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Apr 2, 2010, 10:48 PM

Post #101 of 148 (24891 views)
Re: California MFA Programs Can't Post

Hi everyone. I have resigned myself to applying again this year and am compiling a list of California schools. Here's what I've come up with so far. If anyone could tell me if I'm missing a school, I'd appreciate it so much.

Sonoma State University (MA)
San Jose State
San Francisco State
University of San Francisco
St. Mary's College of California
Mills College
California College of the Arts
Antioch (low-res)
UC Davis (MA)
CSU Fresno
CSU Chico (MA)
Stanford (Stegner Fellowship)
UC Irvine
UC Riverside
UC San Diego
CSU Long Beach
CSU San Bernadino
San Diego State

Thanks in advance!

(This post was edited by ceeya on Apr 2, 2010, 10:55 PM)


Apr 2, 2010, 11:23 PM

Post #102 of 148 (24879 views)
Re: [ceeya] California MFA Programs Can't Post


California Institute of Integral Studies
National University
CSU Sacramento (MA)
CSU East Bay (MA)

(This post was edited by ceeya on Apr 2, 2010, 11:28 PM)


Apr 25, 2010, 8:44 PM

Post #103 of 148 (24503 views)
Re: [ceeya] California MFA Programs Can't Post


CSU Los Angeles (MA)


May 26, 2010, 9:03 PM

Post #104 of 148 (23829 views)
Re: [ceeya] California MFA Programs Can't Post

In addition:

Notre Dame de Namur University (MA)
Loyola Marymount University (MA)


May 28, 2010, 1:08 PM

Post #105 of 148 (23774 views)
Re: [murasaki] California MFA Programs Can't Post

There are great programs in Southern California certainly including UCI, UCR and Antioch. Decide what works best for your lifestyle and consider what you ultimately want to get from the program. My lifestyle required a low-residency program. I got accepted to Antioch LA, graduated this past December and thoroughly enjoyed the program, the mentors, and workshops. The reading lists each project period were versatile and definitely motivated me to move outside of my personal comfort zone in terms of my reading choices, which ultimately reflected on my writing. Research each program of interest, the MFA staff and their writing, as well as mentors from previous semesters/project periods. I incidently lived in San Diego and commuted to LA for my residencies. The residencies are intense but are also excellent creative periods throughout the program.


Jun 27, 2010, 10:41 PM

Post #106 of 148 (23219 views)
Re: [ceeya] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Hello everyone,

I'm semi-new here and have been researching schools to apply to this coming Fall for Fall 2011 admission. I am originally from California and I would love to go back. I've creeped around here and discovered that the Bay area is a great literary area, and it would be such a change from slow-paced Oklahoma. I would love some advice on the different programs in the California area! I am focusing on poetry.


Jun 28, 2010, 12:34 AM

Post #107 of 148 (23211 views)
Re: [Malory] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Hi Malory,

I know others here may skewer me for saying this, but CA is a surprisingly not-so-great place to do an MFA, even if it's a great place generally to just be a writer (i.e. outside the context of MFA programs and study). The only well-funded programs are Irvine (but lower-range stipend and very high cost of living), UCSD (new program, some dispute over whether it is fully funded or not), San Diego State (above average funding and reputation), and maybe Riverside at a stretch. Perhaps I'm forgetting another at the moment -- the point being, though, the West Coast is largely unfunded programs (only U. of Oregon, as to schools outside-CA-but-still-West-Coast, has full funding). Anyway, just an FYI -- if one wants to do an MFA in CA one is likely to have to pay through the teeth for it. Not so in the Midwest or South, where fully-funded programs more or less grow on trees. Best,



Jun 28, 2010, 12:47 AM

Post #108 of 148 (23208 views)
Re: [umass76] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Thanks for the information! I have a running list of schools to keep researching and California wasn't on my list, and since my roots are there I thought that I might as well check out what they offer. I will keep looking though...

Elissa Field

Jun 28, 2010, 1:18 PM

Post #109 of 148 (23163 views)
Re: [Malory] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Or, if you want to be in California and don't find a program, a number of people chose low-residency programs because you can write where you feel most at home/have your best writing inspirations and only be on campus only 1-2 weeks/semester. (but this does not submerge you in the school environment, and funding does not occur in the same way) Just a thought.


Jul 8, 2010, 6:09 PM

Post #110 of 148 (22971 views)
Re: [umass76] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Hi- I'm new here, but I applied to grad programs last fall and wanted to offer some insight into the CA situation.

I applied to, and was accepted by, UC Davis, UCSD, and the USC MPW program. (I also got into Notre Dame, but was pretty set on staying in CA.) These programs all offer funding of some sort, you just have to make sure you push for it.

