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The Low Residency MFA Program @ UC Riverside

Based out of our Palm Desert Center, just minutes from Palm Springs in the heart of the Coachella Valley, the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts takes a 21st century approach to the graduate degree in creative writing. Our philosophy is simple: We presume you’re here to learn not just how to write, but how to publish and produce. In that light, our focus is on getting your work out of the classroom and into the real world — you’re going to be read not only by the award-winning writers on our faculty, but also by top industry professionals in publishing, television, and film. These are the literary agents, editors, producers, and show runners who are essential to the next phase of your writing career and who make up our guest faculty each residency.  Our goal is to help you find the best way into your story and, in the process, provide you with the tools to make a lasting career in the arts.

We offer majors in fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, poetry and screenwriting, as well as all forms within those genres — including (though not limited to) literary & commercial genre fiction; memoir & narrative nonfiction; one, two, and three act plays, as well as experimental structures; contemporary & experimental poetry; blockbuster & independent film, dramatic & comedic television. Each of our students also has the opportunity to work in a secondary genre of their choice for their first six quarters, either effectively as a minor where they focus on a single secondary genre, or by dipping their toes into a different form each term.  This is central to our philosophy of helping you to become a well-rounded professional writer — one who is capable of a sustained career by being skilled in more than one arena, so that you’re always able to find the right medium for the stories you wish to tell. It’s the touchstone of our program and of our exceptionally successful graduates.

We’re also home to The Coachella Review, an online literary magazine boasting excellent fiction, nonfiction, poetry and writing on the arts. The Coachella Review is student edited and features an intensive magazine publishing compendium for interested students.

Students work one-on-one with their professors during the course of seven quarters of online study and five concentrated 10-day residencies at the beautiful Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, just minutes from Palm Springs, CA. We recommend that you visit our residency page to see our most recent guest faculty line-up, as well as to get a flavor for what you can expect from a typical residency week — it’s a jam packed time, but also, we think, the best time of the year! During the final thesis residency, all students have their thesis manuscripts read by agents, producers and publishers. Visit our blog for up-to-date news, events and updates. And please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have or to set-up a residency visit.

The Low Residency MFA is also devoted to providing a space where hard conversations can take place about the world we live in, the world we want, and the world we imagine. We’re dedicated to inclusivity, respect, and, in the spirit of Fiat Lux, shining a light on the darkest aspects of our society. As UC President Janet Napolitano said, “The tragic deaths of George Floyd, countless other African Americans and people of color, as well as the justified anger and fury in ensuing protests, speak to the institutionalized racism that has plagued this country in the same way it has perpetually defined the everyday realities of individuals who face intolerance, discrimination, marginalization and bigotry. As leaders of the largest public research university in the United States, we feel that silence is complicity: We must put an end to these incidents now. No matter how difficult, we must individually and collectively reflect on the lives lost unnecessarily, and address head on the systemic problems and challenges we all face as a society. And we must do so – unified – with a sense of urgency and unwavering commitment to end these unnecessary race-based killings and violence.” What that means for a program of writers is this: We will amplify the causes for those who cannot or will not or are too afraid to speak. We will champion those who fight oppression. We will write words that matter beyond the single moment, we will write words which hang a lantern over society, and we will write words that are unflinching in their truth. Silence in these times is complicity and we pledge to foster the loudest conversations we can have.