Literature New Student FAQs

Can I apply to the M.A. in English Literature if I didn’t major in English?

We admit a handful of applicants who did not major in English each year. If admitted, such applicants typically are given conditionally classified status with a subject deficiency (CC/SD) and required to take courses in English Literature before beginning their coursework for the M.A. Please see our admissions procedures for more information. Applicants who have little or no upper-division coursework in English Literature may wish to take courses through Open University before applying. (Please note that taking literature courses through Open University does not guarantee eventual admission to our program.)

What teaching opportunities are available through the M.A. program in Literature?

  • Our ENG 803: Teaching Assistant Practicum (pdf) offers students the opportunity to learn about pedagogical issues in the teaching of literature by assisting professors in running a large lecture course. In addition to working closely with a professor as a TA, students participate in a series of workshops designed to introduce them to a variety of pedagogical issues and give them hands-on teaching experience.
  • Tutoring opportunities are available through the English Tutoring Center (ETC), Learning Assistance Center (LAC), and Campus Academic Resource Program (CARP).
  • Students who are pursuing a composition certificate concurrently with the M.A. in Literature may apply to work as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA).

Can I use an M.A. in English Literature to teach at a 2-year college?

We have a strong record of placing our students in tenure-track teaching positions at two-year colleges in California, particularly when they pursue a Reading or Composition Certificate in conjunction with the M.A. program.   

Can I transfer units from another institution?

A student may transfer—with the approval of an advisor—a maximum of 6 units from another institution. See “Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures” in the University Bulletin for a list of the University’s requirements for doing so. (Students taking courses through the UC Berkeley Cross Registration Program are not subject to this limit. If you have correctly followed the procedures to participate in this program, courses taken through it should appear as SF State credits on your transcript.)

Can I count SF State courses taken outside of the English Department towards the M.A. in Literature?

With the approval of his or her advisor, a student may apply a maximum of 6 units taken outside of the English department to the M.A. Such courses must be relevant to the students’ program of study in English Literature.

What scholarships and fellowships are available?

The department and college offer a limited number of scholarships and fellowships to current graduate students. Scholarships are announced by the department and college annually. For other opportunities, see the SF State Fellowships Office

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How many courses should I take each semester?

Full-time M.A. students generally take 3 courses (9 units) per semester. You can view a sample 2-year timeline to completion online.

How do I arrange an independent study?

Students who wish to pursue subjects that are not included the university’s curriculum as described in the bulletin or course schedule and who have demonstrated ability to do independent work may apply to register for Special Study (English 899). Before registering, the student must have a special study petition approved and signed by the department chair, advisor, and the instructor who has agreed to supervise the student. Once the petition is filled out and signed by the instructor and advisor, the student needs to bring it, along with a signed Add Form and a copy of an Unofficial Transcript, to the English Department main office. The petition forms (pdf) are available through the Registrar's website.

Can I count undergraduate classes towards my literary theory, literary history, or pre-1800 requirement?

No. You must use graduate-level courses to fulfill these requirements.

How many undergraduate classes can I take?

You can count up to two upper-division (500-600 level) English literature courses towards the M.A. as “electives.” (However, if you started the program before Fall 2016, you may count up to three.)