Everything You Need to Know About Applying for PLNU’s Master’s in Writing

By: Sofia Lo Piano

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Master’s in Writing program was launched Fall 2023. As the 2023-2024 school year approaches its conclusion, it’s almost time for year two of the program. If writing and teaching are of interest to you, this program may be the right fit. Here’s everything you need to know about the application process and what it means to be a student in this program. For even more information visit the program website.

The early application for Fall 2024 was due Jan. 20, 2024, while the Fall 2024 late application is due June 1, 2024. Each year there is a cohort of 10 students accepted into the program.

The application requires a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and official transcripts sent directly from this institution. 

Official transcripts must be emailed to gradprocessing@pointloma.edu or mailed to the PLNU address.

For PLNU alumni, there is no need to request transcripts from the PLNU Office of Records. Instead, communicate with your admissions counselor about getting your transcripts received. 

The entirely online application includes a nonrefundable $50 application fee, which is waived for PLNU alumni, current or former military and their dependents, as well as PLNU employees.

The first supplemental document of the application is a one-page cover letter in which applicants discuss their intentions with this program, answering the question: “What do you want to do with your degree?” In this cover letter, applicants must also state their preferred genre of study, provide details about a project they hope to work on, and describe who they are as a writer.

The next is a creative writing sample. Poetry applicants must submit 10 pages of poetry. Creative nonfiction and fiction applicants must submit 25-30 pages of prose.

A one-page teaching statement is also required. Applicants must explain how they envision themselves as a writing teacher in the context of PLNU’s Christian, Wesleyan background. This is also the space to describe any previous teaching experience and to characterize who they are as teachers, including their personality, pedagogy, style and interests. 

The final components to the application include a resume and letter of recommendation. This letter should be from someone who can attest to the applicant’s ability to work with others, tutor and/or teach.

M.A. Writing (MAW) students voiced a similar appreciation for the tight-knit writing community the program provides. They agreed that the community aspect of exploring writing and teaching together is one of the most rewarding parts of their experience thus far. MAW student Emma McCoy added that it can be difficult to find a writing workshop group outside of an academic setting, and one of the greatest benefits of a Master’s in writing is that people are reading your work. MAW student Meghan Coley adds that it is a fun learning environment where everyone is lifting each other up. 

Abigail Franklin, the only MAW student who did not attend PLNU for undergrad, said that she had been looking for a Master’s program in creative writing with a teaching emphasis. Before ever stepping foot in California, she knew this program was everything she wanted.

“I’m so glad to be here. And it is in fact everything I hoped it would be,”  Franklin said.

This was the only program that Sophie Cornwell found that with it having a balance of pedagogy and creative writing, she feels it offers the best of both. 

The students spend much of their time attending teaching classes, shadowing professors, tutoring in the writing center and observing classes. McCoy said the teaching emphasis was a draw for her. It is important to know if you are interested in teaching before applying, she said.

“If you have no interest in teaching whatsoever, this is not the program for you. And if you’re kind of on the fence, this also might not be the program for you,”  McCoy said.

Cornwell is interested in teaching, but is also open to other opportunities. For anyone who is unsure if they want to teach, she said that she thinks “this is a very safe program to figure that out.” 

“Even if you finish and don’t see yourself as a teacher, you will still have a Master’s degree in writing. Ultimately, the program is an experience designed to help you build up your resume,”   Cornwell said.

Before even beginning the application process, McCoy emphasized the importance of knowing what you want out of your time in the program. Having a specific goal is key. She said this could be reaching a certain career, completing a project, or having the opportunity and space to write. 

 Coley recommends coming in with a specific project that you want to complete in your time here. You don’t need to have it started, but it is helpful to have a solid thought, idea or concept when applying. 

Aliah Fabros, a current fourth-year writing student and MAW applicant said that if you know you are interested in this program, start working on your writing samples now. These samples are not something to be done last minute. 

She also suggests providing specifics in your application about why you want to work with these professors. If you already know them, explain exactly what it would mean to you to continue working alongside them. The opportunity to work with those who are already familiar with her writing style and invested in her growth and future is a big motivator for her to study in this specific program. As someone who has been a PLNU student since the first mention of a Master’s in Writing program, she feels connected to it and to the community inherent to the program. 

There is no requirement for the type of bachelor’s degree needed for this program;  one of the current students was a computer science major. For students who are not quite sure if this is something they would be interested in, McCoy recommends taking a writing class as an elective to see if you like it. 

Cornwell advises anyone interested in the program to talk to LJWL faculty and/or to reach out via email (all of their emails are on the website). They are open to questions and would be happy to walk you through everything you need to know. 

As far as jumping into the process of applying to graduate school, Cornwell said, “If it makes you excited, try it. If it’s scary, I’d still say try it.”

Franklin agreed, saying that a combination of intrigue and intimidation might mean this is something to explore further. Having experience is less important than the fact that you are thinking critically about what you want to do and engage with, she said.

Questions about the application or the program can be directed to an enrollment counselor and/or Robbie Makestaad, rmaakest@pointloma.edu. 

And if you are ready to apply, get started today: Link to apply.