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Year 3: Requirements, Expectations & Deadlines

Updated September 2020

Program Emphasis

During the third year in the MFA Program, students complete all remaining MFA course requirements.  In this timeframe, students also finish their thesis and all necessary requirements/steps to complete and confer their degree.  During the third 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 (or already have), nine courses will be taken.

Note:  If students have already completed their MFA course requirements prior to the end of the third year, they still must be enrolled in at least 12 units of graduate or upper-division undergraduate coursework each quarter.  In this case, students will enroll in elective (filler) courses.  These can be virtually any graduate or upper-division undergraduate courses, and students often choose to propose guided independent study courses (LTWR 298) that are not needed for any MFA requirements.

Course Requirements (Year 3) *

Fall (7th Quarter) Winter (8th Quarter) Spring (9th Quarter)
Elective Course Option Elective Course Option Elective Course Option
LTWR 295 LTWR 295 Elective (filler) Course
50% TA or Elective (filler) Course 50% TA or Elective (filler) Course 50% TA or Elective (filler) Course

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

Additional Expectations & Deadlines

Seventh Quarter:

  • Attend the MFA Cohort Meeting.
  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Specifically review the details for completing the thesis and preparing to graduate.  See “Thesis Completion” below.
  • Add planned Winter Quarter courses to your MFA Requirements Worksheet (if needed), 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).
  • Update 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.
  • Confirm if any changes to the Thesis Committee are needed and identify alternate potential committee members if anyone on the committee needs to be replaced.

Eighth Quarter:

  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Specifically review the details for completing the thesis and preparing to graduate.  See “Thesis Completion” below.
  • Add planned Spring Quarter courses to your MFA Requirements Worksheet (if needed), 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).
  • Submit “Committee Re-Constitution Request” to update the committee (if needed).  See “Thesis Committee Re-Constitution” below.
  • Sign up to participate in graduate commencement (optional).  Ask an MFA faculty member to hood you at the ceremony, and give them plenty of notice to save the date and order their regalia.
  • Schedule your preliminary and final appointments with Grad Division and the thesis discussion with your committee (to take place in Spring Quarter).  See “Thesis Completion” and “Thesis Discussion” below.

Ninth Quarter:

  • Meet with primary faculty advisor to discuss degree progress and professional development.  Keep faculty advisor informed of any emerging difficulties in completing the degree.
  • Review and sign annual Spring Evaluation (May).
  • Attend the preliminary appointment with Grad Division (April or May).  See “Thesis Completion” below.
  • Give public reading of final thesis project (May).  See “Public Reading” below.
  • Hold the thesis discussion with your committee (May).
  • Attend the final appointment with Grad Division and file all necessary paperwork for the degree.  See “Final Paperwork and Degree Conferral” below.

Thesis Completion

You must complete a final project consisting of a manuscript of fiction (120 pages) or poetry (65 pages) or cross-genre work (65-85 pages) that your MFA committee deems to be of high quality. The manuscript will be the culmination of 2-3 years of coursework and will have undergone extensive editing and revision before submission for the final project.

During Fall Quarter, make sure you have reviewed the following key steps and references, in preparation for completing the degree by the end of the year:

  • Guidelines for the preparation and submission of the thesis: "Preparation and Submission Manual for Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses." Your thesis cannot be accepted unless you follow the guidelines. It is advisable to read the thesis preparation manual early. You may discover that your vision for your final project is at odds with the submission guidelines. If so, consult your Committee Chair and then your graduate academic affairs advisor at the Graduate Division as soon as possible.
  • To get a good overview of the preparation and submission process, start by reading the first three pages of Section VII of the manual ("Final Degree and Filing Requirements") and "Appendix - Checklist for Candidates."  Also, sign up for the Graduate Division's formatting webinar.
    • Note the correct degree title to use on your manuscript and final degree paperwork: Master of Fine Arts in Writing.

During Winter Quarter, students should make plans for and formally schedule the required Spring meetings:

  • Preliminary Appointment with Grad Division: The student must make an appointmentwith the Graduate Division for a preliminary check of his/her thesis. At that appointment, the format is checked and instructions on the final preparation and submission of the thesis are given. 
  • Thesis Discussion with Committee: The thesis discussion should be held between weeks 3 and 9 of your final quarter in the program. Allow two hours for the discussion (the average length is 1.5 hours).
    • To schedule the discussion, start by obtaining your committee members' teaching schedules (from the Schedule of Classes) and their office hours (from the member or their department's website) to narrow the options. Pick three days/times that are likely to work for everyone, and then ask your members to agree on the best one.
    • When you have picked a meeting time that works for your committee, fill out and submit the “Thesis Discussion Schedule Confirmation” form online (see the “Forms” page of our website). The advising staff will reserve a conference room and send you a confirmation email.
  • Final Appointment with Grad Division: The student must make an appointmentwith the Graduate Division for a final filing appointment.  The student submits the final approved thesis to the Graduate Division at the final appointment. Final approval and acceptance of the thesis by the Dean of the Graduate Division (on behalf of the University Archivist and Graduate Council) represents the final step in the completion of all requirements for the MFA degree.

