Current Students

The information on the tabs below will help you navigate the MA program here at Cal Poly Pomona.

  • Just Admitted
  • Professionalizing
  • Exams
  • Thesis
Congratulations and welcome to the Cal Poly Pomona community. The first contact you will receive are two letters acknowledging your acceptance, one from the Cal Poly Pomona Graduate Studies office, and another from the English and Foreign Languages Department. Once you have these letters, follow the steps below.
  1. First, verify that you can access “BroncoDirect,” your portal to your CPP career. Go to BroncoDirect <> and use the “BroncoID Number” printed on the admissions letter sent from the Graduate Studies Office.
    • When you log in, you may not see enrollment information for the upcoming term. Depending on when you sign in, that information may not be available. To verify your enrollment status, contact the Registrar’s Office at (909) 869-3000. [If you have difficulty logging in, contact I&IT at (909) 869-6776.]
  2. Next, speak with an advisor to help plan your graduate trajectory. A list of advisors is provided in your admissions letter from the EFL Department. Contact someone within your primary field of interest (Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, or TESL).

Teaching Assistant Opportunities

The English MA program offers paid Teaching Assistantships in the fields of Literature, Composition, and Teaching English as a Second Language. Once selected, each Teaching Assistant will teach no more than one course per quarter, in the area for which he/she applied. A maximum of 15 Teaching Assistantships will be granted per academic year.

To qualify, candidates must be currently enrolled in the EFL graduate program and
working toward the M.A. in English at Cal Poly Pomona. Candidates for the Literature
pool must be declared in the Literature option or directed group of electives, candidates for the Composition pool must be declared in the Rhetoric/Composition option or directed group of electives, candidates for the TESL pool must be declared in the TESL option or directed group of electives.  

In addition, candidates for the Literature pool must have successfully completely one of the following: ENG 587 (Teaching Basic Writing), ENG 588 (Teaching Freshman Composition), ENG 589 (Pedagogies of Reading), 590 (Pedagogies of Dramatic Literature) or be registered for ENG 587 in the Fall quarter following their selection as TAs. Candidates for the Composition pool must have successfully completed either ENG 587 (Teaching Basic Writing) or ENG 588 (Teaching Freshman Composition), or be registered for ENG 587 in the Fall quarter following their selection as TAs, or have completed an equivalent course elsewhere. Candidates for the ESL pool must have completed ENG 523 (Grammar for ESL Teachers) or ENG 525 (Teaching ESL Composition) or have completed an equivalent course elsewhere. Graduate students with conditional status are not eligible.

Graduate students in the TA program must maintain enrollment in two classes per
quarter during the year of the award in addition to the TA Practicum (1 unit) course.

Please direct any questions about the TA program to the graduate coordinator.

Students may obtain an application by contacting the graduate secretary in
building 24, room 207.

Applications are typically due at the end of April each year.

Graduate Symposium

In the Winter Quarter, Cal Poly Pomona hosts its annual symposium for the presentation of graduate research. Emulating the space of the professional conference, students practice and hone their presentation and critical thinking skills in front of an audience comprised of their peers, families, professors, and mentors. This academic conference functions as an inspiration to undergraduates aspiring to graduate study and constitutes a priceless experience for graduate student presenters as they prepare for the professional world.

The symposium is organized in concurrent panels of three presenters each, with representatives from all three MA options (Literature, Rhetoric/Composition, and TESL).  Proposals are accepted for individual, paired, and group presentations, as well as for entire three-paper panels dealing with thematically related topics. Students interested in presenting should submit a title to the graduate coordinator by March 1st of each year. Undergraduate and graduate students alike are strongly encouraged to attend and support their peers. Roughly 25 students choose to present their work annually not only to add to their CV as employers and doctoral programs alike value this type of professionalization, but also to gain experience, to build confidence, and to partake in shared scholarship. For more information about the Graduate Symposium, please contact the graduate coordinator.

Teaching in China Program

MA students also have the opportunity to teach English oral proficiency in China during a 4 week summer program organized by EFL faculty members from Cal Poly Pomona. The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona or at other institutions. Upon selection, students receive training during Spring quarter to teach English to middle-school Chinese students. These weekly training sessions allow students to develop cross-cultural awareness, acquire linguistic pedagogy, know how to conduct second language needs assessment and modification, learn interactive teaching techniques, and learn how to create appropriate lesson plans in a partnership with another student. Upon completion of their training, students embark on a 4 week-long summer trip to China where they typically teach in teams of 10 students.

This teaching program is designed to develop students’ cultural awareness and sensibility while providing students with the enhanced professional opportunity to acquire experience in teaching non-native speakers of English. Participants in the China program learn classroom management, practice teamwork daily, and develop self-confidence as teachers and orators. Graduates of the program return from China with an increased understanding of English learners’ needs, a comprehensive understanding of effective teaching methodology, and a recognition and appreciation of their self-development or growth as educators.

