The MFA degree requires 42 units (14 three-unit classes), at least four semesters in residence, and the completion of a thesis project.
- Four Creative Writing workshops in Fiction (604), Poetry (609), or Creative Nonfiction (501), depending upon genre of admittance.
- Four Creative Writing Craft Seminars (596H): At least one in genre of admittance and one in another genre. We offer two to four 596h seminars each semester, in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Topics vary every semester.
- Five Electives: Electives may include coursework in the English Department or in other departments, workshops outside primary genre, additional ENG 596h seminars, internships (up to 6 units), and preceptorship credits (up to 6 units for Writing Program GATs). Courses outside English require CW Program Director approval.
- One Manuscript Independent Study (ENG 909) taken during student’s final semester.
Teaching Assistantships, Scholarships, and Awards
Graduate Teaching Assistantships
GTAs are selected annually to teach one or two courses each semester in the Writing Program. They are appointed by the Head of the English Department on the recommendations of the program faculties. GTAships are typically offered to incoming students and may extend, under terms of reappointment, for six semesters. Students may apply for and receive a one-semester extension, depending on academic progress, teaching performance, departmental funding and needs.
All Writing Program GTAs must complete a 10-day training in August before their first semester teaching. During the first teaching year, they are required to take preceptorship (Engl 591), held once a week by the Writing Program, for which they receive three units of credit each semester. All GTAs are required to enroll for and complete the minimum of 6 units of graduate credit per semester. It is the GTA’s responsibility to be familiar with all Graduate College policy, as deviations may result in cancelled registration or withheld paychecks. The Graduate College GAT Hiring Manual.
Second-year GTA reappointments are granted provisionally, taking into account coursework and teaching performance (courses completed, grades earned, faculty recommendations, students' evaluations, supervisory reports, and the candidate's participation in preceptorship).
Many MFA students are offered the chance to teach an introductory creative writing class, Introduction to Creative Nonfiction (201), Introduction to Poetry (209), Introduction to Fiction (210). These are one-semester appointments, but are occasionally renewed.
A call for applications from current students will be made in the fall and again in the spring. Interested students are asked to submit a letter of interest, a C.V., and a teaching portfolio if available. In choosing instructors, faculty will give primary consideration to the student’s likelihood for success as a teacher of undergraduates. Faculty may also take into consideration the student’s progress as a writer. It is important that you actively participate in workshop and seminar discussions, as this will provide a demonstration of your ability to talk lucidly about craft. Instructors are chosen by consensus of the faculty in each genre.
Students teaching 201/209/210 who have not received previous GTA training must attend a one-day teaching seminar from the Graduate College prior to the beginning of the semester.
Foundation Awards are monetary prizes for the best individual story, essay, and set of poems written by MFA students each year, and are judged by notable writers in the field. In 2015 the judges were Karen Brennan (fiction), Solmaz Sharif (poetry), and Nicole Walker (nonfiction).
The program regularly nominates student work for the AWP Intro Awards as well as other competitions.