Creative Writing, M.F.A.


Department of English

Kathleen Godfrey, Chair
Peters Business Building, Room 382
FAX: 559.278.7143

Degrees and Programs Offered

BA in English - English Education Option, B.A.
BA in English - Creative Writing Option, B.A.
BA in English - Literature Option, B.A.
CERT in Composition, Certificate of Adv. Study
CRED in Single Subject Credential - English
MA in English - Literature Option, M.A.
MA in English-Rhetoric and Writing Studies Option, M.A.
MFA in Creative Writing, M.F.A.
MN in English, Minor
MN in Creative Writing, Minor

Courses Offered

Certificate of Special Study in Creative Writing

English is a general major or minor designed to give proficiency in skills that traditionally have been among the most highly prized by society: an ability to read with comprehension and critical judgment; to communicate accurately and clearly both orally and in writing; to grasp difficult ideas and think logically; to do research and organize materials; to make ethical and moral judgments from an historical and humanistic framework; and to appreciate literature and the arts.

The core of the English major consists of four basic kinds of courses in the upper division: literary history courses, literary genre courses, literacy seminars, and writing courses. The masterpiece courses apply to the minor and may meet General Education requirements. The department also offers courses in mythology and folklore, methods of research, film, and women's studies.

The Subject Matter Program for teaching credential candidates contains a number of specific prerequisites and special required courses, some of which are outside the Department of English. For specific program requirements, consult with the credential adviser each semester.

Please note: The Composition Theory Option has been suspended as of May 2015.


Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Requirements

The M.F.A. in Creative Writing offers advanced degree training to talented students who wish to gain expertise in the writing of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. It assumes that, as in music or the visual arts, the best education for the artist includes: training in the history and traditions associated with the student's discipline, training in theoretical and formal approaches to the craft, and extensive practice with critique of student work by peers and faculty writers. The program combines studio and academic approaches, providing the student with substantial critical workshop experience and a solid background in theory and literature. In addition to a traditional literature based course of study, we offer the Emphasis in Publishing and Editing for those students who wish to gain professional training and experience in the field.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program requires: a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better in the undergraduate major (foreign students must score 600 or better on the TOEFL); three letters of recommendation from teachers, editors, or others familiar with the applicant's writing and academic skills; and a writing sample of the student's creative work (up to 10 poems or 20 pages of prose) to be evaluated by the creative writing admissions committee. The advanced GRE is not required.

Degree Requirements

In consultation with the M.F.A. adviser, each student prepares and submits a coherent program individually designed within one of the two following frameworks:

M.F.A. in Creative Writing

ENGL 261 or 263 or 265 (16 units)
ENGL 241, 243, or 245 (8 units)
(one course in the student's focus genre and one in either of the other two genres)
ENGL 250T or 280T (12 units)
Approved electives (upper-division or graduate level courses) (12-14 units)
ENGL 299 (Thesis) (4-6 units)
Total (54 units)

Note: At least 70% (38 units) of coursework must be at graduate (200) level.

M.F.A. in Creative Writing: Emphasis in Publishing and Editing

ENGL 261 or 263 or 265 (16 units)
ENGL 241, 243, or 245 (8 units)
(one course in the student's focus genre and one in either of the other two genres)
ENGL 250T or 280T (8 units)
ENGL 286S and/or ENGL 242 (8 units)
Approved electives (upper-division or graduate level courses) (8 -10 units)
ENGL 299 (Thesis) (4-6 units)
Total (54 units)

Note: At least 70% (38 units) of coursework must be at graduate (200) level.


Specific Requirements

Thesis. The thesis for the M.F.A. in Creative Writing consists of a single book-length manuscript of fiction, a collection of poems, or creative nonfiction that works together to make a unified body of work. The thesis committee works closely with the student on style as well as content; it adheres to a high standard of publishable quality work. In lieu of a formal defense, the graduating student is required to give a public reading from his or her work.

Graduate Writing Requirement. Before advancement to candidacy, the student must also satisfy the Graduate Writing Skills Requirement. This requirement is met by submission and approval of a sample of scholarly writing. (This is distinct from the sample of creative work required for program admission.) See English Department's Advising Booklet for more information.

Subject Examination. In addition to the general Graduate Division requirements, students are required to pass the M.F.A. exit examination with a grade of B or above. Each student works with his or her adviser to create a reading list which will be approved by a three member committee. The exam consists of essay questions that allow the student to demonstrate a theoretical and critical knowledge of the craft, through using texts from his or her approved reading list.



The English Department consists of 26 full-time faculty whose teaching fields cover every area of literary studies and the humanities, including film and folklore. Most of the faculty have published books, textbooks, and articles in their disciplines, five have received outstanding teaching awards at the university, and one has received an outstanding teaching award for the entire CSU system. In addition, the faculty includes a number of lecturers, part-time instructors and teaching assistants, and the department operates an English writing lab staffed by tutors trained to work with students on an individual basis.

For faculty phone numbers and e-mail, see the campus directory.

For more on the faculty, see the faculty pages.
The faculty pages are updated by the department or program.