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FAQs About the MFA


Is the MFA a two- or three-year program?
The program is designed to be completed in two years (6 quarters) but students may complete it in three years.

How many students are admitted each year?
Please refer to our acceptances chart.


I completed a three-year bachelor's degree at a foreign university—is it equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's for admission purposes?
International applicants should have a bachelor’s degree that represents four years of study or else a master’s degree. If you apply with a three-year degree and the MFA Program nominates you for admission, UCSD's Graduate Division will evaluate your academic records from foreign universities on an individual basis. UCSD cannot evaluate your records before you apply and are nominated for admission because of the high volume of applications.

Can I visit campus and speak to the faculty and students?
You're welcome to visit campus and meet with the graduate coordinator or faculty member by appointment. We recommend you plan to attend the New Writing Series where you will meet MFA faculty and students. We do not allow classroom visits.

Can I transfer graduate credit I earned at another university?
Requests for transfer of credits are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The general rule is that students may petition to transfer up to 8 quarter units of relevant graduate credit that has not been used for another degree.

I applied last year; do I have to resubmit my transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other documents?
Yes, the documentation must be resubmitted.

What do I do if I encounter a technological problem while completing the online application?
Please update your operating system patches and antivirus software; download and use the latest version of Firefox or Chrome; add GradApply to your security software's list of trusted websites; clear cookies from previous sessions; and allow pop-ups. (Tip: Sometimes links in the online application open in a new window behind other open windows.) If the problem persists, click the 'Help' link in GradApply or email a detailed message to the MFA graduate coordinator for forwarding to the helpdesk. Describe the action you were trying to perform, the page or section you were working on, and the error message you received.

What do I do if I have a question about how to fill out the online application?
Please email your question to the MFA graduate coordinator at mfawriting@ucsd.edu.

Can a colleague or employer provide a letter of recommendation?
The admissions review committee prefers letters from people who are qualified to speak about your academic performance, preparation for graduate study, and creative writing.

Will my application be considered if I can't provide the minimum number of recommendations?
All submitted applications will be reviewed. If you're not able to provide the number of recommendations requested please write a brief explanation in your statement of purpose.

To whom should the letters of recommendation be addressed?
Letters can be addressed To Whom It May Concern or the MFA admissions committee.

Does the program accept letters of recommendation submitted using a dossier service?
We accept letters sent by recognized services such as Interfolio.

Can I upload or mail copies of my published works, book reviews, press clippings, or CV to supplement my application?
The online application does not offer this functionality at this time. Do not mail hard copies; the admissions committee will only consider applications materials uploaded to GradApply.

What changes can I make to my application after I submit it?
You may log in to GradApply and update your contact information, upload transcripts, add or update recommenders, and submit applicant statements for the San Diego Fellowship.

Will my application be considered if it is incomplete?

All 'submitted' applications are forwarded to the admissions committee once the application period closes ('in progress' applications are not reviewed). The committee will make several passes in December and early January to narrow the applicant pool. Your application will be reviewed 'as is' on the first pass and may or may not be reviewed on subsequent passes (the committee cannot wait for documents because of time constraints). The statement of purpose and writing sample carry the most weight during the first pass. Letters of recommendation carry a lot of weight during the middle stages when the candidate pool narrows and gets more competitive. Unofficial transcripts from ALL post-high school institutions you attended are essential; we cannot nominate you for admission without them.

I missed the application deadline; will you put my name on a stand-by list in case spaces open up in summer or fall?
Sorry, no. We do not accept applications after the deadline has passed. Please apply next year.

Can I apply to enter the program in spring?
We accept applications and admit new students for the fall quarter only.


How much time do I have to accept or decline your offer of admission?
The deadline to accept or decline an offer of admission is April 15 of the admission year.

Does the MFA Program keep a waitlist?
We may keep a waitlist if we have more qualified applicants than we can admit. The waitlist will be dissolved and waitlisted applicants will be emailed official notification that they have been admitted or denied by April 15.

If I'm denied admission, will you tell me why and what I can do to improve my chances next year?
Sorry, no.The evaluations and deliberations of the admissions committee are confidential.

If I'm admitted but can't start school in the fall, can I defer to next year?
The MFA Program does not allow deferrals. Please reapply next year.

Can I enroll in MFA workshops through UCSD's non-degree, concurrent enrollment program?
Sorry, no. Concurrent enrollment is not allowed in the MFA workshops.


What does the MFA Program consider to be 'full funding'?
Our 2016 benchmark for full funding is a 50% Teaching Assistantship or equivalent level of support.

How many students receive full funding?
Since the program launched (2009) most students have received support roughly equivalent to a 50% TAship. The few exceptions were students who did not want to teach, preferring to work as readers (graders) for similar fee remissions but a lower salary.

Do TA fee remissions cover the nonresident supplemental tuition?
No. However, if funds are available the MFA Program may offer a partial or full tuition scholarship to cover nonresident tuition for the student's first year in the program. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are expected to establish or maintain California residency for tuition purposes during their first year to avoid owing nonresident tuition during sequent years.

Are international students eligible for full funding and tuition scholarships as described above?
Yes. Note that international students are not eligible to establish California residency to avoid owing nonresident tuition. If funds are available the MFA Program may offer a partial or full tuition scholarship to cover nonresident tuition for the student's first and second year in the program.

If admitted will I be given a 50% TAship with one of UCSD's six college writing programs?
No.The college writing programs hire TAs on a competitive basis. MFA students must apply for the positions alongside MA and PhD students. Applicants are not guaranteed an interview or a job offer.

How do I get a TAship? Can I get hired as a TA if I don't have teaching experience?
Whenever possible the MFA Program gives incoming students TAships with the Literature Department's lower-division creative writing series for their first year in the program. The appointments are for the nine-month academic year (Fall/Winter/Spring quarters).The TAs receive pedagogical guidance from the course instructors and are encouraged to collaborate with each other. Additional training is available from the Center for Teaching Development. Students who successfully complete three quarters of teaching for Literature are competitive applicants for TAships with the college writing programs or other academic departments. College writing program TAs receive additional pedagogical training from their colleges.

Are there full fellowships available?
The MFA Program does not offer full fellowships at this time. UCSD offers a limited number of San Diego Fellowships to eligible incoming students on a competitive basis. To be considered for the SDF the candidate must be admitted to UCSD and be nominated by the MFA Program. The award decision is made by a campus committee, not MFA faculty.

What other options are there if I don't get a fellowship and don't want to teach? 
You can pay your own way. You can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid to be considered for extramural grants and loans. You can apply for and obtain readerships (grading papers).

If admitted, when will I receive support offer?
We email support offers around the time of admission.