Master of Arts in English: Concentration in Linguistics


  1. Linguistics is one of three concentrations within the M.A. in English.
  2. The M.A. in Linguistics provides students with a solid grounding in the tools of language analysis. The course offerings in contemporary linguistic theory cover a broad spectrum of the components of linguistic structure: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, discourse analysis, cognitive linguistics, and sociolinguistics. Students interested in any field involving language analysis — including but not limited to law, education, anthropology, sociology, psychology, computer science, and linguistics — benefit from preparation in examining language data with the rigorous methods of the discipline. 
  3. The M.A. in Linguistics prepares students for a variety of teaching and research positions in which the emphasis is on the structure of language. Graduates of the program may teach English language or writing, work in the fields of computational linguistics,  communications, or go on to further study in linguistics or related disciplines.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. English M.A. students will critically evaluate scholarship using knowledge of disciplinary history, foundational theories, epistemologies, and scholarly debates to participate in professional communities of Composition, TESOL, and Linguistics.
  2. English M.A. students will conduct principled inquiry (critical reflection, observation, and/or formal research) using appropriate methods and tools of analysis to address disciplinary questions and problems of practice.
  3. English M.A. students will produce effective written and oral presentations that follow the professional disciplinary standards of Composition, TESOL, and Linguistics.
  4. English M.A. students will apply pedagogical knowledge and skills to the teaching of language, literacy, or linguistics.
  5. Students in the Linguistics M.A. concentration will demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamental linguistic subfields of syntax, phonology, morphology, semantics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.
  6. Students in the Linguistics M.A. concentration will document the grammar and lexicon of an unfamiliar language (including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.)

Admission to Program

Applicants submit all materials through the Cal State Apply portal (

Application materials include:

  • A 1 to 2-page statement of purpose. Applicants should discuss their interest in pursuing the M.A. program, their readiness to meet the rigors of graduate-level coursework, and their future professional goals. 

  • A 5 to 10-page writing sample. This can be an academic paper and/or a sample of writing from a professional setting. The sample should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to produce clear, concise, well-polished prose.  

  • Letters of recommendation. Letters are optional; however, we encourage those students who have weaknesses in their prior academic record to submit one or two letters in support of their application.

  • Transcripts. The University requires transcripts of all prior postsecondary coursework. Applicants are expected to have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better. 

  • The GRE is not required.

Nonnative Speakers of English

Applicants whose native language is not English and whose B.A. was completed outside the United States must present evidence of English language proficiency through one of the following:

  • TOEFL iBT: 95 (writing score of at least 24)
  • TOEFL paper-based: 64 (writing score of at least 24)
  • IELTS (Academic): 7.0 (with 6.5 for each component) 

Applicants who do not meet this minimum TOEFL or IELTS requirement will not be admitted; there is no conditional admission. 

The TOEFL or IELTS is not required for non-native English speakers who completed their Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. or another English-speaking country.

However, applicants who obtained a B.A./B.S. from an American university in a major other than English/Linguistics might consider submitting a recent TOEFL or IELTS score as evidence that their language proficiency is strong enough to do graduate study in an English Department.

Recommended Courses

Applicants who need additional writing support may be advised to take ENG 670 or other academic writing courses.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

All M.A. students must meet two University writing requirements: 

Level One

Proficiency is demonstrated through the student’s application materials.

Level Two

Proficiency is demonstrated through satisfactory performance in the culminating experience course for the M.A. (ENG 895 or  ENG 898).

Academic Standing

Graduate students must maintain a strong academic standing:

  • Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • All core and concentration courses must be taken for a letter grade; only courses in which the student earns a B minus or better may count toward the M.A. degree. 
  • Only one elective course may be taken on a credit / no credit basis.

Additional Information

English MA: Concentration in Linguistics — 30 Units

Core Requirements (15 Units)

ENG 702Introduction to Graduate Study of Composition, Linguistics, and TESOL3
ENG 707Topics in Language Analysis3
ENG 728Topics in Sociolinguistics 13
ENG 733Seminar in Student Teaching3
Culminating Experience3
Select one:
Field Study or Applied Research Project
Master's Thesis

Concentration Requirements (15 Units)

ENG 719Seminar: Contemporary Semantic Theory3
ENG 821Syntax3
ENG 824Phonology and Morphology3

Electives (6 units)

ENG 620Introduction to Computational Linguistics3
ENG 680Applied Computational Linguistics3
ENG 725Seminar in Discourse Analysis3
ENG 727Linguistic Field Methods3

Culminating Experience Requirement

 A field study or research project, or a Master's Thesis, must be successfully completed by all candidates for the degree. The field study or research project, which investigates and/or applies knowledge acquired in the student’s program of study, must have the recommendation and approval of two faculty field study or research project advisors. All SF State specifications for completion of a field study or research project must be met. Students may take ENG 895 once. Students who fail ENG 895 will receive an Incomplete (I) grade; they may resubmit their project once for a passing grade. If their project fails a second time, they will be recommended for declassification. As part of the Culminating Experience requirement, students are required to present their projects at the end-of-semester graduate student conference. 

During the second-to-last semester in the program, students are required to complete a form called the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC), which lists those courses they are using to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Arts in English with a Concentration in TESOL. Students must earn an overall GPA of 3.0 and a B- or better in all courses listed in that document.