2.0 MA in Critical Studies in Literacy & Pedagogy: Program Overview

This degree program will be undergoing major revisions during the 2014-15 academic year. Students currently in the program should work closely with their advisory committees and the CSLP program advisor to determine an appropriate program of study. Prospective students should speak with the CSLP program advisor about these revisions.

Program Overview 

The Master of Arts degree program in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy (CSLP) is designed for:

• teachers of Secondary English Language Arts or College Writing who seek advanced content-based professional preparation in these areas, and

• students planning to pursue advanced graduate study in PhD programs in English Education or Composition and Rhetoric.

The goal of the program is to prepare teachers and researchers in the fields of Composition and Rhetoric and English Education. CSLP emphasizes the teaching and learning of language and literacy in multiple contexts and multiple modes, including print, digital, and visual, as well as research in these areas. Central to the program’s emphasis is the critical examination of ethnicity and culture as they apply to the teaching of literacy, the democratization of the classroom, the role of language and schooling in society at-large, and the politics of language, literacy, and culture.


The CSLP program offers two concentrations:

The Composition and Rhetoric Concentration is specifically designed for those who wish to teach English at the college level with a principal focus on writing, literacy, and language, or who plan to go on to advanced graduate study in Composition and Rhetoric Studies.

The English Education Concentration is specifically designed for recently certified teachers of secondary English who wish to pursue their continuing certification coursework in a Master’s degree focusing on issues of disciplinary knowledge, methodology, and pedagogy, or for those who plan to go on to advanced graduate study in English Education.  This concentration provides middle and secondary English teachers with opportunities to directly address subject-specific pedagogical interests and needs. Its content meets the guidelines as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English for academic and professional studies in English language arts education.

Thesis and Portfolio Options

Both concentrations are available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). A total of 31 credits are required for the degree under either plan. The student’s program of study must be approved by the program director.

MA in CSLP Course Requirements

Core Experience (9 cr.)

1. WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theories, and Research (3) (SS)

2. Literacy Theory (3 cr.) WRA 992 Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Pedagogy (3) (FS)

3. Research and Issues in Writing Studies (3 cr.) TE 835 Theory and Research on the Teaching of Writing (3) (SS)

Additional courses in Language and Rhetoric (6-7 cr.)

1. Language and Linguistics (3 cr.)
ENG 812 Studies in the English Language (3) (FS, SS)

2. Writing, Rhetoric and Technology (3-4 cr.)
WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric (3) (FS)
WRA 417 Multimedia Writing (4) (FS)
AL 881 Teaching with Technology (3) (FS, SS, US)
WRA 860 Visual Rhetoric for Professional Writing (3) (SS of even years)

Additional Requirements for Concentrations

English Education Concentration (6 cr.)
1. Reading and Literacy (3 cr.)
AL 875 Theories of Reading and Critical Literacy (3) (SS)
TE 848 Methods of Writing Instruction (3) (SS of even years)

2. Literature and Pedagogy (3 cr.)
TE 849 Methods and Materials for Teaching Children’s and
Adolescent Literature (3) (FS of odd years, US of even years)
One 400-level course in literature (3)

3. Electives for English Education Concentration (3-6 cr.)
LLT 861 Advanced Topics in Second Language Acquisition (3) (FS)
WRA 853 Development of the Essay (3) (FS)
AL 875 Theories of Reading and Critical Literacy (3) (SS)
WRA 898 Masters Research (1-3) (scheduled individually)
TE 843 Reading, Writing, and Reasoning in Secondary School Subjects (3) (SS)
TE 850 Critical reading for children and adolescents (3) (FS of even years)
TE 844 Classroom Literacy Assessment (3) (US)
WRA 854 Nonfiction Writing Workshop (3) (SS)
WRA 877 Community Literacies (3) (SS of even years)
AL 891 Special Topics in Arts and Humanities (3) (FS, SS)
WRA 891 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing (3) (FS, SS. US)
WRA 980 Studies in Rhetoric (3) (SS)
Approved courses in Literature

