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Year 1: Requirements, Expectations & Deadlines

Updated September 2020

Program Emphasis

During the first year in the MFA Program, students should make significant progress in the core MFA course requirements.  In this timeframe, students come to know the faculty, their research areas and methods.  During the first year, students are expected to take six courses and have a 50% TA position.  For students who have other means of support and wish to fulfill their teaching requirement in another year, nine courses will be taken.

During the first two years of study, students should make every effort to complete the core (most specific) course requirements, leaving the most flexibility for the third year (remaining electives and MFA Thesis writing).

Course Requirements (Year 1) *

Fall (1st Quarter) Winter (2nd Quarter) Spring (3rd Quarter)
LTWR 215 LTWR 215 LTWR 215
Art Practice or Theory Outside of Literature LTCO, LTCS, LTEN or LTSP seminar LTTH 250 or LTTH 255
50% TA (or Elective Course Option) 50% TA (or Elective Course Option) 50% TA (or Elective Course Option)

* Recommended course plan, based on typical course offerings and progress priorities.

Additional Expectations & Deadlines

First Quarter:

  • Attend the MFA Orientation.
  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Keep faculty advisor informed of progress, pressing or looming decisions, and any emerging difficulties in course of study.
  • Add Fall Quarter courses and planned Winter Quarter courses to your MFA Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu as soon as Winter registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).

Second Quarter:

  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Keep faculty advisor informed of progress, pressing or looming decisions, and any emerging difficulties in course of study.
  • Add planned Spring Quarter courses to your MFA Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu as soon as Spring registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).
  • Complete annual Spring Evaluation self-assessment (March).
  • Begin selection process for Thesis Committee Chairperson.  See “Begin Thesis Committee Planning” below.
  • Create a professional development plan in consultation with faculty advisor (recommended).  See the MFA Professional Development information on the "Lit Dept & PhD Overview" page of the handbook.

Third Quarter:

  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Keep faculty advisor informed of progress, pressing or looming decisions, and any emerging difficulties in course of study.
  • Add planned Fall Quarter courses to your MFA Requirements Worksheet, and email it to the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu as soon as Fall registration begins.  Advising staff will confirm that your courses are approved to apply where you have them listed, as well as confirm if you are staying on track (or if there are any petitions you need to file or different course choices you may need to consider).
  • Confirm thesis committee chairperson and compile list of prospective committee members. Submit preliminary thesis and committee members proposal (May).  See full instructions in “Begin Thesis Committee Planning” below.
  • Give public reading that is representative of first year's work (May).  See “Public Reading” below.
  • Review and sign annual Spring Evaluation (May).
  • Prepare to file for California residency reclassification if applicable.

Begin Thesis Committee Planning

During the first year, the student invites a tenured MFA professor to Chair their Thesis Committee.  The student and Chair consult about the constitution of the rest of the committee.  The committee will ultimately be composed of four tenured faculty members—three from the Literature Department and one from another department.

Committee Chair's Responsibilities

  • Serves as your chief advisor and mentor.
  • Guides your professional development activities.
  • Oversees the development of your thesis.
  • Reads drafts and provides meaningful feedback at each stage of your thesis.
  • Guides your selection of committee members.
  • Helps you develop a realistic timeline for completion of your degree and thesis.
  • Makes sure you progress adequately and stay on track.
  • Guides your preparation for the thesis discussion.
  • Ensures that your committee meets all of its responsibilities.

Committee Members' Responsibilities

  • Provide subject matter expertise your Chair may lack.
  • Read drafts and provide meaningful feedback during the stages of your thesis.
  • In cooperation with the Chair, make sure you progress adequately and stay on track.

Student's Responsibilities

  • Invite committee members, create committee.
  • Seek regular advising from Chair and other committee members.
  • Setup timelines with individual committee members for submitting work and obtaining feedback.
  • Keep committee informed about progress toward thesis and degree completion.

Students must select and confirm their Committee Chair by Spring quarter of the first year and work with them to come up with a preliminary thesis plan and list of potential faculty to fill out the rest of the committee. By the end of Spring Quarter, students must complete the “Preliminary Thesis and Committee Member Proposal” form to the advising staff at mfawriting@ucsd.edu (see the “Forms” page of the website). 

Moving forward (through Summer and Fall), students should meet with prospective committee members during office hours or by appointment to talk about their final project and timeline (quarter during which you will submit your final manuscript, hold your thesis discussion, and graduate). Students will ask them to serve on their committee, and work with their Committee Chair to identify alternative options if any faculty declines to serve.  The finalized committee must be confirmed and formally constituted during the second year (see “Program: Year 2” for details).

Public Readings

MFA students give a public presentation (a reading, or a performance) of their work at the end of their first year in the program. This public presentation is a degree requirement.  The reading is given during Spring Quarter of the first year and is representative of the year's work.  The public readings are organized by the MFA Program, usually as part of the New Writing Series.  Students should contact their primary advisor for guidance in preparation of the reading, and the advising staff will reach out to all first-year students with scheduling details.

Director of MFA Program
Lily Hoang

MFA Program Advising
(858) 534-8849
mfawriting@ucsd.edu

Accepting Applications:
Apply Online!
9/9/2020 - 1/6/2021 (for Fall 2021 admissions)