For more information about the program or to obtain an application, please contact Dr. Liliane Fucaloro ( or Dr. Karen Russikoff ( Applications are due typically during Winter quarter.

Because of the specialized nature of the three curricular options and the diverse skills they foster, demonstrating competency differs depending on a student's chosen coursework. Click on the collapsible bars below for details regarding the comprehensive examination and thesis option in each.
For details on the Literature Exam, click this bar.

The Comprehensive Exam in Literature is typically given during the 8th week of the quarter, either in Fall or Spring.  The exam lasts 4 hours.

A double-Literature student will take two comprehensive exams representing two different periods and two different nationalities.

The reading list for each exam will be composed of 12-15 items, determined by the instructor.

The exam comprises two parts:

  1. Identifications.  10 short passages are presented. Students will identify the author and title of each work and explain why and how each passage is significant (in terms of the period and the genre, but also in terms defined by each individual instructor). 

  2. Essay.  Two essay topics are given; students will write on one of the two. The essay should incorporate three works from the reading list. If the professor wishes, s/he may specify that there should be some genre diversity in the works chosen.

In the essay, students will be expected to demonstrate the following:

  1. an ability to formulate a thesis that organizes their response while articulating a clear argument
  2. an awareness of periods in literary history (such as Romanticism, Modernism, postmodernism, Harlem Renaissance, etc.) as they pertain to the works discussed so as to contextualize their close reading or analysis of the specific texts
  3. an awareness of cultural and historical influences on the authors and works discussed
  4. skilled use of literary and theoretical tools for analysis, from an explication of figurative language to a discussion of feminism, critical race theory, transnationalism, etc. as deemed appropriate to inform a critical discussion of the texts at stake
  5. a conscious concern for the aesthetic and human issues that animate literary works and the discipline of literary study
  6. skill and felicity in writing, from the sentence level to the overarching organization of their essay, so as to indicate a high degree of control in scholarly writing.

Students will not be allowed to consult books or secondary sources during the exam. Students will rely on their memory to refer to specific works and focus their energies on writing clearly.

The exam will receive one of the following “grades”: High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, or Fail.

A high pass will demonstrate specific and thorough engagement with each of the facets mentioned below. A passing effort will engage all of the above facets with sufficient specificity to demonstrate familiarity.  Essays that do not incorporate the relevant facets mentioned above or that contain only vague or superficial references to those facets will not be judged as passing efforts.

Students will receive an official letter from the department informing them of their exam results.

The quarter before students want to take their exams, they must contact Connie Cuellar in the Graduate Office. For more detailed information, see the Comp Exam Guide. For studying tips, download the Study Guide.

For details on the Rhetoric and Composition Exam, click this bar.

The M.A. Exam in Rhetoric and Composition is designed to test your knowledge of major texts and issues in the following three areas: the History of Rhetoric, Composition Pedagogy, and Twentieth Century Rhetoric and Composition Studies. The exam is offered twice a year (November and May).

The exam texts for each area are drawn from rhetoric/composition courses taught over the past two years, and the lists are available in the EFL Graduate Program office and on the EFL Department website. For each area, you will have a choice between two or more questions; the exam is administered as a closed book test.

You are encouraged to review examination questions from previous Rhetoric/Composition exams; these questions are available in the department’s Graduate Program office (24-207, ext. 869-4459). You are also encouraged to enhance your preparation by joining a study group and by bringing any questions you may have to any member of the Rhetoric/Composition committee: Drs. Edlund and Kraemer. Additional opportunities to discuss the exam and to ask questions about it will be available at the annual Graduate Orientation held each October.

Weight and Time for Each Area

History of Rhetoric
90 min.
Composition of Pedagogy
90 min.
Twentieth Century Rhetoric and Composition Studies
90 min.

Useful Documents for Study

The Annotated Reading List for Fall 2009 in MS Word format.

The Scoring Rubric for the comprehensive exam. What are the graders looking for? What do you need to do when answering the questions? Look at this to find out.

A sample exam.

Don Kraemer's Checklist for Rhetorical Analysis. This is designed for English 584 but may be useful for exam study.

John Edlund's "Checklist for Rhetorical Analysis." This one sticks to ethos, logos, and pathos, while Don Kraemer's, above, utilizes far more approaches.

John Edlund's Grammar of Motives handout.

John Edlund's "Stasis Theory" handout and the "Stasis Worksheet."

John Edlund's "Three Ways to Persuade" handout on ethos, logos, and pathos.

For details on the TESL Exam, click this bar.
Students in the TESL option must complete a two-part comprehensive exam.
  1. A 4-hour sit-down exam in three areas: Grammar, Pronunciation, and Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
  2. Three take-home exams in three areas: Grammar, Pronunciation, and SLA.

Students receive the take-home exam when they finish Part 1 and are given four days to write an in-depth analysis or synthesis.

Students may also choose to write an MA Thesis, a directed, in-depth research project. For more information, see the guidelines. Then speak with an advisor before filling out the petition.