Welcome to George Mason University’s Creative Writing Program. Founded in 1980, Mason Creative Writing is a community of writers in Northern Virginia that encompasses a three-year residential MFA program and one of just 30 BFA programs in the country, both taught by highly acclaimed faculty, plus several opportunities for students to engage the literary arts and publishing practice.
Here are some highlights of what creative writing students at Mason experience:
- Students in both the undergraduate and graduate programs focus on one of three concentrations – fiction, nonfiction, or poetry – while being offered a variety of ways to explore writing in other disciplines.
- On average, nearly 65% of full-time MFA students are funded by teaching assistantships, professional assistantships, or fellowships (four third-year fellowships recognize outstanding writers in the program and support their thesis work).
- Graduate Teaching Assistants receive specialized training as writing center tutors, exceptional pedagogical instruction, and on-going support upon entering the classroom. Graduate Professional Assistants gain unparalleled experience as editors, submission readers, administrators, marketers, project managers, and team builders.
- The program is developing into a center of literary arts and publishing practice that includes a nationally prominent literary festival (Fall for the Book), a student-managed “teaching press” (Stillhouse Press), a highly regarded online journal (Poetry Daily, in partnership with it founding nonprofit organization), a center for international writers (Cheuse Center), an annual writers’ conference (New Leaves), and two acclaimed literary journals (phoebe and So to Speak).
- Annual spring writing contests for Mason students celebrate great literary art in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
- Long-standing ties with regional nonprofits, arts organizations, reading series, publishers, and bookstores afford a diversity of internship opportunities for students.
- The program actively promotes part-time and full-time writing and editing opportunities for students, new job announcements from a variety of sources, and news about faculty, current student, and alumni accomplishments.
- Faculty, students, and alumni publish in small and major presses, attracting critical acclaim.
- Proximity to Washington, D.C., exposes students to limitless cultural opportunities, job prospects, and community building beyond campus.
Many MFA programs offer financial support to attract students, but at Mason we also believe in providing opportunities to support students during their time here and after they graduate. Pictured here are two recent alumni of the program—Sam Ashworth and Liesel Hamilton, both MFA ’18—and one current student, Sofia Puente-Lay (center). Sam and Liesel both received travel grants from the Cheuse Center for International Writers to pursue research in France and in Germany and Poland, respectively, during their third year in the program; read about their travels and their projects here. Sofia was the first recipient of the Robert Raymond Scholarship, recently formed to celebrate diversity in our student population; read an interview with Sofia here.
What truly sets a fine arts program apart, however, is its faculty. Mason boasts a rich history and current team of award-winning writers. Fiction faculty include Courtney Angela Brkic, Steve Goodwin, Helon Habila, Tania James, and Susan Richards Shreve. Nonfiction faculty include Tim Denevi and Kyoko Mori. And poetry faculty includes Jennifer Atkinson, Sally Keith, Eric Pankey, and Peter Streckfus. Full bios of each author are available on the program’s faculty page.
Mason students don’t just join a program, they become part of a community that supports each other each day and long after their degree is finished. We invite you to explore this website and to reach out to Gregg Wilhelm, Director of Creative Writing.