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Fiction at the University

If we can judge by the growing numbers of universities that now offer a graduate degree in creative writing (including the many new online MFA programs), the future of creative writing looks bright. Nevertheless, today there is a general feeling that fiction writing is in remission, that the advent of franchised bookstores and celebrity books have driven fiction off the shelves.

Has that situation frustrated our fiction writers of the future? Has it impacted enrollments at US university writing programs? The answer is decidedly NO. Creative-writing graduate degree programs are now becoming a standard offering at all of America's large universities, and many that are not so large. New online programs and "low residency" programs (that require limited time on campus) are giving students the opportunity to gain a graduate degree without interrupting their careers.

Creative-Writing MFA Programs

The number of "terminal-degree" MFA creative-writing programs offered at American universities is rapidly growing. They are referred to as "terminal" degrees because they are not viewed as an interim step toward the PhD. (Note: The order of the list below is based on rankings suggested by Poets & Writers Magazine.)

University of Iowa
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Virginia, Charlottesville
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Texas, Austin
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Brown University in Providence
New York University
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
University of Oregon, Eugene
Syracuse University in New York
Indiana University, Bloomington
University of California, Irvine
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Brooklyn College, CUNY
University of Montana, Missoula
Johns Hopkins University
Vanderbilt University
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Washington University, St. Louis
University of Florida, Gainesville
Columbia University in New York City
University of Notre Dame
Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia
University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Arizona State University, Tempe
Hunter College, CUNY
University of Houston
Colorado State University, Fort Collins
The New School in New York City
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
University of Washington, Seattle
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
University of Arizona, Tucson
Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia
Boston University in Massachusetts
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Ohio State University, Columbus
University of Maryland, College Park
Florida State University, Tallahassee
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Rutgers University, Newark in New Jersey
University of New Hampshire, Durham
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Texas State University, San Marcos
University of Mississippi, Oxford
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond
Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech)
American University
Bowling Green State University
University of California, Davis
Emerson College
Oregon State University
University of San Francisco
San Francisco State University
University of New Mexico
University of Pittsburgh
San Diego State University
Columbia College Chicago
University of Idaho
University of British Columbia, (Canada)
University of California, San Diego
University of Colorado
University of Memphis
New Mexico State University
Eastern Washington University
University of Wyoming
University of Georgia
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Minnesota State University, Mankato
West Virginia University
Georgia College & State University
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Chatham University
McNeese State University
University of California, Riverside
Western Michigan University
California College of the Arts
Northwestern University
Saint Mary's College of California
Boise State University
Florida International University
Mills College
Queens College, CUNY
University of New Orleans
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
University of Miami
California State University, Long Beach
City College of New York, CCNY
Old Dominion University
Iowa State University
North Carolina State University
Rutgers University, Camden
University of Baltimore
Portland State University
Roosevelt University
San Jose State University
University of Guelph-Humber, (Canada)
University of Missouri, St. Louis
University of South Florida
Adelphi University
Northern Michigan University
Otis College of Art & Design
University of Kansas
University of South Carolina
University of Utah
Naropa University
Oklahoma State University
University of Missouri, Kansas City
California State University, Fresno
Chapman University
Georgia State University
Hamline University
Minnesota State University, Moorhead
University of Central Florida
University of Texas, El Paso
Wichita State University
Bard College
Butler University
Florida Atlantic University
Long Island University, Brooklyn
Rosemont College
Southern Connecticut State University
State University of New York at Stony Brook Southhampton
University of Central Oklahoma
University of Southern California (Masters in Professional Writing)
Brigham Young University
California Institute of Integral Studies
California State University, Chico
California State University, San Bernardino
Chicago State University
Temple University
University of the South
University of Texas-Pan American
University of Victoria, (Canada)

That list has grown dramatically in the last decade, and it continues to grow every year.

MFA Program Rankings

* Below is a table from the U. S. News and World Report's ranking of the nation's top university creative-writing MFA programs.

