Frequently Asked Questions for the Graduate Application
Please click on the following question to be taken to the answer on this page. If your question is not addressed on this page, please email Katherine Kwid at email@example.com.
I'm interested in a graduate degree in Creative Writing, but I'm not sure if the M.A. or the M.F.A. is right for me. What is the difference between the M.A. and the M.F.A.?
- The M.A. degree program is 30 semester units: 3-6 units (1-2 classes) of writing classes, 3-6 units of process classes, 3-6 units of special topic creative process courses, 9-12 units of teaching courses guided elective classes and a 3 unit thesis (written creative work); the time it takes to finish the M.A. program typically is two years, but you have up to seven years to complete the program. California community colleges typically want to hire people with an M.A. in English; this degree will increase your potential for obtaining a teaching position in 2 year colleges.
- The M.F.A. degree program is 54 semester units, with a fair amount of latitude in your choice between workshop, seminar and literature seminar classes (there is a required minimum of 2 M.F.A. workshops and 2 M.F.A. seminars) and a 6 unit thesis (written creative work): the time it takes to finish the M.F.A. program typically is three to four years, but again, you have up to seven years to complete the program. Four year university creative writing departments typically hire adjunct and permanent faculty with this degree. BOTH degrees will prepare you for application to Ph.D. programs.
- One way of getting a feel for the program beyond our bulletin requirements, is to attend an event, either at the SFSU Poetry Center or one of the many events listed on our public Facebook page (public - so you don't need to have a Facebook account to view all content, simply click on the "f" icon on the right-hand side of our webpage.)
What do I need in order to qualify for a graduate degree in Creative Writing?
- A bachelor's degree or a recognized equivalent from a regionally accredited institution (See the Bulletin for information regarding Applicants from Institutions Without Regional Accreditation).
- A satisfactory scholastic average; a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0.
- In good academic standing at the last college or university attended.
- Complete the application process outlined on the Graduate Application page; http://creativewriting.sfsu.edu/graduate-applications.
- Completing these steps does not guarantee entry to the program. A formal offer of admission will be sent to you by mail by the Division of Graduate Study after the decisions have been made.
I'm about to upload my supplementaly application materials that are requested by the Department of Creative Writing, but am concerned I may have forgotten something! What is supposed to be included?
- One manuscript sample of your work (appropriate submissions are detailed on the Graduate Applications page).
- One 500 word statement of purpose.
- Two letters of recommendation.
- Unofficial transcripts for each institution attended
I just got an email from the Division of Graduate Study that told me I am missing items for my application. I'm not sure what items are missing. How can I find that out?
- Open a browser (Internet Explorer is recommended for best function) to sfsu.edu.
- Click the Login link at the top of the page.
- Click SF Gateway.
- Enter your SFSU ID and your password. If you have forgotten your password, click the link below the login box.
- Click on Academics, under STUDENT.
- Click on the Student Center "button" in the bottom of the box in the middle of the page.
- On the right hand side, there is a "To Do List". You will find the items that are missing listed under the "To Do List".
I'm not sure who to ask for my letters of recommendations. What is the Admissions Committee looking for?
- Your options range widely, anywhere from a writer in the field of Creative Writing, to a teacher or professor of an unrelated subject who knows your study habits. People who can speak of your skills as a writer are preferred, but not necessary.
How many students are admitted to the Graduate Program each year?
- Our program admits between 30 and 50 Graduate students per year.
Can I apply for Spring Admission?
- No. Our admission dates are from October 1st to February 15th each year (unless extended), for the following Fall semester only. Students admitted for the fall semester may request to defer their admission for up to two semesters, if spring admission is desired.
Is the GRE required for admission to the Creative Writing Graduate Programs?
- No, the GRE is not required for the application to the Department of Creative Writing.
I'm not sure how to finance my education. Does SFSU offer any financial assistance?
- New students in both graduate programs are automatically considered for our three scholarships for new students: The Joe Brainard Fellowship (two or more prizes, amount varies between $1000-$5000), the William Dickey Fellowship in poetry (two prizes; amount varies between $500 – $2000), Miriam Ylvisaker Fellowship in Fiction (one prize; amount varies between $500-$1000 scholarship)
- The Kathryn A. Manoogian Scholarship (one prize; amount varies between $500 - $2000) is awarded to one graduate student, new or continuing, based on merit and financial need. A call for applications will be posted to our students at the beginning of the fall semester.
- For information on applying for financial aid, please contact the financial aid office; firstname.lastname@example.org. SFSU Financial Aid Office web page: http://www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/. Please be advised that it has come to our attention that California State University Grants, SUG, are available for only ONE graduate degree per student. If you have other questions about Financial Aid, including the SUG issue, you should probably email email@example.com.
- This website has information for international applications about U.S. Financial Aid eligibility requirements. http://studentaid.ed.cov/eligibility/non-us-citizens
- The Financial Aid Office at SFSU also has more information about other scholarships at http://www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/scholarships/.
- The University and national scholarships page is a resource web page that offers useful links, including information about how to make a one-on-one appointment with a fellowship advisor. Of special interest to graduate student is the Graduate Equity Fellowship.
There are approximately 3-5 teaching positions available to graduate students per academic year. It is by application in the Spring semester, for the coming academic year; minimum qualifications are classified graduate standing in either the SFSU Creative Writing M.F.A. or English, Creative Writing M.A. program; successful completion (grade B or better) of CW 860 Teaching Creative Writing. Successful completion of CW 859 Practicum in Teaching Creative Writing, a course which offers Graduate Instructional Aides (you assist in a class under the mentorship of the instructor of record for credit) an opportunity to practice, reflect upon, and revise teaching choices and strategies.
How much does it cost to be an M.F.A. or an M.A. student in Creative Writing?
CURRENT fees PER SEMESTER for graduate study at SFSU:
Part time, 6 units (2 courses) and under: $2,082
Anything over 6 units: $3,588
More information about California resident fees, see following website: https://bursar.sfsu.edu/content/spring-2020
Out of State/International, these fees are based on the California resident fees, plus $396 per unit:
- 3 Units (1 course): $2,082 + $1,188 = $3,270
- 6 units (2 courses): $2,082 + $2,276 = $4,458
- 9 units (3 courses): $3,588 + $4,458 = $8,046
(3 units x $396 = $1188; 6 units x $396= $2276; 9 units x $396= $4458)
How do I establish residency?
You can find basic guidelines on how to establish residency and find out if you are eligible on the Division of Graduate Studies webpage; http://grad.sfsu.edu/content/residency-information. Because neither campus nor Chancellor's Office staff may give advice on the application of these laws, applicants are strongly urged to review the materials for themselves and perhaps consult with a legal advisor.
You can defer your admission until the following spring or following fall semester to which you applied. This is a department deferral only. You will be required to submit a new application to the CSU mentor for the semester you would like to attend. You will not need to submit new letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, or writing sample, and the department will consider you accepted as soon as your application comes through. Please write to Katherine, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions.