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Program and Financial Aid FAQ

  • The MFA at Texas State will give you three years to experiment and grow as a writer. Your work will be carefully read and commented on by your peers, by a distinguished and widely published faculty, by a visiting Endowed Chair, and by a notable published author who will comment on your thesis manuscript. You will also have the chance to meet and study with 18 visiting writers, all of whom will give two readings, hold a Q&A session, and teach a master class.

  • Studio programs primarily focus on workshop. At Texas State, our students take four workshops, but also take courses on literature and craft. We believe that in order to write literature, you have to read literature. Our program prepares you to be a better reader, a better writer and, if you apply for and are awarded a teaching fellowship, a better and more qualified teacher of literature and writing.

  • Aesthetic diversity is a cornerstone of Texas State’s creative writing program. Faculty members teach and write in various modes, as do the students with whom you’ll workshop. We vary in age, ethnic and cultural identification, socioeconomic background, life experience, and taste in literature. You write whatever you choose to write. Your peers and teachers are there to help you achieve your own individual goals as an artist.

  • No. Many of our students majored in other subjects and disciplines. Admission is based exclusively on the quality of your portfolio.

  • Please send us work that speaks most to your potential as a writer. The writing sample need not be unified by theme or subject.

  • No. All applicants are considered for all MFA scholarships.

    However, Instructional Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships, which comprise the majority of our funding. Please follow the link for more information on the Assistantship application  or write to

  • Students may take craft courses across genres, provided there is space available, but workshops are limited to those studying a specific genre. This allows the workshop to function at the highest possible level, both in the work put up for discussion and in the discussion itself. Our course in creative nonfiction, however, is open to fiction writers and poets in equal numbers. Fiction writers and poets also collaborate to produce our literary journal, Porter House Review.

  • Our program does not focus on commercial genre fiction; we teach “literary” (character-driven) fiction, but have had many students produce work with a fantasy, magical realism, or science fiction bent. The delineation between “genre” and “literary” is not always clear, after all. Ultimately, the quality of your writing and your storytelling are what count.

  • Students with assistantships must be enrolled full-time—that is, they must take a minimum of nine hours, or three classes, each semester and a total of eighteen hours, or six classes, each academic year. Each class counts for three hours of degree credit. Instructional assistants (IAs) must complete eighteen English credit hours in order to be promoted to a teaching assistant (TA) in the following year.

    Students without assistantships may study part-time, taking one or two classes (three to six credits) per semester. Part-time students must complete the MFA degree in four years, rather than three.

  • Yes. The English department at Texas State offers summer study in Ireland every year. Student participants will earn six credit hours abroad to go towards their degree.

    If you are offered a teaching or instructional assistantship, we recommend that you meet with the department’s administrative assistant to discuss your degree plan and ensure that the summer session will not impact your full-time status during the academic year. That being said, many of our IA and TA students have studied in Ireland before, and it has not been a problem.

  • Applications for assistantships are very competitive. Please be as thorough as possible in providing all the material we request: university employment forms, transcripts from each four-year institution or program you attended, a resume or CV, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Your statement of purpose, also called a teaching statement, is perhaps the most important document in your assistantship application. It should address your desire to teach, your qualifications to teach, and why you believe that you would be a superb freshman- and sophomore-level teacher.

    Applicants to the MFA program are automatically considered for Instructional Assistantships. No additional application is necessary.  Please review our application page for guidelines. 

  • Living costs in San Marcos are reasonable for the area. It is possible to get a one-bedroom apartment for $800 a month or under; if you decide to live in San Marcos with a roommate, you might pay anywhere from $450-670 per month in rent. If you choose to live in Austin, your costs would be higher: one-bedroom apartments in South Austin range from $800-1,000, while a two-bedroom might cost $1,100-1,400 in total ($550-700 per roommate).

    Please see our Funding graphic page for a first-year IA's sample monthly budget.

    Many students work as instructional assistants during the summer to increase their income. (Summer work is not guaranteed, however.) Some students take out small student loans if they wish to live more comfortably.

    For more information on funding your graduate education, please see the website for the Financial Aid Office.


    Find more information on tuition and fees for the upcoming semester. If you plan to enroll as a full-time student, please look under the column for “9” (i.e. nine hours); if you plan to enroll part-time, please look under the column for “3” or “6,” depending on whether you wish to take one or two classes per term.

    If you are offered an assistantship or scholarship by the MFA program, you are eligible for the in-state tuition rate, which will be about 50% of the out-of-state rate. Currently, 100% of our students pay in-state tuition.

  • Instructional assistants (IAs) spend each semester helping an English professor with one of his or her survey classes, approximately 100-200 students. This may take the form of grading student essays, proctoring exams, assisting with classroom audiovisual equipment, or giving a lecture once each semester.

    Teaching assistants (TAs) are instructors of record for their own freshman composition classes. They teach two classes of ENG 1310 in the fall semester and one class of ENG 1320 in the spring semester. Each class is limited to 21 students, and averages 19 students.

  • Please follow the links to find more information on this year's list of visiting writers, and a graphic on our visiiting writers series.

    The Therese Kayser Lindsey reading series brings eight writers annually. Each writer gives a campus reading and signing, a public reading and signing, a closed-door Q&A with MFA students, and a master class in their genre (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction). Our students have the chance to introduce authors at events, drive them around town, and even have dinner with the visiting writers.

  • San Marcos is an exciting, historic community in the heart of central Texas. More than a college town, San Marcos is a close-knit community of independently owned restaurants, bars, coffee houses, and shops. For nature enthusiasts, the San Marcos River—spring-fed, crystal clear, and accessible all throughout the city—is a recreational paradise for swimming, tubing, kayaking; the city also boasts Purgatory Creek, a gorgeous, sprawling greenbelt for hikers.

