MA in English (Composition)

Total units required for the MA:  30

Program Description

The MA in English with a Concentration in Composition is recommended for students preparing to teach writing at the community college level, for those whose objective is to pursue a Ph.D. in composition, or for high school teachers seeking to update their knowledge of composition theory and practice. The course of study leads to an M.A. thesis in composition in which the student undertakes original research in composition under the supervision of a two-person faculty committee.

In general, the M.A. degree in each of its concentrations seeks to enhance students' skills in: critical reading; analysis of language, ideas, and the formal attributes of texts; creative engagement with the writing traditions of its three disciplinary fields; and independent research.

The three concentrations of the English M.A. offer preparation for students who aspire: to teach writing or literary study in high-school or community-college settings; to teach English to adult learners and to students abroad; to pursue career opportunities in fields such as journalism, publishing, law, technical and creative writing, advertising, arts administration, or civil service; or to pursue study at the doctoral level.

Because many graduate students work during the day, most graduate courses are scheduled for late afternoon and evening hours.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in English requires:

For: All Applicants to the Composition Concentration, Creative Writing Concentration, and Literature Concentration
  • a baccalaureate degree;
  • a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 60 units of all university level coursework or a 3.0 GPA in courses in the English major on the transcript from the degree granting institution;
  • a minimum of 27 units of upper division courses in English;
  • (for foreign students from non-English speaking countries) a TOEFL score of 600 or higher (or a score of 250 or higher on the Computerized TOEFL) and a score of 5 on the Test of Written English; and
For: Applicants to the Literature Concentration and Creative Writing Concentration Only

In addition to the general requirements above, students applying to the concentration in creative writing must have completed undergraduate coursework that includes at least five courses in literature of at least three units each. Of these five literature courses:

  • At least one course must primarily address British literature and at least one course must primarily address American literature;
  • At least three of these five literature courses must be upper division.

Application Materials Required by the English Department for All Applicants

In addition to the materials that must be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies as outlined in "Application Materials Required by the University" (below), students must also send to the English M.A. Graduate Coordinator in the English Department additional material by the application deadline.

Before submitting the materials, please check with the English Department website (http// for updates and specific deadlines.

Please have the following material delivered to the English Department directly and addressed to the English M.A. Coordinator:

  • Personal statement of no more than 300-500 words. The personal statement should discuss the applicant's interest in the program concentration (literature, composition, or creative writing) that he or she has chosen and the experiences (academic and non-academic) that have shaped this interest and prepared the applicant for graduate work in this field.
  • Three confidentially submitted recommendation forms (found on the department website) for all students (both California State University, Sacramento and other institutions). Students graduating from universities other than California State University, Sacramento, must also provide formal letters from their three recommenders in addition to the completed recommendation forms.
  • Writing sample for Creative Writing applicants only (for prose or fiction, the writing sample should be no more than 15 pages; for poetry, the writing sample should consist of approximately 5 or 6 poems).
  • Students graduating from any institution other than California State University, Sacramento, must send directly to the English Department an official copy of all transcripts from each institution of higher education that they have attended.
  • Students who have attended California State University, Sacramento, must send directly to the English Department official transcripts from institutions of higher education they have attended other than California State University, Sacramento.
  • A completed copy of the Department of English Supplemental Application found on the English Department website.

The Graduate Coordinator will screen all applicants according to these requirements and a ranking system devised by the department. Applicants who have deficiencies in these admission requirements which can be removed by specified additional preparation will be ranked accordingly but may be admitted with conditionally classified graduate status. Any deficiencies will be noted on a written response from the Graduate Coordinator to the student's admission application.

Application Materials Required by the University

In addition to any materials sent directly to the department, all prospective graduate students including California State University, Sacramento, graduates, must file the following with the Office of Graduate Studies, River Front Center 215, (916) 278-6470:

  • an online application for admission;
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than California State University, Sacramento; and
  • TOEFL scores, if applicable.

Note: For materials that must be sent directly to the English Graduate Program Coordinator in the English Department, see "Application Materials Required by the English Department" as listed above.

Applicants are accepted as long as room for new students exists or until the deadline passes. Applicants should file as early as possible.

For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  30
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0.  No units with a grade lower and "C" may apply towards the degree.

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units of English 200-level courses in the Master's Degree program with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with an English faculty advisor. The completed form is then returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Courses (12 Units)
ENGL 220ATeaching College Composition 13
ENGL 220CTopics in Composition Studies3
ENGL 220DTeaching and Composition Research3
ENGL 195AWriting Center Theory and Practice: Internships3
or ENGL 410A Writing Center Theory and Practice: Internships
Other Course Requirements (15 Units)
Select 15 units 215
Culminating Requirement (3 Units)
ENGL 500Culminating Experience 33
Total Units30

In order to satisfy the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) and advance to candidacy, Composition students must receive a "B" or higher in ENGL 220A. For more information on this requirement and possible equivalencies, please visit: 


English Elective units, of which 9 units must be ENGL 200-level courses and 6 units may be ENGL 100-level or ENGL 400-level courses.


 The Culminating requirement for the Composition Concentration shall be completed via Plan B requirements by writing a project.