Application FAQs

General Questions

MFA (all degrees except MFA in Film Production & Screenwriting):

Applications open mid-October. Deadline: early January.

MFA in Film Production & Screenwriting:

Deadline: mid-January deadline for September start.

Applications are submitted through the UBC Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies online application system. An application includes transcripts, a portfolio of original writing, a statement of intent and a CV.

Yes. You have to apply twice online and pay two application fees to do so. If you do apply twice and we make an admission offer you will have to choose which program to attend before accepting the offer.

Tuition fees change over time. To find out the current tuition, see the links below to the UBC Calendar.

Optional-Residency MFA Tuition:

Visit the UBC Academic Calendar Master's Tuition Page and scroll until you see Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Distance Education). Fees are per-credit.

The MFA degree is awarded on the completion of 36 credits. Students are considered to be full-time if they are taking 12 credits in the fall/winter term (6 credits per term). Tuition is only charged when students are registered in courses.

On-Campus MFA Tuition:

Visit the UBC Academic Calendar Master's Tuition Page for Standard Programs. Tuition is paid per term on an instalment basis. Students in the on-campus program study full-time and are expected to take two years to complete (6 instalments).

After the second year, if a student remains on continuing status to finish a thesis, domestic fees drop to the continuing fee, which is listed in the fees table.

Please note: tuition does not include student fees; these are listed on the UBC website for on-campus students. Student fees are substantially lower for Optional-Residency MFA students as they do not use campus resources and are exempt from many fees.

Our MFA students are eligible for Graduate Support Initiative awards, SSHRC funding for Canadian students and affiliated scholarships for international students. There are also additional award possibilities for Indigenous and Black scholars.

We also have internal scholarships, multiple Teaching Assistant positions and several work/learn job opportunities.

Students are fully eligible for Canadian federal and provincial loans and any applicable US educational loans (please note that part-time students may not be eligible for all loans; please also note that US Stafford Loans are NOT awarded to students studying in a non-US institution by telecommunications – so Optional-Residency students cannot receive these loans).


Applicants should have a four-year bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent, with a B+ average in the last two years.

No, the undergraduate degree may be in any discipline. Many of our successful applicants have had degrees in areas unrelated to writing; some have not taken writing courses before.

If you expect to finish in the spring or summer immediately following the application deadline, you are eligible to apply. Transcripts showing marks for courses completed or in progress are acceptable. If accepted to the program and to UBC, Graduate Studies will grant an acceptance conditional on the successful completion of your undergraduate degree.

No, we cannot accept credits earned at another institution.

In some cases, applicants without a four-year bachelor’s degree but with significant formal training or relevant professional experience may be granted admission on the recommendation of Creative Writing and the approval of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

In these cases, if our faculty recommend admission based on the portfolio submission, we will work with Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies to request a waiver of the requirements.

Knowing an applicant’s main genre helps us with the initial reading of the portfolio – we assume this is your strongest genre, though we do read all genres submitted. Your choice of portfolio genres will not affect your chances of acceptance.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a member of Universities Canada. Incorporated in 1908 by an act of the provincial legislature, it operates under the authority of the University Act of the Province of British Columbia. Membership in Universities Canada and operation under the authority of the University Act is equivalent to accreditation in the US system.

UBC is ranked as one of the top 50 public universities in the world and regularly places in the top 5 universities in Canada as ranked by Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities, and QS World University Rankings. More rankings here.

Students with degrees from UBC go on to further study and employment at universities across North America and around the world.

As stated above, a UBC degree will be acceptable as an academic qualification at any reputable university in the world. Although we cannot guarantee that any graduate will receive a teaching position as a result of gaining their MFA here, the reputation of UBC’s Creative Writing program is widely known in Canada, the US and abroad. We believe that this reputation, our cross-genre philosophy and our workshop focus will serve prospective teachers of creative writing well.

Yes. Students are required to write in three separate genre areas during the course of their degree. This doesn’t mean you can’t focus on your primary genre – and indeed you only write a thesis in one genre – but our philosophy is that students will discover a fuller understanding of their capacities as writers in the “cross-training” component of the Program.

This is one of the features of this degree which makes UBC’s program unique – some of our best-known graduates have ended up excelling in genres they had not previously worked in before coming to the program.

Optional-Residency MFA Specific Questions

It is a type of low-residency MFA in which the residency component is optional. As the name suggests, low-residency MFAs allow writers to complete an MFA degree without having to spend the academic year in residence at the university campus. Most other low-residency MFAs require attendance at two 10-day residencies each year and require full-time study.

In addition to our unique cross-genre focus, we are much more flexible than other low-residency programs: we have one 10-day residency each year, which is optional. Students can maintain full-time status by taking as little as 12 credits a year. Students who require more time to complete their degrees may wish to study part-time, but will be ineligible for financial support.

This is related to our special status at UBC as a professional program, which enables students to work part-time and to pay reduced student fees. Tuition is charged per-credit registered, not per academic term.

This expense is, however, offset by the absence of many of the hidden costs of taking an on-campus program, such as relocating to Vancouver. Optional-Residency students who study part-time are often able to continue to work during the course of their degree.

Yes. If you can read this page on your computer, you can participate in the workshops online. Our technical requirements are modest. The majority of courses will only require a word processor (MS Word is our standard) and access to the Internet. Students with newer computers and high-speed connections do report that these make participating more convenient, and we would recommend these, but they are not a requirement. There is also no requirement for a particular operating system.

The optional-residency MFA has separate fees, however, the degree granted is exactly the same as the residential MFA. Application standards and thesis requirements are the same. Most faculty members teach in both the on-campus and online programs.

Classes are offered as online workshops. Students submit and discuss their work as part of a small group, using a web-based discussion forum and written commentary. Classes do not meet in ‘real time’ but rather students have a period of just over a day each week in which class discussion is open, and may take part on their own schedule.

The thesis project is carried out using direct one-to-one correspondence between students and faculty members. We also hosting visiting virtual writers in residence and regularly present audio recordings of lectures and readings from the On-Campus MFA program.

We estimate that each online workshop takes a student roughly four to six hours per week in reading and participating in online discussion (depending to some degree on individual reading and typing speed). This does not include personal writing time, which varies from student to student.

The residencies are held at the Vancouver campus of UBC each summer for approximately ten days. They consist primarily of writing workshops, supplemented by seminars and lectures on aspects of writing craft and business. Residencies are designed to foster creative and social links between students as well as to educate. Residencies are 3 credit courses, and cost the standard 3 credit course rate. There will not be any additional costs, other than applicable UBC student fees, the cost of transportation, meals and accommodation, which each student is responsible for.

You will require a study permit in order to attend the residencies in Canada (you do not require one to take any other courses, as they are by distance education). Please see the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for details. We will provide assistance and appropriate documentation where necessary. The process is usually quite straightforward.

The residencies are an important part of the optional-residency MFA. We understand, however, that for some students, work, location or family issues make it very difficult or impossible to attend residencies. Therefore, though strongly recommended, we do not make residencies mandatory.

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