Masters in Creative Writing - More Information

Jacinda Townsend_Hebbah Vidali Photog.jpg
Jacinda Townsend; Photo Credit: Hebbah Vidali

Creative Writing Program Reading Series
(Click here to read about the 2016-2017 Reading Series!)

Typically, each year the program brings several writers to campus for public readings and class visits.  Recent visitors include Elizabeth McCracken, Juliana Spahr, Christine Schutt, Brian Evenson, David St. John, and Daniel Alarcón. Again, the goal is to expose students to a wide range of writers and writing lives. In addition, one of the advantages of being part of a large university is that we also have access high profile campus-wide events, such as those sponsored at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Graduate Reading Series

Each class organizes a series of public readings by current students.  While faculty often attends, the character of these events is entirely determined by each group of writers and functions in some ways as the core of the creative writing graduate community.

MA vs MFA 

Traditionally, the difference between a Master of Arts (MA) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is that the former is rooted in an English department so that the emphasis is on the study of literature and how literary study informs creative work. An MFA is a studio degree situated among MFAs in the other arts (visual arts, music, etc).

However, as you might have discovered in your research, the actual courses of study required for an MA vs. an MFA are sometimes virtually identical and sometimes have almost nothing in common. Our MA, like an MFA emphasizes the workshop process and students take at least four workshops during their course of study, just as they would in an MFA.

Both degrees make you minimally eligible for the same academic appointments (although it should be stressed that in the current academic market no degree is meaningful without an impressive publication record and the market is currently in a great deal of flux) and both degrees prepare you for PhD programs in creative writing (the terminal degree in the field).


For first year students, funding comes in the form of Teaching Assistantships (TAships) in literature courses, and Graduate Student Research (GSR) positions helping professors with research projects.  We are able to guarantee first-year funding to a limited number of students upon admission; students admitted without guaranteed funding will receive the department's help in searching for positions on campus.  The Englund Fund is awarded to assist one or two selected first-year students.

For in-state students, tuition is covered as part of the terms of employment.  For out-of-state students, a limited number of tuition waivers are available.

During their second year, all students have access to funding in the form of teaching introductory undergraduate creative writing workshops (ENL 5F or ENL 5P) in their genre or by working as literature Teaching Assistants or Graduate Student Researchers.

Miller Funds: This fund supports attendance at any single writer's workshop or conference. Students have used their funds to defray the the cost of attending conferences like AWP, Writing By Writers, and Tin House.

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