The MFA program's concentration in fiction is an immersive, three-year apprenticeship that combines a strong foundation in craft with the freedom of a studio degree. Our aim is to help students refine their creative voices and to prepare them for life as a writer in its various incarnations.
All entering students take "Forms of Fiction," a class that offers intensive practice in the formal elements of fiction. They subsequently select courses from a varied curriculum that is designed to balance a focus on craft with creative latitude: workshops, literature courses, and seminars that combine reading and writing within a specific genre, or on a specific topic. Students explore the novel, short story, and flash fiction, and are required to take an "other genre" course to examine the intersections between genres, as well as their points of departure.
The program's culminating experience is the MFA Thesis. The thesis affords all students the chance to assemble a book-length manuscript of poems, stories or essays, or a novel or a portion of a novel-length work. From the academic perspective, the thesis demonstrates whether a student has learned the conventions of their genre and is capable of original creative work. While most thesis projects require additional refinement, it is the hope of the faculty that talented writers will not cease creative efforts upon graduation and that the thesis project will be an avenue for on-going meaningful work.
An MFA student typically embarks on a thesis project at the start of the third year. The most successful projects are conceptualized long before this point, however. Ideally, a student has begun to generate material during the second year, and we advise all students to make full use of the summer before thesis hours even begin.
The thesis preparation and writing process, including registering for ENGH 799 Thesis Hours, is explained in the MFA handbook.