MA English Literature Option

MA English Literature Option

Information for Graduate Students in Literature and Rhetoric/Composition

Our M.A. in English programs offer you two main options for pursuing your Master’s degree. You may apply for the M.A. English: Literature option, which focuses on literary texts, history and culture, or you can apply for the M.A. English: Literature, with a Rhetoric and Composition Emphasis, which focuses on composition and writing studies. Students are permitted to switch options during the course of their time in the program, should they desire to do so.

Admission Requirements for M.A. Literature or M.A. Literature: Rhetoric/Composition Programs

All applicants to the M.A. in English must follow the application and admission procedures outlined in the university graduate application booklet. To be admitted to the program, the applicant must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university or college and a grade point average of 3.0 or better in the last 60 semester units of upper division course work attempted (not including extension units). Applicants with majors other than English may be accepted into the program, but should expect to do additional work to gain the background necessary for success in their graduate courses.

If you are slightly below a 3.0 GPA, you may still apply, but you must send a personal statement and recommendation letters to the English Department Chair: Dr. Debra Best,

To apply, please submit your application through Cal State Apply

For more information, contact the English Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Jane J. Lee

The following information should help you as you plan your courses for each semester. Please make sure to consult with the Graduate Coordinator early and frequently to make sure you’re on track with your classes.

Courses are offered in the following rotation:

  • English 501: Offered in fall semester only, and should be taken in your first semester if at all possible.
  • English 545: Offered in spring semester only, and should be taken in your second semester if at all possible.
  • English 575: Offered in fall semester only, and should be taken in your third semester if at all possible.
  • English 570, 577: Offered in fall semester only.
  • English 571 and 576: Offered in spring semester only. 576 should not be taken in your first semester.
  • English 570 and 577: Repeatable for credit if the seminar topic has changed.
  • Literature courses also rotate, but there should be one available from each category each semester.

Literature courses also rotate, but there should be one available from each category each semester.

Advisement Information

To see the required courses for the M.A. degree, or to plan your schedule, please consult the Advisement Worksheet.

You may also contact Dr. Lee for advising. Dr. Lee can be reached at her email:

Advancement to Candidacy

The Advancement to Candidacy form should be completed before your last semester of coursework. You will not be allowed to take the comprehensive exams or do a thesis until this form is filled out. Please contact Dr. Lee for advising.

Due to COVID-19, the Spring 2021 exams will be conducted remotely. The schedule for the Spring 2021 Exams will be as follows:

  • Part I: Monday, April 12, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (remotely)
  • Part II: Wednesday, April 14, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (remotely)


Detailed information about the Comprehensive Exam can be found in our Preparation Guide and should be read early and carefully by prospective exam-takers.

For additional information specific to remote Comprehensive Exams, please consult the Remote Comprehensive Exam Addendum.

Exam Reading Materials

Part I

The Comprehensive Exam Part I set texts and accompanying theory modules for Spring 2021 are as follows:

Literature Set Texts and Theory Modules

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Marxism/Materialist Criticisms


The Good Soldier
Feminist and Gender Studies/Queer Theory

Rhetoric/Composition Theory Modules

Foundational Theories of Composition and Composition Pedagogy
Language, Race, and Identity in Composition and Rhetoric

Part II

The following reading list is for Part II of the Exams. Please refer to the Preparation Guide above for detailed information about this list.

Students who have earned a 3.75 GPA may elect to undertake a thesis, provided that they can form a thesis committee with the relevant specialization and have their proposal approved by the graduate committee. Students with less than a 3.75 GPA may on rare occasions write a thesis if they have permission of a thesis mentor and the Graduate Coordinator, as well as the Graduate Committee; such students should already have a promising project based upon a seminar paper or other work done with the thesis mentor.

In order to facilitate a timely completion of the thesis, students are encouraged to expand promising seminar papers into their thesis whenever possible. The thesis prospectus should be signed by the thesis mentor and the second readers and submitted to the graduate coordinator by the last day of classes in the semester prior to writing the thesis. The completed and signed thesis is due in the graduate studies office by November 1 for fall graduation, April 1 for spring graduation, and June 10 for summer graduation. In order to meet these deadlines, students should allow 1 month for revisions with their mentor, and 1 month of revisions with the second and third readers. This means that thesis students planning to graduate in the spring should, if at all possible, have their first draft to their mentor by February 1. Students planning to graduate in the fall should, if at all possible, have their first draft to their mentor by September 1.

Important Information

If you plan to write a thesis, please read the following thoroughly. The Department Thesis Guide is a brief summary of guidelines, policies, timelines, and expectations for thesis writing. It should be where you begin when considering writing a thesis.

Below, you’ll find links to important information from the Office of Graduate Studies, with whom you will ultimately be working to format and submit your final thesis.

Thesis Form

The Graduate Colloquium invites graduate students to present thesis or other research at the end of their time in the program. Please check back for updates.