Creative Writing - Master's Degree Programs

Rank/School Average reputation score (5 = highest)
1. University of Iowa 4.5
2. Johns Hopkins University (MD) 4.2
2. University of Houston 4.2
4. Columbia University (NY) 4.1
4. University of Virginia 4.1
6. New York University 4.0
6. University of California-Irvine 4.0
6. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 4.0
9. University of Arizona 3.9
10. Boston University 3.8
10. Cornell University (NY) 3.8
10. University of Massachusetts-Amherst 3.8
10. University of Montana 3.8
10. University of Washington 3.8
10. Washington University (MO) 3.8
16. Brown University (RI) 3.7
16. Indiana University-Bloomington 3.7
16. University of Arkansas 3.7
16. University of Utah 3.7
20. Arizona State University 3.6
20. Emerson College (MA) 3.6
20. George Mason University (VA) 3.6
20. Hollins College (VA) 3.6
20. Sarah Lawrence College (NY) 3.6
20. Syracuse University (NY) 3.6
20. University of Florida 3.6
20. University of Maryland-College Park 3.6
20. University of Pittsburgh 3.6
20. Warren Wilson College (NC) 3.6
30. University of California-Davis 3.5
30. University of Southern Mississippi 3.5
30. University of Texas-Austin 3.5
33. Iowa State University 3.4
33. University of Missouri-Columbia 3.4
33. University of Oregon 3.4
33. University of Southern California 3.4
37. Bennington College (VT) 3.3
37. CUNY-City College of New York 3.3
37. Florida State University 3.3
37. Ohio State University 3.3
37. Ohio University 3.3
37. Penn State University-University Park 3.3
37. University of Alabama 3.3
37. University of Denver 3.3
37. University of North Carolina-Greensboro 3.3
46. San Francisco State University 3.2
46. University of Cincinnati 3.2
46. University of New Hampshire 3.2
46. Western Michigan University 3.2
50. American University (DC) 3.1
50. Colorado State University 3.1
50. Eastern Washington University 3.1
50. Georgia State University 3.1
50. New Mexico State University 3.1
50. Saint Mary's College of California 3.1
50. San Diego State University 3.1
50. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale 3.1
50. Temple University (PA) 3.1
50. University of Colorado-Boulder 3.1
50. Virginia Commonwealth University 3.1
50. Wichita State University (KS) 3.1
62. Brooklyn College (NY) 3.0
62. California State University-Fresno 3.0
62. Mills College (CA) 3.0
62. Purdue University-West Lafayette (IN) 3.0
62. SUNY-Albany 3.0
62. University of Georgia 3.0
62. University of Hawaii-Mano 3.0
62. University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign 3.0
62. University of Minnesota 3.0
62. Vermont College of Norwich University 3.0
72. Binghamton University (NY) 2.9
72. Bowling Green State University (OH) 2.9
72. Cleveland State University 2.9
72. Kansas State University 2.9
72. Michigan State University 2.9
72. Old Dominion University (VA) 2.9
72. University of Alaska-Fairbanks 2.9
72. University of Illinois-Chicago 2.9
72. University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2.9
72. University of New Mexico 2.9
72. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2.9
83. Goddard College (VT) 2.8
83. Miami University (OH) 2.8
83. New College of California 2.8
83. Oklahoma State University 2.8
83. Rutgers (NJ) 2.8
83. School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2.8
83. University of Kansas 2.8
83. University of Miami 2.8
83. University of Missouri-Kansas City 2.8
83. University of Notre Dame (IN) 2.8
83. University of San Francisco 2.8
83. University of South Carolina-Columbia 2.8

*Rankings of master's and doctoral programs in the arts, sciences, social sciences, and humanities were based on the results of surveys sent to academics in each discipline. The questionnaires asked individuals to rate the quality of the program at each institution as distinguished (5); strong (4); good (3); adequate (2); or marginal (1). Individuals who were unfamiliar with a particular school's programs were asked to select "don't know." Scores for each school were totaled and divided by the number of respondents who rated that school. In most cases, questionnaires were sent to three people at each school including deans, top administrators, and senior faculty.

Ph.D. Programs in Creative Writing

Some universities are now also offering a doctorate in creative writing. Most programs offer a Ph.D. in English, with a specialization in creative writing. These programs require the usual course work in literature, but the student can do a creative dissertation.

However, a few universities offer Ph.D. programs specifically in creative writing. Below is program information from all known U.S. universities that offer a Ph.D. in creative writing (if you know of others, please let us know).

University of Utah

The Ph.D. in Literature with Creative Writing emphasis is neither a fine arts degree nor simply a traditional literature Ph.D. with a creative dissertation. The program is designed to help the student become a better writer, as well as a writer who knows the history of his or her chosen genre and is aware of the critical theory relevant to it.

The Ph.D. is generally recognized as a writer's best preparation for a teaching career at the college or university level. Many colleges cannot afford to hire someone to teach only creative writing; the Ph.D. is strong evidence that the writer can also teach literature courses, and that she or he can take a full and active part in the academic community.


During the first two years or so of the Ph.D. residence, candidates take courses to satisfy requirements, to prepare for preliminary exams, to develop a background in literature and criticism, and to gain experience in writing. Ten courses (excluding colloquia) must be completed at the 6000- or 7000-level with grades of "B" or better.

The courses must include at least two 7000-level seminars and will fall under the following categories, and a single course may not be used to meet requirements in more than one category:


Four workshops

Literary History (with emphasis on broad knowledge of a particular period, whether or not it conforms to conventional period divisions):

At least 3 courses (including two focusing on literature before 1830, at least one of them before 1700)

Theory and Critical Problems or Special Topics in Literary and Cultural Study:

Narrative Theory and Practice or Theory and Practice of Poetry (depending on the genre of the thesis)

English 6480 (Foundations of Literary Theory--Overview)

One additional course, other than Narrative Theory and Practice or Theory and Practice of Poetry

Students who feel they need more work in literature, and who can demonstrate that they are writing steadily and well on their own, may, in consultation with the Director of Creative Writing, request permission from the Graduate Director to substitute one or two literature courses for workshops.

Procedures for forming a Supervisory Committee, obtaining the Program of Study form, developing reading lists, and preparing for qualifying exams are found in materials at the English Department and in the Policies and Requirements page on the web site.

Qualifying Examinations

In the Creative Writing program, the qualifying examinations are based on a study of the genre (fiction or poetry) of the dissertation. The students chooses three fields in which to be examined:

1. an historical study of the genre from its beginnings until approximately the end of the19th century;

2. a topical study of the genre in the 20th century;

3. a study of critical theory relevant to the genre.


