Applying and Admissions

Applying and Admissions

picture of pine avenue, long beachAdmission Requirements
Admission Procedures
International Student Admission


The MA program in English welcomes applicants who were English majors as undergraduates, as well as applicants from other majors. Students can apply after they have earned their BA or in their last semester of their BA. If students apply successfully during the last semester of their undergraduate career, they receive contingent admission, i.e., admission contingent on their completing their BA and maintaining their GPA.

Admission for English Majors

There are three routes to admission for students with a baccalaureate degree in English from an accredited four-year institution, depending on their GPA in their upper-division English classes:

  • Students with a GPA of 3.3 or better in their upper-division English classes need only fill out the application (see below) and receive full admission.
  • Students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3 in their upper-division English classes have two options for applying:
    • Applicants with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3 in their upper-division English classes may be admitted to the MA program if they take the GRE General Test and achieve a minimum score of 158 in Verbal Reasoning and 5.0 in Analytical Writing.
    • Applicants with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.3 in their upper-division English classes may apply to the MA program with a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in an English department at an accredited four-year institution and a writing sample of no more than 10 pages demonstrating the ability to write scholarly discourse in English studies. This application will be reviewed and approved or denied by the Graduate Advisor, who may consult with the Graduate Studies Committee. The letter of recommendation and writing sample should be emailed to the Graduate Advisor, currently Prof. Dennis López:

Students with a baccalaureate degree in English from an accredited four-year institution are expected to have completed at least 21 semester units of upper-division English classes. This is usually a matter of course for students whose BA is in English. Students with a GPA under 3.0 in their upper-division English classes are unfortunately not eligible for admission. All applicants must complete a statement of purpose with their application (see below).

Admission for Other Majors

Students with a baccalaureate degree in a major other than English from an accredited four-year institution may also apply to the MA program in English. These students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. These students may receive conditional admission to the MA program in English, which means that they will need to complete prerequisite courses to bring their upper-division English courses to 21 units. These courses must be completed in one academic year and with a GPA of 3.3 or better. The list of eligible courses will be determined by the Graduate Advisor in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee. Courses used to complete these prerequisites (aka make-up courses) are not counted as part of the MA program. All applicants must complete a statement of purpose with their application (see below).

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Application to Pursue Post-Baccalaureate Study

Applicants must submit a graduate application (available online at Cal State Apply) to the University’s Office of Enrollment Services to pursue post-baccalaureate study. After the Office of Enrollment Services approves the application, the English Department evaluates it and determines whether or not applicants are admitted to the MA program.

Usually, it takes about 4-6 weeks between the submission of the application and the department’s decision. The decision is communicated to applicants through CSULB’s computer management system and in a hard copy letter. That letter is sent to the address the student gives in the application. Admission decisions are made on an ongoing basis (aka ‘rolling admissions’), so the earlier a student submits their application, the sooner they will know the department’s decision.


Applicants must submit a set of complete and official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended to the Office of Enrollment Services. Applicants who were undergraduate students at CSULB do not need to submit their official transcripts again.

Types of Admission

There are three types of admission (see above):

  • full admission: Applicants who have been admitted to the MA program through any of the three routes described above and have completed their BA receive full admission.
  • contingent admission: Applicants who are in the process of completing their BA can receive contingent admission, which means they are admitted contingent on completing their BA and maintaining their GPA. Contingent admission automatically changes to full admission when the paperwork confirming the conferral of the BA is submitted.
  • conditional admission Applicants whose BA is not in English can receive conditional admission, which means they need to complete prerequisite course work in the required time and with the required GPA (see above).

Statement of Purpose

All applicants must complete a statement of purpose, which must be submitted as part of the application on CSU Apply. This statement is supposed to give the department a sense of what the applicant intends to do in the MA program and with the MA program. In other words, it should articulate (to the extent that the applicant knows)

  • what kinds of classes and experiences the applicant hopes to have during their time in the program, e.g., what academic field, area, or period they are interested in, and
  • what the applicant is currently imagining as a professional goal, e.g., becoming a community college instructor, attending a Ph.D. program or law school, pursuing a career in writing of some other form, being a high school teacher, going into management, etc.

Of course, applicants may or may not have clear visions of these two topics—and that’s OK. The purpose of the statement is to make sure that the MA program in English is a good fit for the applicant, and it is used to identify faculty members who might be good mentors for the applicant. The statement of purpose is strictly limited to 500 words—CSU Apply will cut off any words beyond those 500.


Faculty Advisors
All students accepted into the MA program are required to meet with an advisor during their first semester to plan a preliminary course of study. Letter of acceptance will include the name of, and contact information for, the initial advisor. Students can make an appointment through the Graduate Secretary (562-985-4225) or contact their advisors directly.

After the first semester, students are free to choose an advisor other than the one initially assigned; students must choose their particular advisor before advancement to candidacy. The English Department keeps an updated list of faculty available to graduate students as advisors and mentors, and the Graduate Advisor is always available.

Throughout their programs, students are encouraged to seek guidance from advisors on choosing courses and meeting degree requirements. By meeting with their advisor at least once a year, preferably once a semester, students will stay informed about any changes in regulations applying to the MA degree, whether these originate inside or outside the English Department. Students are also welcome to consult with faculty on the intellectual, social, professional, and personal aspects of working on their MA in English.
Research Skills
All MA students are expected to know basic methods of library research, which include using print and online bibliographies to locate books and journal articles. Students should also be familiar with the MLA style of documentation as described in The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th edition). Alexis Pavenick, our subject librarian in English, can help with questions about research resources and methods; she can be reached at 562-985-2332 or Faculty may also be consulted regarding questions about research methods or documentation rules.

Application filing periods:

For current application filing periods, please check the CSULB Graduate Studies web site at

Deadlines for International Students will differ. International Students should check with the Center for International Education for deadline information.

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International students are admitted to California State University, Long Beach through the CSULB Center for International Education. This Center evaluates foreign transcripts, determines eligibility for post-baccalaureate study, and ultimately admits international students. The international student for whom English is a second language must pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 600 (PBT), 250 (CBT), or 100 (iBT) before being admitted to the MA program in English.

If international students break residency any semester they are not enrolled, they must reapply for admission through the Center for International Education. For an explanation of residency requirements and additional information that may apply to international students, the Center for International Education should be contacted directly.

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