SFSU MFA/MA CW Students, Alumni and Faculty discussion

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MFA or MA ??

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message 1: by Clare (new)

Clare | 2 comments Hi, I'm taking some creative writing classes at the moment and planning to apply for the MA or MFA in Creative Writing, in January. Any advice about choosing between the two from some of you already on one or other course? Is it equally difficult to get in to both of the courses? Thanks!


message 2: by Rose (new)

Rose | 2 comments Hi Clare,
I'm not sure how familiar you are with the whole system, so this may include some stuff you already know but here goes:

If you want to teach creative writing at the university level, you should go for the MFA. It's what's called a "terminal degree," which basically means universities will recognize it as meeting their basic qualifications. However, in order to get a good university teaching job, you will most likely need to get at least one book published as well. There are also a few creative writing PhD programs, which could give you a slight edge over MFAs, especially if you're interested in theory and criticism.

If you want to teach at a community college, however, you should go for the MA. In fact, community colleges require an MA or PhD, and don't recognize an MFA.

The MFA program at SFSU is more difficult to get into than the MA, but if you do apply for it, you have the option of telling them to consider you for the MA as well. Many people start in the MA program and then re-apply to the MFA program in the following two years. If you do that, you have the option of completing your MA work, so you can have the best of both worlds - i.e. an MA and an MFA.

Once you're in the program, it's probably a bit more difficult to get into MFA classes - they usually limit enrollment to 10 or 12 students, while MA classes usually allow in closer to 18 students. But the program also seems a little less impacted than it was a few years ago, so getting classes might not be too much of a problem.

One other consideration is that MA classes are open to MFA students, but not vice versa, so you have the greatest amount choices if you're in the MFA. There are plenty of good MA level classes as well though.

If you have any other questions about the program or applying you're welcome to post them or email me privately. I'm a current MFA student in Poetry.

Good luck!






message 3: by Clare (new)

Clare | 2 comments thanks so much for this response, Rose! Have sent a separate email with lots more questions!

Does anyone have anything to say about how the teaching or the courses differ between the MA and the MFA?


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