During the semester following the students' successful completion of the preliminary exam, the student must submit a formal dissertation prospectus. (Students passing the Ph.D. examinations in the Spring semester will submit the prospectus in the following Fall semester.) The prospectus should be approximately ten pages in length and should include a bibliography of at least thirty works. The student will discuss this prospectus with the Supervisory Committee at a formal meeting.


By the end of the semester after the qualifying exams, the candidate will begin work on his/her dissertation. After the dissertation has been completed and the necessary approvals have been received, the defense will be scheduled by the department. Students must be registered for 3 hours in the semester of defense.

University of Southern California

The Ph.D. program provides dual emphasis in literature and creative writing, culminating in the dissertation, which combines critical analysis with creative originality. Doctoral candidates not only read and write texts as finished products of scholarship in researching their creative work's literary and historical milieu, but also consider the text as writers create it, then compose texts as writers, a process that goes to the source of the study of literature and of literature itself. This integration of literature and creative writing is reflected in the structure of the dissertation, which introduces the creative work within a context of critical inquiry, bringing together the examination and embodiment of the literary act, a new model of scholarship and creative innovation.

Ph.D. candidates in Literature and Creative Writing must pass the same departmental examination taken by Ph.D. candidates in Literature who are not working in the area of creative writing. The exam tests students in various areas of emphasis (British literature, American literature, poetry, prose, etc.) and literature and historical periods as a measure of their preparedness to undertake independent research.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Graduate Curriculum and Unit Requirements

The graduate curriculum is divided into 500-level foundation courses and 600-level advanced courses. The 500-level courses offer fundamental work in theory and in the history of British and American literatures and cultures. The 600-level courses feature advanced studies in theory, creative writing seminars and workshops and special topics. Although students will normally take 500-level courses leading up to the screening procedure and 600-level courses thereafter, students after consultation with their advisors may be permitted to take 600-level courses in the first semester of their graduate training.

The student's course work must total at least 64 units. More than eight units of 794 Doctoral Dissertation and no more than four units of 790 Research may count toward the 64 units. A maximum of 24 Transfer units approved by the graduate director, is allowed toward the 64 units minimum required by the Ph.D.


Requirements for admission to study in the Ph.D. Program in Literature and Creative Writing include:

* B.A. degree and/or transfer students with an M.A. or M.F.A in Creative Writing; GPA in undergraduate major and overall GPA;

* scores on the GRE General Test and the GRE literature Subject Test

* a creative writing sample and a critical writing sample

* applicant's statement of purpose

* letters of recommendation from at least three of applicant's college instructors

University of Denver

DU's Program in Creative Writing is the only writing program in the country that focuses exclusively on doctoral study. All of the University of Denver's graduate students in Creative Writing are PhD students. At other creative writing doctoral programs, MFA and MA students generally outnumber creative writing PhD students in workshops. We pitch our workshops and other courses to the sophisticated levels of students who have done an MA or MFA in creative writing elsewhere (recent PhD students have come from Brown, Iowa, the Art Institute of Chicago, Syracuse, U-Mass-Amherst, Florida, and many other celebrated MFA programs). We no longer offer an MA in creative writing (and we've never had an MFA).

At DU, a little more than half the graduate students in the English Department are in creative writing. The creative writing, literature, and rhetoric and theory students all work closely together in courses and on other projects. We believe that the experience of writing is crucial to a profound appreciation of literature and theory.

We encourage students to regard genre in an open way, to experiment with hybrid genres, and to create new ones. We concentrate on writing first and categories later. We do workshops in cross-genre writing, travel writing, translation, book reviews, and prose poetry, as well as poetry and fiction. More and more, the faculty regards the old workshop model as outmoded. All of our workshops integrate literature and writing, and we believe that all writing is creative writing. The doctoral program in creative writing at the University of Denver resembles a pure mathematics or philosophy PhD. Our students do a good deal of hard critical reading and research, and some of them write and publish traditional literary critical works. But we also prepare them as writers, just as a philosophy program prepares philosophers, who think and apply their historical knowledge to contemporary problems. Our PhD is a theoretical doctorate, an experience that builds creative thinking.

Our program has about eighteen writers at any one time, and it offers an intimate writing community as well as a bracing academic experience. We are able to hand-pick students from a highly competitive pool of applicants, selecting six strong and committed writers each year to become teaching fellows (we do not accept anyone without a teaching fellowship).

Georgia State University

The Ph.D. degree programs prepare students to write, to teach on the college and university levels, and to conduct scholarly research. At the end of their Ph.D. coursework, students will have acquired a productive general knowledge of the various fields of literary study in English and will have developed a concentrated preparation in their areas of specialization.

Students who specialize in creative writing must take either poetry or fiction as their major examination and must choose the other genre as their minor area. They must complete 30-39 hours of graduate coursework beyond the M.A. level, with 12 of those hours in creative writing workshops in the student's major genre, plus 20 hours of dissertation research. The following coursework requirements must be completed during the Ph.D program unless they have already been satisfied during a student's M.A. or M.F.A. program: (printer friendly pdf)

* 12 hours of workshop in major genre;

* 9-12 hours of courses in or strongly related to area of primary examination specialty, including 3 hours of Form and Theory in major genre and 3 hours of Contemporary Poetry or Fiction Craft in major genre;

* 9 hours of courses in or strongly related to area of secondary examination specialty, including 3 hours of Engl 8160 Form and Theory in secondary genre;

* 3 hours of language study, unless satisfied at M.A. level;

* 3 hours of theory, unless satisfied at the M.A. level.

