The Master of Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year program with a focus on preparing students who are teaching or who want to teach creative writing and/or composition at the Community College level. The Master of Fine Arts is a three-year program and is considered the terminal degree in creative writing. California community colleges often prefer the M.A. degree over the M.F.A. and a number of M.A. students who also complete the English Composition Certificate acquire teaching positions in those disciplines at community colleges.
The M.A. degree, like the M.F.A., provides students with the inspiration and guidance of a faculty of professional writers in developing the student's own potential as a professional writer. The curriculum emphasizes the primary importance of the study and practice of imaginative writing in the genres of creative nonfiction, fiction, literary translation, playwriting, and poetry. The degree combines an intense workshop requirement and a variety of special topic creative process classes as well as courses that expose students to a wide range of writers and community service learning opportunities. The creative writing courses reflect our commitment to a variety of styles, subjects, and approaches, recognizing the complexity and breadth of contemporary writing. Graduates of the M.A. Program are instructed in literary analysis and develop their craft to constructively critique their own work and that of others. As a culminating experience, the student submits a thesis of creative work in their chosen genre.
In addition to the workshop and process courses, students in the M.A. in Creative Writing elect one of two teaching pathways. The pathway leading to an emphasis in teaching creative writing includes a rigorous course in the pedagogy and philosophy of teaching creative writing (TCW 860); a Teaching Practicum Course (859), in which the student gains in-class undergraduate teaching experience as a Graduate Instructional Aide while continuing their study of pedagogy with a seasoned faculty member and a group of peers; and, Projects in Teaching Creative Writing (785), a course that allows students to deepen their teaching experience as a Graduate Instructional Aide under faculty supervision. This teaching curriculum makes our M.A. unique within the nation of creative writing graduate degrees. The pathway leading to the teaching of composition allows students to earn the English Composition Certificate, offered by the English Department, by electing to take four courses (12 units) in English composition. Students on this path would earn an M.A. in Creative Writing along with the English Composition Certificate.
This course of study would lead students to a Masters of Arts degree in creative writing. The combination of workshop and process courses ensures that students would be prepared should they wish to continue on as an M.F.A. candidate in a creative writing program.
All students in the M.A. Creative Writing degree program would be eligible to apply for a Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA) position in their second year of study. A GTA is hired to teach a 101/301 Fundamentals of Creative Writing course. The GTA must be enrolled in at least one unit of study with the university to be eligible. Students in the M.A. also may apply for admission to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (54 units) either to switch to the terminal degree program or to complete both degrees, with a separate thesis for each. In no case will a student be admitted to both programs simultaneously.