Pre-Fall 2019 Requirements/Guidelines

Pre-Fall 2019 Requirements/Guidelines

View requirements and guidelines in the SF State Bulletin.


The prerequisite courses for the M.A. TESOL program need not be completed before being admitted to the program. Applicants almost always lack some or all of the prerequisites described in numbers 2 and 3 below, so virtually all applicants are admitted “conditionally” and take the prerequisites during their first two semesters in the program. After students have completed the “conditions,” their classification is changed to “fully classified.”

The conditions which must be completed before a student can be fully classified will be stated in the acceptance letter that is mailed from the department to admitted applicants. Those with questions about the conditions listed in that letter should consult the program coordinator and prerequisite course advisers at the beginning of the semester.

The conditions to be fully classified are:

1.  Grade Point Average (GPA): All students must have achieved a 3.0 (B) average for their last 60 units of course work in order to be admitted to the M.A. TESOL program.

2.  Successful completion of 12 upper-division semester units of linguistics/language studies courses. If prerequisite requirements are not waived based on previous course work, students must take the following courses at SF State:

  • 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.

Optionally, English 421 Structure of English (3 units) and 424 Phonology and Morphology (3 units) may be used together, in place of English 423.

  • English 425: Language in Context (3 units): Introduction to sociolinguistics: language variation in relation to factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, region, socioeconomic class and occupation; language and culture; multilingualism; attitudes toward language varieties; discourse analysis.
  • English 426: Second-Language Acquisition (3 units): The process of language acquisition (first and second) and the diversity of variables which affect this process, such as age, cognitive style, learning strategies, attitudes and motivation. Concurrent enrollment in a foreign language is required.

NOTE:  For students admitted Fall 2014 or earlier: Successful completion of three upper-division or graduate units of British, American and/or other English language medium or foreign language literature. These courses may have been taken either as an undergraduate or as a graduate student. Students who have not already fulfilled this requirement must complete it before the second-to-last semester in the M.A. TESOL Program.

Waiving Prerequisites

Waivers of prerequisite courses are granted only if the student has already completed equivalent course work at another institution. Prerequisite courses cannot be waived by examination. Students who believe they are eligible for waivers of prerequisites based on previous course work should contact the faculty listed below. Bring syllabi listing topics covered, textbooks used, and samples of tests and papers.

Criteria for Waiving

To waive English 426 (Second-Language Acquisition), the student must demonstrate that:

  1. a prior course was successfully completed as part of the student’s academic coursework or training elsewhere.
  2. the course was devoted to the study of theory, research and concepts in second language acquisition. Students should demonstrate that the course was the equivalent of a one semester, in-depth course. Courses that largely focused on second-language teaching issues or those that combined the study of issues in second-language acquisition with an examination of language teaching methods cannot be used to waive English 426. Furthermore, one-shot workshops on second-language acquisition issues also cannot be used to waive English 426. Students who are unsure whether their prior coursework satisfies the English 426 requirement should consult with one of the professors who teach English 426 soon after their admission to the M.A. TESOL program.
  3. a grade better than B- was received in the completed course.

English 426 final paper requirement

Students who are allowed to waive English 426 are still required to complete the final paper requirement assigned in the course. The final paper enables the M.A. TESOL faculty to gauge whether a student has fulfilled the graduate writing requirement. Note, however, that the major purpose of this paper is for the English 426 professors to evaluate the students’ ability to synthesize and contextualize what they know about second-language acquisition concepts. This paper is a carefully constructed essay that reflects on a language learning experience and clearly expresses the student’s ideas about the language learning experience with respect to second-language acquisition theory, research and issues.

Students are responsible for contacting one of the English 426 faculty members to get information about the specifications for this final paper. This paper should be submitted to the English 426 professor handling the student’s waiver request prior to the last day of instruction during the semester in which the student would have taken English 426.

Students who wish to waive English 426 are responsible for contacting one of the faculty members who teach the course and making an appointment to discuss their waiver request. Students should also bring documentation (transcripts, syllabi listing topics covered, textbooks used, samples of tests and papers) when meeting to discuss the waiver with the faculty member.

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 426 (see below).

English 426 Concurrent Foreign Language Requirement

One of the requirements for English 426 (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 426. 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 426. 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 426 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.

Foreign language courses may be taken in junior colleges, private institutes, or extension divisions, as well as at SF State. 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 426 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 SF State 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 426 instructor in their file in the English Dept. office.

SF State

  • 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

Length of Program and Course Sequence

The entire M.A. TESOL program, including the prerequisite courses taken during the first semester or two, takes from two to two and a half academic years (four or five semesters, excluding summers) to complete. It is not so much the number of prerequisites required 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).

M.A. TESOL Route to Graduation BEFORE Fall 2019

Group I (TESOL Seminars), Group II (Linguistic Seminars) and Group III (Upper Div or Grad) Courses

These are the courses for Group I:

ENG 724 - Special Topics in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
ENG 736 - Seminar in Teaching ESL in the Community
ENG 737 - Introduction to Corpus Linguistics
ENG 738 - Pragmatics and Oral Skills
ENG 832 - Seminar in Immigrant Literacies and Community-Based Projects

These are the courses for Group II:

ENG 719 - Seminar: Contemporary Semantic Theory
ENG 723 - Seminar in the Structure of English
ENG 725 - Seminar in Discourse Analysis
ENG 727 - Linguistic Field Methods
ENG 728 - Topics in Sociolinguistics
ENG 729 - Seminar in Psycholinguistics
ENG 737 - Introduction to Corpus Linguistics
ENG 738 - Pragmatics and Oral Skills

These are the courses for Group III:

Any upper division or graduate level course that relates to your educational or professional goals as a M.A. TESOL student.

Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) and Proposal for Culminating Experience

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.

Students who entered the program prior to Fall 2016:

For most students who entered the program prior to Fall 2016, it is recommended that you use the current versions of the ATC and CE forms available on the Grad Studies forms page.  If you have questions and especially if you will not have taken English 734 Curriculum and Assessment during your M.A. TESOL studies, then please contact the program coordinator for advice on which version of the forms to file.

Students who entered the program in Fall 2016 or later:

You can download the ATC form from the Graduate Studies Current Student Forms page.  Select "English-TESOL" from the menu.  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. Keep in mind that the description of your Capstone Project on the CE form should be stated in very broad, general language to allow flexibility, and the precise details will be specified in your Capstone Proposal form submitted later in the semester directly to the M.A. TESOL Program Coordinator.

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. If you were admitted to the program conditionally (i.e. you had prerequisite courses to take), you need to remove your conditions at this time. Bring a copy of your unofficial transcript showing completion of all prerequisites and the foreign language requirement, to add to your file. 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 Group I or II class(es) for the coming semester to include on your ATC form, see Future Group I and Group II 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.

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.

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):

  • All linguistics prerequisites (English 421, 424, 425, 426) must be taken for letter grades. Students must have a 3.0 GPA in these courses, and no course grade lower than a B-, in order to continue in the program. These courses may be repeated only by a petition approved by the M.A. TESOL faculty.
  • Literature prerequisites may be taken for either a letter grade or credit/no credit.
  • The non-Indo-European language that accompanies English 426 may be taken on a credit/no credit basis or for a certificate of attendance.
  • English 721, 730, 731,  732, and 734 must be taken for letter grades.
  • English 733 and 895 are graded on a credit/no credit basis.
  • Only one group requirement course can be taken for credit/no credit.
  • Students whose cumulative GPAs drop below 3.0 will be placed on probation.

Review SF State’s graduate academic standards.