equivalent to freshman proficiency (normally 101B at this University) with “C” or better and completing either ENGL 550 or ENGL 551 with “B” or better;
    • C. passing a special examination or demonstrating native proficiency in any foreign language accepted by the Graduate Studies Committee;
  • 5. Successful completion of a final comprehensive examination in a specified specialty area. (Students who fail the examination may retake it once only.) A thesis may be written in lieu of the examination;
  • 6. Appropriate filing for Graduation Check and for Diploma.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (code ENGLMF01)

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing is the recognized terminal degree which offers the minimum professional training deemed necessary by the major schools in the United States for university and college teaching and for positions in the publishing industry. It is also the degree most frequently held by professional writers. The Department of English at California State University, Long Beach is a fully accredited program that meets the standards of the State of California.

Criteria for Admission to the Program

1. Students applying for admission to the MFA degree program generally have completed a bachelor's or master's degree in English from an accredited institution with a 3.2 GPA in upper-division English courses, meet university admission requirements, and submit evidence of creative ability in fiction or poetry (10 pages poetry, 20-30 pages fiction). For each annual cycle, applications are due by February 15, when review will begin.

2. When an undergraduate degree has been completed in a program having different requirements from those of CSULB or in some field other than English, additional preparation may be required before the student can be considered for classified status in the degree program.

3. At the time of the student's conditional classification into the program, an examining diagnostic committee consisting of at least two instructors in the student's field of specialization and at least one other faculty member must approve and evaluate the student's work no later than the end of his/her first full year in residence and judge whether the student should continue in the program.

4. In order to obtain a full classified status, the student must obtain satisfactory evaluation from his/her committee at the end of the first full year in residence. Both the student's coursework and the student's portfolio will be evaluated.

  • The appeals procedure for unfavorable portfolio evaluation is as follows:
  • If the student feels that his/her work has been unfairly evaluated, that student has recourse any time to discuss the matter informally with the MFA Coordinator in order to resolve the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved on that basis, the following procedure shall be followed:
  • A. The student shall present a written appeal to the MFA Coordinator.
  • B. Within ten (10) working days of receipt of a written appeal by a student, the MFA Coordinator shall refer the appeal to an ad hoc committee consisting of three tenured creative writing faculty not involved with the issue.
  • C. The committee shall meet in formal sessions holding hearings at separate times for the student and for the faculty involved to gather information and evidence relevant to the issue.
  • D. After deliberation, the committee shall present its findings to the MFA Coordinator within thirty (30) working days from the origination of the committee. (Working days do not include periods of time between semesters.)
  • E. The MFA Coordinator shall inform the concerned student in writing of the committee's decision.

5. Advancement to candidacy

  • A. Attain fully classified status.
  • B. Remove all undergraduate deficiencies as determined by the graduate advisor, the department chair, and the dean of graduate studies.
  • C. Fulfill the GWAR.
  • D. Submit a program of courses for approval by the student's faculty advisor.

6. Up to 24 units of credit from a Master of Arts program in Creative Writing may be acceptable after review and approval by the faculty evaluation committee.

7. Requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

  • A. The MFA degree is a sixty-unit degree normally requiring full-time residency. Course requirements are arranged according to the following structure.
  • Core Courses: (39 units chosen on the basis of consultation with a faculty advisor, to include): ENGL 505A,B or 506A,B; 590A,B; 605A,B or 606A,B; 590; 598; 696; 698.
  • Elective Courses: (21 units chosen on the basis of consultation with a faculty advisor, to include): ENGL 523, 526, 535, 537, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 558, 559, 562, 567A, 567B, 568, 574, 575, 576, 577A, 577B, 578, 652, 653, 655, 656, 657, 659, 672, 673, 674, 681; FEA 404; *THEA 380, *480.
    * may be counted for graduate credit
  • B. Both fiction and poetry specializations share a common core of courses which offer study in literary history, theory, and research. The remainder of the courses offer students the opportunity to develop additional skills in their particular area of related interest. The program culminates in a major creative project (novel, short story collection, or poetry collection) of publishable quality.