FAQ

What is an MPW degree?

The MPW is a professional Master's Degree in creative writing, consisting of 30 credits. The program can be completed in two years if students are studying full-time or up to five years if they are part-time. While many of our graduates go on to careers in the entertainment industry, the arts and humanities, journalism, new media, publishing, marketing, and PR, many MPW graduates have gone on to teaching careers at universities and colleges across the nation. The MPW is a terminal professional degree since it is not intended to lead to an MFA or Ph.D.

What can I do with an MPW degree?

MPW graduates have become working novelists, journalists, editors, screenwriters, television producers, copywriters, ghost writers, and teachers. Visit our Alumni page to see what some of our graduates have been doing.

When and where are classes held?

Most classes are held Monday through Thursday, starting at either 4:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. All classes are held on the main USC campus in Los Angeles.

What is the application deadline?

[Update 12/20/13: The MPW program is no longer accepting applications for admission, and we will no longer be enrolling new students. Unfortunately, we do not have any additional information that we can give you at this time.]

Recommended dates:

  • Fall: June 1st
  • Spring: November 1st
  • Summer: March 1st
  • For those applicants interested in being considered for an Assistant Lectureship (details below), the deadline is December 1st; Assistant Lectureship nominees are only selected from the Fall applicant pool.

These are only recommended dates; it is always in your best interest to submit your application and supplemental materials as early as possible. We will accept applications after these dates, but, if we do not receive all of your materials in time for you to begin in your desired semester, you will be notified and given the option to defer your application for up to one year without needing to submit new materials.

Please Note: Applications are not considered complete until all required materials, including transcripts and GRE scores, are received. Keep in mind transcripts may take up to a month’s time to be processed by the Admissions office once they arrive at USC and GRE scores take two weeks to reach us once the test is completed.

What are the minimum academic requirements to apply?

Applicants are expected to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a minimum GRE verbal score of 153 and quantitative score of 144. (Exams taken before November 2011 fall under a different scoring system, and the minimum combined verbal and quantitative score for those exams is 1000.)

Can I apply if I do not meet the minimum requirements?

Admission into the MPW program is competitive. In all applications, we are looking for a strong writing commitment and capability, particularly in the writing sample and personal statement of interest. A GRE score below the minimum requirement will be considered as long as the cumulative undergraduate GPA is a 3.0 or above. If the GPA is below 3.0, the minimum required GRE scores are necessary.

What GRE code do I use?

The GRE code for USC is 4852. Leave the "department code" blank. Do NOT select the "Creative Writing" option.

Can I submit GRE scores that are more than five years old?

Exam scores are only valid for five years. We cannot accept GRE scores more than five years old.

What is your policy on deferred admission?

An applicant may defer their application for up to one calendar year. After that, applicants must submit a new online application.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

We suggest that your letters come from accomplished writers who know your writing personally and can speak to the development of your voice, work ethic, and your motivation and ability to incorporate direction into the improvement of your craft. Writers who know your work well could include professional colleagues, business superiors, or past faculty. Letters from past faculty are not required—especially for those applicants who have been out of school for some time and are no longer in contact with their faculty—but these letters can be helpful in assessing how well you might thrive in the program. Letters of recommendation from co-workers, someone you have supervised, or personal and family friends are inappropriate.

How much are tuition and fees?

Please go to the online Schedule of Classes for the current semester's tuition and fees.

Does MPW offer any scholarships or financial aid of any kind?

To learn about opportunities for finanical assistance, visit our Financial Assistance page.

What is an Assistant Lectureship?

A limited number of highly competitive Assistant Lectureships—or ALships—are available each Fall semester through the USC Writing Program and are selected based on the merits of the MPW application. ALships are highly intensive teaching fellowships that span two academic years and include a stipend and tuition remission. Assistant Lecturership Fellows manage the writing component of the General Education classes offered by a number of departments at USC.

If you are interested in an ALship for the Fall semester, all your application materials must be submitted by December 1st. In your Personal Statement, include a few sentences on why you'd like to be considered. If you are nominated, we will notify you in early- to mid-February. We send our nominations, along with your application, to the USC Writing Program in early March where final decisions are made.

Can I visit MPW?

Throughout the year, MPW holds several Open Houses, which give prospective students an opportunity to learn more about the program from the program director, staff, and select faculty members. To be notified about upcoming Open Houses, contact us.

What if I have more questions?

Feel free to contact us for more information.


  • Master of Professional Writing Program
  • University of Southern California
  • 3501 Trousdale Parkway
  • Mark Taper Hall of Humanities, THH 355
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-0355