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Frequently asked questions about the MFA Program in Writing.


Can I apply to the MFA program if I have an advanced academic degree?
You may apply if you do not possess an MFA degree. University policy prohibits duplication of advanced academic degrees.

I completed a three-year bachelor's degree at a foreign university—is it equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's for admission purposes?
The general rule is that international applicants must have a bachelor’s degree that represents four years of study or else a master’s degree; however, academic records from foreign universities will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Program Information

Can I visit campus and speak to the faculty and students?
You are welcome to visit campus and meet with the graduate coordinator (by appointment). You are strongly encouraged 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 OS 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 of recommendation 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 provide 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, to the MFA Admissions Committee, or to the Director of the MFA Program.

Does the program accept letters of recommendation submitted using a dossier service?
We accept letters from recognized services such as Interfolio. The dossier service must mail or email the letters to the MFA Program office.

Can I upload or mail copies of my published works, book reviews, press clippings, or CV to supplement my application?

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, and add or update recommenders. You may  email the MFA graduate coordinator to apply for the Tribal Fellowship or submit revised statements for the San Diego Fellowship.

Will my application be considered if it is incomplete?

All submitted applications are forwarded to the admissions committee the day after the application period closes. The committee will make several passes in December and early January to narrow the applicant pool. Your application will be reviewed 'as is' on each pass; 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.Transcripts are essential during the final selection process---we cannot nominate an applicant 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?
No. We do not accept applications after the deadline has passed. Please apply next year.


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.

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 by April 30 (candidates will be admitted or denied).

If I'm denied admission, will you tell me why and what I can do to improve my chances next year?
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?
No. Concurrent enrollment is not allowed in the MFA workshops.


What does the MFA Program consider to be 'full funding'?
Full funding is roughly equivalent to a 9-month appointment as a TA or Reader at 25% time, which offers partial remissions of regular tuition/fees plus a salary. (Note: Nonresident supplemental tuition is not subject to remissions.)

What percentage of MFA students obtain full funding?
As of August 2013, 88% of students have secured full funding or better for the 2013-14 academic year and 12% are eligible to apply for funding but have chosen not to. In prior years all students have obtained funding equivalent to a 25% TAship/Readership or better every quarter, with the majority employed as TAs at 50% time.

Is there funding available to cover the nonresident fee? The San Diego Fellowship and Tribal Membership Fellowship cover the nonresident fee during the recipient's first year in the program. The MFA Program may offer a partial or full nonresident fee scholarship to first-year students if funds are available. Note that continuing students who are eligible to establish California residency for tuition purposes during their first year are expected to do so; UCSD will not pay nonresident tuition for a continuing student who could have established residency.

If admitted, when will I receive information about funding?
The MFA Program usually sends support letters 1-2 weeks after it nominates the applicant for admission.The letter describes the types of funding for which the nominee is eligible and the additional steps he/she must take to obtain it. The 'additional steps' vary according to the type and source of funding. Some funding offers can be secured by accepting admission, while others require that the nominee submit applications and participate in interviews (Writing Program TAships) or wait for a campus committee to review their application and make a decision (San Diego Fellowship).

The timeline for securing an offer also varies according to the type of funding. San Diego and Tribal Membership fellowships are announced in February or March. Most TAs and readers are hired in May or September. MFA Program funding is usually announced in February. Financial aid is announced in summer.

How many MFA students receive San Diego fellowships?
The number varies from year to year. A total of four MFA students were awarded the fellowship during the 2009-2013 period. Be aware that the selection process is highly competitive. The MFA Program is usually allowed to nominate one incoming student for inclusion in the campus-wide pool of eligible candidates. Be sure to follow the tips given in the MFA application guidelines and the SDF Appendix A for how to write compelling essays that show you overcame barriers and have a commitment to diversity.

I don't have teaching experience; is training available?
TAs in the Literature Department receive guidance and supervision from their instructions. TAs in the college writing programs receive pedagogical training. All graduate students are strongly encouraged to seek free training from the Center for Teaching Development.

How do I apply for a TAship or readership?
The MFA graduate coordinator will provide tips and instructions to admitted students.


The MFA Program does not require the Graduate Record Examination.

2015 Admissions

Application Period
September 1–December 1, 2014

Admission Notifications
February 2015

Program Begins
September 2015

Contact Us

(858) 534-8849
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