Writing, M.A.

Writing, M.A.


Writers connect with and empower people by sharing stories, experiences, perspectives, and other complex forms of knowledge through the written word. Elevate your writing craft and your career with a Master of Arts in Writing. 

Earn your master’s in writing at PLNU in two years. Whether you’re seeking to strengthen your practice in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, PLNU’s M.A. in Writing program is designed to expand your knowledge of written art and craft through a flexible curriculum and expert mentorship. 

Graduates of undergraduate English or writing programs — those who demonstrate clear expertise in the field of creative writing, are interested in focused time and space to expand the art and craft of their writing, and are interested in writing theory, tutoring, and pedagogy — are well-situated to pursue this master’s program.

PLNU Writing Graduate Teaching Assistant Positions

M.A. in Writing students will have the opportunity to be selected for various graduate teaching assistant positions. The positions require 20 hours of work per week and, during employment, compensate students with a 100% tuition remission and approximately a $10,000 annual stipend. Most students will tutor in the Point Loma campus Writing Center during year one of the program, and then in year two of the program, students will have the opportunity to be selected to teach WRI 1010: College Composition.

Relevant Experience

Strengthen your craft in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry courses, building toward a creative thesis project. Further, you will:

  • Study literature in a variety of genres.
  • Learn editing skills while working on a state-of-the-art online literary journal.

Full-time graduate teaching assistants will have the opportunity to:

  • Take robust writing pedagogy courses.
  • Tutor in a Point Loma campus writing center.
  • Partner with a writing faculty mentor while learning how to teach college-level writing.
  • Teach WRI 1010: College Composition as an instructor of record.

Professional Preparedness

PLNU's M.A. in Writing program is designed to prepare knowledgeable and career-focused professionals who can write, teach, communicate, and tutor — practical skills that are in high demand in nearly any industry students are interested in pursuing. 

While learning from faculty and professional colleagues through a flexible and customizable curriculum, M.A. in Writing students will:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of how to faithfully expand the art and craft of their writing to evidence literary and stylistic merit.
  • Create various forms and genres of writing.
  • Collaborate in writing workshops.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the conventions and terminology of creative writing.
  • Foster relationships with well-known writers through PLNU's Writer’s Symposium by the Sea.
  • Collaborate in editorial and publishing processes through campus publications for external audiences.
  • Gain exposure to literary journals, literary agents, and editors. 
  • Perform advanced creative work to formal audiences while demonstrating strategies for audience engagement and oral communication of written work.
  • Develop the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in a professional writing center environment.
  • Build and practice writing theory and pedagogy in the university composition classroom to prepare for employment as writing teachers. 

Program Genres

M.A. in Writing students must select a genre of focus when applying, which will be pursued in their master’s thesis — an independent thesis project written under the guidance of a faculty member at the culmination of their degree program. The project will be a book-length work of poetry or prose, or a significant number of pages toward a longer project. 


Students interested in writing novels, novellas, and/or short stories will study with Dr. Breeann Kirby


Students interested in writing essays, memoir, and/or researched nonfiction will study with Professor Robbie Maakestad.


Students interested in writing poetry will study with Dr. Katie Manning

Pedagogy Concentration

M.A. in Writing graduate teaching assistants will be enrolled in a 6-unit, two-course sequence of pedagogy courses which will prepare them to tutor in the Point Loma campus Writing Center during their first year in the program, and to teach WRI 1010: College Composition in the program’s second year. During this two-course pedagogy sequence, graduate students will be assigned a teaching mentor and will shadow an instructor’s WRI 1010: College Composition course. All students will tutor in the Point Loma campus Writing Center during the pedagogy course sequence, and then toward the end of the first year of the program, students will apply to teach WRI 1010: College Composition. Select students will have the opportunity to teach as instructors of record during their second year in the program. Students in the Pedagogy Concentration will study with Dr. Holland Prior, director of the Writing Center.

4+1 Writing, M.A. Track

The 4+1 Writing M.A. track allows you to earn your master’s more quickly than the traditional timeline. This will allow you to start earning graduate-level credits as you complete your upper division baccalaureate courses. 

If you’re currently enrolled in the English B.A. program or planning to, talk to your academic advisor to find out how you can earn your master’s in writing strategically and efficiently. Students in the B.A. program must decide to enroll in the 4+1 track by the end of their sophomore year.

Visiting Writer Series

Paulette Jiles headshot

Paulette Jiles, February 20

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. Her newest book, Chenneville will be published in September 2023. She is known for her books Enemy Women Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.

Elizabeth Gilbert headshot

Elizabeth Gilbert, February 22

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels City of Girls, The Signature of All Things, and Stern Men; the story collection Pilgrims; and the nonfiction books Big Magic, Eat Pray Love, Committed, and The Last American Man. A finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN/Hemingway Award, Gilbert began her career as a journalist.

Susan Orlean headshot

Susan Orlean, February 23

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books, including The Library Book, Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award–winning film Adaptation. Her most recent book is On Animals.

Past Visiting Writers

Fall 2023
Jason Magabo Perez
Eliza Jane Brazier
Davon Loeb

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 — September 2, 2024

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 Early Application — January 20, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Late Application — June 1, 2024

All applications submitted after this date will be reviewed based on availability of space.

Start Application

The Selection Process

The educational context at PLNU will challenge you to live a full life that integrates the pursuit of knowledge with beliefs, values, and actions. While honoring diverse perspectives and beliefs, Christian values and principles are woven into the educational experience. We understand your application is not only a reflection of you as a student; it reflects you as a person. At PLNU, we holistically evaluate your academic history, work and life experience, background, and circumstances to determine admission into a graduate program. Please note, an interview is not guaranteed for all applicants. Your undergraduate GPA is an important piece of your application, but if you do not meet the minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0, you may still be eligible for admission based on your application package as well as the exceptions policy per your particular program.* Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor in the admissions department, who will advise you regarding your qualifications and provide specific information about the admission-under-exceptions process.

