M.F.A. Admission Requirements

The application process is entirely online. Applicants must submit to San José State University, via Cal State Apply, your application documents along with your application fee. The deadline for applications to be submitted is March 1. Incomplete applications cannot be considered for admission.

1. Writing Sample

The writing sample, the most heavily weighted component of the application, should comprise no more than 25 pages of writing in the genre in which you are applying (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry). Please indicate the genre on the first page of the writing sample. The writing sample should include original work that demonstrates your talents and interests as a writer. Do not send collaborative work, such as edited pieces for newspapers, because these might not accurately represent your own work. Prose should be double-spaced, and all writing samples should be set in 12 pt. type.

You may submit:

  • 10-15 pages of poetry (single-spaced), or
  • Two short stories or excerpt from novel (25 pages, double-spaced), or
  • Two short essays of creative nonfiction (25 pages, double-spaced), or
  • A complete short play script or screenplay, or an excerpt for a full length play script or screenplay (25 pages).

(Please note: Applicants are welcome to submit portfolios containing more than one genre.)

2. Personal Statement:

In no more than three pages, tell us about your ambitions as a writer — the kinds of subjects or themes you're drawn to, writers or movements you've found influential, your strengths and weaknesses, or anything else that might give us a sense of your work. Explain how your writing sample gives evidence of your interests and goals. Also please discuss your goals for your writing during your time as an MFA student. The Statement should be double-spaced and set in 12 pt. type.

3. Three letters of recommendation:

Your letters of recommendation should come from current or former professors, editors, or individuals who can comment on your academic work and creative potential. Letters should be written on faculty or professional letterhead. Follow the instructions in the online application to provide the contact information for your recommenders (evaluators). You may submit your application before your recommenders upload their letters.

Three letters of recommendation are required. You can request these letters through the Program Materials (Quadrant 4) of your Cal State Apply application. Be sure to follow the detailed instructions.

4. Official Transcripts:

All mailed transcripts must be sealed and unopened to be accepted as official documents. If your university offers official electronic transcripts, we will also accept this method of delivery. If you are currently an undergraduate student at SJSU, you do not have to submit SJSU transcripts with your Graduate School application.

Transcripts sent by mail, should be sent to:

Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0017

If your University requires an email to send an official, electronic transcript, please send to: etranscript@sjsu.edu

Submit transcripts from ALL schools attended (even if you did not get your degree). Transcripts from any transfer schools and study abroad programs must be submitted. If still enrolled in your Bachelor's program, submit a copy of your transcript showing in-progress courses. If admitted, another official transcript with proof of graduation is required.

5. Credits in Related Field:

Applicants should have an undergraduate major or minor in English or Creative Writing, or a minimum of 12 credit hours in literature and/or creative writing, with a grade point average of 3.0 or above. These requirements can be customized by the MFA director on an individual basis.

6. Graduate School Application:

Like most universities, you must apply for admission as a graduate student when you apply to the Creative Writing Program. Failure to complete this application can delay acceptance. GRE scores are not required for admission to the Creative Writing Program.

All supporting documents must be received by March 20.  

Be sure to follow all directions and submit your application by March 1 to: Cal State Apply

Contact Information:

San José State University
Alan Soldofsky, MFA Director
English Department
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0090

Phone: 408-924-4425
Email: english@sjsu.edu

Notification of Admission Decision

The application review starts after the March 1 date. Admission decision notification begins in late March and continues through April.


Fulfillment of the above constitutes the minimum requirements and does not guarantee admission to the Creative Writing Program. In general, we are seeking candidates who show an artistic commitment and literary promise in their writing. The most important factor in evaluating applicants is the quality and potential of the portfolio. With this in mind, applicants should take great care in preparing a manuscript, which represents the writer's finest work.