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College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences (CHABSS)

FAQs for Future Students

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I really have to provide a copy of my unofficial transcripts for the LTWR Department if I attended CSUSM? Why?
     Yes, you do have to provide the LTWR Department with a copy of all your transcripts—including your CSUSM transcripts. The faculty members who staff the Graduate Studies Committee, which reviews applications for the M.A. program, do not have access to your official transcripts, so we need an unofficial copy to include with your application.
  • What kind of writing sample should I include? Is the final paper from one of my English / LTWR courses okay?
    We are interested in your ability to sustain an interpretive argument about a text—e.g., literary analysis. We would prefer to see a sample that engages secondary sources along with direct evidence from the primary text. Starting with a final paper from a course is a good idea, but make sure to revise it based on the professor’s feedback and polish it as carefully as you can. Successful writing samples will be free of typos and grammatical errors and include appropriate citation of sources.
  • I know you offer a creative thesis option. Should I send a creative writing sample in my application?
    We do not require you to include examples of your creative work, but you are welcome to include a creative piece in addition to the analytical sample. Do not send creative work instead of an analytical essay! Even if you are interested in the creative thesis option, you need to demonstrate strong analytical skills, as the creative thesis includes a critical introduction.
  • What should I do if I don’t have an analytical writing sample to send you?
    If you no longer have access to analytical writing from your undergraduate work, you should send us the most analytical writing you do have. For example, an analytical survey that utilized and synthesized research (e.g., that you did for a job) would be preferable to a summative report and/or creative writing. We are interested in seeing that you have strong writing skills generally, but successful applicants should also demonstrate the ability to assert, sustain, and support an original interpretive argument about one (or more) pieces of literature.
  • How long does it take to get an M.A. in Literature and Writing?
    The M.A. degree requires a minimum of two years (4 semesters) to complete. Some students elect to attend part-time (6 units) instead of full-time (9 units), which means one or more additional semesters. Some students, especially those who are working while attending the program, require an additional semester to complete the Master’s Thesis.
  • What is a Master’s Thesis?

    A thesis is a sustained analysis of a set of literary texts of your choice (usually between 50-70 pages double-spaced). Though you do the research and writing independently, you still work closely with a faculty advisor to guide you through the research process.

    Unlike most M.A. programs, at CSUSM you also have the choice to compose a creative thesis with a critical introduction. A creative thesis can take many forms—including work in fiction, poetry, drama, life writing, and other literary artistic forms or genres (such as graphic novels).

  • When do graduate courses meet? Can I work and still take courses?
    Grad classes are held once a week in the evening, so students who work during the day can still enroll in the program. Evening classes typically meet from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. We recommend that students who are working full-time do not attempt more than 6 units in one semester, as graduate courses have high reading and writing demands, requiring a substantial time commitment.
  • Do you really offer your M.A. students the chance to teach a first-year writing course?
    Yes, we offer students in the M.A. program the chance to be the sole instructor for our first-year writing course, GEW 101: Principles of Academic Writing. Before you are eligible to teach, you must successfully complete LTWR 602: Composition Theories and Practices 1, which provides a foundation in critical pedagogy and writing instruction at the college level. Eligible students have the opportunity to teach one section of GEW 101 in their third and fourth semesters (or equivalent, for part-time students).
  • When can I expect to hear a decision from the committee on my application?
    We make every effort to review the applications in a timely fashion, and we attempt to notify students of our decision in the first week of April.
  • I’m not sure if the M.A. program is right for me. Who can I speak to about the program?
    You are welcome to contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Francesco Levato (, 760-750-8207).