    Texas State is about half an hour south of Austin, where many of our students and faculty live. Austin has a worldwide reputation for its live music, quirky coffeeshops and bars, and festivals. The city is consistently ranked among the top three cities in which to live in the country by a number of publications, for myriad reasons. Check out other reasons why Austin is among the best places to live in the U.S.



  • To be a full-time student, you must enroll in three courses (nine credit hours) per semester. In state tuition for the full 2017-2018 academic year would be $7,491.76. Out-of-state tuition for the full year would be $14,961.76.

    You can find up-to-date tuition and fee rates at the Graduate College website.


  • Yes. All students are eligible for in-state tuition if they receive a competitive scholarship of $1000 or more during an academic year.

  • Yes! You have the option to complete your degree in four years as a part-time student. In order to graduate on time, you would need to take two classes (six credit hours) every semester.

  • No. While you certainly can pay for tuition all at once, Student Business Services offers a payment plan that allows you to pay in three increments. Note that your first tuition payment is due before the start of the semester.  Request more information about the plan on our Graduate College website.

  • Absolutely, FAFSA can be used for graduate school. The Texas cutoff date is March 15th each year, but you can apply as early as December for the following academic year. If you apply after March 15th, you will still be eligible for FAFSA but not for any state grants.

  • Please see our funding page for a complete listing of scholarship options.

    You have a few options for applying to scholarships through Texas State, as well as outside of the university.

    The Graduate College offers two scholarships for current and incoming MFA students: The Celebrity Classic Scholarship and The Graduate College Scholarship. Both scholarships open on November 1st and close on March 1st. You may apply for and receive both.

    The English department offers a variety of scholarships for graduate students. Find more information on list of available scholarships. There is only one application (on the top of the page) that you download and turn in. The scholarships are traditionally due during the first week of March. Please check with the website about due dates for the 2016-2017 year.

    There are plenty of outside options to which you may apply for graduate funding. Please be aware that many scholarships have different dates and requirements. If your scholarship application requires a letter of recommendation, please be considerate and give your letter writers plenty of time to reflect on your merits.

    Note that there are various kinds of scholarships, from various Texas State entities. MFA Program scholarships do not require a separate application. However, Graduate College and English Department scholarships do require a separate application.

  • The Rose Fellowship and the Celebrity Classic Scholarship roll over every year. Students must reapply for the Graduate College Scholarships and departmental scholarships every spring. All other scholarships are for one year only


    An Instructional Assistant works with a professor in the English department to help with an undergraduate survey course. IA duties may include grading student assignments, preparing the classroom or needed equipment, and otherwise helping the lead professor with whatever she or he needs. Occasionally, IAs will be allowed to give guest lectures in class.

    A Teaching Assistant is an instructor of record. They teach their own sections of composition courses without another instructor. Generally, one must be an IA before they can become a TA. Both positions are under nine-month contracts and pay a monthly stipend, issued on the first of the month.

    As a first-semester IA, you must enroll in a practicum course that will count for university credit. As a first-semester TA, you must enroll in another practicum course. This course does not count towards university credit, nor do you pay tuition for it.

    If you are not awarded an IA assistantship for your first year, you may reapply for your second or third year. All IAs and TAs are assigned for fall semester before the semester begins.

    A Teaching Assistant is an instructor of record. They teach their own sections of composition courses without another instructor. Generally, one must be an IA before they can become a TA. Both positions are under nine-month contracts and pay a monthly stipend, issued on the first of the month.

    As a first-semester IA, you must enroll in a practicum course that will count for university credit. As a first-semester TA, you must enroll in another practicum course. This course does not count towards university credit.

    If you are not awarded an IA assistantship for your first year, you may reapply for your second or third year. All IAs and TAs are assigned for fall semester before the semester begins.

  • There are other jobs available on campus. You can reach out to the Writing Center or SLAC for possible work opportunities. Many of our students have chosen to work as writing tutors with these offices. You can also check with the Career Services Center, or their job boards at Jobs4Cats, for information on other jobs. Graduate Assistantships are widely available and confer an in-state tuition waiver.

  • An assistantship is a type of funding that requires you to work. The only assistantships offered in the English department are IA, TA, GA (Graduate Program Assistant), or GRA (Graduate Research Assistant) positions. All assistantship recipients are eligible for in-state tuition. A job would be any other employment position obtained on campus, and it does not guarantee in-state tuition to out-of-state students.

  • All IA/TAs will receive a stipend on the 1st of the month. The salary that is offered to IAs is the same every month. The same is true for TAs. GRAs and GAs are also paid monthly.

    All positions receive a set salary from October through June. There is an option to have a 12-month salary spread. If you choose to do this, there is a form you will need to complete. Generally, there will be a workshop at the beginning of the school year to go over stipend plans and other issues concerning payment.

  • There are a limited number of IA opportunities over the summer for Summer I and II sessions. There are no TA teaching opportunities during the summer. Other campus jobs may have work over the summer.

  • Not quite. If you do not have an assistantship (such as an IA/TA) then you will take three classes a semester (full time) for your first two years. During your third year, you will only take two classes per semester (part time.) This will cover all your required classes. If you have an assistantship, you may take a class (such as a practicum) that you will not be charged for but that will not count towards your graduation. During your third year, you will take three classes during one semester and two classes plus a waiver in your other semester. This is will show you as full time. However, you will not pay for the waiver as a class. You will only pay for the two classes you are enrolled in.