MFA Program


Our Program and Literary Community

A 44 semester-unit, 2-year studio/research program: 

  • A dual-genre program with concentrations in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting/screenwriting.
  • Curriculum includes writing workshops in primary and secondary genres, literature seminars, professional training courses, and internships.  
  • Funding: 
    • First Year: All applicants are considered for six Graduate Steinbeck Fellowships. 
    • Second Year: Students can apply to be Teaching Associates in the English Department with a salary and tuition remittance.
  • Connie L. Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence. Don George, Andrew Sean Greer, Nayomi Munaweera, and Faith Adiele (Spring 2020). Past visitors include: Vendela Vida, Cristina García, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ishmael Reed, Kim Addonizio, Simon Winchester, Tim Cahill, and Daniel Alarcón.
  • Reed Magazine, the oldest student-run literary journal west of the Mississippi.
  • Center for Literary Arts holds readings, discussions, and master classes with writers of exceptional voice and vision in San Jose since 1986. Guests since 2007 include E.L. Doctorow, Denis Johnson, ZZ Packer, Mary Roach, Salman Rushdie, Tracy K. Smith, Juan Felipe Herrera, Joy Harjo, T. C. Boyle, Viet Thanh Nguyen, William Finnegan, Paul Beatty, Marilyn Chin (Fall 2019), and Jonathan Franzen (Fall 2019).


Fall 2020 admission will open October 1, 2019.

Admission is based on a writing sample in the primary genre, in which the student will complete a full-length thesis.  Students must declare a primary and a secondary genre to apply for admission. 

Important Dates for current MFA Students 

Sept. 1: Deadline for December 2020 Graduates to submit or reactive Graduation Application form to GAPE.

Sept. 11: Deadline for December 2020 graduates to submit MFA or MA Thesis completed draft to Thesis Director

Sept. 11: Deadline for December 2019 graduates to file or reactivate application for graduation with GAPE.

Sept. 17: Reed Magazine 150th Anniversary Issue Launch. 7:00 p.m.

Oct. 1: Deadline for May 2019 graduates to file Departmental Request for Candidacy form.

Oct. 2: Deadline for December 2020 graduates to submit MFA and MA theses to second and third readers.

Oct. 9: MFA Comprehensive Exam distributed (9 AM).

Oct. 12: MFA Comprehensive Exam due (5 PM).

Nov. 2: Deadline for May Graduates to submit signed thesis proposals to the Department Graduate Committee to be given permission to take ENGL 299 or 298D Thesis in Spring 2021.

Nov. 9 – 13: Creative Writing Week—online MFA workshops open to perspective MFAs to observe.

Nov. 9: Deadline for December 2020 graduates to submit thesis for review by Graduate Studies College. And to submit for 298D theses to the English Department.

Dec. 18: Last day to sign up for the Spring 2021 MFA Comprehensive Exam.

Jan. 11, 2021: Graduate Studies thesis publication and request for publishing embargo deadline. Or deadline for submitting Departmental Thesis for hardcopy publication.

Feb. 1, 2021: Deadline for May 2021 graduates to file or reactivate application
for graduation with GAPE.

Reading List

For the MFA exam you should be prepared to cite approximately 8 works in the primary (approximately 4 per essay) and 4 works in the secondary on our reading list.


Alan Soldofsky, Director of Creative Writing 
(408) 924-4432 
Faculty Offices 106