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UC Davis Creative Writing Program to Begin Offering MFA Degree

Katie Peterson, Associate Professor of English at UC Davis, with creative writing students
Monday, July 9, 2018 (All day)

The creative writing program, part of the College of Letters and Science’s English department, will offer a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing starting in the 2019–2020 academic year.

“Our graduate program in English is ranked among the top 20 in the country by U.S. News and World Report,” said J.P. Delplanque, Interim Vice Provost of Graduate Education and Dean of Graduate Studies at UC Davis. “Transitioning our creative writing program to an MFA will raise its profile and attract more talented writers from across the country to come to Davis.”

“The most important thing is the MFA is the highest degree in creative writing,” said Katie Peterson, English professor and head of the creative writing program. “But it will also make our community more connected to the larger world of creative writers. You don’t need a degree to be a writer, but you need a community in what is often an isolated art form. The MFA attaches you to that community and also attaches UC Davis to that community.

“We expect to get students who would have applied for the M.A., along with those with more direct creative writing experience,” she said. “It will expand the pool of students who are poised to enter the writing community.”

Along with creative writing, the M.A. program includes literary studies and that will continue under the MFA.

“This mix is unusual and innovative for the MFA,” Peterson said. “It is what some MFA programs are moving towards, but it's still fairly rare. It provides graduates who enter the academic world with the ability to teach a wider range of courses enhancing their career possibilities."

In the M.A. program, students teach undergraduate creative writing classes and MFA students will continue to do that. That teaching experience is also valuable to them in their careers, Peterson added.

The M.A. program has produced many writers who have received widespread notice and publication along with awards. Austin Smith (M.A. ’13) was named Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University and won a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; Becky Mandelbaum (M.A. ’16), Melinda Moustakis (M.A. ’11) and Kirsten Lunstrum (M.A. ’03) have all won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in recent years; and Jamil Kochai (M.A. ’17) received the 2018 O’Henry Prize for his story “Nights in Logar” and his novel of the same name will be published in January by Penguin

Along with a graduate degree in creative writing, the department offers a doctorate in literature, and bachelor’s degrees with an emphasis in literary theory and criticism and creative writing.

The program will begin accepting applications for admission this fall. For more information about the MFA program and its admission requirements, please email Katie Peterson, Graduate Program Chair and Associate Professor of English at or visit the creative writing program website.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes 99 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.

UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.