Bachelor of Arts (BA)

The Bachelor Degree Program in English at CSULB

Students in a classroom

About the Bachelor’s Degree

A major is the part of a degree representing the most concentrated study in a field of knowledge. Completing an English major, however, is not enough for graduation. The B.A. at CSULB presently requires 120 academic units (each unit means about an hour of class for 15 weeks); most English options require around 40-45 units. A B.A. requires a General Education pattern, varying with one’s first year of college, but now consisting of 48 units. 120 units also requires “electives,” such as more classes for an English major, a second or previous major, a minor, a certificate, or exploring other fields beyond GE requirements. Faculty, staff, and trained student advisors can help you understand and satisfy these requirements.

Advising Information

Efficient Use of Advising

To use advising resources efficiently, students should have some idea about what purposes they want an English program to serve. Advisors can answer some questions quickly, but many answers depend on contexts only the student can provide. Students uncertain about their goals should discuss with an advisor a range of possibilities, moving gradually toward a particular objective. When first contacting any kind of advisor, students should make sure all their relevant records are available. Copies of transcripts can be useful even if advisors have access to file folders or computer records, some of which may be incomplete or in error.

General Education Advising

Faculty vary in familiarity with GE patterns, which change over the years; entering freshmen in 1999 will follow a new pattern, while longtime or returning students need to be placed in appropriate catalog years for GE as well as the major. GE and major catalog years need not be the same and students have some choice over which catalog years to follow. GE help is available by appointment at the Academic Advising Center (AAC), though some students in designated programs may need to go elsewhere (e.g., Educational Equity Services, Learning Alliance, President’s Scholars, Student Athlete Services). The AAC provides mandatory advising for freshmen, specialized help for returning students, and unofficial transcript review for all students, including transfer students. They can also help students appeal apparent errors in their records and file petitions for redress or Exception to Academic Policy.

Advising in Related Departments

Students with double majors, majors and minors, teacher preparation programs, and interdisciplinary programs, should consult advisors in related departments to be sure they are following an accepted pattern and to find substitute courses if any they expected to take are not available. Some courses in the Catalog are offered infrequently (annually, biannually, even less often) and an English advisor has no say in what another department does. English constitutes part of other degree programs as well. Students in Interdisciplinary Studies and Comparative Literature may choose one concentration in English, while Liberal Studies offers six. In Track I, an accepted route to a multi-subject classroom credential (generally grades K-6), concentrations include “Humanities Through Literature” and “Language Arts.” Track II students who want a varied package of courses may choose concentrations in Creative Writing, Language and Composition, Literature, and Technical Writing. This program is presently undergoing major changes and students must consult the Liberal Studies office to keep apprized of them.

Other Sources of Information

Not all student problems are strictly academic, subject to faculty action, but many professional offices on campus can help. Few English advisors are expert on admissions, international education, financial aid, course transfers, total transcripts, graduation audits, personal and psychological counseling, or job placement, but they may be able to help solve such issues as well as give referrals. The list of important phone numbers on the inside front cover of this booklet shows most offices to which faculty make referrals.

Advising for the English Major

All full-time faculty in English are legally qualified to advise for every English program. They can all help students read the Catalog, answer questions concerning class schedules and university requirements, and refer students to appropriate offices for other problems. For a list of coordinators for Composition, Creative Writing, Secondary Education, and Undergraduate Advising (i.e., everything else) go here. The Undergraduate Coordinator, who supervises outreach to other campuses, serves as the ombuds for student problems, and provides an initial contact point for most transfer students, also routes students to specific faculty in Interdisciplinary Studies, Language and Linguistics, Liberal Studies, Literacy and Composition, Literature, Special Emphasis, and Technical and Professional Writing. No later than the semester they first declare an English major, minor, or certificate program, students should discuss with a faculty advisor alternative options, courses, career choices, and other questions. Students who did not enter CSULB as English majors must file a Declaration of Objective at their earliest convenience. As soon as possible, students should ask department staff to set up folders for them in “active” student files. Students should also provide transcripts of courses from other colleges which may help fulfill an English major. Each semester, Enrollment Services updates records to help advisors provide assistance. Faculty with access to the CSULB network can also retrieve such records on-line. After earning 70 units that count toward the B.A. and usually before 105, students need faculty approval of Program Planners, documents submitted to Enrollment Services detailing a major course of study. Planners must be filed for a graduation audit at least ten months before the expected graduation date, to leave students at least one semester to make up missing courses or appeal through appropriate channels what they see as erroneous judgments. Faculty can assist in appeals, especially on major or minor requirements. Back to top