Composition and Rhetoric Concentration (6 cr.)
1. Literacy in Communities (3 cr.)
WRA 877 Community Literacies (3) (SS of even years)
WRA 980 Studies in Rhetoric (3) (SS)

2. Theory and History of Rhetoric (3 cr.)
WRA 805 Rhetoric History and Theory (3) (FS)
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric (3) (SS of even years)

3. Electives for Composition and Rhetoric Concentration (3-6 cr.)
LLT 861 Advanced Topics in Second Language Acquisition (3) (FS)
WRA 848 American Cultural Rhetorics (3) (SS)
WRA 853 Development of the Essay (3) (FS)
WRA 854 Nonfiction Writing Workshop (3) (SS)
WRA 898 Masters Research (1¬-3) (scheduled individually)
LLT 808 Assessment for Language Teaching and Research (3) (SS)
AL 875 Theories of Reading and Critical Literacy (3) (SS)
ENG 802 History of Literary Criticism (3) (SS)
ENG 803 Modern Criticism (3) (FS, SS)
WRA 893D Internship in Literacy and Pedagogy (3) (FS, SS, US)
WRA 980 Studies in Rhetoric (3) (SS)
WRA 891 Special Topics in Rhetoric and Writing (3) (FS, SS, US)
AL891 Special Topics in Arts and Humanities (3) (FS, SS)
Approved courses Teacher Education


Degree Completion Requirements for all CSLP students

Requirements for Plan A: (7 cr.)
1. WRA 870 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing (3) (FS)
2. WRA 899 Thesis Research (4) (FS, SS, US)

Requirements for Plan B: (3 cr.)
1. AL* 852 Portfolio Workshop (3) (SS of odd years)
2. certifying portfolio or AL* 898 Masters Research (scheduled individually)

In their first year in the MA program, all CSLP MA students will be advised by the CSLP advisor until they establish an advisory committee.

MA Advisory Committee
By the second semester of MA study (typically, by March 15 of the spring semester), all CSLP MA students must form a advisory committee.

The advisory committee consists of three faculty affiliated with the Rhetoric & Writing program, two of whom must be instructors in the CSLP program. One of these faculty members should be designated as chair. The student’s advisory committee must be approved by the R&W Program director.

The advisory committee does the following:

  • makes recommendations regarding the student’s course of study, including needed coursework;
  • files the student’s Annual Progress Report;
  • reviews the student’s professional portfolio at the end of each year of study;
  • provides a written formative evaluation of the student’s work and progress each year;
  • serves as the thesis committee for Plan A students, guiding and evaluating the student’s thesis project; or
  • serves as the examination committee of the certifying portfolio for Plan B students.

The student may make changes in her/his advisory committee at any time and for any reason with the approval of the R&W Program director.

Once the student submits a Report of the Advisory Committee for MA work (which lists the advisory committee chair and members), the chair of the student’s advisory committee becomes the student’s advisor. Students should consult regularly with their advisors–meaning at a minimum of two or three times per year (or more often if circumstances warrant). Students who fail to form an advisory committee by the end of their first year are considered to be not making satisfactory progress. (See Section 5.0 Academic Standards.)

Annual Progress Report and Annual Review

Students are to meet the committee formation and course requirements specified for the academic year (beginning in the fall) in which they “officially” enter the program). For more information, see Section 5.0 Academic Standards.

Every student in the CSLP MA program will develop and maintain an ongoing professional portfolio, to be evaluated once per year by the student’s advisory committee.

This portfolio (which can be print, electronic, or a combination) will include samples of the student’s work during the degree program–including representative work done in courses (the student should include good, excellent, and even not-so-good work) and professional work done outside courses (e.g., conference presentations).

Each year, the portfolio should also include a reflective essay that provides evidence of reasoning and reflection on how the student’s program has affected their research and teaching and their understanding of that work in terms of their professional goals.

This portfolio can serve both as the annual review portfolio and as the basis for certifying exam portfolio, depending on the student’s year in the program. (See “Maintaining Academic Good Standing” in Section 5.0 for details on portfolio assessment.)