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Graduate Programs

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (code ENGLMF01)

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing is the recognized terminal degree which offers the minimum professional training deemed necessary by the major schools in the United States for university and college teaching and for positions in the publishing industry. It is also the degree most frequently held by professional writers.

Criteria for Admission to the Program

1. Students applying for admission to the MFA degree program generally have completed a bachelor's or master's degree in English from an accredited institution with a 3.2 GPA in upper-division English courses, meet university admission requirements, and submit evidence of creative ability in fiction or poetry (10 pages poetry, 20-30 pages fiction). For each annual cycle, applications are due by January 15, when review will begin.

2. When an undergraduate degree has been completed in a program having different requirements from those of CSULB or in some field other than English, additional preparation may be required before the student can be considered for classified status in the degree program.

3. At the time of the student's conditional classification into the program, an examining diagnostic committee consisting of at least two instructors in the student's field of specialization and at least one other faculty member must approve and evaluate the student's work no later than the end of his/her first full year in residence and judge whether the student should continue in the program.

4. In order to obtain a full classified status, the student must obtain satisfactory evaluation from his/her committee at the end of the first full year in residence. Both the student's coursework and the student's portfolio will be evaluated.

The appeals procedure for unfavorable portfolio evaluation is as follows:

If the student feels that his/her work has been unfairly evaluated, that student has recourse any time to discuss the matter informally with the MFA Coordinator in order to resolve the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved on that basis, the following procedure shall be followed:

  • A. The student shall present a written appeal to the MFA Coordinator.
  • B. Within ten (10) working days of receipt of a written appeal by a student, the MFA Coordinator shall refer the appeal to an ad hoc committee consisting of three tenured creative writing faculty not involved with the issue.
  • C. The committee shall meet in formal sessions holding hearings at separate times for the student and for the faculty involved to gather information and evidence relevant to the issue.
  • D. After deliberation, the committee shall present its findings to the MFA Coordinator within thirty (30) working days from the origination of the committee. (Working days do not include periods of time between semesters.)
  • E. The MFA Coordinator shall inform the concerned student in writing of the committee's decision.

5. Advancement to candidacy

  • A. Attain fully classified status.
  • B. Remove all undergraduate deficiencies as determined by the graduate advisor, the department chair, and the dean of graduate studies.
  • C. Fulfill the GWAR.
  • D. Submit a program of courses for approval by the student's faculty advisor.

6. Up to 24 units of credit from a Master of Arts program in Creative Writing may be acceptable after review and approval by the faculty evaluation committee.

7. Requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The MFA degree is a sixty-unit degree normally requiring full-time residency. Course requirements are arranged according to the following structure.

A. Core (39 units with a faculty advisor consultation):

  • Take one of the following:
    • ENGL 505A Seminar in Fiction Writing (4)
    • ENGL 505B Seminar in Fiction Writing (4)
  • or
    • ENGL 506A Seminar in Poetry Writing (4)
    • ENGL 506B Seminar in Poetry Writing (4)
  • Take one of the following:
    • ENGL 605A Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing (4)
    • ENGL 605B Advanced Seminar in Fiction Writing (4)
  • or
    • ENGL 606A Advanced Seminar in Poetry Writing (4)
    • ENGL 606B Advanced Seminar in Poetry Writing (4)
  • Take all of the following:
    • ENGL 590 Directed Reading (3)
    • ENGL 598 Directed Studies (1‑3)
    • ENGL 696 Sem in Literary Criticism and Research (4)
    • ENGL 698 Thesis (1‑6)
  • Electives (21 units chosen on the basis of consultation with a faculty advisor) chosen from the following:
    • ENGL 523, 526, 535, 537, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 558, 559, 562, 567A, 567B, 568, 574, 575, 576, 577A, 577B, 578, 652, 653, 655, 656, 657, 659, 672, 673, 674, 681; FEA 404; *THEA 380, *480.
      • * may be counted for graduate credit

B. Both fiction and poetry specializations share a common core of courses which offer study in literary history, theory, and research. The remainder of the courses offer students the opportunity to develop additional skills in their particular area of related interest. The program culminates in a major creative project (novel, short story collection, or poetry collection) of publishable quality.

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