Thesis Committee Re-Constitution

When a change in the Thesis Committee is necessary, the student completes the Committee Re-Constitution Request form online (see the “Forms” page of the website).  This information includes the fully updated committee members, their specialties, and an explanation for the change(s) in the committee.  Each individual change to the committee must be explained.  The advising staff then submits an online request to Grad Division to formally reconstitute the membership of the Thesis Committee.  The Committee Chair or Co-Chairs will need to electronically approve the request for reconstitution.  The online form will subsequently be routed to the MFA Director, before submission to Grad Division for approval.  The student, along with their entire new committee, will receive a notification email from Grad Division when the committee has formally been reconstituted.

Public Readings

MFA students give a public presentation (a reading, or a performance) of their work during the quarter of graduation. The public presentation is a degree requirement.  The reading is a presentation of the student's final project—a reading from the completed manuscript, a screening, or a performance of their 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.

Thesis Discussion

Preparing for the Discussion

Generally, each member will expect you to provide them with a hard copy of your thesis at least one month before your scheduled discussion. However, your committee members may have different requirements, depending on how long and how closely they have been working with you. 

Your Committee Chair will advise you about how to prepare for and hold the discussion.

Holding the Discussion

You must bring the following paperwork to your thesis discussion: 

  • Thesis embargo form and thesis signature page (see thesis formatting manual)

The advising staff will prepare the “Final Report of the Modified Thesis - Plan III” form and provide it directly to your Thesis Committee on the day of the thesis discussion.  If your Thesis Committee members approve of your final thesis and degree completion, they will sign the paperwork at the conclusion of your discussion. Nothing can be added to the thesis once the committee has given final approval as indicated by their signatures on the final paperwork. 

Your committee will return the Final Report form to the advising staff immediately after the discussion (for additional approval signatures), but you will keep the other documents.

Final Paperwork and Degree Conferral

There are a number of documents that students will need to submit to Grad Division at their final appointment in order to complete the thesis filing process and be awarded their MFA.  Several of the documents will be entirely the student’s responsibility to create and bring with them, while others will be created by the advising staff and provided to the student before the final appointment.

Student’s Responsibility

  • Students will file the PDF of their thesis online at least one day prior to final appointment with Grad Division, and the thesis will meet all standards and requirements outlined in the “Preparation and Submission Manual for Doctoral Dissertations and Masters’ Theses” (as mentioned previously).   Details of the electronic doctoral dissertation filing are also included in the “Preparation and Submission Manual for Doctoral Dissertations and Masters’ Theses”.
  • Original signature page (signed at the thesis discussion)
  • “Dissertation/Thesis Release Form” (or “Embargo Form”), signed by the Committee Chair or Co-Chairs at the thesis discussion
  • Copies of the abstract
  • Any other documents that Grad Division mentions at the preliminary appointment

Department’s Responsibility

  • “Final Report of the Modified Thesis - Plan III”, prepared by the advising staff and signed by all Thesis Committee members at the discussion, attesting that they have approved the thesis and that the student has completed all requirements for the MFA degree.
    • This form must be returned to the advising staff following the thesis discussion.  The Graduate Office will route it to be signed by the Department Chair, and the advising staff will notify the student when it is ready to be picked up for filing with the Grad Division.

Students will pay the filing fee prior to their final appointment (at the Central Cashier’s office).  Then, they will submit the Final Report, and other paperwork during your final meeting with the Graduate Division.

The Dean of Graduate Studies will send you a letter of congratulations once your degree has been finalized, and your diploma will be mailed to your current address in TritonLink a few months later. Be sure to update your address in TritonLink if needed. 

Congratulations!

Occasional Circumstances

Students Returning to Complete the Degree after a Withdrawal

Students returning to complete their MFA and hold their thesis discussion should contact the advising staff for information about the process. 

This process will require additional paperwork to what is listed above (a General Petition to process a “readmission” to the program).  The additional paperwork will be prepared by the advising staff, signed by relevant department faculty, and signed by the student.  There is a readmission fee that students will likely be required to pay once the paperwork is fully processed by Grad Division.  The advising staff will assist the student in routing the form and submitting it to Grad Division.

Paying a Filing Fee in Lieu of Registration

In the quarter of their thesis discussion and filing, students have the option of paying (the much cheaper) Filing Fee, instead of registering for courses and paying the regular tuition/fees.  Students interested in this must contact the department in the quarter prior to their thesis discussion.

This process will also require additional paperwork to what is listed above.  The additional paperwork will be prepared by the advising staff, signed by the Committee Chair at the thesis discussion, and then returned to the advising staff.  The department will notify the student when it is ready to be picked up for filing with the Grad Division.  The Filing Fee will need to be paid at the Central Cashier before the paperwork is filed.
Director of MFA Program
Lily Hoang

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

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