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MFA Admission Overview

Updated August 2018

About the Program

About Admission


How many students are admitted each year?

We admit 4-8 students from a pool of 100-200 applicants.

Do you offer a part-time or online study option?


How much time should I expect to spend on campus when school is in session?

The MFA is a fulltime study, full-residency program. 'Fulltime study' consists of enrolling for 12 units/3 courses each quarter, usually a graduate seminar, a workshop, and one teaching apprenticeship.

'Full residency' means you are physically present on campus from mid-September through the third week of June to  participate in seminars and workshops, fulfill your teaching duties, and attend orientations and training sessions. You should expect to devote 3-4 mornings a week to teaching responsibilities; 2-3 afternoons a week to seminar attendance; and 1-2 late afternoons or evenings to meetings, training sessions, or public readings.

Please note:

  • Fulltime study and full residency are prerequisites for receiving financial support.
  • It's not possible to hold a fulltime job while pursuing the MFA. 
  • You will want to reside in San Diego County; round-trip commutes on the I-5 or I-15 freeways to/from Los Angeles, Orange, or Riverside counties can take 4 hours a day.

Can I transfer graduate credits I earned elsewhere?

You may petition to transfer graduate seminar credits in literature (or an art practice) completed at another institution.

You may petition to transfer 8 quarter units of work completed at an institution other than the University of California or 36 units of work completed at another UC campus. In any case, no more than a total of one half of the units required for the master's degree may be transfer units.

Eligible transfer coursework cannot have been used to fulfill the requirements of any other degree, must have been completed with a B- or better grade, and must have been taken prior to enrollment as a graduate student at UCSD.

You must submit a degree check or letter from the institution from which the courses are being transferred stating the coursework wasn't used to satisfy requirements for any other degree program. 

Transfer coursework can be used for the MFA's Graduate Seminars in Literature or Graduate Seminars in an Art Practice or Theory requirements. Transferred coursework cannot be used for the LTTH 250/255 theory seminars and LTWR 215 workshop requirements.

Is there a progression between an MFA and a PhD?

No. The MFA is a terminal professional degree. Courses used for the MFA cannot also be used for a progressive academic degree (MA-PhD).

Students who complete the MFA in three years will have excess units that will not have been used for their degree and which may be transferable to a PhD program. (The student must petition the other program to accept the transfer units.)

NOTE: The University of California allows its graduate students a maximum of 18 quarters or equivalent to complete all graduate degrees. Most PhD programs are designed to be completed in about 18 quarters of time/support; therefore, if you pursue a PhD at UC after you complete the MFA, you will have to do it in 6-9 quarters instead of 18.

While it's possible to complete both an MFA and a PhD at UC within 18 quarters, it's a difficult path and requires advance planning. Seek advising from faculty and graduate coordinators at both programs before you start the MFA.

Do you have any advice for a prospective applicant?

Read a few works by our core faculty, New Writing speakers, and current MFA students.

Do you admit older students?


I missed the application deadline, can I be placed on a waitlist?

Sorry, no. We do not accept applications after the December deadline.

What are MFA alumni doing with their degrees?

Most are continuing their education or working in a field related to education or writing. Here's a partial list of their current occupations:

Communications manager at a university
PhD student, English literature (2)
Adjunct professor of English at a community college (2)
Adjunct professor of writing at UCSD (1)
Program coordinator at UCSD (2)
Technical writer
PhD student, media arts
PhD student, creative writing in Spanish
Service coordinator for an organization to end homelessness
Founder of an online journal of poetry/prose/visual/sonic art
PhD student, performance studies
Founder/CEO of an online magazine
PhD student, communication
Yoga and wellness teacher
Founder/CEO of a marketing communications and content creation business
English teacher at middle school
Student in K-12 teaching credential program, documentary film producer

Will the MFA’s teaching apprenticeship prepare me for a teaching position after graduation?

The MFA is primarily an arts degree. While some alumni have obtained employment as adjuncts based on their MFA and teaching apprenticeship, students who may want to teach should take advantage of the additional training and experiences available on campus. Examples:

Where can I find more information about the campus?

Check out these resources:

These aerial videos offer great views of campus and San Diego:

The Literature Department will be moving to the new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood on the western edge of campus in fall 2020 [Vimeo].

Would you put me in touch with a current student?

Sorry, no. Our students are too busy to respond to the numerous requests we receive from prospective students. We only forward contact requests from admitted students.

How do I make arrangements to visit the program?

Please draft an itinerary in accordance with the tips below, and then email it to the MFA graduate coordinator (mfawriting@ucsd.edu) for feedback before you make travel arrangements.

Tips for planning your visit:

  • Visit during one of our less-busy periods: mid-October to mid-November, February, or mid-April to mid-May.
  • Avoid visiting during final exams and quarter breaks.
  • Attend one of our New Writing Series events; it's the best way to meet several faculty and students.
  • Write to an MFA faculty member well in advance of your visit to request an in-person meeting to discuss your research interests and whether the program is a good academic fit.
  • Schedule a meeting with the MFA graduate coordinator if you have questions about funding, degree requirements, or the admission process.
  • Search UCSD's quarterly schedule of classes by code LTWR 215 and email the instructor for permission to attend a class meeting.

The Sheraton La Jolla is the closest hotel. The La Jolla Shores is the closest beach hotel; it's a few miles from campus but it has a courtesy shuttle.

The Literature Building is on the northwest corner of Voigt Drive and Matthews Lane [interactive map]. Campus buildings do not have physical addresses. 

MFA Admissions 2020

Application Period
Sep. 5 - Dec. 5, 2019

Decision Notifications
February - March 2020

Program Begins
September 2020

[ Admission Overview ]

MFA Program Director
Anna Joy Springer

MFA Graduate Coordinator
Tania Mayer
(858) 534-8849

Mailing Address
UC San Diego
Literature Dept / MFA Program
9500 Gilman Drive #0410
La Jolla, CA 92093-0410