MA TESOL Advising

Academic Advising

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

  • Review the extensive advising information on this website.

  • Contact your assigned faculty adviser and set up an appointment ( in person, via e-mail or over the phone).

  • Attend Advising Days. Advising Days provide students with the opportunity to meet with faculty and attend various information workshops. For specific dates, see the M.A. TESOL program calendar.

  • M.A. TESOL students preparing for Advancement To Candidacy (ATC) please view advising section below (includes capstone preparation process as the capstone proposal is due at the time of ATC).

  • For serious academic concerns, including academic probation, please contact the program coordinator (

Find your faculty advisers:

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

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

Academic Policies and Resources

The University Bulletin includes official graduate academic policies and procedures. It also provides a wealth of other information (see Table of Contents), including the official requirements of the M.A. in English: concentration in TESOL degree program and course descriptions.

The Division of Graduate Studies (Administration 250, 415-338-2234, 415-338-2232, provides advising resources, forms for continuing students and information for current students.

Length of Program and Course Sequence

The entire M.A. TESOL program, including recommeded courses taken during the first semester or two, takes from 2-21/2 academic years (four or five semesters, excluding summers) to complete. It is not so much the number of courses that determines the length of time required to complete the program, but whether a student attends part-time (1 - 2 courses per semester) or full-time (3 - 4 courses per semester).

Pathways through the Program

 Planning the overall trajectory of your MA studies? Please see the pathways through the program handout below which suggests semester-by-semester plans for completing the MA degree across various time spans, from 4-semester to 5-semester plans and starting the program in the Spring semeeter.

Pathways through the Program Handout

Advising Checklist & Worksheet

Check out the Advising Checklist and Worksheet before you meet with your advisor.        

Advising Checklist/Worksheet (pdf)

Availability of Courses

M.A. core courses are offered only during the fall and spring semesters. A few literature courses, and sometimes TESOL seminars, are offered during the summer session and the January winter session (see SFSU course schedule).

Late sections (beginning at 4pm or later) are regularly offered for many courses. We make every effort to accommodate students who need late classes, but there is no guarantee that it will be possible to take all of the courses necessary to complete the M.A. program late in the day.

Because specific classes may be offered only once every two or three semesters, it is important to be aware of when they will be offered and to plan ahead.

View current and upcoming semester class schedules:

Fall 2019 MA Comp/TESOL/Linguistics Schedule (PDF)

Spring 2020 MA Comp/TESOL/Linguistics Schedule (PDF)


Courses Recommended on Advisement

The M.A. TESOL program may recommend courses for some applicants in their first two semesters in the program. These course provide foundational work for some studetns who do not have the educational background, enough teaching experience or need academic support to be successful in MA TESOL graduate level work.

  • English 423: Language Analysis for Language Teachers (3 units): Introduction to English language structures and common English learner errors. Analysis of form, meaning and use in spoken and written texts, including academic genres. Focus on understanding cross-linguistic influences and strategies for responding to learner challenges in grammar and pronunciation.
  • Eng 670: Writing for Graduate Studies in the Liberal and Creative Arts (3 units): Development of writing skills for graduate work in the Liberal and Creative Arts focusing on the kinds of writing needed in these disciplines. May not be used for master's degree ATC
  • Eng 726: Practicum (3 units): For studetns who have less than 2 years of classroom teaching experience, through assignment as an apprentice or tutor, TESOL students gain experience with methods, materials, and procedures for teaching non-native speakers of English.

M.A. TESOL Program Foreign Language Requirement

The purpose of this requirement is to experience the learning of a language which is markedly different from one's native language. For native speakers of English, the foreign language must be a non-Indo-European language or an Indo-European language that differs considerably from English, such as Farsi or Hindi. American Sign Language (ASL) may also be used to fulfill this requirement. For non-native English speakers, English is considered to be the foreign language.

Native English-speaking students who enter the program already having proficiency in a non-Indo-European language will be considered to have fulfilled this graduation requirement. All non-native speakers of English, by virtue of pursuing graduate work in English, their foreign language, will have as well. Native English-speaking students who do not have proficiency in a non-Indo-European language may fulfill that requirement along with their required foreign language study for English 826 (see below).

English 826 Concurrent Foreign Language Requirement

One of the requirements for English 826 (Second-Language Acquisition) is that students study a foreign language concurrently in order to focus their attention on the language learning process. Regardless of their prior language study, all students must study a foreign language while they are taking English 826. Most native English-speaking students who enter the program without proficiency in a non-Indo-European language complete that graduation requirement by taking a non-Indo-European language as their foreign language for English 826. Native English-speaking students who already have proficiency in a non-Indo-European language may take any foreign language they like to fulfill the English 826 foreign language requirement. Non-native English speakers may take English 670 (Graduate Writing for TESOL) or a CMS (Composition for Multilingual Students) class to fulfill this language requirement. For information on English requirements for non-native speakers of English, see Required Tests.

Foreign language courses may be taken in junior colleges, private institutes, or extension divisions, as well as at SFSU. Language courses may be taken on a credit/no credit basis or for a certificate of attendance. For courses taken off campus or in summer school, students should place an official grade report, a letter from the institution, or a memorandum from the English 826 instructor in their file in the English Department office.

List of non-Indo-European language courses which may be taken to fulfill the requirement.

