Program Overview and Requirements


Academic Program Director: Mr. Frank Montesonti  *(858) 215 4579*

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing offers students the opportunity to master advanced skills in carrying out independent and sustained activity in creative writing in the areas of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting. Guided development of each writer s talents culminates in a final project, a publishable quality thesis in the area of specialty. This final project should demonstrate a critical application of specialist knowledge in the chosen specialty and should make an independent contribution to existing work in that area. This program is excellent preparation for a professional career in writing, working in the areas of publishing or filmmaking, and is the minimal academic qualification appropriate for those who desire to teach writing at the college or university level.

Faculty in the MFA in Creative Writing program maintain a strong commitment to scholarly value and the active support of students in their passion for literature, film and writing. Creative writing students are expected to make important contributions to the publication of the student literary journal, The GNU, and actively participate in seminars designed to foster creative and critical debate. Courses are directed to the refinement of creative practice and academic excellence. Faculty are experienced and published writers in their fields and offer supervision in the areas of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, and screenwriting.

Application Requirements To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the University graduate admission requirements listed in the general information. In addition, applicants in creative writing should submit portfolios of their writing directly to: The portfolio should include 20-40 pages of fiction or literary nonfiction (usually two to three short stories or essays), or 10-20 pages of poetry, or a completed screenplay, or a substantial sample of work in several forms.

Based on the portfolio, applicants may be advised to complete one or more of the following undergraduate courses prior to enrolling in the advanced writing workshops:

LIT 443 – World of the Short Story Prerequisite: LIT 100 LIT 446 – Studies in Poetry Prerequisite: LIT 100 LIT 450 – Studies in the Novel Prerequisite: LIT 100 LIT 456 – Studies in Drama Prerequisite: LIT 100

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate various aesthetic theories of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
  2. Formulate practical and theoretical models of teaching and learning the writing of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry and screenwriting.
  3. Critique specific works of literature and screenwriting.
  4. Develop publishable-quality writing in fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
  5. Evaluate different literary formats.
  6. Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, and language in the creation of fiction.
  7. Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, and language in the creation of literary nonfiction.
  8. Implement craft principles of language, style, themes, technique, rhythm, and form in the creation of poetry.
  9. Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, language, form, dialogue, and other issues of screenwriting.


(13 courses; 58.5 quarter units)To receive the MFA in Creative Writing, students must complete at least 58.5 quarter units; a total of 13.5 quarter units may be granted for equivalent work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree, and provided the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students should refer to the General Catalog section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding admission and evaluation.

Core Requirements (5 courses; 22.5 quarter units)
Students are required to take MCW 600 and MCW 610, one seminar in their chosen specialty, and two additional courses of their choice in different areas.

Core Requisite(s):
and choose three of the following courses:

Core Specialized Study (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
Students are expected to take a minimum of two seminars in their specialty. All advanced creative writing courses are conducted by teachers who are accomplished creative writers sensitive to the efforts of writing. Classes are conducted as workshops, with student work comprising much of the text for the course.
Core Requisite(s):

Elective Requirements (4 courses; 18 quarter units)

Core Requisite(s):
Approved courses (other courses may be approved by lead program faculty)
The remaining two electives may be from the above list, or additional MCW workshops that the student has not already taken as part of her/his specialized study. These include:

Thesis Courses (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
The thesis must be a mature, substantial body of work e.g. a collection of stories, essays, or poems, a novel, or a full-length screenplay. The thesis will include an aesthetic statement (minimum 2000 words) in which the writer discusses her/his evolution as an artist and the evolution of the work. The student will choose a mentor for the thesis, and will work with the mentor in an individualized manner, decided upon through conference with the mentor.
Core Requisite(s):

Language Requirement
There is no language requirement for this program. It is possible, however, to pursue a series of electives in a particular language when such study is demonstrably essential to the student’s creative work. The candidate must work out a specific program in conjunction with the lead program faculty.