Master of Arts in Language & Literacy

Gaining the tools to support the mastery of language

The MA in Language and Literacy prepares graduate students for careers as teachers of adults in both college and pre-college classrooms. Language and Literacy MA graduates find employment as instructors of college writing and humanities, adult literacy, ESL, and secondary English/ESL education and as administrators of college tutoring centers and adult literacy programs. Classes are conveniently scheduled during late afternoon and evening hours.

Prospective applicants are invited to contact Professor Barbara Gleason with questions about the MA in Language and Literacy and questions about the application process. Contact Professor Gleason via email at

Application Deadlines: June 1 (Fall 2021 Semester); November 15 (Spring Semester)

Click here to view our application guidelines

Program History

In 1975, CCNY English faculty established an MA in Teaching College English. The program was reconceived and renamed MA in Language and Literacy by Professor Marilyn Sternglass in collaboration with School of Education Professor Cynthia O’Nore in 1986. That curriculum prepared teachers of high school English, college English and adult English language learners. Since 2003, the MA in Language and Literacy has emphasized preparing teachers of adults and has been affiliated with the Consortium of Worker Education, one of the largest providers of adult education in New York City. Today, the MA in Language and Literacy draws on the important legacies of Mina Shaughnessy and Marilyn Sternglass by including their scholarship in courses and acknowledging their contributions to Composition/Rhetoric and Basic Writing. Professor Missy Watson, Professor Tom Peele, and Professor Barbara Gleason regularly teach L&L graduate courses.

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To earn the L&L MA, a student must complete ten three-credit graduate courses (or 30 course credits). In addition, a student must fulfill the CCNY English Department foreign language requirement for graduate students.

I. Four Core Courses (12 Credits)

Introduction to Language (3 credits)
Theories and Models of Literacy (3 credits)
Second Language Acquisition (3 credits)
Teaching Adult Writers in Diverse Contexts (3 credits)

II. Two Language and Literacy Electives (6 credits)

These classes will be selected by the student in consultation with the MA program Director.
Sample Elective Courses:
Introduction to Teaching Composition and Literature
Basic Writing Theory, Research and Pedagogy
Digital Literacies
Writing Center Theory and Practice

III. Four Electives (12 Credits)

Electives may be selected from English Department offerings with approvals from the MA in Language and Literacy program director and the relevant program director (Creative Writing MFA or Literature MA). Courses from the CCNY School of Education also provide possible electives for L&L students; permission from both the L&L MA Director and the relevant School of Education graduate program head are required prior to enrollment.
Students may enroll in “Supervised Team Teaching” for three independent study elective credits if a professor is available to work with the student in a particular semester. To pursue this option, students should consult with the L&L Program Director.

IV. Foreign Language Requirement

Before the M.A. degree can be earned, a foreign language translation exam must be passed. Alternatively, students may fulfill the foreign language requirement by successfully completing specially designated language courses.

Click here to view the CCNY Graduate Bulletin 2021-2022

International Perspectives in Language and Literacy

City College participates in a consortium also consisting of five European universities (The University of Bamberg, The University of Graz, Paris-Diderot University – Paris 7, The University of Pécs, and The Ca’ Foscari University of Venice). Although open to other students, the International Language and Literacy track accommodates students who wish to add an international perspective to their program by participating in this program and do one semester of their coursework abroad with one of the partner institutions. Students must be admitted by the consortium, as well as by the CCNY program.

The CUNY CAP Fellowship

After being accepted (as matriculated students) to the Language and Literacy MA, applicants are eligible to apply for the CUNY Counseling Assistance Program (CUNY CAP) Fellowship if they have previously earned a bachelor’s degree from any CUNY college. The CUNY CAP Fellowship offers tuition waivers and part-time employment. To learn about this program, go to the CUNY website.

Marilyn Sternglass Awards

Two Marilyn Sternglass Awards are offered annually on the basis of merit:

  • Marylin Sternglass Writing Award: For outstanding writing submitted in a L&L Course
  • Marylin Sternglass Overall Merit Award: For outstanding academic and professional achievements by a matriculated L&L graduate student

L&L MA Core Faculty

Barbara Gleason, Professor, English Department
Tom Peele, Associate Professor, English Department
Missy Watson, Associate Professor, English Department


Barbara Gleason
Director of Master of Arts in Language & Literacy
Location: NAC 6/333a
Phone: 212-650-6329