Program Planners

Exceptions for Program Planners

Since the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) requires student athletes to progress every semester in their majors, their Program Planners must be turned in early. Since students in the Special Emphasis Option need at least 15 units remaining to take when planners are approved, they need a written record of consulting faculty advisors early. Special Emphasis minors should also generate a written record of early faculty consultation. Since Planners are a legal record for meeting graduation requirements, revisions need faculty approval for course changes or exceptions granted (no amendments are needed for grade changes or courses taken in different semesters than planned). Since minors have no official Planners, an advisor must write a memo to Enrollment Services detailing what a Special Emphasis minor consists of and exceptions approved for other minors.

Pre-Baccalaureate Study (Remedial/Advanced Placement)

Success in an English B.A. program demands proficiency in reading, writing, library research, and the give-and-take of intellectual discussion. High school graduates deficient in writing must pass pre-baccalaureate courses (with no degree credit) before taking classes for an English major. They normally work with the Intensive Learning Experience and the Learning Assistance Center. Experienced students needing assistance may consult trained tutors at the Writers Resource Lab. CSULB accepts 6 units of Advanced Placement credit in English. This includes 3 units for ENGL 100 Composition, prerequisite to nearly all English courses and a “Foundation” course for GE. English majors can also count 3 units of ENGL 184 Composition and Literature (non-majors gain credit for ENGL 180 Appreciation of Literature, meeting a GE requirement). Back to top

Transfer Preparation

Recommended Transfer Preparation

No specific English courses are required at community colleges, but students may transfer full or partial credit for some or all of the following courses, offered at CSULB in the lower division:

  • One semester of COMPOSITION
  • One semester of COMPOSITION AND LITERATURE (for courses requiring critical essays of poetry, fiction, and drama, supported by library research)
  • One semester of CREATIVE WRITING
  • Two semesters of ENGLISH LITERATURE
  • Two semesters of AMERICAN LITERATURE

Students can sometimes also meet upper division requirements:

  • One semester of SHAKESPEARE
  • One semester of TECHNICAL WRITING

Courses that meet major requirements carry only units granted by the transferring institution. If a 3-unit course replaces a 4-unit course, one more unit is needed. 4 quarter units equal only 2 2/3rds semester units. Lower division courses may not satisfy upper division unit requirements. Students from four-year institutions who wish to transfer more or other courses should see the Undergraduate Advising Coordinator.

Recommended GE and Elective Courses

A B.A. may coordinate GE, a major, and electives. For a Liberal Arts major, support from other disciplines is particularly valuable. Many departments offer courses that relate to and strengthen an English major. Some fulfill GE requirements; others count as electives toward the 120-unit total. A few courses can meet both GE and major requirements. Among them are “Foundation” courses (GE Category I) such as ENGL 100 and 102. In addition, ENGL 318I, 372I, and 375 may satisfy upper division GE and Interdisciplinary or Human Diversity requirements, as well as major requirements in some English Options. English majors may find useful courses in such areas as American, British, and European History; Art and Music History; Comparative Literature, Classics, and Foreign Languages and Literatures; Journalism, Speech Communication, Theatre Arts, and Film and Electronic Arts; Anthropology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Psychology, and Sociology. Technical and Professional Writing students are encouraged to study Business, Engineering, and Natural Sciences, and must demonstrate computer and visual literacy.

