Programs, Certifications, and Degree Focus

The English Department offers many different options for students to focus their Cal Poly career on their strengths and career goals. To learn more about any of the programs or certificates below, just click on the title or feel free to contact the English Department office.

Degree Programs

Bachelor of Arts

The curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts in English offers students both structure and freedom of choice. Students take a required course in world literature and one in linguistics, along with a six-course sequence of British and American literature. The other seven English courses are chosen by the student and can include creative writing, literature, film, linguistics, composition/rhetoric, and technical communications. A one-unit Senior Project in the student’s field of interest provides the capstone to the English major.


Master of Arts 

Cal Poly’s M.A. program in English offers a 48-credit course of study in British and American literature, literary theory, composition theory, and linguistics. Students have the option of pursuing ancillary work in each of these areas of study, as well as in English education, creative writing, and technical communication. 

Minor and Degree Focuses

English Minor

The English minor offers special opportunities for students in technical majors who might otherwise take a scattering of “available” electives without developing a coherent complement to their technical training.  It also offers students in majors close to English—such as Speech and Journalism—a chance to broaden their competence in a related area.  The minor is simple and should not increase the total number of hours you must have for graduation.


Western Intellectual Tradition Minor

The Western Intellectual Tradition minor adds important quantitative and qualitative value to any major across the university. Prospective employers will recognize WIT as a sign of intellectual ability and breadth of knowledge. Courses in the minor trace the development of philosophical and scientific thought, of literary expression and historical understanding from the beginnings of Western civilization up to contemporary times. WIT exposes students to the crucial ideas that shaped the Western Tradition, and promotes debate about the value and role of those ideas in relation to an increasingly diverse cultural world.


Creative Writing Program

Cal Poly’s English department houses one of the best undergraduate creative writing programs in the West. The university’s excellent academic reputation and the exquisite natural environment of the central coast attract creative students from all over California and the nation. Many of Cal Poly's creative writing students continue on to prestigious graduate writing programs, accept internships as editors and writers for national publications, and eventually teach writing at universities.


Minor in Linguistics

Linguistics is the science of human language—the scientific study of our ability to communicate with other human beings. A minor in linguistics can be used along with many other fields. Click the link above to learn more about this minor.


Composition Program

The Rhetoric and Composition Program at Cal Poly is committed to providing students with progressive and innovative approaches to writing education. Indeed, one of Cal Poly’s stated University Learning Objectives is “effective communication,” which means that you will be developing and honing your writing skills throughout your Cal Poly career. 


Graduate Level

Graduate Teaching Associate Program

Students who are enrolled in the English Department's M.A. program are invited to apply for a teaching associate position. TAs teach ENGL 134: Writing and Rhetoric, a required course for incoming students.

Credential Program

Cal Poly's Single Subject Credential Program in English is designed to prepare university graduates to become English teachers in California secondary schools. In cooperation with the School of Education and school districts, the English credential program provides credential candidates with the requisite background in the subject of English, including curriculum and instructional approaches for literature, writing, language, and communication skills.


Teaching English as a Second Language

The TESL Certificate Program was created at Cal Poly in 1991 to prepare prospective instructors to teach English to speakers of other languages.  Theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical issues in second language teaching and learning are addressed along with a variety of concepts within both theoretical and applied linguistics.  Undergraduate and graduate students may pursue this program that typically attracts those studying English, Modern Languages and Literatures, Liberal Studies, and Child Development.  Students from all of the colleges at Cal Poly, however, have pursued this certificate. 



Technical and Professional Writing Program

Do you love to write? Do you want to write professionally after graduation? If so, then you may want to study technical and professional writing at Cal Poly.

Technical and professional writers value clear communication. Regardless of your field of study or career choice, excellent communication in the workplace and with clients is crucial.



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