MFA Project



An MFA project provides prose students an alternative to the comprehensive exam taken by poetry students. The project is a student-designed endeavor that must be completed at any time during the MFA and prior to degree conferral. 


MFA projects should be thoughtfully planned, proposed and completed, and are intended to enhance a student’s growth as a writer. Although subject matter and form vary greatly, the magnitude of the project should be comparable to the 20-author bibliography and exam undertaken by poetry students. An MFA project should complement a student's program of study, aligning with his or her academic and career goals.  Because MFA projects vary so widely, there are no length requirements. Students may receive university credit for their projects but must then meet the university’s guidelines for independent studies, including the prerequisite of at least 15 graduate credit hours already earned. Most students opt not to complete the MFA project for credit, and so do not need to meet these guidelines. All projects should be timed to benefit a student's individual development as a writer.


Some commonly completed MFA projects are listed below. Students are not limited to these projects.

  1. BIBLIOGRAPHY AND READING LIST: This project involves the development of a 20-author list, written rationale for those selections and an annotated bibliography. Students may base their annotated bibliography on a selection of works from their original author list and should delve more deeply into the influence of those works upon their own writing. (Click here for an example.)
  2. SERVE AS AN EDITOR OR READER: Students must serve for at least one year as editor, department/category editor, or prose reader of an on-campus journal such as Phoebe or So To Speak. A project proposal should specify both the journal and the student’s position. The project may take the form of an essay that explores lessons learned while in the role of editor or reader, as well as possible advice for future editorial staff.
  3. EDITING PROJECT: Editing an anthology of short stories or essays based on theme or style is another option for the MFA project. The proposal should outline specific tasks such as the selection process for works to be included, as well as writing headnotes, introductions and other material. Approval of the project does not rely on publication of the anthology, although students are encouraged to explore publication opportunities.
  4. CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: This project involves developing and teaching a writing workshop or seminar series for elementary or high school students, adult learners, or another group of writers. The project proposal should specify the course’s organization, necessary pedagogical preparation, and how the workshop will be run. Completion of this project requires an essay exploring the experience, either while the workshop is running, or after it has finished. Development of coursework taught at Mason by TAs does not count as an MFA project.


Below are recent examples of MFA projects undertaken by our students:

- An examination of the transition from print media to electronic media and its effect on a reader's experience, especially while completing a thesis and blogging

-An in-depth look at online publishing with a discussion of artistic sustainability, and strategies for staying involved in the world of online publication after graduation

-A project that focuses on both the time spent as a reader for Phoebe and the submission process to Phoebe and other journals

-A summary of Fall for the Book Festival-related work, problems encountered, and advice for future FFTB volunteers


Step-by-Step: Proposal to Completion:


Fill out the project proposal cover sheet and submit it to our Graduate Academic Coordinator, Jay Patel, as an email attachment or in hard copy form. MFA projects are typically proposed during a student's second year of study.


MFA projects must be completed prior to a student's planned conferral date. Typically, MFA projects are proposed in the second year and completed in the third year, but this timeline is not mandatory.


Unless otherwise specified in the project proposal, a hard copy of the MFA project must be submitted to the Graduate Academic Coordinator, Jay Patel. The project will be passed to the Director for approval. Once the project is approved, paperwork will be processed to show that the student has met the MFA project requirement.

Students completing the MFA project for credit should inform the Graduate Academic Coordinator, Jay Patel, when taking the independent study associated with the project. Upon completion of the independent study, paperwork will be processed to show that the student has met the MFA project requirement.

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