M.A. TESOL New Student FAQs


 At the Orientation for new students, you will have a chance to meet the M.A. TESOL Program Coordinator, some of the TESOL faculty, and fellow newcomers to the program. The Orientation covers a number of important topics, including:

  • Explanations of prerequisite and core M.A. courses and course sequences
  • Suggested course loads and combinations of courses
  • Long-range planning of your program
  • Getting tutoring and teaching experience
  • Communications, advising, and places to know about

New students should try not to miss this very important meeting. If you do have to miss it, contact the Coordinator to get a summary and copies of handouts that you missed.

The Orientation is held at the beginning of each semester, just before classes begin. New students who live in the Bay Area will also have a chance to attend an Orientation at the end of the semester before they enroll.

First Semester Classes

Most M.A. TESOL students are admitted conditionally and take prerequisite foundation classes during their first two semesters. Check your admission letter from the English Department to see which conditions (prerequisite courses) are listed under “Conditional Admission.” Not all students need to take all of the prerequisite classes.

Most M.A. TESOL students who need to take all of the prerequisite courses register for the following classes their first semester: English 425 (Language in Context), English 426 (Second Language Acquisition), and a concurrent foreign language (usually a non-Indo-European language for native English speakers and English 670 for non-native speakers of English). In addition, some full-time students may take English 421 or 424.

If you complete English 425 and 426, you can take English 730 the following semester. If you complete English 421, you can take English 653 and most Group II classes the following semester.

If you plan to go through the program at a somewhat slower pace, it is fine to take English 421 and 424 first and to delay English 730. English 424 can be taken concurrently with English 730.

The literature prerequisite may be fulfilled anytime before your second-to-last semester (classes may be taken during Winter and Summer sessions).

Here is a list of recommended classes for fulfilling the literature prerequisite:

Classes must be upper division or graduate level courses, i.e., numbered 300 or above.

  • ENG 720: Seminar in Language, Literature and Culture: TESOL
  • ENG 475: Fundamentals of Literary Analysis
  • ENG 655: Literature and the Adolescent Reader
  • ENG 555: The Short Story
  • ENG 631: Post-Colonial Literature in English
  • CWL 400: Approaches to Comparative Literature
  • CWL 420: Modern Prose of the Americas

Other classes featuring contemporary literature written in English, including courses offered by Ethnic Studies, Asian American Studies, Black Studies, Raza Studies, American Indian Studies, and Humanities (with “Literature” in the title, pre-approved by a M.A. TESOL advisor)

For non-native speakers of English (with permission of CMS Coordinator):

  • ENG 411: Literature & Composition (OK for prerequisite but NOT for Group II

Registering for Courses

 You can sign in and register for classes, as well as access your grades, class schedule, unofficial transcript, test score report, financial statement and more, at SF State Gateway. If you do not have an SF State password, you can request one using the SF State password service.

See explanations of Registration policies and procedures and Registrar’s information, dates, and deadlines. You can find out your Priority Registration date and time online at SF State Gateway.

You must pay fees first, and remove any holds, in order to register. If you have problems, you can call the Registration Helpline at (415) 338-3333 or get help at the One Stop Student Services Center in the Student Services Building (phone: (415) 338-2350).

To get your first choice of sections, register for classes on your Priority Registration date or during any Open Registration period after that date. Open classes can be found by doing an online search of the class schedule.

If a class is full, try to register for a different section, or try to get on the waiting list. During the first week of class, faculty will make every effort to admit M.A. TESOL students who need to take prerequisite classes, so don’t worry. You can add classes during the first week, when other students drop out.

The English Department can make no guarantee of admission to classes. There is an upper limit on the number of students permitted in each class, and, if the minimum enrollment is not met, the class will be canceled. For these reasons, and to guarantee yourself a spot in a class, it is important to register during Early Registration and Priority Registration.

Waiving Prerequisites and Transferring Credits

Waiving Prerequisites

First, check the Admission Decision Form included with your letter of admission to see if the prerequisites have already been waived, based on evaluation of your transcripts. If not, equivalency was not evident from examination of course titles on your transcript. To obtain a waiver, you will need to provide evidence of recent academic study that is the equivalent of one-semester, in-depth courses in English syntax (English 421), phonology and morphology (English 424), sociolinguistics (English 425), and/or second language acquisition (English 426), with grades of no lower than B-. Bring documentation (syllabi listing topics covered, textbooks used, samples of tests and papers) and consult with the faculty member who handles waivers for the particular course.

Read more about waiving prerequisites.

To waive upper division literature class:

Bring syllabus and see an advisor. The class must be upper division or graduate level, 3 semester units. The class must be upper division American/British/post-colonial/ethnic literature written in English, and we now also accept advanced foreign language literature classes. Your admission letter may indicate a requirement to take a literature prerequisite class, but you can check with an advisor to see if the requirement can be waived based on other courses you have taken. You will need to supply documentation with evidence that the course work involved literary analysis.

If you obtain a waiver for a prerequisite course, have your advisor sign a waiver form to put in your file in the English Department office.

Transferring Credits

You can read more about transferring credits under the M.A. TESOL admissions section.

You can also view the Transfer Unit Evaluation Form (PDF) from the Division of Graduate Studies website.

Academic Advising

Advising is central to the program. Students in need of advising have a number of options:

  • Review the extensive advising information on our program website.
  • Contact your assigned faculty member and set up an appointment. Advice may be given in person, via email, or over the phone.
  • Come to sessions held on Advising Days. Advising Days provide current students with the opportunity to meet with faculty and attend various information workshops. For specific dates, see the M.A. TESOL Program Calendar.
  • Current students in the M.A. TESOL Program can view the advising section for additional forms that will help with the Portfolio and Capstone preparation process.
  • For serious academic concerns, including academic probation, please contact the program coordinator (matesol@sfsu.edu)

Find your faculty advisors here:

  • If your last name begins with  A-L, please see Dr. Santos, Dr. Kohls or Dr. Olsher
  • If your last name begins with  M-Z, please see Dr. Abeywickrama or Dr. Olsher

Checking Your SF State E-mail Account Regularly

All students at SF State receive a free e-mail account with an @mail.sfsu.edu address. This is the official e-mail address that the University will keep on record for you, and the University will use this address to send you important information. If you do not plan to use your SF State account on a regular basis, be sure to arrange to have e-mail forwarded to an account that you do use regularly so that you will not miss important messages from the University.

To read more about SF State e-mail accounts, including how to get e-mail forwarded and how to re-set your password, see the e-mail guide page at the SF State Tech Central site.

Child Care

San Francisco State University has two child care facilities on campus which are open to faculty, staff, and students, the Associated Students’ Early Childhood Education Center, and SF State Children's Campus.


Housing information is provided by the SF State Housing Office. Also, see SF State Housing Information Advice for Future Students and this overview of housing and dining services.

Students wishing to live on campus should check out the University’s housing options early, and are strongly encouraged to fill out a housing application before being admitted to the University. Unfortunately, SF State cannot guarantee housing to newly admitted students. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.