Doctoral students in creative writing must submit a dissertation, a substantial written creative project of either poetry or fiction that includes a critical introduction that is acceptable to the Department of English and to the Graduate Office of the College of Arts and Sciences. While writing the dissertation, the student must register for at least 20 semester hours of Engl 8999 (Thesis Research). Students must pass a defense of the dissertation administered by the members of the student's dissertation committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Oklahoma State University

Founded in 1975, our creative writing program is an integral part of an English department committed to diversity in its offerings. The BA, MA, and PhD programs in creative writing focus on the vital relationship between fictional and poetic coursework in both writing and literary study. Concentrations in poetry writing and fiction writing are available, as are teaching assistantships, fellowships, and tuition waivers. The Cummins and Burris fellowships are awarded to entering graduate students and are renewable on a competitive basis.

Graduate students in creative writing submit original creative works prefaced by a critical introduction rather than a scholarly thesis or dissertation. Doctoral students have the option of testing in the Practical Poetics and Fictional Rhetoric comprehensive examination area. This area is designed to assess knowledge of close reading and craft. Our creative writing PhD program is unique in including this focus on literary technique at the comprehensive examination level, allowing our graduate students to integrate their work as writers into their overall academic approach.

University of Houston

The Graduate Program in Creative Writing at the University of Houston has grown dramatically and attained national prominence since its founding in 1979. Based on its reputation, scholarship, curriculum, and the quality of faculty and students, the Creative Writing Program was rated second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its first annual ranking of writing programs in 1997. The Creative Writing Program offers a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing and an M.F.A. in English: Creative Writing.

Admission to the Creative Writing Program is extremely competitive, with only 10 new poetry and 10 new fiction students selected each year from the hundreds of applications received from around the world. Because the candidates that are accepted by the program are of such high caliber, quite a few win national writing awards and the majority have work accepted for publication while studying at UH. Most of our graduate students are awarded teaching assistantships to teach undergraduate classes here, and many also work with elementary and high school students through the acclaimed Writers in the Schools organization. In addition, program students can gain valuable editorial and publishing experience as staff members of the student-produced Gulf Coast literary journal.The Creative Writing Program has fostered a thriving literary community in Houston and is active in developing a diverse audience for contemporary literature. Its prestigious Margaret Root Brown Houston Reading Series presents seven readings each year featuring some of the most important writers of fiction, poetry, and essays from around the nation and the world. Our faculty and students join the visiting artists in a number of local outreach activities that broaden participation in writing, particularly among youth in traditionally underserved areas. Many of the literary programs and all of the students of the Creative Writing Program are supported by the generosity of Inprint, Inc., a unique nonprofit organization that acts as an independent advocate for the written word in general and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston in particular.

University of Kansas

Welcome to the University of Kansas's graduate program in English, which offers the Ph.D., M.A., and M.F.A. degrees. Our program prides itself on its comprehensive coverage of the field, from medieval studies to contemporary postcolonial literatures, and from the history of the English language to the intersection of ethnicity and rhetoric.


Particular strengths of the department include Renaissance/Early Modern Studies, Twentieth-Century American literature, Postcolonial Literatures, African-American literature, Gender Studies, Rhetoric and Composition, and Creative Writing. In recent years, we have supplemented our course offerings in traditional fields with courses in Irish studies, postcolonial theory, African and Caribbean literatures, Latino literature, cultural rhetorics, jazz studies, American Indian literature, and cultural studies.

University of Misouri-Columbia

The Creative Writing Program currently offers the Ph.D. in the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Once admitted to candidacy, students are required to take 30 hours of coursework beyond the M.A. Except for the required English Language course, and certain optional courses in other departments, at least 18 hours must be taken at the 8000-level, with those courses distributed as follows:

1) A minimum of 9, and a maximum of 12 hours of 8000-level Creative Writing Workshops: 8510 in fiction, 8520 in creative nonfiction, 8530 in poetry. If a candidate chooses to take 12 hours of workshop, 3 of those hours may be taken in a second genre (including 8000-level writing courses in other departments within the Center for the Literary Arts). No courses may substitute for workshops.

2) Candidates shall have had or shall be required to take: (a) a graduate-level course in the history or theory of literary criticism; b) a course in the history or structure of the English language. Students scheduled to teach English 1000 (Composition) must also take English 8010: Theory and Practice of Composition.

Additional requirements ~

Residency requirement: A minimum of 18 hours beyond the M.A. must be taken in residence at the Columbia campus.

- Language Requirement. A candidate must achieve either a working knowledge of two foreign languages, or advanced proficiency in one. This requirement may be fulfilled either by exam or by course work.

- Written Comprehensive Exam. After a candidate's course work, foreign language, and residency requirements have been completed, she or he may take the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam. This 12-hour written exam is taken over a period of three days (four hours each day) and is composed of (a) an 8-hour exam covering the candidate's primary field, and (b) a 4-hour exam covering the candidate's secondary field. Questions are prepared by the 5 or 6 faculty who form the candidate's Comprehensive Exam Committee.

- Oral Exam. Taken within one month of the successful completion of the Written Comprehensive Exam, the 2-hour oral exam addresses both the primary and secondary areas, and goes back over material covered in the written exams.

