Mission & History

MFA in Creative Writing Core Values

We are committed to maintaining an inclusive community built upon diversity and multiculturalism in which all are valued. 

Our faculty and staff support our students as artists and as individuals, guiding their creative work and their development as emerging writers.

We welcome all styles of writing. 

We emphasize a craft-oriented approach, acknowledging that writing is an ongoing process helped along by shared reading. 

We are dedicated to making the writing workshop a place where all participants are respected, and where writers can take necessary (though not gratuitous) artistic risks, make inevitable mistakes, and learn from them in a supportive and forgiving environment. 

Values to Hold While in Community

All members of the MFA community agree to adhere to the following: 

  • respect for all persons 

  • respect for divergent points of view 

  • exploring conflicts with care 

  • active listening 

  • recognizing our privileges 

  • owning our intentions and impact within the group dynamic

  • no direct attacks on our fellow classmates or their creative work

Statement of Solidarity 

We believe our program is made stronger by the diverse communities that call our nation home. We believe Black Lives Matter. We recognize the cultural, artistic, and economic contributions of immigrants and refugees. We stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees, indigenous and historically underrepresnted peoples—our neighbors, friends, and family members. We celebrate your gender identiy. We believe that LGBTQI+ literature is fundamental to the culture. We embrace all faiths. We make up professional community of writers who treat our fellow colleagues with respect and generosity.  We are doing the ongoing work toward building an antiracist writing program. 


Founded in 1995, our MFA in Creative Writing combines a studio writing workshop component with an analytical component, offering courses in the craft of writing in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

To date, more than 380 students have received degrees from the MFA in Creative Writing. Alumni have published over 60 books and have been published in numerous journals and periodicals, and they’ve won many distinguished literary prizes. Alumni have started internationally known presses and publications, including Omnidawn and the East Bay Review, and they have founded many important reading series in the Bay Area, such as Woolsey Heights, East Bay Poetry Summit, Literary Arts & Wine and the Studio One Reading Series.

After 25 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. It remains a major part of the literary culture in the Bay Area and beyond. We welcome cohorts in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry to our beautiful mission style campus each fall. It's a setting that feels like a writing retreat with world class faculty with access to Oakland and San Francisco just short BART rides away. 

Priority deadline is December 10th (application fee waived) and final application deadline is January 31st.

Alumni on the MFA at SMC

"I was compelled to come to Saint Mary's to become more real. I thought a specialized, genre-specific program that was small and intimate would be a safe place for me to grow as a writer, an artist, an Asian American activist and a lesbian. What I couldn't have predicted was how much I would grow as a person, and that's what becoming 'more real' really meant." - Kelsay Myers, MFA Creative Nonfiction & Poetry 2013 

"Working closely with the fine poets at SMC, allowed me to mature as a writer in all the ways that I'd hoped for, and in so many that I'd had no conception of. I learned how to keep seeking a wider, deeper rigor in my poetic attention, one which engages my intuition and intelligence equally." Rusty Morrison, Poetry 1999

“I came into Saint Mary's as a smart aleck, someone convinced of both my writing and myself. I left a far more mature artist and person. I can't thank the program enough for taking me, shaking me, and waking me to a far better reality." –Allison Landa, Fiction 2006

SMC MFA in the News

Learn more abour our faculty, visiting writers and staff.