Your frequently asked questions, answered.
- How many applicants are admitted each year?
- Is your application deadline hard and fast? Do you allow students to enter in the spring as well as the fall?
- When are acceptances announced?
- I am an international student. How can I apply?
- I am assembling my writing sample and wanted to gauge whether it was best to submit new work, published work or a mix.
- I'm wondering if the letters of recommendation should be geared more toward my work as a writer, how I would be as a workshop participant, or how I am as a student?
- Would more than two letters of recommendation or publications help my chances?
- What if I am interested in applying to more than one genre?
- What if I am accepted to more than one genre?
- If I have an undergraduate or post graduate degree in economics, business or science, it is possible to apply to an MFA in creative writing?
- How important is my undergraduate GPA?
- What if I don’t have an undergraduate degree?
- Can you tell me more about the dual-concentration option?
- How can I apply for the dual concentration?
- How can I waive my application fee?
- When are scholarships announced?
- What are my funding options?
- How much is tuition?
- What is the entire cost of attendance?
- Does the typical time of day that Saint Mary's offers graduate classes usually enable people who work during the day to still keep their job?
- What are the program requirements?
- Can a student concentrating in Fiction take a Poetry workshop or other Poetry course?
- How big are your classes?
- If I am accepted to the program, can I choose to defer my enrollment?
- What happens to my scholarships/fellowship if my petition to defer my enrollment is granted?
- Is your student body diverse?
- I’m attracted to Saint Mary’s because of its Lasallian tradition. Could you tell me about these opportunities?
- I am a Christian interested in your program. Are all your faculty and students Christians?
- How can I get a better feel for the Saint Mary’s culture?
How many applicants are admitted each year?
We admit no more than eight new students in each genre (creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry) every year. The program is cohort based with no more than sixteen students in each genre.
Is your application deadline hard and fast?
Yes, the application deadline for fall admission is January 31. If you have missed the deadline please contact the Coordinator as soon as possible. We would certainly welcome your application materials for the following year.
Do you allow students to enter in the spring as well as the fall?
Students are admitted in the fall semester only.
When are acceptances announced?
Acceptances are announced mid to late-march at the earliest.
I am an international student. How can I apply?
International applicants must submit all the same application materials as national applicants. There are additional requirements for our international applicants, and you can find out more about these on our Application Checklist page.
I am assembling my writing sample and wanted to gauge whether it was best to submit new work, published work or a mix?
The writing sample is most important part of the application. We encourage applicants to send their best work. The admissions committee won't consider whether or not your sample has been published, whether it is new or old—they base their decision on the quality of your work.
I'm wondering if the letters of recommendation should be geared more toward my work as a writer, how I would be as a workshop participant, or how I am as a student?
Letters of recommendation typically address the applicant’s creative work and your potential for success in a graduate creative writing program. Sometimes these types of letter writers are not available to an applicant or an applicant may want letters to address both their creative work and their professional capabilities (i.e., a letter written by a former employer). It is ideal for letters to address your potential success as a graduate student.
Would more than two letters of recommendation or publications help my chances?
We require a minimum of two letters of recommendation and do not accept more than three. While it’s always wonderful to know more about you, additional letters of recommendation will not affect your chances of admission.
What if I am interested in applying to more than one genre?
Applying to more than one genre is an option. If you are applying to more than one genre you must submit one manuscript in each genre and clearly indicate on the manuscript itself which genre it pertains to (see online application).
Ideally, your personal statement will also address your abilities and experiences with regard to both genres.
For more information, please take a look at our Application Checklist.
What if I am accepted to more than one genre?
If you are accepted to more than one genre you will need to decide which genre you’d like to pursue. You cannot switch genres after admission under any circumstances.
If I have an undergraduate or post graduate degree in economics, business or science, it is possible to apply to an MFA in creative writing?
Yes! We celebrate diversity and encourage applicants from all educational and professional backgrounds to apply.
How important is my undergraduate GPA?
The admissions committee will look at your transcripts to determine that you have completed an undergraduate degree and are in good academic standing. Unlike other graduate-level programs, the MFA in creative writing puts more importance on the writing sample and personal statement.
What if I don’t have an undergraduate degree?
If you do not have an undergraduate degree we would still encourage you to apply. While most of our applicants do posses an undergraduate degree from a four-year college or university, there are a handful that do not. We will accept applicants who do not have a four-year degree and have processes in place to determine qualifications based on experience. This is handled on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Coordinator for further details.
Can you tell me more about the dual-concentration option?
If you are interested in deepening your study in another genre after completing two years in the program, you may consider applying to the dual-concentration. This is a unique opportunity afforded to very few students. Dual-concentration applicants will complete an additional, accelerated year of study in the second genre of their choosing. In one year they will complete a new thesis in that genre, as well as all relevant course work.
Dual-concentration students will graduate from the MFA and participate in graduation ceremonies upon completion of their third year.
How can I apply for the dual concentration?
You can apply for the dual concentration in the spring of your second year (fourth semester). This is a partial application process where you submit 1) a writing sample in the new genre 2) a personal statement 3) a dual-concentration interest form where a supporting faculty member will endorse you. These materials need to be submitted to the Coordinator by the January 31 application deadline. Applicants do not need to complete an online application or pay the $50 application fee. A student interested in the dual concentration will likely have taken craft courses in that genre during their previous two years in the program. This option would incur an additional year of tuition.
How can I waive my application fee?
We have an annual Open House and Happy Hour in January. This year’s event will be on Tuesday, January 13, 2016 at 6:30pm on the Saint Mary’s campus in Moraga. When you attend the open house you will be able to fill out a form to waive your $50 application fee.
