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MFA | Professional Development Plan

Students are asked to submit a curriculum vitae, biographical sketch, photo, and individualized development plan at the start of Fall quarter.

Curriculum Vitae

MFA students should submit CVs to the MFA Graduate Coordinator in Fall quarter and whenever there are significant updates. The department may refer to the vita when identifying or nominating eligible candidates for special opportunities (such as merit-based scholarships) for which students are not allowed to self-nominate.

A CV is a summary of the student's artistic, academic and professional achievements. Students must submit CVs when applying for—

  • Awards, fellowships
  • TAships, readerships
  • Grants
  • Journal editorships
  • Research presentation or publication
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Admission to a doctoral program

While there is no standard format, CVs often include the following information:

  • Contact information
  • Education (listed at the top)
  • Honors and awards (academic or professional)
  • Grants, fellowships, scholarships
  • Professional teaching experience
  • Research
  • Publications and presentations (include submitted and/or pending, and thesis title if applicable)
  • Professional affiliations
  • Professional activities (participation in conferences, workshops, retreats, readings)
  • Mentoring
  • Foreign languages (if fluent)
  • Skills
  • Extracurricular and volunteer experience

View sample CV at UCSD Career Services

Once the CV has been created the student should design a professional development plan to address any gaps in experience (see below).

Bio Sketch & Photo

Students are asked to submit a short bio and high-resolution photo to the MFA Graduate Coordinator at the beginning of their first quarter in the program. The department uses biographical sketches in nomination letters, letters of recommendation, requests for exception to graduate policy, on the student page on this site and for publicity pieces, such as announcements about student readings.

The bio sketch is a brief summary (~100 words) of the student's interests and accomplishments. Suggested topics are—

  • Writing and research interests
  • Publications
  • Degrees
  • Current project
  • Link to writer's website

The photo should be a headshot, portrait orientation, 300 dpi.

Individualized Development Plan

MFA students are encouraged to create an individualized development plan and share it with their primary faculty advisor during their first quarter in the program.The IDP is a student's overall plan for advancing toward their artistic and professional goals during their time in the program and beyond.

It is the student's responsibility to create a plan and seek the advising and mentoring needed to execute it.

Instructions for Creating an IDP

Start by thinking about where you want to be 10 years from now and the different possibilities for employment and continuing a writing life post-MFA. What are your artistic, professional and career objectives? Here are some of the things our students have done after graduation:

  • Published a novel or poetry collection.
  • Studied abroad on a Fulbright or Disquiet award.
  • Taught high school English.
  • Worked as an adjunct at a community college, small liberal arts college, or university.
  • Started a freelance writing business.
  • Obtained a corporate job that uses writing skills.
  • Started a literary magazine or arts nonprofit.
  • Worked on social justice causes.
  • Obtained a staff position in higher education.
  • Entered a PhD program.

Once you have compiled your list of objectives, create a list of goals to focus on during the 2-3 years of your MFA program. (The entire training period needs to be considered in the IDP as goals may have to be pursued in a particular sequence.) Suggested areas include—

  • Research/ literary productivity (publications, performances, new work, etc.).
  • Professional development (professional associations, conferences/festivals, workshops, grantwriting, improvement of teaching methods, etc.).
  • Acquiring technical skills for creating digital work (shoot/edit video, audio, and photographs; tell stories with graphics and animation.).
  • Preparing for post-MFA job searches or doctoral program applications.

Next, download and complete the IDP form (.docx) and arrange to meet with your faculty advisor early in Fall quarter to discuss your CV and IDP. Your advisor can help you refine your goals, identify competencies to be developed, and suggest possible mentors.

With help from your advisor and mentors, assess your competencies and determine what training or experiences you need in order to achieve your goals. Write an action plan to address a few of these needs each year and add it to your IDP.

Continue to meet with your advisors and mentors as frequently as needed to assess your progress and revise your plan. You may need to reassess your goals as you gain more insight about your interests and strengths over the course of the program.

Development Resources

Career Exploration and Preparation


Contests, Grants and Awards

Faculty and Staff Jobs in Education

Multimedia Technology

See also— free online and off-campus media courses offered by San Diego Continuing Education.



See Teaching Resources.