SDSU, Hepner Hall

About Our Program

Our three-year program is designed to allow students the space and support to immerse themselves in an in-depth study of their chosen genre, Fiction or Poetry. Along the way, there is room for cross-genre study, community involvement, research, and an ever-evolving dialogue with their thesis chair.

Our goal for each of our students is that they produce a manuscript of fresh and imaginative writing that they can be proud to take into the world. Happily, students have gone on to publish their books, win national grants and awards for their writing, attract agents and receive book contracts while still in the program. 

We prepare students for a career in writing, as well as teaching if desired. With training from pedagogy courses, students are selected on a competitive basis as Graduate Teaching Associates (GTA) to teach Rhetoric and Writing classes as well as Introduction to Creative Writing, a practice that has helped alumni land positions at top universities and community colleges.

Global Outreach

Our program is unique because of its geographic location and also because many of our faculty members are interested in international literature and literary translation; several have published acclaimed anthologies of international literature and works in translation. Their works have been translated into other languages as well. Internationally acclaimed authors from around the world visit each year. Our students have unique opportunities to learn about international literature from writers from Macedonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Jamaica, Israel/Palestine, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and elsewhere. 

Our students have received Fulbright Fellowships to places such as Brazil, Austria, Poland, Romania, and numerous other countries, and gone on to receive National Endowment for the Arts in Translation Fellowships while still enrolled in SDSU's MFA program. Students have published books of translation with respected literary presses, and their works have won them such prestigious awards as the Lannan Residency Fellowship. Their translations appear in reputed journals, including The New Yorker, World Literature Today, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere.

In addition to meeting the requirements for classified graduate standing, candidates for the MFA. in Creative Writing must complete a 54-unit graduate program, 39 of which must be in courses numbered 600 and above as follows:

1. Creative Writing Research Focus

Select one 24-unit research focus as follows:

A. Fiction
  • 18 units of ENGL 750F
  • 6 units in another genre of creative writing
B. Poetry
  • 18 units of ENGL 750P
  • 6 units in another genre of creative writing

2. Literature Research

An 18-unit literature research component divided as follows:

A. Three units selected from the following:
  • ENGL 630Form and Theory of Poetry (3); required for "Poetry" students
  • ENGL 631Form and Theory of Fiction (3); required for "Fiction" students
B. Nine units in American, British, or comparative literature, or an appropriate modern language literature selected with the approval of the M.F.A. adviser.

C. Six units selected from the following:
  • ENGL 700 Seminar: A Major Author or Authors (3)
  • ENGL 724 Seminar: Issues in British Literature (3)
  • ENGL 725 Seminar: Issues in Literature of the United States (3)
  • ENGL 726 Seminar: Issues in Comparative Literature (3)
  • ENGL 727 Seminar: Issues in Children’s Literature (3)
  • ENGL 730 Seminar: Perspectives in Critical Analysis (3)
  • ENGL 784 Seminar: Creative Non-Fiction (3)
  • ENGL 796 Internship (3) OR ENGL 798 Special Study (3) with consent of instructor

3. Electives

6-units of electives selected with the consent of an advisor.

4. Manuscript Preparation

6-units for research, writing and revision of a book-length manuscript.

DLO 1: Develop skills in writing, editing, and revision in the student's primary literary genre.

DLO 2: Make evident reading knowledge of classical and contemporary literature and determine how the student's own work fits within a literary tradition.

DLO 3: Exhibit the ability to read and respond thoughtfully and critically to work by other MFA students.

DLO 4: Indicate understanding of the theory and practice of literary publishing, including the practice of submitting work to literary journals and/or to quality trade book publishers.

DLO 5: Cultivate a professional identity in terms of self-presentation in both written and oral forms to include reading work aloud at public venues, interviewing other writers, attending outside readings, writing book reviews, and organizing literary events.

DLO 6: Write a polished creative manuscript (120 pages of fiction or 48 pages of poetry) of marketable quality and publicly present (orally) an excerpt from it.

DLO 7: Demonstrate readiness for finding employment in various professional fields, such as education, journalism, public relations, publishing, and technical writing. 

On a competitive basis, many different forms of Financial Aid are made available for our MFA Creative Writing students.

Tutorships, TA-ships, Assistantships and Teaching Positions

  • Many of our students apply to work as Writing Mentors in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies (RWS) in their first semester. Mentors are hired to work with a faculty member as a mentor in the classroom. Mentors play an important role in the class by leading discussion groups and helping students work on assignments.
  • After their first semester, and once they have successfully completed RWS 609, many of our students apply for a Graduate Teaching Associateship position in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies. The position offers exciting opportunities for financial support and teaching experience. Teaching Associates are hired to teach one or two developmental or general education writing courses (RWS 92A, 100 or 200).
  • In their final year of study, our students also apply to teach literature classes in the English Department (English 220) and Creative Writing Program (English 280). These positions offer financial support and the opportunity to teach literature and creative writing.
  • Our nationally-distributed literary journals, Poetry International and Fiction International, also offer paid Editorial Assistantships to qualified second or third-year students. These assistantships offer financial support and allow students to work for journals that publish some of the nation’s most influential authors.
  • The Department of English and Comparative Literature hires a limited number of Assistants and English Fellows during each academic year. For more information about these opportunities, you may inquire at: [email protected].

Fellowships and Awards


To speak with the Director/Graduate Adviser of the MFA Program in Creative Writing, please make an appointment directly with the faculty:

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