The Cal Poly Pomona M.A. in English

Meaning of the M.A. in English

The Master’s degree in English generates versatile professionals who demonstrate their core competencies within the discipline and transfer these skills beyond the English curriculum.

The English M.A. program at Cal Poly offers the opportunity for students to engage in the sustained pursuit of advanced study in the fields of Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, and/or Teaching English as a Second Language. The program prepares students to pursue careers in high school and postsecondary teaching in community college and university settings, to work in fields of publishing and/or editing, to continue on to doctoral studies, and to enter career fields requiring superior proficiency in written and oral communication, critical thinking, analysis, and research.

The degree is open to students of all skill levels: students who come in from fields outside of English are provided with an individualized academic plan consisting of prerequisites designed to provide foundational knowledge and assist students in developing the necessary skillset to succeed at the graduate level. The curriculum is sequential in its structure, honing preexisting skills into career-level expertise through research method and engagement courses, leading up to a culminating experience.

All three options require that students either take comprehensive examinations or complete a master’s thesis as a culminating experience. In this culminating experience, students are required to present the competencies learned in their course work in written form, and to demonstrate a high level of academic rigor.

Students are mentored in conducting their own research, which they present at the Graduate Student Symposium, as well as at local, state and national conferences. In addition, as Teaching Assistants students receive extensive training and first-hand experience in designing and teaching their own course as the instructor of record. They also participate in workshops and events organized by the Graduate Student English Association (GradSEA) with serves students in all three options, by PhrienDs, an informal group for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D., and can assist in the publishing and marketing of the department’s online literary journal Pomona Valley Review

Quality of the M.A. in English

Students who complete the M.A. degree program demonstrate familiarity with the basic theories, knowledge areas, and analytical tools of the field, as well as the ability to read and understand unfamiliar articles on current research, theories, and analyses in their field. Graduates conduct and present high-quality research/analysis appropriate to their discipline. Graduates apply theories and discipline-specific skills to teaching, editing, or other professional areas. In particular, the teaching assistantships prepare students for careers teaching literature, composition, and English as a Second/Foreign Language.

Integrity of the M.A. in English

The graduate program has institutionalized three assessment methods to measure its effectiveness and the extent to which students demonstrate the expected competencies upon graduation. First, the assessment of its culminating experience provides a platform for the assessment of option specific outcomes: the program assesses both theses and comprehensive examinations, which include an in-class and a take-home section. All are assessed using clear scoring rubrics that quantify students’ success in demonstrating skills and knowledge. Second, the annual graduate symposium provides a platform for the assessment of general program outcomes. Using a rubric faculty members assess students’ presentations anonymously, looking for evidence of familiarity with basic theories, knowledge areas and analytical tools, and an ability to integrate and present high-quality research and analysis. Third, the graduate program collects data based on questionnaires distributed to all graduating students. Students enrolled in the culminating experience are provided with anonymous exit questionnaires that address a number of assessment points while prompting students to identify specific strengths and weaknesses in the program as a whole and in their particular dual-options. These materials are reviewed bi-annually by the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate Committee, and presented to the department during the Annual Retreat so that adjustments may be made as necessary.

As a result of the assessment process, the Graduate Program has revised introductory courses to focus more intensively on specific research methods and has added a take-home section to the comprehensive exams in order to assess skills that cannot be adequately evaluated in a 4-hour sit-down exam.

Informal feedback from community colleges indicates that our former teaching assistants are gaining a reputation as effective professional teachers; graduates are often hired for coveted tenure-track positions.

Student Learning Outcomes for the M.A.

The Master of Arts in English Program (MA) offers intensive education in three areas. In accordance with the University's motto of learning by doing, students are trained in core courses and fields that make them job-ready as they graduate with state-of-the-art skills and knowledge.

Upon graduation, students in the Master's Program will demonstrate measurable competencies (learning outcomes) in the following areas:

  1. Familiarity with the basic theories, knowledge areas, and analytical tools of the field
  2. Ability to read and understand unfamiliar articles on current research, theories, and analyses in their field
  3. Ability to conduct and present high-quality research/analysis appropriate to their discipline
  4. Ability to apply theories and discipline-specific skills to teaching, editing, or other professional areas

Specifically, the learning objectives for each of the options are as follows:

Candidates in the Literature option will demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of the major literary periods/genres in British, American, or World literature
  2. Familiarity with representative authors and works of British, American, or World literature
  3. Ability to analyze literature and non-fiction using appropriate theoretical, historical, and cultural apparatus
  4. Ability to write clear, persuasive prose using research and synthesizing multiple sources

Candidates in the Rhetoric/Composition option will demonstrate:

  1. Knowledge of the key theorists/practitioners, concepts, and terms in all three areas: History of Rhetoric; Modern Rhetorical Theory; and Pedagogy (articulated with "Demonstrated knowledge of relevant theories and facts," Comprehensive-Exam Rubric [CER]).
  2. Ability to apply rhetorical methodologies, principles, and research to salient concerns/problems in all three areas: History of Rhetoric; Modern Rhetorical Theory; and Pedagogy (articulated with "Ability to use theory to analyze specific cases," CER).
  3. Ability to identify the question at issue and frame a response (articulated with "Insightful, focused response to the question," CER).
  4. Ability to develop a detailed, resourceful line of reasoning in response to a question at issue (articulated with "Development of ideas," CER).
  5. A readable, compelling, professional prose style (articulated with "Vigorous academic writing style," CER).
  6. Ability to teach/adapt the body of knowledge and skills listed above to a variety of audiences, in particular fellow teachers and college students (this outcome is addressed by the comprehensive-exam questions, which require students to contextualize their responses with respect to particular audiences).

Candidates in the TESL option will demonstrate:

  1. Familiarity with the theories, knowledge areas, and analytical tools of second language acquisition, grammar, pronunciation, TESL composition, and TESL pedagogy
  2. Ability to critically analyze and synthesize articles on current research, theories, and analyses in SLA, grammar, pronunciation, TESL composition, TESL pedagogy
  3. Ability to conduct and present high-quality data-based research/ analysis in second language acquisition, grammar, pronunciation, and TESL composition.
  4. Ability to apply theories of SLA, grammar, pronunciation, and TESL composition in the classroom (e.g., teaching, materials design).
  5. Ability to write papers reporting research, synthesizing theories/analyses, summarizing or reviewing books or articles using appropriate style.

Other Accreditation Documents

Curriculum Map (DOC)

MQID