Foreign language courses may be taken at SFSU or at community colleges, private institutes, or university extension programs. Language courses may be taken on a credit/no credit basis or for a certificate of attendance. For courses taken off campus, students should place an official transcript, a letter from the institution, or a memorandum from the English 826 instructor in their file in the English Dept. office.


  • ARAB 101: First Semester Arabic (also ARAB 102)
  • AA S 171: Speak Vietnamese
  • CHIN 101: First Semester Chinese (also CHIN 102, 103, etc.)
  • FILI 101: First Semester Filipino
  • HEBR 101: First Semester Modern Hebrew
  • APN 101: First Semester Japanese (also JAPN 102, 103, etc.)
  • PRSN 101: First Semester Persian • SPED 688: American Sign Language I
  • SPED 689: American Sign Language II

Some off-campus programs 

  • San Francisco City College [Chinese, Japanese, Korean]
  • UC Berkeley Extension [Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese], (510) 643-2604
  • University of San Francisco [Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew], (415) 422-2802
  • Soko Gakuen [Japanese: Beginning conversation, beginning-intermediate classes, including Saturdays], (415) 928-9608
  • Japan Society [Beginning-Advanced Japanese], (415) 986-4383
  • Nobiru Kai [Japanese], (415) 922-2033
  • AISEI Japanese Language Services [Beginning-Advanced Japanese, 10-week classes], (415) 296-9295
  • Intercultural Institute of California, Korean Studies Program [Korean], (415) 441-1884
  • Pacific Arabic Resources [Arabic], (415) 644-0110
  • Arab Cultural Center [Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Arabic],(415) 664-2200
  • A 10-week course, once a week for 3 hours in the evening. (Might not be offered at present)
  • Vista College, Berkeley (510) 841-8431
  • College of San Mateo
  • ASL Café [a 60-minute ASL class along with ASL language practice one evening a week],, (415) 242-5200

Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) and Proposal for Culminating Experience (CE)

Instructions and Forms

Students must file their Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) form during the semester immediately preceding registration for the final six units of the 30-unit program, that is, the semester before taking English 733 and 895. At the time they complete their ATC form, students must also complete a Culminating Experience (CE) form. The M.A. TESOL Culminating Experience is a Capstone Project which includes a Capstone Paper and Presentation.

You can download the ATC form from the Graduate Studies Current Student Forms page.  Select "English-TESOL" from the menu.  You can download a sample of the ATC form here.  Please  download the CE form from the Graduate Studies Culminating Experience Procedures page. Download the "895: Field Study or Applied Research" version of the form. 

Your CE form needs to include a brief description of your Capstone Project, so be sure to read the capstone guidelines and download the proposal form and then bring ideas for your project along with your draft forms to meet with a faculty advisor at least one month before your ATC and CE forms are due to the M.A. TESOL faculty. You can download a sample CE form here. Follow these instructions for completing the CE form.

All students:

After you have completed your ATC and Culminating Experience forms (two forms), they must be checked by a M.A. TESOL faculty adviser. To do this, you must either attend the M.A. TESOL ATC review meeting (announced via list-serv at the beginning of the semester) or meet with your faculty adviser.

How to prepare:

  1. Borrow your file from the English Department office Bring a copy of your unofficial transcript showing completion of course work. Once your ATC form is approved, your status will be changed from conditionally classified to fully classified.

  2. Bring both your completed ATC and completed Culminating Experience forms, and if needed, completed ATC Substitution and/or Transfer of Units form, to the meeting. (Thesis students should check with their thesis advisers regarding all the needed paperwork and deadlines.) If everything is evaluated as correct on the two forms at a review meeting, faculty will collect them and forward them to the English Department office for further processing. Copies will be made for your file in the department office, and you should eventually receive copies of signed and approved forms in the mail. If there are any errors, you will need to revise the forms and resubmit them for review.

If you still need to choose an Elective for the coming semester to include on your ATC form, see schedule for classes. Type in your most likely class. Should you later change your mind and take a course/courses different from the courses that you typed on the ATC (and that were approved), you will need to submit a Petition for ATC Substitution (pdf).

The Culminating Experience Form will be signed by 2 faculty members. In the event there is a change in your committee (for example if a faculty member who signed your form is on leave the semester you graduate), you will need to submit a Petition For Committee Revision.

Capstone Guidelines and Proposal Form

In preparation for your final semester, you must come prepared with ideas for your capstone project or the capstone proposal at the time you submit your ATC. Please see the following guidelines and download and fill in the proposal form to begin working on your capstone project. The capstone proposal is due Week 13 of the semester.


Grading Policy and Probation

Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures require that all graduate students maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 (B) grade point average (GPA) and a minimum 3.0 (B) GPA for the 30 units of courses listed on the Graduate Approved Program (GAP) form.

Specific program policy is as follows (for more specific course information see SF Bulletin):

  • The non-Indo-European language that accompanies English 826 may be taken on a credit/no credit basis or for a certificate of attendance.

  • English 702, 707, 728, 731, 732, 734 and 826 must be taken for letter grades.

  • English 733 and 895 are graded on a credit/no credit basis.

  • Only one Elective course can be taken for credit/no credit.

  • The passing grade for all core and concentration courses is B- (this is 80% and aligns with University policy and corresponds to the CR/NC option)

  • Students whose cumulative GPAs drop below 3.0 (B) will be placed on probation.

  • A course may be repeated only by a petition approved by the M.A. TESOL faculty.

Review SF State’s graduate academic standards.