Prerequisites and Recommended Course Sequences

English is not a rigid discipline with a fixed sequence, so few prerequisites are absolute. However, all upper-division and most lower-division courses in the Department require English 100. Students are also advised to take lower division before upper division courses, especially where course numbering suggests a different level of related content. Examples:

  • Either 205 or 206 is required before 405, 406, and 407.
  • 250A,B should precede 450/460 courses, especially in the same historical period and 270A,B should precede 470 courses. 250A,B and 370A,B need not follow chronological sequence, however; some students find the reverse order more accessible, reading more recent before older writers and American before English writers.
  • Senior standing and 12 upper division English units are prerequisite to senior seminars, 469 and 479.

Exceptions: Faculty may approve equivalent courses from other institutions and/or waive prerequisites for mature or gifted students. Back to top

Choosing an Option or Minor

Some universities offer only a traditional liberal arts program like the Literature Option at CSULB, but English studies have expanded in recent years. A B.A. in English at CSULB must be in one of six Options, some of which permit considerable freedom. Students with particular goals in mind, however, may find only one Option really serves their purposes. A convenient dividing line is whether a student plans to go into teaching, and if so, at what level. K-6 teachers in public schools need a Multiple-Subject Credential. Liberal Studies is the traditional route to this credential, but temporary credentials are available for students with any B.A. in English while they accumulate additional academic background. Grade 7-12 teachers need a Single-Subject Credential. Students may pass a rigorous state-administered examination in all the subjects English teachers need to know, a path often taken by teachers with credentials in other states. Most future teachers in California complete a “waiver program” like the English Education Option. Community college teachers typically earn a Master’s degree, for which a related B.A. is valuable but not required (students may make up official “deficiencies”). Except in Creative Writing, the PhD is usually required for teaching English at a 4-7 year university. Students planning careers in writing or publishing may find Literature, Creative Writing, or Special Emphasis appropriate. The Literature Option provides thorough historical and theoretical background with a great deal of analytical reading and writing. Creative Writing provides background in reading as well as writing poetry, fiction, and scripts for various media. Students interested in graduate study in Linguistics or Teaching English as a Second Language should consider the Language and Linguistics Option, while students who plan to teach reading and writing or undertake graduate study in Rhetoric and Composition should consider Literacy and Composition. The Special Emphasis can include courses from Journalism, Communication Studies, and other areas or to make individual combinations of reading, writing, and linguistics courses for various purposes, including law, business, and medicine as well as publishing. All English Options also serve as pre-professional programs, but with more undergraduate specialization.

Switching Degree Programs

Many English courses overlap Options, Emphases, Concentrations, and Certificates, but it is easier to move away from more structured tracks than into them. It is easier to move from Literature to Creative Writing or from a major to a minor than the other way around, for example, and easier to move from an emphasis in English Education to an English Option by the same name than vice-versa. A chart showing these relationships is available from the Department office or the Undergraduate Advising Coordinator.

Foreign Language Study

For all English options, foreign language study is recommended. Ideally, acquaintance with a foreign language should begin before University study, but a student can also gain a great deal by beginning language study at the university level and continuing it through upper division courses. Because most advanced degrees require knowledge of at least one foreign language, students aiming at such degrees should include language study in their undergraduate programs.

Student Associations and Honor Societies

The English Student Association is registered with and funded by the Associated Students. This active student organization sponsors speakers, symposia, and other social and academic activities, aiding communication among students and faculty. The Department also hosts the Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society, which is open to experienced students with a “B” average in English who rank in the top 35% of the student body. Technical writing students can also join the Sigma Tau Delta honor society of the Society for Technical Communication with good grades and proven service to the field. Students interested in creative writing may take part in the annual production of RipRap, the Department’s literary magazine. Students who wish to join any of these organizations should visit the Department office for information or referral to faculty members involved.

Financial Aid in the Department of English

Various forms of financial assistance are available from the university, including federal grants and loans. Students must apply to the Office of Financial Aid in Brotman Hall. The English Department sponsors awards, mostly for writing and ranging from $100 to $500, and runs tutoring programs in which mainly graduate students work part-time while developing teaching skills. The Society for Technical Communications also sponsors local and national scholarships. The English Department posts information about scholarships, fellowships, grants offered through various government and academic organizations, and job openings in teaching and other professional fields. For such opportunities, students should check Department bulletin boards and consult faculty and office staff concerning requirements, deadlines, applications, and letters of reference.

