The MFA Program provides or helps to coordinate several types of graduate funding, such as academic student employment, UCSD fellowships, and Department of Literature fellowships. Admitted students who need additional funding may apply on their own initiative for other types of funding if eligible, such as need-based financial aid, non-academic student employment, VA benefits and other extramural funding. More information about the various funding sources is provided below.
Nominees for admission will receive a letter from the MFA Program that describes the type and amount of funding for which the applicant may be eligible. The graduate coordinator will guide applicants through the steps they must take to secure the funding, if applicable.
Note that students must maintain good academic standing to be eligible for academic appointments, fellowships, and other types of funding.
Most MFA students fund their programs by applying for and obtaining academic student employment as Teaching Assistants or Readers (graders). A TA or Reader appointed at least 25% time (about 10 hours per week) receives a salary and partial remissions of fees and regular tuition (nonresident supplemental tuition is not subject to remissions). Also, the student employee may be eligible for partial reimbursement of some childcare expenses. See left sidebar for links to more information about remissions.
The TAships or readerships may be with the Literature Department, the six college writing programs, or other academic departments.
LITERATURE POSITIONS. A few MFA students work as 25% TAs for the Literature Department's lower-division creative writing program. Generally the MFA Program awards these creative writing TAships on a noncompetitive basis to first-year MFA students. Prior teaching experience is not required. In addition, an MFA student may apply to be considered for TAships with Literature's foreign language programs or Readerships with upper-division literature courses provided the student meets the qualifications and the job posting invites applications from Master's level students.
COLLEGE POSITIONS. The majority of MFA students apply for and obtain Teaching Assistantships at 50% time with UCSD’s college writing programs. The colleges award TAships on a highly competitive basis. Applicants who have TA experience at the college level have an advantage. See right sidebar for additional information.
OTHER DEPARTMENTS. Students may apply for TAships and Readerships with academic programs such as History, Linguistics and Sociology. The minimum qualifications vary greatly, with some positions requiring advanced PhD work while others have minimal requirements. A list of departments that hire academic student employees is available on the OGS website.
MFA students have been very successful at obtaining academic student employment at 25% time or more. See our FAQs for details.
The MFA Program awards a few fellowships or tuition scholarships each year if funds are available. Generally the award decisions are made by the program on a noncompetitive basis. Typically the fellowships/scholarships supplement 25% TAships. Most fellowships come with a stipulation that the student complete a project that benefits the program or the Literature Department, such as working on a journal, creating and maintaining Blackboard websites for undergraduate creative writing classes, helping plan a writing conference, or assisting with the New Writing Series.
MFA applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for two fellowships administered by the Office of Graduate Studies: the San Diego Fellowship and the Tribal Membership Initiative. The fellowship applications are embedded in the online application for admission. Instructions are provided in the online application and the MFA Application Tips.
In addition to the merit- or category-based support described above, applicants may be eligible for financial aid in the form of grants or loans. To be considered for financial aid, applicants must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. More information about financial aid, including timelines, eligibility requirements, packaging policies for graduate students, and the FAFSA can be found on the Financial Aid Office's website.
Graduate students may apply for student assistant positions on campus. Student assistants work in offices, libraries, theaters, food service, media services, etc. These positions do not offer tuition/fee remissions and should be pursued only as supplements to a 25% TAship or Readership, or as summer jobs.
Academic student employment opportunities during Summer Session are very limited and extremely competitive. Occasionally an MFA student who teaches for the Writing Programs is hired as summer TA, and MFA students have successfully proposed and taught summer courses for Academic Connections, a campus program for college-bound high school students. Most MFA students obtain a job off campus or travel to conferences or workshops. (Note: Nonresidents who are eligible to establish California residency for tuition purposes are strongly advised to review the criteria for establishing residency before making summer plans.)
UCSD policy limits graduate student employment on campus to 50% time (about 20 hours per week).The 50% maximum does not apply during the summer, when the MFA Program is on hiatus.