Frequently asked questions

While you will likely have questions specific to your own writing practice and areas of interest, these questions should address your basic questions about our program.

What are the basic facts about the MFA in Writing?

Next Intake: September 2019
Deadline for Applications: December 1, 2018
Completion Time: 20 months / 5 terms (full-time students only)
Contact Person: Valerie Tenning, Graduate Secretary, 250-721-7306, vtenning@uvic.ca

What are the objectives of the MFA in Writing?

  • To further educate writers who already have a proven talent and interest in one or more of five genres: creative nonfiction, fiction, playwriting, screenwriting and poetry.
  • To assist students to develop a significant body of work in a genre of their choice.
  • To help students develop an editor's objective eye, a professional writer's understanding of craft and the skills of a writing teacher.
  • To create MFA graduates ready to publish and to be candidates for teaching jobs at the post-secondary level.

What sets UVic's MFA apart from other similar graduate programs in writing?

  • Hands-on instruction from award-winning authors in a Department of Writing which has offered a superlative undergraduate program for over three decades.
  • A small cohort. We only accept one student per year in each genre.
  • Our graduate program is the only one of three in Canada offering an MFA in writing, rather than an MA in English with a creative-writing option.
  • Our graduate students have the opportunity to make use of teaching assistantships to gain experience in evaluating and assisting undergrads and to acquire actual classroom teaching in the area of writing rather than in English literature.
  • The program is designed so that teaching will be one of the skills our graduates will acquire to prepare them for the job market. As far as we know, no other Canadian institution presently includes an emphasis on the teaching of writing, which is a specialized area of education, as well as the writing itself.

What is the target audience of the MFA in writing at UVic?

Our audience is those persons already actively engaged in writing of a high standard, who have achieved an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum cumulative GPA of B.

What are the admission requirements for the MFA in Writing?

  • Admittance to Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria.
  • Successful applicants to the MFA in writing must have an undergraduate degree in any discipline, from any accredited college or university in B.C. or from accredited postsecondary institutions from outside the province.
  • A cumulative GPA of B.
  • A portfolio of samples of writing in the genre in which they wish to study. One of the following will be required: 10-15 pages of poetry; 20-30 pages of playwriting, screenwriting, fiction or creative nonfiction.
  • Submissions in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction must have a minimum 1.5 line spacing. Submissions in screenwriting and playwriting must be in their industry-standard formats.
  • Professional experience and publications summarized in one to three pages.
  • A 400-word statement of purpose, which will include a description of the manuscript to be worked on and the specific area of expertise to be explored.
  • Two letters of reference to convey an assessment of the student's academic standing, talent as a writer, critical ability, capacity for doing self-directed work, and teaching potential.

What areas of specialization does the program offer?

The Department of Writing offers courses in five genres in which our faculty members specialize:

What courses will I take?

You will complete six 1.5 unit classes and a 9.0 unit major writing portfolio (which serves as your thesis). Typically, you will take three courses in each of the first two terms of study and complete the major writing portfolio during the next three terms. 

There are five mandatory classes and one elective. Transfer credits will not be accepted and mandatory courses may not be substituted. 

The required courses in the first year are:

  • WRIT 500: Graduate Writing Workshop, both in the fall and the spring
  • WRIT 501: Special Topics in Advanced Studies in Writing
  • WRIT 509: Instructional Skills Preparation
  • An elective. This may be a directed study, a 500 level education course, a 500 level graduate course or an upper-level undergraduate course.

Below is a typical program of study.

Term 1 (Fall)
WRIT 500
WRIT 590
WRIT 501
WRIT 598 (Major Writing Portfolio)

Term 2 (Spring)
WRIT 500
WRIT 598 (Major Writing Portfolio)
WRIT 307 (or 308309310311312)

Term 3 (Summer)
WRIT 598 (Major Writing Portfolio)

Term 4 (Fall)
WRIT 501
WRIT 598 (Major Writing Portfolio)

Term 5 (Spring)
WRIT 598 (Major Writing Portfolio)

Convocation (Summer)

How is the MFA curriculum designed?

The MFA is a two-year program in which students will be required to complete nine units of classes and a nine-unit major writing portfolio (consisting of an original, publishable manuscript) in a two-year period. With the exception of directed studies courses, students will attend three-hour-per-week seminars and workshops for all of their classes.
 
You will learn teaching skills by taking a minimum of 1.5 units of graduate courses in post-secondary instruction. Students will gain hands-on experience through working as teaching assistants during their first year in the program.
 
If you are interested in the publishing or editing side of a writing career, you will be able to take a directed study course that involves an internship with a literary magazine or a B.C. publisher. You may also choose to work in the field in a co-operative studies setting.
 
You may opt to register in the co-operative education program at the University of Victoria and pursue two work terms (each four months in duration) to gain credit as a co-op student.

What are residency requirements and anticipated program duration?

The program is of a two-year duration on a full-time basis. With the exception of students enrolled in the co-operative education program, the master's program will take two years to complete, with a one-year residency requirement. If you enroll in the co-operative education program, it will take three years to complete your program because you will engage in two four-month work terms.

How will I be evaluated?

Course assignments will be evaluated following the regular Department of Writing marking grid (that is, from F to A+). The major writing portfolio and oral exam will be evaluated as a pass or fail. There will be no candidacy exam.

Can I defer my acceptance?

The department does not have the capacity to allow successful applicants to defer acceptance into the program. Declining acceptance into the program will not hinder a subsequent application, however, the department will not guarantee a position in the program, as quality of applications differs from year to year.