Required Coursework

Admission  |  Required Coursework  |  MFA Faculty  |  Visiting Writers Series  |  RipRap  |  FAQs

The MFA degree is a 48-unit degree (32 core units + 16 elective units) normally requiring full-time residency. The final thesis must be finished and accepted by all committee members in the spring of the second year of study. Requests for a waiver of this time limit are granted only for such reasons as documented serious health or personal problems. These requests require formal petition to the Creative Writing faculty, and must be approved unanimously by all members of the thesis committee and the English Department Chair. Any grade of “Incomplete” must be completed prior to the student’s graduation date.

This program should be completed in two years at roughly 11-13 units per semester. The following coursework sequence is highly recommended. Departures from this schedule may take place only after consultation with and approval by the chairperson of the student’s thesis committee. Course requirements are arranged into “core” and “elective” categories.


ENGL 505A or 506A (4 units)
ENGL 696 (4 units)
Plus Electives

ENGL 505B or 506B (4 units)
Plus Electives


ENGL 605A or 606A (4 units)
ENGL 698 (3 units)
ENGL 590 (3 units)
Plus Electives

ENGL 605B or 606B (4 units)
ENGL 698 (3 units)
ENGL 590 (3 units)
Plus Electives

Core Courses

The specific courses listed form the mandatory core coursework for all MFA students. These required courses have been designated with the following unit value towards the completion of the 48-unit degree:

English 505A, 505B, 605A and 605B are 4-unit seminar-workshops in Prose Writing. English 506A, 506B, 606A and 606B are 4-unit seminar-workshops in Poetry Writing. Of the 48 units, 16 are comprised of these graduate creative writing seminar-workshops. Please note that only MFA students are permitted to enroll in these classes and audits are not allowed.

English 696 is a 4-unit Seminar in Theory, Criticism and Research that must be taken in the first year, preferably in the fall semester. Like the graduate Creative Writing seminar-workshops, English 590 is required of and restricted to MFA students. Only second-year MFA students are allowed to enroll in this sequence, which is taken by both the fiction and poetry students. As with the creative writing seminars, this course rotates among the professors.

During both semesters of the second year, MFA students will also enroll in a three-unit “thesis writing” course (English 698). This course provides academic credit for the work of writing the final thesis draft.

All of these core courses amount to 32 units of the required 48 units. The remaining coursework is made up of Electives, listed below.

(NOTE: Students who graduated from CSULB with a B.A. degree in English, and have taken the equivalent 400-level course, will not receive credit for the 500-level course. For example, if a student took English 455 as an undergraduate at CSULB, the student will not receive graduate credit for English 555.)


498C | Poetry and the Self (3)
510 | Theories of Writing and Literacy (3)
511 | Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition (4)
523 | Semantics (3)
526 | History of English Language (3)
535 | Theories and Practices in Composition (3)
537 | Selected Topics for In-service Teachers (3)
550 | Old English Language and Literature (4)
551 | Middle English Language and Literature (4)
552 | Literature of the Renaissance (1500-1603) (3)
553 | Literature of the Late Renaissance (1603-1660) (3)
554 | Medieval Literature of the British Isles (3)
555 | English Literature of the Enlightenment (1660-1798) (3)
556 | English Literature of the Romantic Period (1798-1832) (3)
558 | English Poetry and Prose of the Victorian Age (1832-1900) (3)
559 | English Literature of the Twentieth-Century (1900-Present) (3)
562 | Chaucer (3)
566 | Irish Literature in English (3)
567A | The English Novel (3)
567B | The English Novel (3)
568 | English Drama (3)
572 | American Literature: 1820-1865(3)
573 | American Literature 1865-1918(3)
574 | Twentieth-Century American Literature (3)
575 | The American Short Story (3)
576A | American Poetry (3)
576B | American Poetry (3)
577A | American Novel (3)
577B | American Novel (3)
578 | American Drama (3)
583 | Special Topics in Literature (3,4)
652 | Seminar in English Renaissance (4)
653 | Seminar in the Age of Milton (4)
655 | Seminar in Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature (4)
656 | Seminar in Romantic Literature (4)
657 | Seminar in Victorian Literature (4)
659 | Seminar in Twentieth-Century English Literature (4)
671 | Digital Rhetoric (4)
672 | Seminar in Nineteenth-Century American Renaissance (4)
673 | Seminar in American Realism (4)
674 | Seminar in Twentieth-Century American Literature (4)
681 | Selected Topics – Seminar in Major Authors (4)
683 | Selected Topics – Seminar in English Studies (4)
684 | Seminar in Advanced Literary Theory (4)

*Students may NOT enroll in any 500-level course if they earned credit for the class at the 400-level as an undergraduate at CSULB.

Up to six units total of 400-level coursework may also be taken to fulfill the electives requirement, subject to the following restrictions.

Students may NOT enroll in any 400-level Creative Writing course if they earned credit for that class as an undergraduate at CSULB.

Students may NOT enroll in any 400-level Creative Writing course that is in their own degree focus.

Students wishing to take any 400-level course must obtain advance written approval from an MFA advisor.

Students wishing to take any class in another department must obtain advance written approval from an MFA advisor.