MA Program

Master of Arts in English

Program Description

The M.A. program in English at SJSU is a 30 semester-unit research program. At least 24 of these units must be graduate level (i.e., 200-numbered) courses; ENGL 201 (Materials and Methods of Literary Research, 4 units) and ENGL 297 (Comprehensive Exam Prep, 2 units) are required; note that both 201 and 297 are offered only in the fall semester. Up to 8 units of upper division undergraduate work may be applied to the M.A. program with advance approval by the graduate advisor. 

A basic foundational knowledge of British-American literary history is necessary to do well in the program. This is typically covered in undergraduate survey courses but you can also learn this material through independent self-study using standard anthologies such as the Norton Anthologies of British and American Literature. 

Students must demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language by passing the departmental language examination. (This requirement is waived for students who have earned 2 semesters/3 quarters credit in an acceptable foreign language course. It is also waived for students whose first language is not English.)

Students must also pass the M.A. comprehensive examinations.

An M.A. Thesis is not required. You may take your entire 30 units in course work (Plan B). Or you may, if you have a strong record and submit a strong proposal, be permitted to write a six-unit thesis as part of your 30-unit program (Plan A)

Admission is based on a critical writing sample that demonstrates mastery in written English, an ability to analyze literature, and, ideally, research skills that support literary analysis.

MA Roadmap can be found here: maroadmap.pdf [pdf]

M.A. students have the opportunity to apply for teaching associate and graduate assistant positions in the English Department. Teaching Associates are limited to taking two courses (6 semester-units) while teaching one or two sections of lower-division General Education courses, usually Freshman Composition. Teaching Associates receive, in addition to a modest salary, a 6-unit fee waiver. 

Ten Reasons to Apply

  1. Small seminar classes (averaging 15-16 students) taught by actively publishing, available faculty.
  2. Wide range of seminars in American, British, and World Literature as well as seminars in literary research, rhetoric, and composition studies
  3. Numerous cash awards for student writing
  4. MA increases secondary school teachers’ salaries
  5. MA or other advanced degree required for teaching in California Junior Colleges
  6. Option to continue graduate study in major doctoral programs
  7. Teaching opportunities while completing the degree through the department’s Graduate Assistant and Teaching Associate programs
  8. Chance to take creative writing workshops taught in the MFA program
  9. Option of writing an MA Thesis
  10. Opportunity to be part of an active intellectual, artistic, and social community. 

For further information, read through our Frequently Asked Questions and advice about graduate school. You can also view our brochure [pdf].

Graduate Newsletter

The Graduate Newsletter, published twice each semester, includes important deadlines, upcoming course offerings, Teaching Assistant positions, language exam information, comprehensive exams, thesis deadlines and other important announcements. 

Nov. 17 Graduate Student Town Hall Forum

Below is a link to the recording of the Graduate Student Town Hall meeting that took place on Nov. 17, 2022. In this forum, faculty authors Jessica Hollander and J. Michael Martinez read samples of their latest works. Professor Revathi Krishnaswamy, the graduate director, also presented information about the Thesis writing and approval process for Departmental and University Theses and discussed changes in the MA Exam procedure.

Please view the recording here.
Passcode: aOeM4#U+


For questions:

Revathi Krishnaswamy 
Graduate Coordinator
Faculty Offices 109