Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in California

Apr 06, 2019

A variety of MFA programs in creative writing are available in the state of California. They offer instruction in different genres and mediums, but all are designed to further a student's writing skills. Keep reading to find out more details about five of the programs in this state.

Many MFA creative writing programs are designed for individuals who are looking to publish work professionally, or for students who are interested in teaching at a college. Various characteristics contribute to the strength of these featured California creative writing MFA programs and make them stand out from the rest. Those qualities include faculty member publication histories, small class sizes, author presentations, mentoring programs, and instruction in a wide range of genres and mediums.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

California Schools Offering MFA Programs in Creative Writing

University of California-Irvine

The University of California-Irvine provides a program that encourages students to work hard toward their writing goals. This MFA is a two- to three-year program, which has distinguished writers on the faculty, including a variety of authors known for their novels, poetry, and nonfiction works.

The core of this program consists of writing workshops focusing around fiction and poetry. Only a small number of students are accepted each year because it is important for each student to get one-on-one time with faculty members.

California College of the Arts

The MFA at California College of the Arts is a two-year program that encourages a variety of different writing forms, including memoirs, short stories, and creative nonfiction pieces. Students also have the opportunity to explore other visual art that can be incorporated into their work, such as film and sculpture.

This program takes place on the main San Francisco campus, where MFA students have access to the Writer's Studio, which often hosts presentations by well-known writers. Students receive regular feedback on their work, both from writing workshops and meetings with full-time faculty members. This program allows a great deal of collaboration and workshops, which are necessary to all writers.

California State University, Long Beach

This full-time program takes two years to complete and consists of 48 units of coursework. The MFA faculty consists of four fiction writers and four poets. Writing workshops are held in rotations, so each student will get to work with each faculty member at least once. This degree is primarily for students looking to publish for a wide range of outlets, as well as for students who wish to teach at a post-secondary level.

The personal one-on-one interactions with faculty is an important factor in this program. Students need the chance to spend time with faculty of all different backgrounds and writing styles who can give them different points of view on their work.

Mount Saint Mary's University

Mount Saint Mary's University's two-year, 36-unit MFA program is training for students who are interested in writing professionally. This Catholic college is located in Los Angeles, and the MFA program offers instruction in a variety of mediums, such as novels, short stories, poetry, and screenplays. Mount Saint Mary's offers continued mentoring to help students prepare for the publication market. This program meets every other weekend, six times a semester, so that students can attend school and keep their other commitments.

University of California-Riverside

This two-year MFA program includes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, and playwriting. The program consists of writing workshops in different genres, resulting in a final project that showcases each writer's talents. This final project can be in the form of a poetry collection, novel, short story collection, memoir, essay collection, screenplay, or full-length play. In this MFA program, students are required to major in one genre, but are encouraged to explore different genres throughout the program, as well.

Program Admittance Requirements

To apply for these programs, a transcript from a previous bachelor's degree is required. Generally, the degree and GPA are not limiting factors, but some of the programs do require a 3.0 GPA or higher to be considered. Individuals should prepare at least three letters of recommendation, as most programs require those as well. Most MFA programs also require a sample of the applicant's writing. The genres and mediums accepted for those samples could vary based on the program.

Schools offering creative writing MFA programs in California are located throughout the state. Through these two- or three-year programs, students can gain skills in a variety of different mediums and possibly go on to publish work professionally or to teach at a post-secondary level.


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