Click here to RSVP to the 2016 Saint Mary’s MFA Open House and Information Session.
Funding & Financial Aid
All applicants are automatically considered for the Program's merit-based scholarships by way of their application materials. No additional materials are required. In 2014-2015, every accepted applicant received some scholarship award. Currently, our largest scholarships equal half of one year's tuition. Two of these scholarships are awarded in each genre. All other scholarship amounts vary.
When are scholarships announced?
Scholarships are announced after March 30. We work year round to raise scholarship monies and it is common for amounts to change for the better between the time of acceptance and the first day of classes.
What are my funding options?
Funding is always a crucial component to consider when applying to MFA's. While we are not a fully funded program, all of our students receive some form of scholarship during their two years in the program. Also, every second-year student receives one stipend-based internship in the amount of $2,000.
Federal unsubsidized graduate student loans are available to all students. You’ll want to be sure to complete a FAFSA and a Saint Mary’s application for financial aid. You can find out more about federal graduate student loans on the financial aid website.
Additionally, there are many campus jobs, including the opportunity to work in our writing center, and other grants associated with the college at large and other outside funding opportunities that are available to our graduate students.
How much is tuition?
$20,526 for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Courses & Curricululm
Does the typical time of day that Saint Mary's offers graduate classes usually enable people who work during the day to still keep their job?
In the first semester the program holds classes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Every semester after the first classes are held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; we never hold classes on Friday. Typically, classes are held in the late afternoon (3p or 4:30p to around 4:30p or 7p). Workshop is held on Wednesdays from 4p to 7:15p all four semesters. The Foundations in Contemporary Literature course meets on Monday in the first semester only from 6p-9:15p.
Many of our students hold down jobs and are able to maintain their academic, professional, and personal schedules while in the program.
What are the program requirements?
You can find out more about our curriculum on our website. To graduate we require:
• 4 Writing Workshops (including tutorial focus in the genre)
• Foundations of Contemporary Literature
• Contemporary Creative Nonfiction/or Fiction/or Poetry
• 2 Craft Seminars in Creative Nonfiction/or Fiction/or Poetry
• 2 Electives
• 1 Thesis
Can a student concentrating in Fiction take a Poetry workshop or other Poetry course?
Yes, you may take craft courses outside of your genre. Unfortunately, students are not allowed to take workshops outside of their genre. Any craft course taken outside of your genre will satisfy one elective credit.
How big are your classes?
Our class sizes are small that allow students and faculty have the time and attention to shape meaningful creative relationships. This is one the very special aspects of our program. Class sizes will typically be no larger than sixteen students.
If I am accepted to the program, can I choose to defer my enrollment?
If you are accepted to the program the option to defer for one academic year is a possibility. The admissions committee handles requests for deferment on a case-by-case basis.
To request a deferment you must file a Petition for Special Action. If your deferment is granted a tuition deposit will be due approximately one month from the decision date.
Please note there is no guarantee your petition to defer enrollment will be granted. You will be notified in writing of your deferment decision. Most importantly, deferments are granted for only one academic year and can only be requested once.
What happens to my scholarships/fellowship if my petition to defer my enrollment is granted?
If your deferment is granted, you will forfeit any awarded scholarships and fellowships. A $400 tuition deposit is required, the deadline of which will be outlined in the official deferment letter.
Students in deferment have the option to resubmit any portion of their application materials (manuscript, personal statement, letters of reference, teaching fellowship essay) for merit-based scholarship and teaching fellowship consideration for the following year. The program will need any updated materials by the January 31 application deadline of the year they intend to enroll.
Is your student body diverse?
Yes, we celebrate inclusion! We are diverse in terms of age, ethnic background, experience, aesthetic, you name it. It is one of the wonderful aspects of our program. Our students come from many different backgrounds, cultures, and disciplines with undergraduate degrees from English to Biology. They are from many parts of the world and range in age from 22 to 75!
I’m attracted to Saint Mary’s because of its Lasallian tradition. Could you tell me about these opportunities?
The MFA Program is proud to keep with the Lasallian mission of the college. We invest in the student as a person and emphasize diversity, shared inquiry, and community engagement, and we pay a deep respect to unique ways of knowing.
We’ve recently partnered with the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action (CILSA) to offer training and education for our graduate students pursuing community engagement and service learning internships.
I am a Christian interested in your program. Are all your faculty and students Christians?
One of the strengths of Saint Mary's is its intellectual and spiritual diversity. Not all of our teachers are Catholic; some are Jewish, Arab and Hindu. We have spiritual diversity. We don't require that all our students, faculty, staff be practicing Catholics, though some are.
We are grateful for the range of experience in the lives of our student body, faculty and staff, and we have no doubt that you would find your place in our community.
How can I get a better feel for the Saint Mary’s culture?
There are a number of ways to get a better feel for the Saint Mary’s culture. If you are local we encourage to visit our campus and sit in on one of classes. Please contact the Coordinator to make arrangements. You can attend one of our Creative Writing Reading Series events or Afternoon Craft Conversations to get a glimpse of the literary culture. Both are free, open to the public, and regularly attended by our current students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
We can get you in touch with a faculty member in your genre that are happy to chat over email, phone, or even Skype. We’re also happy to get you in touch with current students and/or graduates of our program. Or, you can take a virtual tour of our beautiful campus!
Questions left unanswered?
If you have any questions about the program or application process, please contact Coordinator of Admissions and Student Services, Candace Eros Diaz at 925-631-4762 or [email protected].