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 (covers in-state tuition). 
    • 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 admission opens October 1.

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. 

Why Choose Our MFA Program?

  • Be part of workshops and literature seminars (averaging 15-16 students) taught by actively publishing, available faculty
  • Courses are taught in-person and via online modalities, and are offered weekly in the late afternoons and evenings to fit your busy schedule.
  • Apply for a fellowship! All applicants are automatically eligible to be considered for one of six full in-state tuition Graduate Steinbeck Fellowships in their first year. 
  • Take advantage of a plethora of opportunities, such as joining the editorial staff of REED Magazine, an award-winning student-edited annual literary journal.
  • Become a teaching assistant. Teaching opportunities while completing the degree through the department’s Graduate Assistant and Teaching Associate programs.
  • Hear from renowned authors in events presented by the Center for Literary Arts and from our annual Lurie Visiting Author-in-Residence who teaches a graduate workshop each Spring. Come join our supportive literary and social community!

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.

Past MFA Events

From MFA Theses Readings to Legacy of Poetry, you can find recordings and slide decks from our past events!


Nick Taylor, Director of Creative Writing 
(408) 924-5087 
Faculty Offices 106