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MFA | Frequently Asked Questions

Program

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 (9 quarters).

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

Application

Is my three-year baccalaureate from a foreign university equivalent to a four-year 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 on an individual basis. Graduate Admissions cannot evaluate your records before you apply and are nominated for admission.

Can I visit campus and speak to the faculty and students?
You're welcome to visit campus and meet with the MFA graduate coordinator or program director by appointment. We recommend attending the New Writing Series to meet MFA faculty and students. We do not allow classroom visits. Please contact the graduate coordinator for help to coordinate your visit.

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 (more if the courses were completed at UC) 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. Note that you can download or copy/paste some of the information from the previous application.

What 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. If the problem persists, click the 'Help' link in GradApply. Describe the action you were trying to perform, the page or section you were working on, and the error message you received.

What 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.

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 or book reviews to supplement my application?
There's a space on the application for an external link to supplemental materials. Do not mail us hard copies; they will be disregarded.

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. The committee will make several passes in December-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 sequent 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?
We do not accept applications after the deadline has passed. Please apply next year.

Can I apply to enter the program in spring?
We only admit new students for Fall quarter.

Admission

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. Waitlisted applicants will be 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.

I'm not sure I want to do an MFA at this time; can I enroll in the MFA workshops through UCSD's non-degree, concurrent enrollment program?
Sorry, no. Concurrent enrollment is not allowed in MFA workshops.

Funding

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

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

Do TA fee remissions cover the nonresident supplemental tuition?
No. However, 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 if funds are available. 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. But 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?
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?
The MFA Program strives to give 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 Engaged Teaching. 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 does offer 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-wide 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.