MFA in Creative Writing

MFA in Creative Writing MFA in Creative Writing

reading and writing to change lives.

Our MFA in Creative Writing program is a full-time residential degree program in the San Francisco Bay Area, offering students the chance to devote two years to the study of poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction alongside award-winning faculty and a devoted community of literary artists. 

Mission & History

Founded in 1995, our program combines studio writing workshops and literary analysis, including courses in the craft of writing in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

To date, more than 380 students have received degrees from the SMC MFA in Creative Writing. Alumni have published more than 60 books, appeared in countless journals and magazines, and won many distinguished literary prizes. Others have started internationally known presses and publications like Omnidawn and the East Bay Review, and founded mportant reading series in the Bay Area such as Woolsey Heights, East Bay Poetry Summit, Literary Arts & Wine and the Studio One Reading Series.

After nearly 30 years, the SMC MFA in Creative Writing continues to thrive, distinguishing itself by its award winning faculty and its opportunities for students in the areas of teaching, publishing, and community engagement. We welcome students from all backgrounds and walks of life to our mission style campus each fall—a setting that feels like a writing retreat with easy access to Oakland, San Francisco and all the Bay Area has to offer. 


Engage in an intense study of poetry and poetics alongside a dedicated community of writers who aspire to break new ground in the literary arts.

Whether your fiction is set in a recognizable present day, the distant past, a dystopian near future, or a world as yet unimagined, our faculty are here to help you bring your characters and their stories to life on the page.

Our community welcomes creative nonfiction in all its hybrid forms, including lyric and personal essays, literary journalism, autotheory and criticism, and new forms that you are inventing to tell your singular story. 

Matthew Zapruder listening to a student

Mentors who make a difference

Our award-winning faculty work closely to support students as artists and as individuals, guiding their creative work and their development as emerging writers. Core faculty include Marilyn Abildskov, Brenda Hillman, Chris Feliciano Arnold, and Matthew Zapruder. 2022-2023 Distinguished Visiting Writers in residence include Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Yona Harvey, Naomi J. Williams, Nayomi Munaweera, Rachel Richardson, and Margaret Wilkerson Sexton.

MFA in Creative Writing students discussing

Classmates who inspire.

"The writers I’ve met in this program have become my confidantes. They taught me that every author is unique; each of them has a voice so wonderfully their own that I learned there’s no comparing our styles. We are learning to embrace not just different perspectives, but our own words as being derived from our experiences."—Kiran Bains Sahota, Fiction '21

"Though sharing your work with others is always nerve-wracking, my first semester of workshop has been truly transformative. The environment is always helpful, supportive, and light-hearted. The Creative Nonfiction cohort is enthusiastic about my work and genuinely wants to help me become a better writer." —Hannah Wohlenberg, Creative Nonfiction '22

A student writes in the redwood grove.

Alumni who lead literary lives.

MFA Degree alumni have gone onto publish novels, short story collections, memoirs, graphic novels, young adult, fantasy, and middle grade novels, poetry collections and more, but more importantly, they have graduated prepared to lead a sustainable life in the literary arts.

Here are some of the jobs MFA alumni are doing now: Bookseller, Copywriter, Creative Director, Creative Writing Instructor in Higher Ed, Curriculum Developer, Deputy Director in Nonprofit, Director of Content, Development Officer, Editor, English & Humanities Teacher, k-12, Grant Writer, Novelist, Publicist, Publisher, Screenwriter, Story Editor, Writing Center Director, and Vice Principal, among others.


School and Department Information

Chris Feliciano Arnold
Director, MFA in Creative Writing

Collin Skeen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment