MFA in Creative Writing

A Center for Literary Arts and Publishing Practice

Working Artists, Dedicated Teachers

The most important factor in choosing an MFA program is the faculty with whom you will study. A residential program affords students the time to focus on their art, further develop their practice, and explore the publishing landscape by writers who have navigated it . Check out our highly acclaimed MFA faculty here!

George Mason MFA Faculty

Pictured (top row l-r) with recent publications:

Helon Habila (fiction), Travelers (W.W. Norton), The Chibok Girls (Penguin)
Sally Keith (poetry), River House (Milkweed Editions), The Fact of the Matter (Milkweed Editions)
Tania James (fiction), Loot (Knopf), The Tusk That Did the Damage (Vintage Books)
Alexia Arthurs (fiction), How to Love a Jamaican (Penguin Random House)
Vivek Narayanan (poetry), After (New York Review Books)

Pictured (bottom row l-r) with recent publications:

Eric Pankey (poetry), Not Yet Transfigure (Orison Books), Alias: Prose Poems (Free Verse Editions)
Courtney Brkic (fiction), The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown), The Stone Fields: An Epitaph for the Living (FS&G)
Kyoko Mori (nonfiction), Yarn: Remembering the Way Home (Gemmamedia Books), Barn Cat (Gemmamedia Books)
Peter Streckfus (poetry), Errings (Fordham University Press), The Cuckoo (Yale University Press) 
Tim Denevi (nonfiction), Freak Kingdom (PublicAffairs/Hachette), Hyper (Simon & Schuster)

NEWS: MFA Fiction Professor Tania James Long-Listed for National Book Award (read article)


Creativity, Culture, and Community

Faculty will guide your life as a writer at Mason, but so will peer writers in your community. And you will form a family of artists who will celebrate accomplishments and commiserate rejections with you throughout a creative life. Together, students curate a reading series called Kindling, work as staff or volunteer as readers for the literary journals phoebe and So To Speak, attend events or volunteer to help with Fall for the Book literary programs, and meet in D.C. for any number of literary or cultural events. 

With the numerous programs, publications, and opportunities generated by the entities that comprise Watershed Lit, you will never be at a loss to engage a broad range of writers and the general public through the literary arts. 

By the end of your MFA journey, when you read along with your peers at our annual Graduate Student Reading and Reception, you will come to fully realize the important connections and conversations you've had--and will continue to have--with so many like-minded, yet diverse writers.

About the MFA Program

Founded in 1980, Mason's MFA program boasts a national reputation with internationally recognized faculty who you will work with to develop your literary art. In addition to being regularly published, our faculty are active members in organizations like PEN/Faulkner, the Academy of American Poets, and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which are exactly the associations you need to sustain a vibrant writerly life.

This 48-credit-hour, residential program offers concentrations in three genres--fiction, nonfiction, and poetry--and is typically completed in three years. The curriculum is designed to deliver a balance of scholarship and production with a generous amount of electives so that students can chart a path through the program that both adheres to our tradition and is unique to them.

For students of both poetry and prose, the Forms course (3 credits) is intended to provide core learning of written forms and literary traditions, and we advise students to register for the appropriate class in their concentration during their first semester. The course requires extensive and varied reading and considers the historical aspects of each form, frequently progressing across time to contemporary published works. In addition, each Forms course requires that students experiment with style and technique in a workshop-type setting.

Program architecture includes 6 credits of craft lecture (hybrid classes that offer a combination of reading and writing, and focus on a specific aspect of each genre), 6 credits of literature, 15 credits of electives, and 9 credits of workshop, the fundamental MFA experience.  

Unique program requirements include an "other concentration" course (3 credits) and a Visiting Writers course (1 credit). Regarding the former, our philosophy is that experimenting across genres creates more fully-formed writers, bringing together practitioners of different disciplines in order to facilitate a richer artistic dialogue. As for the latter, Mason brings accomplished Visiting Writers in each concentration to campus each semester for unique in-class exchanges, a public reading, and social time for further conversations between visiting authors and MFA students. Enrollment for Visiting Writers courses is capped at 10 to ensure highly engaging experiences for our students.

The program concludes with 6 credits of Thesis taken in consecutive semesters and directed by a faculty member in students' appropriate concentration. 

Small Program Feel with Large University Amenities

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. As such, MFA students feel like a small family in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with all the benefits of attending a large university: first-rate library, classrooms with the latest technology, excellent shuttle system, options for eating, and resources for remaining mindful. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 37,000 students (undergraduate and graduate students, combined) from 130 countries and all 50 states. It includes campuses in Arlington, Manassas, and the main campus in Fairfax. Starting in 1972, Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.















MFA APPLICATION DEADLINES: January 15 for priority admission and funding consideration, February 15 to still be considered for possible funding, and April 15 to still be considered for fall admission. Please follow this link to start your MFA in Creative Writing application.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: Mason's campus is a richly diverse and dynamic space. We receive several applications from international students each year. For more information that is pertinent to international applicants, click here.

OFFICE OF GRADUATE ADMISSIONS: All prospective students planning to submit an application should also read additional information regarding requirements and policies for all applicants to graduate programs at Mason.

For questions, to request more information, or to schedule a visit (sit in on a class, talk to faculty and current students, check out campus), email


Literature Writing Creativity