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MFA | Program Overview

The MFA Program in Writing welcomes brave and innovative writers and encourages the formation of mutually-supportive, inspiring literary communities. The program is small, with typically 4 to 8 new students admitted and funded each year. The intimate nature of the program allows students to work very closely with writing faculty and each other within the quarterly cross-genre workshop.

The MFA program is a two-year residency program foregrounding the interconnectedness of literary arts practice, modes of production and distribution, and the rigorous study of literatures, arts, and cultures. The program offers the option of extending residency a third year.

All graduate writing workshops are cross-genre and often interdisciplinary, investigating and often undermining a studio-versus-academic distinction in advanced literary education. Moreover, the program encourages interdisciplinary research and holistic approaches to teaching and learning. Therefore, teaching creative-critical reading and writing skills as a Teaching Assistant is a popular choice among all Writing students in the MFA program, most of whom are eligible for scholarships and fellowships in addition to union-represented compensation for Teaching Assistant work.

Program participants are encouraged to focus exclusively on writing, teaching, research, and art-making during their residency, allowing writers to integrate pedagogical training and artistic practice as a way to prepare for future scholarly endeavors while creating a book-length work of literature. To that end, each quarterly cross-genre workshop discusses writing-in-progress and published works in terms of poetics, prosody, and literary conventions alongside the interrelationship between aesthetic intervention/ experiment and radical social change across cultures, nations, regions, and movements.

While each writer’s extra-departmental coursework is flexible, program participants are expected to take five workshops. The cross-genre workshops function less as editorial sessions or as explications of craft techniques than as vibrant skill-sharing intellectual roundtables. UCSD’s writers generate dazzlingly diverse collaborations in writing and literary/arts events, many of which result in various forms of publication. Both faculty and graduate projects tend to repurpose, interweave, hack, and muddle generic categories and/or radically elasticize their conventions.

UC San Diego is a tier-one research university respected internationally for untangling mysteries and manifesting world-altering possibilities in the arts, humanities, and sciences. The MFA in Writing is part of the Department of Literature, a world literature department with a focus on critical theory, social justice, and cultural, ethnic, and gender studies, where faculty members work in multiple languages, geographies, and historical periods. All graduate writing workshops are offered in English, but program participants may work with Literature and extra-departmental faculty on bilingual or multilingual projects, including works in translation.

With ties to Visual Arts, Music, Ethnic Studies, Science Studiesthe Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, along with other departments, centers, and programs, unprecedented entanglements of artistic and scholarly experimentation are encouraged. The MFA program co-exists with a thriving undergraduate writing major and benefits from the long-established New Writing Series and the Archive for New Poetry. Current MFA Writing Faculty include Ben Doller, Camille Forbes, Lily Hoang, Brandon Som, and Anna Joy Springer. Emeriti Writing Faculty include Rae Armantrout and Eileen Myles.

MFA Program Director
Anna Joy Springer

MFA Graduate Coordinator
Tania Mayer
(858) 534-8849
mfawriting@ucsd.edu