To be admitted into PLNU's M.A. in Writing, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript from that institution indicating the completion of an undergraduate degree.

If you have any questions about your qualifications or the program in general, we encourage you to contact your enrollment counselor.

*Exceptions Policy: If you have a GPA below 3.0 in your baccalaureate degree, you will need to speak with your enrollment counselor for more information on the exceptions materials needed for your particular program.

The curriculum of the M.A. in Writing program includes 30 total units. All students in the program will complete 12 units of core courses, 6 units of genre workshops, 6 units of literature courses, and 6 elective units. Graduate TAs will complete an additional 6-unit Pedagogy Concentration to prepare them for tutoring and teaching. 

Application Checklist

Note: The application is completed entirely online with the exception of transcripts, which can be submitted electronically or directly to PLNU, and test scores, which should be submitted electronically.

  1. Submit online application for admissions (including $50 non-refundable application fee, which is waived for PLNU alumni, current or former military and their dependents, and PLNU employees).
  2. Submit official transcripts with proof of earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution.* (If you are a PLNU alumnus, please notify your counselor to have your transcripts retrieved. You do not need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records.)

    Official printed transcripts must be mailed to:
    Point Loma Nazarene University
    Office of Graduate Admissions
    3900 Lomaland Dr.
    San Diego, CA 92106

    Official electronic transcripts must be emailed to:

    *Please note, official transcripts must be sent directly from the regionally accredited institution.
  3. Submit a one-page cover letter. Specifically state how you would like to use your master’s degree from PLNU to further your career. Also make sure you clearly touch on these three points:
    1. Clarify what genre of writing you hope to pursue in this program.
    2. Describe what project you hope to work on within this program. 
    3. Describe who you are as a writer.
  4. Submit a creative writing sample. For poetry applications, turn in a packet of 10 pages of poetry; for fiction and nonfiction applications, turn in a packet of 25-30 pages of prose.
  5. Submit a one-page teaching statement. Make sure to clearly touch on these three points:
    1. Clarify how you envision yourself as a writing teacher fitting within Point Loma Nazarene University’s Christian, Wesleyan higher education context. 
    2. Describe previous teaching experience, if any. 
    3. Describe yourself as a teacher — personality, pedagogy style, interests, etc. 
  6. Submit a resume/vita.
  7. Submit one letter of recommendation from someone who can speak to your ability to work with others, tutor, and/or teach. Include name, title, phone, and email for reference.

Start Application

Career Opportunities

PLNU's M.A. in Writing program develops writers who are well-prepared across a wide variety of genres, styles, formats, and audiences. You’ll gain knowledge and experience while developing your personal portfolio that will help you lead a successful and fulfilling career in the following areas:

  • Fiction and nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Technical Writing 
  • Journalism
  • Film and media
  • Editing and publishing
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Nonprofit or governmental organizations
  • Education and academia

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Graduate Teaching Assistant Positions

We offer paid graduate teaching assistant positions to admitted students. For more information about these positions and their availability please click here.

If you have any questions, please contact your enrollment counselor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's M.A. in Writing program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript that indicates the completion of an undergraduate degree. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. If you don’t meet the minimum GPA requirement, please contact your enrollment counselor regarding the exceptions process.

Where will my classes be held?

Classes, teaching, and tutoring will be conducted on the Point Loma campus.

Can I work while completing the program?

The pedagogy experiences of tutoring and teaching will already require 20 hours per week on top of graduate coursework. Additional employment likely would be a significant challenge for students, so it is not recommended.

How does the stipend work for this program?

Funded graduate students will work 20 hours per week tutoring at the Point Loma campus Writing Center (year one) or teaching WRI 1010: College Composition and tutoring in the Point Loma campus Writing Center (year two). In exchange, funded graduate students will receive tuition remission and approximately a $10,000 stipend annually.

What work do I have to do to qualify for the stipend and tuition remission?

In year one of the program, you'll work mainly in the Point Loma campus Writing Center. In year two of the program, eligible students will serve as graduate teaching instructors in the College Composition program as instructors of record for WRI 1010: College Composition courses in addition to tutoring in the Point Loma campus Writing Center.

Do I have to be a Nazarene to teach as a graduate teaching assistant in the program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally. In regard to the opportunity to teach WRI 1010: College Composition as a graduate teaching assistant, applicants must interview toward the end of program year 1 and demonstrate how they fit within Point Loma Nazarene University’s Christian, Wesleyan context.

Will I be taxed on the stipend and tuition remission?

TBD. Please reach out to the program director for specific information on this question in the meantime.

How long does it take to complete the program?

It’s possible to complete the program in two years.

How many days a week do classes meet?

Each class will usually meet once a week, though in some instances, they may meet two or three times a week.

How large will the classes be?

Class sizes are estimated to be 10-20 people.

What if I have work or personal commitments that interfere with completing the program in 24 months?

We understand that work or personal commitments might make it difficult to complete your degree in the time frame. We'll work to accommodate you as best as possible to ensure you finish your degree while fulfilling your other obligations. For specific questions related to your circumstances, please reach out to your enrollment counselor.

Does PLNU provide housing for this program?

No, we do not provide housing for this program.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

We also will accept a 110 minimum score from DuoLingo as proof of proficiency. 

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Writing, M.A. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information