- Creative Dissertation. After completing all the above requirements, Ph.D. candidates in Creative Writing may choose one of three options for the dissertation: 1) a creative dissertation--a novel, novella, a book-length collection of poems, a book-length collection of short fiction or creative nonfiction--with a prose introduction (2500-word minimum) which demonstrates the correlation between the candidate's academic and creative interests; 2) a scholarly Dissertation; or (3) a combined Scholarly and Creative Dissertation, which includes significant contributions in each area. Of course, candidates may also choose to write two independent disserations, one creative and one scholarly.

Once the dissertation has been read and approved by the committee, the candidate will take a 2-hour oral examination, the "dissertation defense," which addresses the formal, thematic, and topical concerns of the dissertation.

University of Georgia

The Creative Writing Program at the University of Georgia directs, supports, and accompanies the coming-into-being of voices. No matter the genre or the exact nature of the approach, at bottom, ours is a project in emergent phenomena : voice. While read aloud and performed in various venues and forums, these voices enter the world and live their primary lives in print.

In this we allow that writing can't be taught. We even allow that writing can't, strictly speaking, be discussed. Like the graphic media and music, writing lives a primary life on its own. Our faculty and-quickly, at least-students are all veterans of the realization that, often, the origin (and for some, the author) of key components of a piece of writing are unknown. Therefore, we proceed with the understanding that he living spark at the core of what writing breathes cannot be requisitioned.

At the same time, we're dedicated to the-if, in the end, untraceable-connection between writing and strict attention to (otherwise known as study) and talk (otherwise known as conversations) about aesthetics and criticism (literary and otherwise), experience (personal, theoretical, and otherwise), politics (electoral, cultural, and otherwise), history (earthly and otherwise). As an academic program, we're also invested in the relationship between cutting-edge creative work and the living intellectual life of a university.

The Creative Writing Program is the home to a wide and constantly changing array of creative / intellectual energy the owners of which are busy attempting to acquire the skills they need to etch-out its design in print for readers to read.

We've designed the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia to offer both the MFA and Ph.D. degree. MFA students complete a two-year degree combining graduate-level writing workshops, targeted study of literature, and culminating in a creative thesis of publishable quality. In addition to the MFA or MA degree (many of our Ph.D. students apply to and enter the program after completing their MFA degrees at programs such as The Iowa Writer's Workshop, The New School, Johns Hopkins, New York University, and Brown University), PhD students complete three years of course work, take comprehensive exams in three subjects, and complete a (often a second) marketable, book-length project as their dissertation.

Ohio University

Through all the inevitable changes during the years since its emergence in 1964, our Creative Writing Program has deliberately remained small in order to provide an alternative to the larger MFA programs. Our students appreciate the intimacy of small classes and a picturesque campus.

The Creative Writing Program is an integral component of Ohio University's English Department, offering undergraduate and graduate classes. Both undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to concentrate on a genre-poetry, fiction, or nonfiction-and to work closely in small classes with a distinguished faculty.

As one of the first universities in the country to offer a Ph.D. in Creative Writing, Ohio University has a thriving, widely respected graduate program. M.A. candidates complete two years of study and write a thesis of creative work in their genre. M.A. students participate in seminars along with doctoral candidates, who must complete five years of study, comprehensive exams, a major critical essay, and a creative dissertation.

In May, the Creative Writing Program hosts the annual Spring Literary Festival, an exciting three days of lectures and readings when students have more opportunities to attend readings and meet with authors of national and international reputation.

Students further benefit from a lively visiting-writers series, which brings to campus accomplished writers for residencies and readings. Previous residents include

* Lee K. Abbott

* Francois Camoin

* Kiki Delancey

* Kathy Fagan

* Joanna Frueh

* Lucy Grealy

* Wayne Koestenbaum

* Nancy K. Miller

* Debra Monroe

* Tim Parrish

* Alan Shapiro

* Greg Williamson

There are generally three residencies a year and five readings. Students participate in workshops led by the visiting writers; they also meet with visiting writers in one-to-one consultations regarding students' work.

The English Department at Ohio University is also frequently staffed with one-year visiting writers. Past writers include William Black (fiction), Zakes Mda (fiction), and Mark Wunderlich (poetry).

For information on applying to the graduate program in creative writing, please see the admissions page of this site. Please note that the writing sample for creative writing applicants should be appropriate to genre: fiction (20-40 pages), nonfiction (20-40 pages), or poetry (10 poems). In addition, applicants for the Ph.D. program in creative writing should submit a critical paper from a previous literature class. Applicants for the M.A. program should send only their creative work.

Faculty in Creative Writing

* Michael David Brown, Assistant Professor: Fiction

* Joan Connor, Professor: Fiction

* Mark Halliday, Professor: Poetry

* Robert Kinsley, Instructor: Poetry

* Jack Matthews, Distinguished Professor: Fiction

* Zakes Mda, Professor: Fiction and African & World Literature

* Dinty W. Moore, Professor: Creative Nonfiction

* Jill Allyn Rosser, Assistant Professor: Poetry

* Darrell Spencer, Professor: Fiction

* Catherine Taylor, Assistant Professor: Nonfiction

* Sharmila Voorakkara, Assistant Professor: Poetry

Graduate Seminars

Creative Writing graduate seminars mix both studio and academic approaches while being selective regarding genre (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction). There are typically two poetry and fiction workshops offered per year, each of the four workshops taught by different instructors, and one creative nonfiction workshop. Form and theory courses in each genre are offered annually depending on student demand. The catalogue numbers for workshops are 690 (fall quarter), 691 (winter quarter), and 692 (spring quarter). Current and recent courses include

