The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program offers graduate students an intimate, personalized learning experience while taking advantage of San Francisco’s vibrant, eclectic literary scene. Founded in 1986, the program is designed to instruct writers in creative techniques, nurture their individual development and vision, and help them thrive in the larger community of writers.
Our two-and-a-half year program offers workshops and literature seminars in the genres of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The distinctive design of the program emphasizes the connection between reading and the students’ own writing and fosters collegial relationships among faculty and students in small classes. All courses are taught by accomplished practicing writers, so that both literature seminars and workshops pay detailed attention to craft.
Because cross-fertilization enriches creativity, students are free to take courses outside their primary genre and sample a range of cross-genre literature seminars. Because depth of understanding is crucial to successful writing, students also take seminars and workshops that focus exclusively on one genre — long fiction, short fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. Students’ work culminates in a creative thesis — a book-length manuscript that is conceived, composed, and revised with extensive faculty mentoring.
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Each year, we provide a small number of fellowships on a competitive basis. They are awarded to the top candidates in each genre. All applicants are automatically considered for a Graduate Fellowship; no separate application is needed. You will learn of any fellowship award at the time we notify you of your acceptance to the program.
Recent graduates of the MFA program can apply to teach the Introduction to Creative Writing for Non-majors course offered by the undergraduate English Department. The fellow will teach craft fundamentals to students at a beginning level, drawing on literary models in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction; provide creative prompts for student writing and helpful feedback on student work; and foster engagement with literature and creative writing.
This fellowship honors Lawrence Ferlinghetti who published and supported the work of writers who were outsiders―outside traditional academia or traditional social conventions. In his long career, Ferlinghetti has been a staunch proponent of First Amendment rights, including free speech. This fellowship, which provides full tuition funding, is awarded bi-annually to an applicant in poetry whose work embodies a concern for social justice and freedom of expression, interpreted in the broadest possible way. January 15, 2019.
The Zivic Fellowship, named after MFA alumna Jan Zivic, recognizes and supports an outstanding fiction or nonfiction student currently in the MFA program. To be considered, students must submit a writing sample and a one page statement to the MFA program. The fellowship is distributed in the fall semester of the student's second year.
The MFA in Writing Program, in conjunction with the undergraduate English department, offers several teaching assistantships to qualified students. Current students can apply for available assistantships. There are usually 8-12 positions per semester.
The MFA program in photography and related media emphasizes a broad interpretation of photography as a conceptual art form, with the intention of inspiring and nurturing the individuality of each student as a creative, productive artist. The program encourages graduate study in photography and related media as a means to personal, aesthetic, intellectual, and career development.
The curriculum provides a focus of study that is continually sensitive to the needs of each student, building upon the strengths each individual brings to the program. Successful completion of the program enables students to seek careers in fields including education, museum or gallery work, or as self-employed visual artists.
The program provides students with the opportunity to use the still and moving image as a means to:
Distribution of work within these guidelines is subject to modification based upon the candidate’s background, abilities, and interests. An individualized course of study is prepared with the advice of the graduate faculty and made a matter of record. Modifications in this prescribed program thereafter must be approved and recorded.
Elective courses are available in areas such as, but not limited to, video, printmaking, painting, sculpture, communication design, crafts, bookmaking, graphic design, new media, computer graphics, art history, and archival preservation and conservation. A complete list of graduate electives is available through the student's adviser. There are also graduate electives offered throughout the university. Students also have opportunities to enhance their studies through independent studies and internships.
Matriculation from the MFA program is obtained when the student has completed and mounted their graduate thesis exhibition, successfully passed their thesis defense, and submitted their thesis publication. The thesis must be an original body of work appropriate to the major commitment of the degree. The thesis publication is a professional, published presentation of the thesis project, which must be submitted, in both print and digital form. It must contain an extended artist statement and a presentation of the majority of thesis artwork. It is prepared for inclusion in the Wallace Library, the School's Archive, and the Graduate Annex Space. The verbal defense requires a public address by the student, discussion of the thesis project, and exhibition in a digital presentation format.
The MFA program in photography and related media and the BFA program in photographic and imaging arts are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).