Career Opportunities

Professional schools of business, medicine, and law as well as education all appreciate English as pre-professional preparation for advanced study. Technical and Professional Writing also provides career opportunities for students majoring in English. Recent graduates with an English B.A. have found jobs as teaching assistants, editorial assistants, analysts, journalists, self-employed writers, and personnel managers. Graduates also find positions in other areas of business, industry, and government, including politics, entertainment, advertising, finance, and Internet applications. Although employers sometimes complain about college graduates’ lack of literacy, many English majors command respect by being able to read critically, write carefully, and analyze situation and character. Students with a B.A. in English get repeated chances and encouragement to develop these abilities. Being aware of what they know and what they can do, students should then be able to showcase their talents for prospective employers.

Degree Options

The Creative Writing Option is designed to fulfill academic, creative, and career goals in writing fiction, poetry, and plays, for both theaters and the screen. Nationally recognized creative writing faculty have helped place Southern California on the literary map as the home of Stand-Up Poetry. The English Education Option prepares students for earning a Single-Subject Credential. The Literature Option is designed for students who desire a thorough grounding in British and American literature, particularly those planning graduate study in English and graduate professional programs. A traditional liberal arts program, this option not only exposes students to great literature, but also requires humanistic analysis of literary works in social, linguistic, and personal contexts. The Rhetoric and Composition Option offers a balanced program of composition, literature, and language study with particular emphasis on the ways literacy is defined and promoted in our society. This option prepares students for graduate study in English, rhetoric and composition, and literacy studies; for teaching on virtually all levels; and for fields involving intensive writing and communication skills. The Special Emphasis Option lets students design their own program of study for interests or career objectives not met by other options. Examples include media studies, pre-law, publishing, and technical writing. Such a program may include a limited number of courses outside the Department of English, but students desiring a multiple-subject major should consider a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies or Liberal Studies.


These unofficial worksheets have no legal status. Consult an advisor in your option no later than when you have taken 70 units. To file a Request to Graduate, a student must submit to Enrollment Services an official Program Planner with the signed approval of a faculty advisor.

Option in Creative Writing (ENGLBA02) (120 units)

The Creative Writing option is designed for students who wish to write, as well as study, fiction, poetry, plays, or media scripts. Exposure to traditional and recent literature is also of significant value for anyone seeking to master the forms and conventions of writing creatively for the literary marketplace. (Students seeking a Secondary Credential should complete the Creative Writing emphasis of the English Education Option.) This option consists of 45 units, 31 of which must be taken in the upper division, including the following:

  • Lower Division: ENGL 180; 204 or 205, or 206; 250 A, B.
  • Upper Division: ENGL 380; nine units in creative writing chosen from ENGL 404, 405, 406, 407, 499; three classes chosen from the following classes in recent literature, literary genres, and literary criticism: ENGL 385, 386, 459, 466, 467A/B, 469, 474, 475, 476A/B, 477A/B, 478, 479; electives to make up a total of 45 units chosen from the classes listed above and/or any upper-division English courses.

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Option in English Education (ENGLBA06) (120 units)

The Option in English Education is designed for prospective secondary English teachers and satisfies the state-mandated requirement in subject matter competence for the Single Subject Teaching Credential. In order to achieve subject matter competency, English Education majors must earn grades of ‘C’ or better in all of their content area coursework (i.e., their major coursework). This option consists of the following 43 units:

Take the following:

  • ENGL 180 Appreciation of Literature (3)
    Prerequisite: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1).

Take one of the following:

  • ENGL 250A Survey of English Literature (4)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.
  • ENGL 250B Survey of English Literature (4)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.

Take one of the following:

  • ENGL 270A Survey of American Literature (4)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.
  • ENGL 270B Survey of American Literature (4)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.