* 691: Creative Writing Seminar: Poetry, Mark Halliday

* 765: Theory of Literature: Poetry, Mark Halliday

* 691: Creative Writing Seminar: Fiction, Joan Connor

* 692: Creative Writing Seminar: Fiction, Darrell Spencer

* 765: Theory of Literature: Fiction, Darrell Spencer

Creative Writing Requirements

In addition the general PhD requirements, doctoral students in creative writing must take two doctoral seminars in their period of specialization and two doctoral seminars in periods other than their period of specialization. They also take two creative writing workshops a year for the first two years of doctoral study, including one in a genre which is not their primary one. They take a fifth workshop in their third year as part of their preparation for the creative writing dissertation.

In addition to the general MA requirements, masters students in creative writing must satisfy either the bibliography and methods requirement or the English language requirement, but they are not required to do both. They must take three creative writing seminars, ENG 765 Form and Theory, and complete a creative master's thesis.

Online and Low-Residency MFA Programs
in Creative Writing

Online and low-residency MFA programs in creative writing are becoming a popular option for students who, because of job or family requirements, do not have time to attend a college full time. These programs allow students to complete some of the course requirements via the Internet.

Below are some of the better-known online and low-residency MFA programs in creative writing (fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction) along with information from their web sites:

Antioch University, Los Angeles

Antioch University's Master of Fine Arts program was founded in 1997 as the nation's first low-residency creative writing program on the West Coast. At two 10-day residencies each year, students gather at the site of the world's only MFA program specifically devoted to literature and the pursuit of social justice. Rather than focusing exclusively on the completion of a single book-length Final Manuscript, the MFA Program educates students in the various roles of the Writer in Society, how to make a difference on the page and in the diverse communities where writers work and live.

Antioch University Los Angeles has distinguished itself from other programs through our award-winning faculty in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction, and through innovative features such as the Field Study, the Translation Seminar and Conference, the MFA Alumni Weekend Residency, and the Post-MFA Certificate in the Teaching of Creative Writing. A mere decade after our beginning, AULA is also remarkable for our successful, publishing alumni. You are invited to explore these links and discover Antioch University's unique and compelling place in our literary culture.

Ashland University

An arts community for poets and creative nonfiction writers, this low-residency master of fine arts program insists on both high aesthetic standards in writing and a strong, supportive, interrelationship between faculty, students, visiting writers and staff. The program is built on the understanding that even the most accomplished writers need a dynamic and critically acute group of fellow writers to reach the full potential of their art.

Brooklyn College

Our small, highly personal two-year program confers a master of fine arts degree in creative writing in fiction, poetry, or playwriting. The program offers single-discipline and inter-genre workshops, literature seminars, small-group reading tutorials, and one-on-one tutorials, which all emphasize relationships between eminent faculty members and students. Additionally, students have the opportunity to work on The Brooklyn Review and give public readings/performances in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The program offers some fellowships as well as prizes and a winter writing residency at the Espy Foundation in Oysterville, Washington. Students may also teach undergraduate courses for the English Department.

Our graduates have had their work published widely and have won competitions sponsored by the Iowa Review, the Colorado Review, the Mississippi Review, and Zoetrope. They have been included in The Best New Young Poets anthology and The Best American Short Stories. Our playwrights have won Obies, started theater companies, and had their plays produced here and abroad.

Chatham University

Chatham University's Low-Residency MFA program is a program of 39 hours that can be completed in two years with two summer residencies of 10 days each. The program is very similar to our highly acclaimed residency program with the same innovative focus on nature, environment and travel writing. Several of our faculty in the residency program also teach in the low-residency program.

Our low-residency program is different from the residency program in a few ways. First, in lieu of writing workshops each term, students take mentorships with a publishing writer. See a detailed description of the mentorships here. Second, although the literature and content courses students enroll in will be the same as those taught in our residency program, they will be taught in an electronic classroom environment. Third, low-residency students must complete two residencies of ten days each in their first and second summers. Residencies will take place on the Chatham campus in Pittsburgh, and will consist of intensive workshops, craft lectures, panels and readings with well-known creative writers. Residencies take place every year in early August and last 10 days. Finally, low-residency students have the opportunity to take one of our creative writing field seminars along with our residency students in lieu of one of the summer residencies, although the field seminar is not a requirement. Field seminars include additional fees, including travel and lodging, and will vary depending on the location of the field seminar. Click here for a description of the creative writing field seminars.

Columbia College Chicago

The Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago offers three options in creative writing; a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing (MFA, 45 hrs.), a Master of Arts degree in the Teaching of Writing (MA, 39 hrs.) and a Combined Degree Option (MFA/MA, 63 hrs.).

The Creative Writing Program is designed to help students develop their fiction writing ability. Degree candidates are expected to produce work of publishable quality during the course of study and complete a book-length manuscript. In addition to Story Workshop fiction and prose forms classes, the program offers courses in young adult fiction, science fiction, researching and writing historical fiction, creative non-fiction, adaptation of prose fiction to script, independent study in playwriting, and new historical approaches to the study of famous writers' writing processes.

