Creative Writing

California Institute of the Arts CalArts

24 months
50850 USD/year
50850 USD/year
Tuition fee
Apply date
Start date


The Creative Writing program from California Institute of the Arts CalArts was designed to get over the division between 'creative' and 'critical.' Here, writing is understood as an art form best practiced alongside the other arts, and students benefit from having access to the CalArts community of artists as their peers and fellow travelers.


Course Description

A defining feature of the Creative Writing program from California Institute of the Arts CalArts is hybridity and experimentation, so students are free to take courses in, and to write in, any genre they wish. Poets may take prose workshops to learn narrative conventions and how to deploy or challenge them; fiction and nonfiction writers may benefit from poetry workshops that hone their use of and engagement with language; and still other students may develop multidimensional writing practices. All students graduate with the ability to comprehend and critique work across genres, and an expanded sense of possibilities for their own work.

Students are encouraged to situate their creative practice in a critical context—to engage with the history, theory and politics of contemporary writing, and to think hard about what and why they write. The Program offers graduate students the chance to further develop both their craft and their knowledge base, and workshops combine attentive critique of student work with the discussion of readings on and in the various genres—or on special topics particularly relevant to writing today.

All MFA Creative Writing students are expected to attend closely to questions of form and aesthetics, as well as to the historical and critical contexts of literary work. Most classes combine workshopping of student-generated work with discussion of assigned texts. Students are also encouraged to explore the intersections between writing and other media/art forms, such as performance, digital media, visual art and film. While not all classes are offered every year, over the two-year program all students will take a wide selection, honing their individual visions and practices while experimenting with new forms and subjects. Writing students also benefit from being able to take courses for elective credit in the MA Program in Aesthetics and Politics, as well as other MFA/upper-level BFA courses throughout the Institute.

In addition to MFA core creative and critical coursework, all candidates are required to give at least one public reading in their final semester, and produce a substantial manuscript (thesis), with a page count appropriate to related published work in the genre (i.e. 60-80 pages for poetry, 100-plus pages for a novel or creative nonfiction project, and so on), in order to complete the program.

Programme Structure

Course Overview:

  • The two-year School of Critical Studies MFA Creative Writing Program offers a variety of options for study: the Creative Writing Program—the choice of most students; Interschool Writing; and Integrated Media (IM). 
  • At any time during their residency, MFA Creative Writing students may choose to complete one of four interdisciplinary concentrations: Writing + Performativity, Documentary Poetics, Writing and Its Publics or Image + Text. Genre experimentation and an emphasis on critical contexts for creative work characterize each of these options.  In support of their writing and thinking, students are paired with a faculty mentor, and work closely with them throughout their time in the Program.

Key information


  • Full-time
    • 24 months

Start dates & application deadlines




On Campus

Academic requirements

We are not aware of any academic requirements for this programme.

English requirements

TOEFL admission requirements TOEFL® IBT The TOEFL iBT® is given online through the internet at designated testing site. The test measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The score refers to the total score of 4 subjects (writing, listening, speaking, and reading), each subject has a range of 0 - 30.
IELTS admission requirements IELTS The International English Language Test System (IELTS) tests your English-language proficiency on a scale of 1 – 9. The score refers to the combined average score of 4 subjects (writing, listening, speaking, and reading).

Other requirements

General requirements

Submit Your Application

International Academic Transcript
  • Credentials, diplomas and certificates of secondary-school and college-level work must be presented in English translation.International students applying to MFA programs must submit evidence of receipt of an undergraduate degree or its equivalent. 
Declaration of Finances
  • All students who are not U.S. Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. must complete the online Declaration of Finances form after they have been accepted and submitted their Statement of Intention to Register (SIR) form. This form is to verify that you have sufficient financial resources to pay all educational and living expenses while attending the California Institute of the Arts.

Tuition Fee

  • International

    50850 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 50850 USD per year and a duration of 24 months.
  • National

    50850 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 50850 USD per year and a duration of 24 months.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

Due for update

Updated over a year ago

Check the official programme website for potential updates.

Our partners

Creative Writing
California Institute of the Arts CalArts