UCSD originally gave me nothing in the way of funding, but once I told them where else I'd been accepted and what I'd been offered, they came back with a creative writing teaching position that came with tuition remission and a stipend not entirely impossible to live on. UC Davis offered a grant that covered about half the cost of tuition. USC offered an Assistant Lectureship position, which means I'll be teaching a freshman comp section and won't have to pay tuition. The stipend is fairly generous, more than what I think most schools offer, thanks to the cost of living in LA. I chose USC because of it's interdisciplinary focus, and because I couldn't pass up the chance to work with professional writers like Dana Goodyear and Janet Fitch. I also sat in on some classes there (Janet is amaazing) and spoke to the new head of the program, Brighde Mullen, who is incredible and brilliant (she's a playwright who graduated from Iowa and used to head up Harvard's undergrad creative writing program. She also taught at Brown.) I've lived in Los Angeles for three years, and have managed to find a thriving creative writing community. I'm looking forward to living and working post-grad school in the same place where I get my masters, something I wouldn't have wanted to do in a place like Fort Bend. I know USC's MPW doesn't have the greatest reputation, but I think that has to do with its leadership in the past. Things are definitely changing there.

USC also has a strong phD program whose resources, I've heard, are available to MPW students who take the initiative to seek them out. It's something to think about for those exploring their options in CA- if you can get funding, the MPW is a great option.

UCSD's MFA is also supposed to be great, especially if you're looking for a smaller cohort. It's fairly new, and they only accept 4 people every year. The head of that program is Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, who was just named one of the New Yorker's 20 under 40. The poet Rae Armantrout also teaches there.

In any event, the point of all this was to share my experience with CA MFA programs. The funding seems to be there if you look for it, and ask, so don't let money stop you from applying.


Jul 8, 2010, 7:44 PM

Post #111 of 148 (22959 views)
Re: [sarahsarah] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Just to piggy-back on what Sarah said... I don't think the question with either Davis or USC has ever been one of faculty or location, or even necessarily funding, but degree type -- it's not quite clear why USC thinks it's vital to offer an MPW rather than an MFA, creating significant doubts regarding terminality (not helped by the fact that the MPW isn't even the highest CW degree offered at USC, as Sarah noted), nor is it clear why Davis insists on remaining a non-terminal M.A. when it isn't that difficult to make the curricular changes necessary, and apply to the necessary agencies, to be recognized as an MFA program. I can't help but feel like someone's asleep at the switch there. In both instances the programs' rankings have suffered for the programs being non-terminal. At present the MFA remains the gold standard for CW degrees, though Sarah is absolutely right (if she was implying this) that if one intends on going on to a doctoral program, the difference between an MFA and MPW (or M.A.) suddenly becomes less significant. And USC's stellar faculty (coupled with the great writing community in L.A. that Sarah mentioned) has certainly made USC's CW Ph.D. one of the top targets of MFA graduates nationally.

If we're speaking only of MFA programs--which I suppose is what most folks here are looking at--I think we have to be clear that the West Coast is not a well funded region for MFA programs relative to its land-area size and population. There are only two undisputed fully-funded MFA programs, and both are on the low end of full funding when their already-low stipend is adjusted for cost of living (Oregon and Irvine). A host of California universities that should have MFA programs do not--USC, UCLA, Stanford, Davis, Berkeley, UC-Santa Cruz, UC-Santa Barbara--making California one of the "tardiest" areas of the country in terms of patching into the recent explosion in the popularity of the MFA degree. Several West Coast programs have unclear but possibly quite strong funding situations: Oregon State and UCSD have both been the subject of full-ranking "rumors" (i.e. some say they are, while some, such as Sarah, have experiences which suggest otherwise), and UC-Riverside and San Diego State could probably improve their rankings substantially if anyone at those universities knew sufficient HTML code to do applicants the courtesy of reciting their funding offerings online (though neither program is fully funded for all students).

Unfortunately some of the worst-funded programs in the U.S. are also on the West Coast, in fact a disproportionate number are: SFSU, USF, Mills, University of Washington, Portland State, CalArts, and California College of the Arts are among the worst offenders nationally in this regard (especially given the cost of living in their host locales). Then there are the programs no one knows anything about, which don't advertise themselves well or are new (Fresno State, UC-San Bernadino, and a few other programs in the California State system) and Saint Mary's, which is generally poorly funded but has at least tried to be creative and resourceful with its funding packages more than the programs listed above (the list starting with SFSU). So with only two undisputed fully-funded MFA programs on the entire West Coast of the United States, and both of these being among the less impressive fully-funded programs funding-wise, and with the best universities on the West Coast not even bothering to offer a creative writing MFA, I think it has to be said that--sadly--the West Coast is not the best place to look for MFA programs, even if (as with any program anywhere) there's always the chance that some infinitesimal percentage of admittees (5% to 15%) can get funding at any program one could name (but one would still have to consider the effect of the program's non-full-funding status on selectivity, i.e. cohort quality). I think UC-Davis and USC are good options for those who are going on to do a doctoral degree and/or for those who may apply to MFA programs afterward (though it's not clear whether USC's iffy terminality actually hurts students coming and going--in the sense that prospective employers might deem it non-terminal, even as MFA admissions committees deem it terminal and thus something that renders one an ineligible applicant).