Eastern Kentucky University

One of the most affordable and progressive brief-residency programs in the nation, we are also:

- A small and very intimate writing community

- Devoted to your creative and professional success

Fairleigh Dickinson University

The MFA Program in Creative Writing takes your writing as seriously as you do, working with you to turn your promise into settled accomplishment.

At our nine-day residencies, you join an artistic community in craft seminars, workshops, readings, and publishing-related events. During the semesters, working one-on-one with a faculty mentor, you develop your talent through the best relationship for mastering the art of writing: the dialogue between aspiring and experienced writer.

The MFA in creative writing is a low residency program that combines 10-day residencies with on-line coursework. Students meet in person with faculty (who are published authors), visiting writers, and other students during two 10-day residencies held each year. Subsequent coursework (modules) is completed on-line. Additionally, through the use of an international reading faculty, this global program allows students to receive guidance from the perspective of writers and poets throughout the world.

The MFA degree is offered in three disciplines: Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction.

There are no courses in the traditional sense, but rather writing modules and residencies. Four writing modules, each ten weeks long, are offered each academic year, two in the spring and two in the fall. Each module is under the direction of a faculty mentor, with additional advice from members of the cadre of global readers. Students also comment on each other's writing in on-line workshops Students must complete eight modules over the course of study.

Goddard College

The low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program is a 48-credit, rigorous, student-centered program for writers who choose to live their lives and hone their writing skills at the same time. The MFA in Creative Writing Program is ideal for people with commitments to family, work, or other personal obligations, or for people who simply want to improve their writing in the way that most writers end up working-on their own. The low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program offers diversity through a distinguished, award-winning faculty that offers a wide range of specialties and life experiences and by allowing students to study a wide variety of genres and styles, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, memoirs, playwriting, screenwriting, and cross-genre writing. Goddard developed the original model for low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs, and it continues this tradition by fine-tuning an academically rigorous and student-centered program in which writers can pursue their interests in an environment that offers a safe harbor and intellectual freedom.

Minnesota State University Mankato

The creative writing staff at MSU Mankato is composed entirely of published poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. We believe students at all levels of instruction should be guided by individuals steeped in their own creative projects and familiar with the common challenges surrounding bringing imaginative works to completion. The creative writing curriculum, undergraduate or graduate, assumes that writing and reading are complementary activities, and so students in our programs read some of the best literary works of the past and present while exploring issues of craft and genre that will allow them to take their own writing to a new level.

Murray State University

The low-residency MFA at Murray State allows student writers to work on their craft where they live while workshopping their writing online or by traditional mail with prize-winning writers. Twice a year, in July and January, students attend a 9-day residency at MSU to join a community of writers for intensive study, workshops, readings, and lectures.

The primary objective of the low-residency MFA program is to provide advanced instruction to creative writers while allowing them to live where they choose. The MFA is a terminal degree and provides the necessary academic credentials for a writer to teach creative writing at the college or university level. It also provides a foundation in writing that can help prepare graduates for careers in a variety of fields, such as writing, publishing, advertising or teaching at the secondary level. Our foremost goal, however, is to facilitate the growth of writers.

Notre Dame University

A two-year program in which the student works closely with a member of the Creative Writing Faculty on a creative writing thesis project. Notre Dame's writing faculty is distinguished not by its size, but by its quality. This program takes advantage of Notre Dame's widely published resident creative writing faculty: Cornelius Eady, Joyelle McSweeney, Orlando Menes, William O'Rourke, Valerie Sayers, and Steve Tomasula.

Pine Manor College

The Solstice Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College is designed to help students reach their full potential as writers through a demanding curriculum that balances the workshop experience with the study of literary craft, criticism, and theory. The program embraces a wide range of voices and artistic approaches in its faculty and its students, establishing a learning environment that fosters community and celebrates the individual. Working with some of the best writers in the country, students of Pine Manor College's MFA program emerge with a deep, well-rounded knowledge of their art, a strategy for continuing the development of their creative vision, and a supportive circle of peers and mentors.

Spalding University

Ideally suited to the writing life: study with a great community of writers and write in your own home.

Ten-day residencies feature intensive, supportive workshops, lectures, and panel discussions with award-winning faculty.

University of Idaho

Faculty, staff, and students form a unique social community. Poetry and fiction readings, lectures and presentations by other students and faculty members, events sponsored by the English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta, receptions and book signings for visiting authors--all help draw us together as a department.

Queens University of Charlotte

The low-residency MFA program at Queens involves four semesters of coursework, each of which includes a seven-day on-campus residency and - in the periods between residencies - an on-line workshop where you share your writing with three or four other students and your faculty mentor for that semester.

Each residency offers seven days of workshops, seminars on the craft and profession of writing, and readings, with considerable formal and informal contact between faculty and students. Over these four semesters of course work, you'll be developing material for your thesis.

At the end of two years, you'll finish the program by returning to campus for a fifth residency, a graduating residency, in which you'll present your thesis, offer a public reading from your work, and lead your fellow students in a craft seminar that you've developed with a faculty advisor.

The cost of the program for the 2010 calendar year is $5,785 a semester, with a $1,200 charge for the fifth graduating residency that is paid in two installments of $600 each with tuition for the third and fourth semesters. If you'd like to stay on campus during the May residency, lodging is generally available at a very low cost: $30 a night for a private room. Meal plans in the campus dining hall are also available. In our January residency, the program is housed at nearby hotels for around $90 a night.

