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 multilingual 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 A2 Written Communication requirement: 
English 104/105 or English 114 Eng 201/202 or English 209
These courses fulfill the GE AE Life Long Learning requirement: 
English 216 Engish 217

Q: Which program is the right one for me?

A: This depends on the Advising Module recommendation which gives you the chance to choose from several pathways depending on your learning needs. Both pathways provide credit towards graduation. While the decision is yours, after you attend a CMS class, the instructor may suggest support classes. In the case of Composition courses, the instructor may encourage you to take classes in the CMS program if you would be better served by taking classes designed for multilingual students and taught by instructors who specialize in teaching English to multilingual 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 Advising Module 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 writing or speech courses that students can take to meet the SFSU GE written and oral communication requirement. If you took such a course, and the course(s) transferred to SF State and have met the SF State requirement, then you do not have to take courses at SF State. Make sure that your requiremments have been met by your first year at SF State.

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 482.

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 Advising Module recommendation. We also encourage you to meet with a CMS Program adviser as soon as possible by visiting the  office in Humanities 482.

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

A: Your Advising Module recommendation will help you decide which class you should take:

For freshman directly from high school For other freshman and transfer students All students

English 201 (and maybe English 204)

English 202 (and maybe English 212)

English 204 or English 212 

English 209


English 210

English 217

English 217




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?


  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. Before you attend an orientation session, complete the Advising Module, so that you have a course recommendation.

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 212). 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: Often, students take English 201 and 204 or English 202 and 212 together. For other writing classes, we do not  recommmend students take more than one class at the same time unless you have been advised by a CMS instructor. You can take  English 210, the oral communication course at the same time with another CMS course. 

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 GE written and oral communication 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 Advising Module recommendation and on what requirements you have met through courses at your previous school. We encourage you to meet with an Academic Advisor or speak with CMS adviser as soon as possible.

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 complete the Advising Module 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.


Q: Where can I get tutoring?

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

Graduate Students

Q: Can graduate students take CMS classes?

A: Yes, if they take the Advising Module, or under special advising circumstances from their Graduate Advisors. However, 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. For more information contact the coordinator of the MA TESOL Program (

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