MFA Academic Overview

Welcome, MFA students. Your success in the Creative Writing Program (and beyond) is important to us, and this website is designed to help you complete your degree in creative writing. We encourage you to visit often. 

For students of both poetry and prose, the Forms course 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 (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) 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.

We encourage entering students to also take their first of two required Craft courses. These hybrid classes offer a combination of reading and writing, and focus on a specific aspect of each genre. In Fiction, the Craft course might examine characterization, plot development or setting. A poetry Craft class could offer study in prose poems, hybrid forms, or ekphrasis. In nonfiction, the distinction between autobiography and memoir, or the essay, might be the focus.

During their time in the MFA Program, students will take at least three Workshops. Each concentration offers both a regular Workshop (at the 600- level) and an Advanced Workshop (at the 700-level). The regular Workshop is geared towards students who are generating material and experimenting with different forms and projects, while the Advanced Workshop focuses on revision and mastery. Our Program is unique in also requiring students to take an out-of-genre Workshop, something that many other creative writing programs neither allow nor encourage. 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.

Two required literature courses are also part of our MFA curriculum, and they typically include both traditional textual analysis and creative responses to the texts. Electives may include further Workshops, literature courses, craft seminars, or pedagogical courses.

Our two pedagogical courses focus on instruction of composition and literature. While they are required for all teaching graduate assistants, they are also open to non-TA students. The courses prepare writers to teach at the college or university level after the completion of their degrees.