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Master of Arts in English

The Department of English offers two graduate degrees, an MA 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.

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 a set of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended to the Office of Enrollment Services. Information including application deadlines are available on the Graduate Studies Website.


An applicant may be admitted to the MA 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 at least 21 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 MA program.

2. A 3.3 GPA in upper-division English courses.

3. Applicants who do not have the required minimum GPA may take additional coursework to raise their GPA to the minimum. Applicants whose upper-division English GPA is at least 3.0 may be admitted to the MA program if they take the GRE General Test and achieve a minimum score of 580 in Verbal Reasoning and 5.0 in Analytical Writing. On August 1, 2011, the GRE revised the test and scoring system. For tests taken after this date, these applicants will need a minimum score of 158 in Verbal Reasoning and 5.0 in Analytical Writing.

4. 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 prerequisite or corequisite 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 MA 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. Complete at least seventy percent (70%) of the minimum units required for the program of study in courses at the 500 and 600 levels, including double-numbered courses (400/500). At least fifty percent (50%) of the units required for the degree shall be in courses organized primarily for graduate students;

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 MA 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 (Note: In order to satisfy the culminating activity requirement (thesis, project, or comprehensive examination dependent upon the program), students must earn at least three (3) units and no more than six (6) units related to the completion of the culminating activity.);

6. Appropriate filing for Graduation Check and for Diploma.

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