Take all of the following:

  • ENGL 310 Applied Composition (4)
    Prerequisite/Corequisite: One GE Foundation course.
  • ENGL 320 English Grammar (4)
    Prerequisite: None
  • ENGL 363 Shakespeare I (4)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.
  • ENGL 375 U.S. Ethnic Writers (3)
    Prerequisites: ENGL 100 or GE Composition (Area A1); GE Foundation requirements.
  • ENGL 380 Approaches to English Studies (4)
    Prerequisite: ENGL 180 or equivalent.
  • ENGL 410 Theories of Writing and Literacy (3)
    Prerequisite: ENGL 309 or ENGL 310 or consent of instructor.
  • ENGL 482 Literature for Adolescents (4)
    Prerequisite: One college course in literature.
  • LING 339 Linguistics for Crosscultural Academic Development in Secondary School Settings (3)
    Prerequisites: None

Take one of the following:

  • CLSC 101, CWL 100, CWL 124, CWL 132, CWL 320, CWL 404, CWL 452 (each 3 units)

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Option in Literature (ENGLBA01) (120 units)

The Literature option is designed for students who desire a thorough grounding in English and American literature and is particularly recommended for those planning on graduate study in English. (Students seeking a Secondary Credential should complete the Literature emphasis of the English Education option.) This option consists of 46 units, 27 of which must be taken in the upper division, including the following:

  • Lower Division: ENGL 180, 250A, 250B, 270A, 270B.
  • Upper Division: ENGL 380; 363; either two courses from the 450 series or one course from the 450 series and one course from the 460 series (excluding 469)—one of these two courses must be in English literature before 1900; one course from the 470 series (excluding 479); one senior seminar (469, 479, 489); electives to make up a total of 46 units.

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Option in Rhetoric and Composition (ENGLBA04) (120 units)

The Rhetoric and Composition option is designed for students who desire to write for multiple readers and to analyze and interpret texts. This option prepares students for teaching on virtually all levels, for graduate study in English, and for professions that require intensive writing and communication skills. (Students seeking a Secondary Credential should complete the Literacy and Composition emphasis of the English Education option.) This option consists of 45 units, 32 of which must be upper division, including the following:

  • Lower Division: ENGL 180 or equivalent; select two courses from ENGL 250A, 250B, 270A, and 270B.
  • Upper Division: ENGL 380; select two courses from ENGL 300, 317, 410, and 435; select seven courses from ENGL 310, 320, 337, 363, 404, 411, 416, 417, 418, 419, 423, 426, 436, 437, 488, and 497; select upper-division English course electives to reach a total of 45 units.

Note: students are strongly encouraged to take ENGL 102 or an English-department equivalent at a transfer school for this option.

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Option in Special Emphasis (ENGLBA05) (120 units)

Some students wishing to major in English have special interests or career objectives so different from those for which the other options are designed that another pattern of courses would better serve their personal educational needs. For those students, the Special Emphasis option offers an opportunity to pursue individually designed 41-unit programs of study. Student programs may center on technical writing, for example, or other writing goals; they may focus on American or English literature or literature in a particular genre, a particular historical period, or a particular theme. A Special Emphasis program may include courses outside the Department of English closely related to a student’s focus in English studies. At least 21 units must be earned in the Department of English at CSULB and at least 21 units of the program must be upper division. For degrees with more than four courses in any single other department, students should consider a Special Major in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. Students wishing to take the Special Emphasis option should prepare a detailed program proposal early in their college careers. Such programs will be recognized only if planned in consultation with a faculty advisor in the Department of English, approved in writing by the advisor, given signed approval by the Department Chair, and carried out under the advisor’s continuing supervision. Students must complete at least 15 upper-division units applicable to their Special Emphasis program after it has been officially approved. The only specific course requirements and limitations are the following: ENGL 180, Composition and Literature (3 units); ENGL 380, Approaches to English Studies (4 units). Electives in English and related fields are needed to make up a total of 41 units. These electives may not include ENGL 100 or 101.