How to Apply to the MA in English

Application checklist

  •  Online application (Cal State Apply) Must only use Google Chrome
  •  $70 application fee
  •  3 current recommendation letters from professors (or supervisors for professionals)
  •  statement of your intellectual interests and how they fit with HSU’s MA in English program
  •  Writing Sample: 10 to 15 pages of analytical writing in a discipline related to English (may be one longer essay or two shorter essays)
  •  transcripts from all colleges you have attended

No GRE: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is no longer required of applicants.

All application materials not submitted through the online application system (Cal State Apply) should be sent to the following address with your name and prospective graduate program clearly identified. Please do not send materials to the English Department.

Humboldt State University
Office of Graduate Admissions
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Optional materials required for Fall applicants who wish to apply for a Graduate Teaching Associate position (for more information, visit Funding/Internships).

  •  letter explaining your qualifications and relevant experience
  •  résumé listing relevant professional experience and coursework
  •  statement of teaching philosophy (500 words)
  • interview with Writing Program Director (via Skype)

All Graduate Teaching Associate application materials should be sent to the following address with your name and prospective enrollment semester and year clearly identified.

Prof. Lisa Tremain
Writing Program Director
Humboldt State University
Department of English
1 Harpst Street
Arcata, CA 95521

Preparing for the Online Application Process

What do you need in order to complete your CSU graduate admission online application? You will be allowed to save your work and re-enter the application system if you do not complete the information requested in one sitting. However, it works best if you have all of he following information in front of you when you start the on-line application process:

  • Names, titles, and email addresses of three professors who have already agreed to write you a letter of recommendation to graduate school;
  • Name, dates, and degrees of all the colleges you have attended;
  • Course names and numbers, unit count, semesters, and years of courses in progress or planned prior to entering graduate school;
  • Names, positions, and dates of all relevant work experience;
  • Your typed statement of intellectual interests and program fit (up to 500 words).

Accessing the Online Application and Paying the Application Fee

Complete the California State University Graduate Application online at Cal State Apply. A $70.00 application fee is required at time of application. The CSU Application Fee Waiver is no longer available for Master's Applications. If you are unable to pay with a credit card, you may mail a check to the Office of Graduate Admissions at Humboldt State University, Office of Graduate Admissions, 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. Ideally, professors and/or college instructors who know your current academic performance, qualifications, abilities, and goals well are best suited to write these letters. For applicants who have been out of college for several years, referees may include supervisors who can speak to your job performance, including examples of analytical abilities, organizational skills, initiative, and/or creativity. Before you submit the names, email addresses, and titles of your referees through Cal State Apply, ask them if they would be willing and able to write you a recommendation letter by the deadline. Once you submit your application through Cal State Apply, your referees will be contacted via email. You can check the status of your reference information by logging back into your Cal State Apply application. It is your responsibility to make sure that your referees submit letters on your behalf; thus, you may need to re-send requests for letters of recommendation to your referees. If you have questions, contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 707.826.6250. For advice about whether to waive your rights to read your letters of recommendation, see


One official transcript is required from any college or university you have ever attended. You may have them sent either directly to you (remember that official transcripts must be in their original sealed envelopes) or directly to Graduate Admissions at Humboldt State University, Office of Graduate Admissions, 1 Harpst Street, Arcata, CA 95521 or

Humboldt State University students do not need to request transcripts for any work completed at Humboldt State University. Additionally, if you were enrolled at Humboldt State University as a regular matriculated student within the past five years, you do not need to request transcripts for college work completed elsewhere unless you completed that college work after you left HSU.

Statement of Intellectual Interests and Program Fit

You will submit your 500-word statement through Cal State Apply, which allows you to cut and paste a Word Document into the Statement of Purpose section of the online application. Before composing your statement, please consult the following resource for information about the genre of the “Personal Statement for Graduate Programs in the Humanities”:

Write a 500-word essay in which you respond to both of the following prompts:

  1. Discuss the experiences, ideas, readings, and/or projects that have shaped your personal and intellectual development.
  2. Discuss your academic research interests, and explain how the graduate English program at Humboldt State University matches these interests and career goals.

Writing Sample

Provide a representative sample (10 to 15 pages) of your best academic writing, ideally in a discipline relevant to English studies (e.g. literature, linguistics, writing, film studies, gender studies, interdisciplinary humanities). Your sample should reflect your ability to analyze and synthesize. If possible, choose writing that demonstrates your preparation to pursue an advanced degree in English. As the MA in English is not an MFA program, please do not send creative writing.

Note: All materials become the property of the English Department at Humboldt State University and will not be returned.

Federal Financial Aid

The Office of Financial Aid is a good starting point for any student looking for information on funding. All students are encouraged to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as early as possible. For details on how to apply for financial aid, click here. Please note that for many California State financial aid programs, the deadline is March 2 by midnight (Central Time). October 1 is the opening date for FAFSA applications for the following academic year, and California recommends you file your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1.

MA Application Deadlines

For priority consideration, applicants must meet the deadlines listed below. We are happy to consider applications that arrive after these priority deadlines. Please contact the English Department at if you wish to apply to our program but missed the Cal State Apply priority deadline.

For priority consideration for Fall admission, all supplemental materials must be submitted by February 1.

Cal State Apply closes for Spring semester on November 1. For priority consideration for Spring admission, all supplemental materials must be submitted by November 1.

After applying: Once you have applied, you will be assigned a prospective student number, which you will use to log into HSU’s student center. You should check your email for your identification number and instructions on how to log into HSU’s student center. The Graduate Admissions office will communicate important information to you through your student center account. Once you have submitted your complete application and all supplemental documents have been received, you should expect to hear back about the status of your application within one month.

Humboldt State University application information can be found at Graduate Studies | Humboldt State University

Would you like to learn more?



For additional information about our MA program in English, please contact:
Janet Winston, Graduate Coordinator
707.826.3913 | | FH 168
Savannah Anderson, Administrative Support Assistant
707.826.3758 | | FH 201
Graduate Program Handbook