University of Missouri, St Louis

We are small, flexible, and perfect for working adults as all our classes are in the evenings. We have a strong literary community of current students and alums who meet often and provide a network. All students can work on Natural Bridge, our international literary journal.

Naropa University

This two-year low-residency program offers focuses in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, performance, and translation. The program prides itself on allowing both traditional and experimental approaches to writing, and both are encouraged. Residencies are four weeks and in the summer, with online courses the rest of the year, and the four weeks spent in residency prominently feature guest speakers.

University of New Orleans

UNO's innovative Low Residency Program combines summer study abroad with fall and spring semesters online. Online workshops and literature classes, publication opportunities, residencies in San Miguel de Allende, or at Ezra Pound's Castle Brunnenburg in Italy, and more.

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

The MFA Writing Program at Greensboro is one of the oldest such programs in the country. During the early years, the University had among its faculty a number of noted writers, such as Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, John Crowe Ransom, Hiram Haydn, Peter Taylor, and Randall Jarrell. They invited other distinguished writers to campus to read from their work and to meet with students; these writers included Robert Lowell, Robert Frost, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, and Saul Bellow. In 1965, under the leadership of Robert Watson, creative writing offerings were formalized. Since that time, enrollment has grown, but the faculty has intentionally kept the program small, enabling students to have individual conferences with faculty.

The MFA Writing Program is designed for full-time residential students. The degree requires thirty-six hours of course work. At least fifty-percent, or eighteen hours, of the course work must be above the 500 level. core courses.

Twelve to eighteen semester hours in writing courses are required, including workshop courses for poetry or fiction and tutorials in writing where students work one-on-one with a member of the faculty.

University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing, directed by poet Annie Finch, combines the energy of a forward-thinking low-residency program with the solid educational excellence of the very best creative writing programs in the nation. Stonecoast offers a two-year program with emphases in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or popular fiction, as well as possibilities for elective work in other areas including cross-genre, scriptwriting, translation, performance, and an exciting new focus in Writing Nature. Stonecoast stands out among low-residency M.F.A. programs because of our deep commitment to academic excellence combined with a flexible and wide-ranging curriculum; our unusually warm and student-centered community with a focus on diversity; and our gorgeous location in the historic Stone House on the coast of Maine.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming's Creative Writing MFA program is an intensive two-year studio degree in poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Special features include a flexible curriculum, cross-genre workshops, opportunities for interdisciplinary study, and our Eminent Writers in Residence program, which brings distinguished authors to campus to work closely with our students. This year, our Eminent Writers are Edward P. Jones, Claudia Rankine, and Philip Gourevitch; in 2010-2011, we'll be joined by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Jan Zwicky, Robert Bringhurst, and Rebecca Solnit. We have a deeply committed faculty, a lively visiting writers series, an incomparable natural setting, and excellent funding for students, including teaching assistantships with light teaching loads, full tuition waivers, summer stipends, and support for travel and publication. The UW MFA is a small program with a big reach.

Western Connecticut State University

MFA graduates for many years now have learned upon graduation that there are woefully few teaching jobs available in creative writing and that they are unequipped to compete for work outside academia. In order to cultivate careers as professional writers, they frequently find it necessary to master multiple genres. But writers who have deep interest in genres other than poetry and fiction find few options for study in most MFA programs.

Other Low-Res MFA Creative Writing Programs

Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Est cost: cost $22,320

Location: Roanoke, Virginia
Est cost $26,400

Location: Henniker, New Hampshire
Est cost: $29,422

Location: Bennington, Vermont
Est cost $26,800

Location: Montpelier, Vermont
Tuition per semester: $6,652

Location: Portland, Maine
Tuition per semester: $4,990

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Tuition per semester: $6,500

Location: Danbury, Connecticut
Est cost: $24,480

Location: Murray, Kentucky
Tuition per semester: $2,839 (residents) or $7,983 (non-residents)

Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Tuition per semester: $5,840

Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Tuition is $5,800 per semester

Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Tuition per semester: $2,730 (residents) or $7,177 (non-residents)

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Est cost: $22,666

Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Tuition: $6,000 per semester

Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
Tuition per year: $5,500 per summer session (includes both tuition and board)

Location: Tacoma, Washington
Tuition per year: $7,250

Location: Seattle, Washington
Tuition per year: $11,040

Location: Langley, Washington
Est cost: $24,000

Location: Forest Grove, Oregon
Tuition per year: $11,800

Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Tuition: $287 per credit

What About Accreditation of Online Schools?

Accreditation is a certification that a college program meets certain academic standards. If you are seeking an MFA degree in creative writing, it is important to pick an accredited school. This is especially important now that there are quite a few unaccredited schools offering online graduate degrees. These schools have not demonstrated that they comply with standard academic requirements. As a result, all online degrees become suspect.

In addition, most financial aid and student loan programs require that you attend an accredited program. Also, if you decide you want to finish your degree in a traditional college program, most schools will not accept transferred course credit from an unaccredited institution.

So, how do you find out if the MFA program you are interested in is accredited? Can't you just take the school's word for it? No, you have to make sure they are accredited by one of the recognized accrediting organizations. There are both regional and national accrediting organizations. Below is a link to a government site listing the nationally-recognized accrediting organizations (you can look up regional organizations for your area on the Internet):

Nationally-Recognized Accrediting Organizations

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