Application FAQs

MFA Application Questions Answered

Priority Application Deadline: December 10th

Final Application Deadline: January 31st

Admissions

  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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?

Funding & Financial Aid

  • When are scholarships announced?
  • What are my funding options?
  • How much is tuition?
  • What is the entire cost of attendance?

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?
  • What are the program requirements? 
  • Can a student concentrating in Fiction take a Poetry workshop or other Poetry course?  
  • How big are your classes?

Deferment

  • 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?

Our Culture

  • 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?

Admissions

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 fulltime and cohort based with no more than sixteen students in each genre.  

Is your application deadline hard and fast?
Yes, the priority application deadline for fall admission is December 10. If you apply by this date you can waive your $50 application fee.

The final application deadline is January 31.  

If you missed the deadlines, but are prepared to submit your application please contact the Associate Director as soon as possible. 

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. All notifications will be sent by April 15th.

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 International Applicants page.

I am assembling my writing sample and wanted to gauge whether it was best to submit new work, published work or a mix?
Your writing sample is most important element of your application. We encourage applicants to send their best and most polished work. The admissions committee will not 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.

Should my letters of recommendation 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). 

Would more than two letters of recommendation or publications help my chances?
We require a minimum of two (2) letters of recommendation and do not accept more than three (3). 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. 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 also addresses your abilities and experiences with regard to both genres.  

For more information, please take a look at our Application Checklist.

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.   

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 complete their degrees after the completion of their third year. They have the option to participate in graduation ceremonies upon completion of year two or three, but can participate in commencement only once.

How can I apply for the dual concentration?
There are two ways to apply for the dual-concentration:

1) In your initial online application by indicating your primary and secondary genre and submitting a manuscirpt in each. Your manuscript in each genre is reviewed separately--one does not affect the other. If accepted, you will be offered admission to the genre where you ranked higher. A very select number of applicants may be admitted to both genres whereby you enter a three-year program, spending the first two years in your primary genre and the third year in your secondary genre. 

2) Once an admitted student and in your third semester you will work with your academic adviser to submit a dual-concentration application. This is an abbreviated application process and all materials are due by the January 31 deadline. Your application is considered with the entire applicant pool that year. You will be notified of your admission into the dual-concentration in your fourth semester. 

How can I waive my application fee?

Email our Program Assistant to find out your options. 

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. Every accepted applicant receives some scholarship award. 

When are scholarships announced?
We do our best to announce scholarships in conjunction with acceptances. 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 the same partial scholarship during their two years in the program. Also, every matriculated student is locked into their tuition rate for the two years they are enrolled full-time. 

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?
$28,800 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

What is the entire cost of attendance?
You can find out more information about the associated costs of attendance by visiting the financial aid website.

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?
The program holds classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; we never hold classes on Monday or 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. 

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. You must earn 42 units to graduate and complete the following:

  • 4 Writing Workshops (including tutorial focus in the genre)
  • Writer in the World: Practical Perspectives on Writing
  • 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.

Deferment

If I am accepted to the program, can I choose to defer my enrollment?
Accepted applicants who wish to defer their enrollment can do so for one academic year.

A deferred student does not have to reapply via the online application or submit an additional $50 application fee. The program will hold on to your current application materials.

A deferred student has the option to resubmit any portion of their application materials (manuscript, personal statement, letters of reference, teaching fellowship essay) for teaching fellowship consideration. The program would need to receive any updated materials by the application deadline, January 31st.

Deferred students must reconfirm their intention to apply and/or enroll by January 31st.

Note, that by submitting your request to defer admissions you forfeit all awards, scholarships, fellowships, tuition rates, and dual-genre acceptances. 

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. 

Our Culture

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.  

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 Program Assistant 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 our Program Assistant, Krista Varela Posell at 925-631-4762 or kdv1@stmarys-ca.edu.