Hopefully things in California will improve over the next few years and decades! UCLA in particular is just a total head-scratcher--it's amazing that they have some of the best MFA programs in areas other than creative writing, and then just no CW (fiction, poetry, or nonfiction) degree whatsoever.


(This post was edited by umass76 on Jul 8, 2010, 7:49 PM)


Sep 10, 2010, 6:00 PM

Post #112 of 148 (22666 views)
SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

Glad I found this thread... interesting read. Like a few posters, I am also in San Francisco and not willing to leave. I am older, 31, and have a house and SO, so that is just not happening.
The two that I have considered, and really the only two reputable options are San Francisco State, and University of San Francisco.
I have been working in a different field to pay the bills but my true love is writing. I went to Northwestern for Lit, and not to sound snobby or anything, but it might be a step down? As they say, it is often the last school you went to that counts on your Bio...
I am also not interested in teaching whatsoever (again here, willingness to relocate is not an option) I make adequate money as it is right now over the scarce possibilities in the Bay Area available, which surely others are more qualified and published than I. Mainly what I would be looking for is of course mentoring, writing advancement, novel completion, but primarily looking for networking and possible publishing contacts. I hear that agent and publishing type scenarios are not that great at either school, for better or worse.

I was just seeing if anybody thought those programs would be worth it in my situation? Or if I should just hone in on my own connections and attend some local writers groups instead?



Sep 10, 2010, 7:02 PM

Post #113 of 148 (22654 views)
Re: [umass76] California MFA Programs Can't Post

Anyone know what the deal is with the program at CIIS? It's an MFA in Creative Writing and Consciousness. Seth, I see that it's unranked in your rankings. Does this just mean there's not enough info on the program or it's just flat out not a good place to go?

Like you said, too, it's pretty strange that UCLA doesn't offer an MFA CW, especially considering that their Extension Writing Program is so well known. I'm taking classes there now and it seems like they could keep the same faculty and become an MFA program pretty easily. Of course, they'd have to pay them more!

Buy this book!

Sep 10, 2010, 7:07 PM

Post #114 of 148 (22651 views)
Re: [jd-] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

If what you want is networking and contacts, go to a few of the more selective workshops (Squaw Valley, Tin House, Bread Loaf, Sewanee) instead of an MFA program. Or insert yourself into the very active literary scene in the Bay Area. An MFA is a very expensive and iffy way of developing publishing contacts.

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Glinda Bamboo

Sep 10, 2010, 11:43 PM

Post #115 of 148 (22622 views)
Re: [jd-] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

RE: SF MFA sounds like a low-res MFA is right up your alley. You can't move, aren't that excited about the programs in your town, don't want to give up your job...and honestly, it doesn't sound like a great idea for you to quit your job and attend a local MFA program. Apply to the top low-res programs, where you should be able to get good mentors and networking opportunities. And I say this as someone who has zero interest in low-res programs; I just think in certain cases, they are great. If I were in your shoes, that's what I'd do.

Other than that, I second pongo....try the big conferences. There are lots of opportunities out there beyond MFA programs. Good luck.


Sep 11, 2010, 1:14 AM

Post #116 of 148 (22616 views)
Re: [jd-] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

I agree with everything that Glinda Bamboo said. +1 Check out Warren Wilson, Vermont College, etc.

(This post was edited by jmmacleod on Sep 11, 2010, 1:16 AM)


Sep 20, 2010, 12:27 PM

Post #117 of 148 (22502 views)
Re: [jmmacleod] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

Does anybody know much about the USF MFA program? I see it has an odd summer pre session, which kind of messes things up if I were to go.

Thanks for the comments, I am still of course considering it :)

It isn't clear about the teaching component at USF, it would be nice to get an adjunct at a CC for instance afterwards.

USF is actually night classes, so it WOULD work, assuming that I got in. SF State is a day program and is farther away from me.



