Literature Graduate Admissions Procedures


Admission to the program is competitive. It is also a two-part process: you must submit application materials to both Graduate Studies and the English Department. GRE is not required for admission to the program. However, GRE is recommended for out-of-state applicants to determine eligibility for merit-based scholarships.

Part I: Application to Graduate Studies:

  • Complete an online application with Graduate Studies through Cal State Apply. NOTE: do not submit your Statement of Purpose to Graduate Studies, as it will be included with the materials you send to the department. On page 9 of the Graduate Studies Application, simply state that your personal statement has been sent directly to the English Department.
  • Send one set of transcripts from all colleges attended to Graduate Studies.

The phone number for Graduate Studies is (415) 338-2234.

Part II: Application to the English Department:

Send the following materials together in one package directly to the English Department, M.A. Literature:

  • Your completed English Department M.A. Literature application (interactive pdf).
  • A 1-2 page typed statement of purpose detailing your intellectual interests, the basis of your engagement in the field, and professional goals (#9 on the Literature application).
  • One writing sample (a critical or scholarly essay of 5-10 pages, preferably one written as part of a literature course).
  • One set of official transcripts from all colleges attended.
  • Two or more academic letters of recommendation (preferably from one of your current or former literature professors). Letters of recommendation (pdf) may be sent under separate cover and are available for download.

These documents should be on file in the English Department no later than February 1 for fall admission, or October 1 for spring admission.
International applicants should submit their materials by January 1 for fall admission or September 1 for spring admission.

Admission Categories

Once a student has been admitted to the graduate program in Literature, s/he may be given CLASSIFIED standing if (a) s/he has completed an undergraduate degree in English comparable to the undergraduate major program at SFSU, and (b) s/he has achieved a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the major. This CLASSIFIED graduate student is ready to take English 741, the seminar which functions as a “portal course” to further seminar work. Students admitted in one of the three categories described below may not take seminars in the range 741-790 until they have achieved CLASSIFIED status.

These are the three categories of CONDITIONAL CLASSIFIED status:

  1. CC/SD (Conditional Classified/Subject Deficiency): Usually given to students who have an undergraduate major other than English (with a 3.0 or higher GPA), or a background showing substantial personal interest in literature. This applicant will be required to complete a specified number of upper-division courses in literature determined by the admissions committee. These courses may not be credited toward the 10-course M.A. program.
  2. CC/P (Conditional Classified/GPA Deficiency): Usually given to students with an undergraduate English major GPA of 2.5–2.9 (without 9 or more units of graduate English courses taken with a GPA of 3.0 or higher). This applicant will be required to complete a specified number of courses (upper-division or possibly seminars) determined by the admissions committee with a GPA of 3.3 or higher. Once completed, these course do become part of the 10-course M.A. program.
  3. CC/SD & P (Conditional Classified, with both Subject and GPA Deficiency): Usually given to students with a course record described in (1) above with a GPA of 2.5–2.9.


Questions About Applying?

Contact our Graduate Programs Administrative Coordinator, Cynthia Losinsky at