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MFA | Degree Requirements

Updated 9/1/17

The MFA in Writing is designed to be in completed in 6 to 9 academic quarters of fulltime study. Residency and fulltime study are required; the program does not offer distance learning or part-time study. To be considered fulltime you must enroll for a minimum of 12 units of graduate seminars, guided independent study, or teaching apprenticeship each quarter.

The MFA degree is awarded upon the satisfactory completion of the requirements below. There is no written final examination for the degree but great weight is given to the candidate’s final presentation and capstone discussion of the thesis/final project.


You must complete 72 quarter units of approved coursework, distributed as described below. Graduate seminars must be taken for a "Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory" grade when possible.

Requirement Min. Units Max. Units Description
History and Theory 8 8

LTTH 250 Writing and Theory
LTTH 255 Modern Art Movements and Aesthetics

Graduate Seminars in Literature 4

Graduate seminars in Literature outside of the Writing section or, with prior permission, upper-division courses or guided independent study in Literature. At least 4 units must be from a graduate seminar.

Graduate Seminars in an Art Practice or Theory 4 Graduate level courses or guided independent study in an art practice or theory offered outside of Literature (e.g., Visual Arts), or graduate seminars offered by the Literature Department in a language other than English. NOTE: Preapproval from the MFA director is required for courses used to satisfy the art practice/theory requirement.
Writing Workshop 20 LTWR 215 Cross-Genre Workshop
Apprentice Teaching 4 12

Guided teaching at UC San Diego. Teaching Assistantships carry 2-4 units of credit per quarter. Students may petition to apply up to 24 units of TAship credit to the degree or to substitute graduate seminar units for the teaching apprenticeship.

MFA Thesis 8 12

Research guided by faculty, culminating in an acceptable manuscript.

Public Readings

You must give two public readings or performances of your work—a presentation of your first year's work during Spring quarter of your first year and a presentation of your final project during the graduating quarter.The events are organized by the MFA Program and are held on campus.

Thesis and Discussion

You must complete a final project consisting of a manuscript of fiction (120 pages) or poetry (65 pages) or cross-genre (65-85 pages) that your MFA committee deems to be of high quality. The manuscript will be the culmination of 2-3 years of coursework and will have undergone extensive editing and revision before submission for the final project.

Two or three weeks before the end of the graduating quarter, you must meet with your thesis committee for a discussion of the final project. The committee will be composed of four faculty members you selected and worked with during your years in the program—three faculty from the Literature Department and one from another department.

MFA in Writing

Program Director
Anna Joy Springer

Graduate Coordinator
Tania Mayer
139 Literature Building
(858) 534-8849

Application Period
Sep. 5 - Dec. 14, 2017

Decision Notifications
February - March 2018

Program Begins
September 2018