Sep 20, 2010, 2:16 PM

Post #118 of 148 (22492 views)
Re: [jd-] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

Hi, I'm new to being here and wanted to chime in on Antioch University LA--the low res program. I completed their program in 2005 and am THRILLED that I went with them. I had a choice between Antioch, Warren Wilson and Goddard and after much deliberation, went with Antioch and have never once regretted it. They have a fantastic "cohort" style program (which my friend Joan is using now on her site to help writers get writing in just a few easy steps) that puts students into a group that you can communicate with even when you're not in your residency period. In fact, several of us still communicate and encourage each other all these years later. The teachers are fabulous and the program allows you the flexibility of continuing with your current life while working on this degree. Also, they have a teaching add-on certificate which is great for anyone thinking of teaching college who doesn't have actual teaching experience. Thanks for reading!


Oct 26, 2010, 11:40 PM

Post #119 of 148 (22142 views)
Re: [pongo] SF MFA Programs... Can't Post

Just to piggy-back I'd say go where you'd like but keep in mind that if you write a good novel that gets picked up by a good literary agency and then put out by a good publisher, then it won't matter very much which MFA program you attended. I'm referring to literary fiction and the weight that publication carries in the job market. In my experience (as a fiction writer) it's what you do with your writing--where you publish, how seriously you work at it--that matters.

Don't get me wrong: you need the MFA (or, even better, the CW PhD) for a job in academia, but it's what you accomplish that will matter most. And I do get the point that we want to learn from the best, but it's also true that the writers we think are great can be (sadly) the worst--and least helpful--teachers. I don't think we can blame them fully for it when that turns out to be the case--they're focused on writing and publishing, as should we.


Nov 17, 2010, 1:22 AM

Post #120 of 148 (21980 views)
Re: [umass76] California MFA Programs Can't Post

I currently live in the Bay Area of CA and am also having trouble finding a good program that is well-funded or affordable and is well-recommended. I've heard the state schools like SF state were pretty good but have recently gone downhill because the state schools in general have gone downhilldue to budget cuts, thus making class size larger, faculty minimal, and funding very limited. I am open to leave CA if necessary but having lived in CA my whole life near big cities (grew up in LA and have lived in the Bay Area for the past 10 years) probably need to be in a liberal/progressive metropolitan area, so I've been looking in the NY area too. I like NYU's program but they don't have 100% funding and their program and cost of living is steep.

Any recommendations?
Here are my priorities:
1. Quality of program/ reputation/ supportive and structured environment/ good faculty (makes me a better writer and helps get my foot in the door)
2. Funding- either low cost tutition or well funded stipends/fellowships
3. Location (see above)- if they're in CA that would be ideal but any progressive metropolitan area would be great
4. Preparation for university teaching (I currently teach high school English but have always wanted to teach at the college/university level)

Oh and as for my background- I am unpublished and my focus would be literary fiction. I have a BA in English, CA Teaching credential in English, and MA in Education all from UC Berkeley.


Dec 2, 2010, 5:35 AM

Post #121 of 148 (21834 views)
Re: California MFA Programs Can't Post

Does anyone know anything about the UCSD MFA program? Just applied yesterday.

What's the atmosphere and cohort like? Is the faculty open to poetry that isn't really 'experimental'? How's the cost of living and public transport?


Jun 11, 2012, 2:42 AM

Post #122 of 148 (19110 views)
Re: [trufflepuff] California MFA Programs Can't Post

If anyone wants to know what UCSD is like please message me! I went there for 4 quarters (not a good fit) but I'll try not to be biased when giving out info on the program.
I'm starting UCR this fall so if you'd like to hear about that program feel free to message me then.


Jun 18, 2012, 11:22 AM

Post #123 of 148 (19041 views)
Re: [tayjay] Irvine's 3.0 minimum GPA Can't Post

Hi all,

I'm getting ready to submit applications for the 2013 school year and wondered if folks could share their knowledge about the following programs:

UC Irvine
UC Riverside

I'm in my mid-30s, have a child, and I'm really looking for a place where I can vastly improve my writing and complete my novel. I guess I'm looking for a studio program if I had to be choosy. I also worry I'll be quite a bit older than other students, but I don't know if that fear has basis in reality.

Thanks so much for the insight and information!


Jun 19, 2012, 4:34 AM

Post #124 of 148 (19014 views)
Re: [writergal] Irvine's 3.0 minimum GPA Can't Post

You can also try this group:

(This post was edited by ACSN on Jun 19, 2012, 4:36 AM)

Tony Baker

Oct 20, 2013, 5:04 PM

Post #125 of 148 (13047 views)
U.C. Irvine Can't Post

I'm curious about the funding situation at Irvine - I've heard it's 17k a year, but how livable is that in the greater LA area? Also, and sort of off-topic: someone mention Oregon State upthread. I've looked into their program recently and am currently planning on applying there, and they do state on their website that they are a fully funded program, though tracking down info on stipends is a bit of a slog: I believe I figured out they were around 10-11k a year.

Mercy is the mark of a great man.

I guess I'm just a good man.

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