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M.A. English – Apply

How do I apply to the MA program?

Applicants must fill out an application via the Cal State Apply interface, available here:

In addition to the materials that the Cal State Apply system requires, you must also submit the following materials:

  • Personal statement: This document is usually 1-2 pages in length (double spaced, 12-point font). It explains your reason for pursuing an MA degree in English at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. It may also explain how the MA in English will help you attain your goals with respect to your current or future career or as a necessary step in attaining some other educational goal (such as pursuing a PhD). The graduate committee reviews personal statements to determine how well your academic interests and goals align with the program’s learning outcomes as well as the department’s vision statement.
  • Writing sample: This document varies in length. Typically, applicants submit a piece of advanced academic writing from an undergraduate English course. However, we have also seen and accepted applicants who submit writing samples from other disciplines. The graduate committee reviews these writing samples in order to determine your ability to meet the demands of graduate-level coursework, which often consists of conducting research and writing high-quality seminar papers that can range anywhere from ten to twenty pages in length. We strongly encourage applicants to take great care in preparing both the writing sample and personal statement by paying as much attention to matters of clarity and style as to the ideas presented. 
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation: Applicants typically submit letters from undergraduate instructors with whom they have had a close working relationship. However, we have also received and accepted applications containing letters from employers. Like the writing sample, the graduate committee uses the letters to determine your ability to meet the requirements of graduate-level study, which range from regular classroom attendance and active participation in seminar discussions to the ability to work independently and manage deadlines.

Applicants who do not include these materials cannot be considered for admission to the program.

Do I need to submit GRE scores?

No. Neither Cal State Apply nor the department requires that you submit GRE scores for admission to the English MA program.

I did not earn an undergraduate degree in English. Can I still apply to your program? 

Yes. While most applicants to our program have a BA in English, we have accepted applicants with a degree in a closely related field. In such cases it is crucial that applicants utilize their personal statements, letters of recommendation, and writing samples to showcase their ability to succeed in an English Studies MA program. 

I earned my BA from Cal Poly. Do I need to request official transcripts?

A: No. The Admissions Office will pull your transcript from PolyProfile. If you have attended another program after graduating from Cal Poly, then you will likely need to submit those transcripts. 

When is the application deadline?

There are multiple deadlines throughout the academic year. When you wish to start in the program will determine when you must submit your application. 

  • Applications are due on April 1 to begin in the Fall quarter.
  • Applications are due on November 1 to begin in the Winter quarter.
  • Applications are due on February 1 to begin in the Spring quarter.

Typically, most students apply to begin the MA program in the Fall quarter (April 1 deadline). 

I am an international applicant. Are these deadlines the same for me?

Yes. Currently, the deadlines are the same for international applicants as they are for domestic applicants. However, the process for acquiring a VISA once you have been accepted often takes longer than one might expect. In addition, applicants should keep in mind that the English department does NOT offer graduate courses over the summer, which could adversely affect international students depending on what quarter they begin in the program. For those reasons, we strongly encourage international applicants to apply for Fall admission, as this will allow the most time to secure the necessary VISA.  

International applicants should contact the international center for more information regarding VISA requirements:

How does the department decide on whom to admit to its MA program? 

The decision-making process begins with the English department graduate committee, which consists of the graduate coordinator plus 4-6 faculty members who teach regularly in the graduate program. After the application deadline closes each quarter, committee members review only complete applications, paying close attention to the personal statement, writing sample, and letters of recommendation. After this review, each member of the committee passes on their recommendation to the graduate coordinator. Based on this feedback the graduate coordinator determines which applications to accept and which to decline. After taking all those factors into account, the graduate coordinator forwards the decisions on to the Graduate Education Office and the Admissions Office. Final determinations and official notification of admission to the program will come from Cal Poly’s Admissions Office.

How long does it take for the department to make its decision?

Typically, the department begins its review the day after an application deadline closes. Committee members usually have two weeks to review the relevant materials. While there are no guarantees, as the length of the review process varies depending on the number of applications received, applicants can expect to hear from the Admissions Office within a month following the application deadline. 

How many students do you admit into the program each year?

This varies from year to year based on the number of students currently enrolled in the program. However, for the Fall quarter we typically receive around 25 applications and admit around 15 applicants. For each of the Winter and Spring quarters, we typically receive 1-3 applications and admit 1-2.

Additional Questions

If you have additional questions, then please reach out to the graduate coordinator:


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