CMS FAQs

Graduation Credit

Q: There are two composition programs at SF State: the English Composition program and the Composition for Multilingual Students (CMS) program. How is the CMS program different from the English Composition program?

A: Classes in both programs fulfill SFSU’s written English requirements for graduation and General Education (GE) Written and oral communication requirements. However, classes in the CMS Program are taught by instructors who specialize in teaching courses that address the needs of nonnative speakers of English. The table below shows how certain classes in the two programs correspond to each other (Note: not all classes in both programs are shown in the table).

Mulitilingual and Native-Speaker Options
Native-speaker options Multilingual options
These courses fulfill the lower division written English requirement: 
English 114 English 209
These courses fulfill the GE written communication requirement: 
English 214 Engish 215

Q: Which program is the right one for me?

A: This depends on your scores on Write to Register (formerly Composition for Multilingual Students Placement Test). All U.S. citizens and permanent residents are encouraged to take classes in the English Composition Program (English 104/105, 114, 214) if their Write to Register scores are high. However, you will be encouraged to take classes in the CMS program if your test scores show that you would be better served by taking classes designed for multilingual students and taught by instructors who specialize in teaching English to non-native speakers.

Q: Can I switch back and forth between programs, taking some classes in the CMS program and others in the English Composition program?

A: Students who are interested in switching programs should speak with the CMS/Composition Adviser. There are eligibility requirements for every course offered by the CMS program; thus, it is not possible to register and attend a CMS program course without taking the Write to Register or without being directly advised to take the course. If you feel that the CMS program is a better choice for you, we strongly recommend that you contact the adviser as early as possible.

Q: Can I take CMS classes in the summer at another college?

A: Most colleges have ESL or speech courses that students can take to meet the SFSU GE oral communication requirement. If you took such a course, you would not have to take English 210 or Speech 150. However, there are no ESL composition classes that substitute for English 114 (=English 209) or English 214 (=English 215), with the exception of ESL 5 (=English 209) at DeAnza College. If you take ENG 1A (=ENG 209) or ENG 1B (=ENG 215) at another college, you will still be held to the CMS eligibility requirements, including placement in courses based on Write to Register results.

Q: Do CMS Program courses transfer to other schools?

A: Some universities accept courses taken in SFSU’s CMS program. However, you should discuss this question with the admissions office of the institution to which you are transferring. For more information, please visit us in the CMS office in Humanities 481.

CMS Courses

Q: Do I need to take CMS classes or can I take regular English classes?

A: Whether or not you need to take CMS classes depends primarily on your academic English proficiency and the English classes you have taken in previous institutions. It also depends on your test scores on the Write to Register. We also encourage you to meet with a CMS Program adviser as soon as possible by visiting our office in Humanities 481.

Q: Which classes should I take, and in what order?

A: Your score on the Write to Register will determine which class you should start with. The normal sequence of classes is:

  1. English 204( transfer) or English 201/202 (freshman full year) and English 208
  2. English 212
  3. English 209
  4. English 215

Possible exceptions to this sequence:

  1. English 204 and 212 may be taken together if a student places out of 208.
  2. English 212 and 209 may be taken together if a student is a junior or senior and has a sufficiently high Write to Register score or attains high grades in the prerequisite courses (204/208).
  3. English 210, an oral communication course, may be taken any time after completing 204 and 208.

For more details, please read this comparison of the CMS program and English Composition programs.

Q: I will be a new freshman in the fall, and I would like to take my classes in the CMS Program. What should I do?

A:

  1. All new freshmen should plan to attend an orientation session. Visit the New Student Programs website for information about signing up for a session. You will be able to register for many of your classes at the orientation session.
  2. If you are a first-time freshman starting in the fall semester, you are eligible for the CMS Accelerated Program (see our Course Descriptions). You may not need to take the Write to Register. Contact the CMS program for more information.

Q: Are CMS program courses offered in the summer?

A: In the summer, the CMS Program offers about 15 percent of the number of courses and sections that are available in the fall and spring semesters. Certain courses are not offered in the summer semester at all (English 201/202, 204 and 208). We advise against students depending on being able to fulfill required English courses in the summer, due to the limited number of courses offered.

Q: Can I take two or more CMS classes at the same time?

A: English 204 and 208 are usually taken together; English 212 may be taken concurrently with 202, 204, 209 or 215, depending on the recommendation of a CMS instructor or adviser. English 204, 209, and 215 must be taken in sequence; you may not take them at the same time.

Q: Do I have to take English classes every semester until I finish, or can I have one or more semesters between my composition classes?

A: Students are strongly encouraged to take their required English courses each semester until they are completed.

Transfer Students

Q: Should I take my required English classes in the CMS program, or should I take them in the (native speaker) Composition program?

A: Whether or not you need to take CMS classes depends primarily on your academic English proficiency, determined by your Write to Register scores and on what requirements you have met through courses at your previous school. We encourage you to meet with a CMS adviser as soon as possible by visiting our office in Humanities 481.

Q: What courses at City College of San Francisco are equivalent to English 209 and English 215?

A: Only English 1A and 1B. There are no equivalent CMS courses at CCSF. There are eligibility requirements for every course offered, and it is impossible to register and attend a CMS program course without taking the Write to Register or without being directly advised to take the course. Consult a CMS adviser.

Non-SF State Students

Q: Can I take CMS program courses if I am not enrolled as a regular student?

Program courses are available through the College of Extended Learning (CEL). However, priority is given to SF State undergraduate students who are fulfilling graduation requirements; therefore, few spaces are available for CEL students.

Exchange students may enroll for CMS program classes.

Note: Exchange students and College of Extended Learning students wishing to take CMS courses must take the Write to Register and see a CMS advisor before enrolling in any course.

Q: I need to improve my English skills, but I am not enrolled at SF State. Are there any options available to me on the SF State campus?

A: Yes. The College of Extended Learning offers two unique programs: American Language Institute and English for Professional Purposes.

City College of San Francisco also offers many English classes in two programs: a credit program (where students earn credits toward an academic degree) and a noncredit program (where students can improve their general, non-academic English skills).

Finally, there are many private language schools in the Bay Area.

Q: Can visiting scholars take CMS classes?

A: In general, no. Visiting scholars should speak with Professor Priya Abeywickrama in the M.A. TESOL program for more information about taking English classes.

Tutoring

Q: Where can I get tutoring?

A: The Learning Assistance Center (in HSS 348) provides students with tutors for regularly scheduled sessions throughout the semester, in addition to “drop-in” tutoring. Visit the Learning Assistance Center website for more information about the services they provide to the campus community.

The English Tutoring Center (ETC) offers tutoring to students enrolled in a CMS composition class (English 209, 215). The ETC offers weekly sessions as well as "drop in" tutoring. You should ask your instructor or go to the ETC (Humanities 480) for more information.

Graduate Students

Q: Can graduate students take CMS classes?

A: Yes, if they take the Write to Register, or under special advising circumstances. Be advised that priority registration is given to undergraduate students who are fulfilling graduation requirements.

Q: Is there a CMS class designed specifically for graduate students?

A: Yes, English 670 is designed with graduate students in mind. Students from all disciplines are welcome to sign up. Ask for more information at the CMS office in Humanities.

Note: Graduate students wishing to take CMS classes should see a CMS adviser before enrolling in any course.