Graduate funding is available in the form of academic student employment (teaching assistantships and readerships) and UCSD or Literature Department fellowships. The MFA Program sends support offers to admitted students in February or March. Most support offers are for the student's first year only; continuing MFA students are expected to apply for and obtain TAships on the main campus to fund their second or third year in the program. Information about funding rates can be found in the program FAQs.
In addition to departmental support, students may be eligible for financial aid in the form of loans or VA benefits. More information about the various funding sources is provided below.
Note that you must maintain good academic standing to be eligible for TAships, fellowships, and other types of funding.
Most MFA students fund their degrees by applying for and obtaining academic student employment as teaching assistants or readers (graders) at 25-50% time (10-20 hours/week average). A TA or reader appointed at least 25% time receives a salary and partial fee remissions. See Fees/Tuition and Job Opportunities for Graduate Students for more information.
The TAships and readerships may be with the Literature Department or one of UCSD's six college writing programs or other academic departments as described below.
Literature Department. A few MFA students work as 25% TAs for the Literature Department's lower-division creative writing program. The MFA Program assigns the TAships to first- or second- or third-year students at its discretion, usually on a noncompetitive basis. Prior teaching experience is not required. Some MFA students apply for and obtain positions as readers for upper-division literature courses instead of or as supplements to 25% TAships.
Colleges. MFA students may apply for TAships with UCSD’s six college writing programs--- Sixth College/CAT, Muir Writing, Warren Writing, Revelle/ Humanities Program, Marshall/DOC, and Roosevelt/MMW. Applicants who have experience TA'ing for college writing courses are more competitive. Most TA appointments are for one academic year (Fall/Winter/Spring) at 50% time.
Other Departments. MFA students may apply for TAships and readerships with academic programs such as History, Linguistics, Sociology and others. Most appointments are for one quarter, therefore students must reapply every quarter. A list of departments that hire academic student employees is available on the Office of Graduate Studies website.
The MFA Program awards a few fellowships and tuition/fee scholarships to first-year students if funds are available. There is no application process; award decisions are made by the admissions committee at its discretion. Typically the fellowships/scholarships are awarded as supplements to 25% TAships. Fellowship awards come with the stipulation that the recipient complete a project each quarter that benefits the program or the Literature Department, such as editing a journal, creating and maintaining Blackboard websites for undergraduate creative writing classes, helping plan a writing conference, or assisting with the New Writing Series.
MFA applicants may apply for two fellowships administered by the Office of Graduate Studies, if eligible: the San Diego Fellowship and the Tribal Membership Initiative. Both fellowships cover nonresident fees for the student's first year in the program. The fellowship applications are embedded in the online application for admission. Instructions are provided in the online application and the MFA Application Tips and Guidelines.
In addition to the support described above, applicants may be eligible for financial aid in the form of loans. Applicants must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year to be considered for such aid. More information about financial aid, including timelines, eligibility requirements, packaging policies for graduate students, and the FAFSA can be found on the Financial Aid Office website.
Graduate students may apply for student assistant positions on campus. Student assistants work in offices, libraries, theaters, food service, media services, etc. These positions do not offer tuition/fee remissions or salaries comparable to TAships or readerships. Students should discuss this option with the MFA graduate coordinator before applying.
There are very few employment opportunities on campus during the summer. MFA students who need to work will most likely have to find employment off campus. The few opportunities that are available have early deadlines, therefore incoming students should start making summer plans before their first quarter. (Note: If you are a nonresident and intend to establish California residency for tuition purposes be sure to review the criteria for establishing residency before making summer plans.)
Design and teach a summer course for Academic Connections. Course proposals are accepted in fall of the current year for next year's summer session. Be aware that the course must meet minimum enrollment numbers in order to run---and for you to be paid.
TA for a summer course for the Writing Programs. Some of the six college writing programs hire a few of their best TAs to teach for the undergraduate Summer Session.
Obtain a research stipend. Occasionally the MFA Program has funds available for summer research fellowships. Fellowships are awarded to continuing students on a competitive basis. The call for proposals is issued in Winter quarter.
Obtain a research grant. UCSD provides a wealth of web-based resources for graduate students to identify, apply for, and obtain extramural fellowships and academic awards. See Funding & Academic Awards Opportunities on the OGS website.
Apply for the Clarion Writers' Workshop. This is not an employment opportunity but MFA applicants should be aware that UCSD hosts the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop. Participants are selected on a competitive basis from a pool of 100-200 applicants. Participants are required to reside in a shared campus apartment during the six weeks of the summer workshop. Room and board are included in the tuition fee. Scholarships are available.