Admissions - MFA in Creative Writing

Graduate Studies' Applications Page covers most campus-level admissions questions, but feel free to contact our graduate program staff for more details and specific guidance. Applications are reviewed once all supporting materials have been received. For more information about your application status, please check online or contact our graduate program staff.


Application Requirements:

  • Writing sample
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Personal History & Diversity Statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable
  • Copies of transcripts
  • Application Fee (2023-2024 cycle): $135 for U.S. and $155 for international applicants
  • Admissions Requirements and Eligibility as set by UC Davis Graduate Studies

Writing sample in your preferred genre
  • Either ten to twelve poems or up to thirty pages (double-spaced) of prose. Hybrid-form work must not exceed thirty pages.

To apply for admission to our Creative Writing MFA program, you are encouraged to include, as a writing sample, your very best creative writing.  Typically, two—or at the most three—genres exist in a graduate Creative Writing program: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction.  At UCD, we think of genre as a useful thing to consider… but we do not think of the various genres—however many you would like to list—as necessarily unmixable modes.  

For us, the value of a piece of writing is better gauged directly—by what it says to its readers, and by what that saying does to those readers—rather than by its successful or unsuccessful identification with one or another of the historically certified genres.  This is not to say that we don't believe in genre, or in the usefulness of plumbing each purported genre's history; it is to say, rather, or to notice… that the border between one genre and another is not so much a Great Wall as a small fence.

Statement of Purpose


Please highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specialization and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis.

  • Preparation and Motivation may include your academic and research experiences that prepare you for this graduate program (for example: coursework, employment, exhibitions, fieldwork, foreign language proficiency, independent study, internships, laboratory activities, presentations, publications, studio projects, teaching, and travel or study abroad) and motivation or passion for graduate study.

  • Interests, Specializations, and Career Goals may include your research interests, disciplinary subfields, area/s of specialization, and professional objectives.

  • Fit may include how your preparation, experiences, and interests match the specific resources and characteristics of your graduate program at UC Davis. Please identify specific faculty within your desired graduate program with whom you would like to work and how their interests match your own.

When writing your Statement of Purpose for Creative Writing:

Address any prior coursework, literary involvement, publications and other experiences that will help launch you into the graduate study of Creative Writing. Your Statement of Purpose must be entered directly into a text box in the application, and has a 4,000 character limit including spaces.

Personal History and Diversity Statement

The University of California Davis, a public institution, is committed to supporting the diversity of the graduate student body and promoting equal opportunity in higher education. This commitment furthers the educational mission to serve the increasingly diverse population and educational needs of California and the nation. Both the Vice Provost of Graduate Education/Dean of Graduate Studies and the University of California affirm that diversity is critical to promoting lively intellectual exchange and the variety of ideas and perspectives essential to advancing higher education and research. Our graduate students contribute to the global pool of future scholars and academic leaders, thus high value is placed on achieving a diverse graduate student body to support the University of California’s academic excellence. We invite you to include in this statement how you may contribute to the diversification of graduate education and the UC Davis community.

The purpose of this essay is to get to know you as an individual and potential graduate student. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education.

This essay should complement but not duplicate the content in the Statement of Purpose. Your Personal History and Diversity Statement must be entered directly into a text box in the application, and has a 4,000 character limit including spaces.

Three letters of recommendation

Letters should be from professors or other persons situated to speak about your potential for graduate Creative Writing study. You might also think of potential letter-writers in terms of their ability to speak to your participation in a dedicated community.

TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable

Applicants must submit TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores unless they have earned or will be earning a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from either a regionally accredited or foreign college/university which provides instruction solely in English. See the English Language Requirement section for details. 

  • Transcripts are required from each post-secondary institution you have attended.

  • Copies or unofficial transcripts are allowed. If admitted, you’ll be required to send official transcripts for every institution listed on your application.

Application fee

The application fee is set by the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. The application fee for the 2023-2024 cycle is $135 for domestic students and $155 for international students, payable online. Waivers of this fee are only available to participants in one of several graduate preparatory programsThe MFA program has no ability to grant application fee waivers. 

Application FAQs:

We aim for a class of 10 to 12 writers, hoping for a balance between genres. The writing sample is the most important part of your application; the committee is looking for high quality work in the applicant’s genre of choice.  All students in the MFA program at UC Davis take at least one workshop outside their primary genre, so you need not apply to a second genre in order to have access to it as a student.

The committee makes admissions and financial aid decisions simultaneously.  We offer a limited number of first-year funding packages; all second year students have access to full funding.

For the Fall 2021 cohort, we received 137 applications, admitted 16 (13 initial applicants and 3 waitlisted applicants), and 11 of those students will be joining us in the Fall.

Funding Your MFA

At UC Davis, we offer you the ability to fund your MFA. In fact, all students admitted to the program are guaranteed full funding in the second year of study, when students serve as teachers of Introduction to Creative Writing (English 5) and receive, in exchange, tuition and health insurance remission as well as a monthly stipend (second year students who come to Davis from out of state are expected to establish residency during their first year). We have a more limited amount of resources – teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and out of state tuition wavers – allocated to us for first year students, but in recent years, we’ve had excellent luck funding our accepted first years. We help students who do not receive English department funding help themselves by posting job announcements from other departments during the spring and summer leading up to their arrival. We are proud to say that over the course of the last twenty years, nearly every incoming student has wound up with at least partial funding (including a tuition waiver and health insurance coverage) by the time classes begin in the fall.

We have other resources for students, too – like the Miller Fund, which supports attendance for our writers at any single writer’s workshop or conference. Students have used these funds to attend well-known conferences like AWP, Writing By Writers, and the Tin House Conference. The Davis Humanities Institute offers a fellowship that first year students can apply for to fund their writing projects. Admitted students are also considered for University-wide fellowships.


For additional information, please contact:

Sarah Yunus
Department of English
Graduate Program Coordinator for the MFA Program in Creative Writing
(530) 752-2281