city view at night
streetcar on market
flowers at Kalmanovitz
Shurin and Brady
Kalmanovitz front door
girl with braids
reading series speaker
MFA students and Kate Brady

The Program

The two-and-a-half year program begins each fall, with courses on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. On Tuesdays, workshops in each genre (fiction, poetry, and nonfiction) focus on student manuscripts in a peer setting of supportive critique. On Thursdays, literature seminars focus on traditions, styles, craft elements and developments, and literary models.

Because writers flourish in the company of others, our classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to ensure that the entire MFA community is on campus at the same time, a schedule that also provides flexibility for working adults. The program sponsors readings by students and faculty, the online journal Switchback, panels on publishing and career opportunities, the Emerging Writers Festival, and the Lone Mountain Reading Series, which brings to campus writers of national renown. Past visitors include Gillian Connolly, Diane DiPrima, Cristina Garcia, Thomas Glave, Yiyun Li, Manuel Muñoz, Bharati Mukherjee, Eileen Myles, Alice Notley, Robert Pinsky, Claudia Rankine, George Saunders, Jane Smiley, Rebecca Solnit, and John Edgar Wideman. Writers-in-residence who joined our faculty in 2013-14 include Daniel Alarcón and Thomas Sayers Ellis.

We create as many opportunities as possible for our students to connect with literary culture in the city of San Francisco and beyond. An internship course provides students with professional training in diverse writing-related careers. Opportunities include internships at literary journals such as Zyzzyva and Zoetrope, at magazines such as Mother Jones and Wired, at publishing houses such as City Lights and Chronicle Books, and at literacy organizations such as 826 Valencia and Streetside Stories. Students participate in literary and service organizations including Poets and Writers, Zoetrope, California Poets in the Schools, the Litquake literary festival, the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, Under the Volcano Writing Conference (Mexico), and the Summer Literary Seminars in Prague and St. Petersburg. A seminar on teaching writing is offered for those interested in pursuing the profession, with teaching assistantships available in undergraduate courses in English literature and creative writing.

Program of Study

All courses are taken within the MFA program, with classes of 3 units each, for a total of 33 units during a two-and-a-half year course of study. First-year students begin with a required weekend orientation before the start of fall semester. In Thesis I and Thesis II, students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor who provides extensive feedback on their work in a series of scheduled meetings. The thesis may be a novel, a collection of stories, a poetry collection, a collection of creative nonfiction, or a purposeful combination of these genres.

Apply for the program.