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.


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
ENGL 205 (4 units)
ENGL 250T and/or 280T (12 units)
ENGL 299 (Thesis) (4 units)

Approved electives in English or other fields (see Specific Requirements) (12 units)
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 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.

Language Requirement: The English Department requires candidates for the M.A. in English, Literature Option to demonstrate a reading knowledge in a language other than English. 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 a classical language, 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.