Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts

The Creative Writing and Literary Arts Program housed in the Department of English offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts through a low-residency program. The MFA is a professional degree that prepares students for various careers, including those involving professional writing, teaching and editing. The MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Arts combines mentorships with a residency period of approximately 12 days held on campus each summer. The residency session includes all faculty and students in an intensive schedule of workshops, classes, presentations and readings. Students and mentors then conduct coursework at a distance during fall and spring semesters. Mentors include core faculty members and associate faculty who are established teachers and writers. Residency sessions also feature annual guests from other disciplines, including scientists, artists, musicians, cultural leaders and scholars. Students participate in three residency sessions as part of their workshop credits. During a fourth residency, they present a colloquium and give a public reading.

The program offers a studio model that balances the study and practice of craft, and the study of form and theory. Students are accepted into a particular genre: fiction, literary nonfiction or poetry and will concentrate their studies in that genre. During mentorships, students produce original works of literature as well as critical analyses of books chosen in collaboration with the mentor. The program offers — but is not limited to — special emphasis on writing about the relationships between people and place, landscape, nature, science, and the arts, regardless of where these relationships exist or how they are expressed. In their final year, students prepare and present a thesis that includes a book-length work of original creative writing, a thesis essay and an annotated bibliography. Through completion of the coursework and the thesis, students develop and demonstrate an understanding of the history, traditions, theory and contemporary issues in their genre and are able to situate their own work within that genre; articulate and demonstrate craft elements in their creative work; and develop and demonstrate the skills necessary for professional employment in literary fields such as writing, teaching and editing.

Admission Requirements

Satisfy the Admission Requirements for Graduate Degrees.

In addition, at the time of application, students must submit the following to the Creative Writing and Literary Arts Program through UAOnline.

  • Personal essay (see the department website for topic and detailed instructions).
  • List of references, including email addresses; no need to send reference letter.
  • Creative work: your best work

    Fiction — One story (15 pages or less) or a chapter of a novel accompanied by a brief synopsis
    Poetry — Ten pages of poetry, no more than one poem to a page
    Literary nonfiction — Fifteen pages or less of an essay, memoir or other creative work of nonfiction.

Please see the CWLA website for the most current and detailed application instructions.

All materials must be received by January 15 for earliest consideration for admission into the program. Summer admission only.

Admission will depend upon the evaluation of the entire application packet, with emphasis placed on the creative work.

Graduation Requirements

Program Requirements

Complete 15 credits in the student’s chosen genre from the following:15
Graduate Writer's Workshop: Poetry
Graduate Writer's Workshop: Fiction
Graduate Writer's Workshop: Literary Nonfiction
Complete a minimum of 15 credits:15
Studies in Form and Theory *
Complete 5 credits of:5
Literary Practicum
Complete 10 additional course credits (CWLA A690 or CWLA A699) to produce a book-length creative work, annotated bibliography, and thesis essay.:10
Total Credits45

CWLA A690 is an umbrella course and may be repeated with changes in subtitle. 

Successful presentation of thesis in colloquium is also required.

A total of 45 credits is required for the degree.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of historical context, traditions, and contemporary issues in form and theory by situating the content of their own work within their genre.
  • Demonstrate their skills in craft by producing a substantial body of original creative work and by articulating the craft elements in their genre.
  • Demonstrate skills necessary for professional employment in literary fields such as writing, and editing by planning, organizing, and presenting works or projects of literary and public value.