The English Department offers a master of fine arts degree in creative writing. The program offers three areas of specialization or tracks: fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. The master of fine arts is a terminal degree that will serve students seeking careers in writing, higher education teaching, publishing and related fields.
Candidates design, in consultation with the director of the MFA program and their adviser, a plan of study including workshops, courses and seminars at the 500 and 600 levels.
The English Department seeks the best possible candidates for its master of fine arts in creative writing. Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies. Applicants must meet all current requirements for graduate standing in the English Department. Applicants will be required to submit a portfolio of their creative writing (the specifics of which are discussed below), letters of recommendation and official academic transcripts. Candidates who have earned a bachelor of arts or sciences may be considered for a teaching assistantship or a graduate assistantship. Teaching assistantships require graduate students to teach two composition courses per year. Candidates who have earned a master of arts may be considered for a teaching fellowship, allowing them to teach three undergraduate composition courses per year. Evidence of previous teaching experience will be taken into account when awarding teaching assistantships and teaching fellowships. Applicants who hold a master of arts in other disciplines, such as science or math, may be admitted conditionally pending additional course work. Waivers may be granted by the director of the MFA program.
MFA Applicant’s Writing Portfolio
Along with the usual graduate school application forms, all applicants to the MFA program must submit a writing portfolio of published or unpublished works. The submission must be typed, double spaced and in the writer’s primary genre. Three copies must be submitted by February 1; the copies are non-returnable. Page requirements are as follows:
Poetry: 10 pages
Fiction: 20 to 30 pages
Creative nonfiction: 20 to 30 pages
Admission to the program is competitive and is determined primarily by the quality and promise of the applicant’s writing. The application must include a statement of purpose. Applicants applying for teaching assistantships or teaching fellowships must indicate in this statement of purpose why they feel they are qualified to teach. References for candidates applying for teaching assistantships or teaching fellowships must address the candidate’s ability to teach or potential to succeed as a teacher if the candidate does not have prior teaching experience.
Revised program description (effective August 23, 2010):
The English Department seeks the most promising candidates for its Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. Candidates who already possess the MA will receive preference in admission; however, we also encourage exceptional candidates who hold the bachelor’s degree. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in fields other than literature or writing maybe be admitted conditionally, pending additional course work.
In addition to meeting all admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies, MFA candidates must comply with requirements specific to the MFA program: departmental MFA application form, a resume, three letters of recommendation, a statement of professional purpose, a critical paper, and a writing portfolio (see below). Candidates who wish to apply for a Teaching Fellowship or Teaching Assistantship (see below) should address their interest in and qualifications for teaching in the statement of professional purpose. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree only may apply simultaneously to the MA Program. The application forms and checklist can be found at http://www.nmu.edu/english/gradchecklist
MFA Applicants’ Writing Portfolio
Admission to the program is highly competitive and is determined primarily by the quality and promise of the applicant’s writing. All applicants must submit a writing portfolio in the genre in which they apply. Applicants may apply in one genre only. Three (3) copies of the portfolio, typed and double-spaced, must be submitted by the application deadline, February 1. These copies are non-returnable. Page requirements are as follows:
Poetry: 10 pages
Fiction: 20-30 pages
Nonfiction: 20-30 pages
The University offers three types of funding. Teaching Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships, and Graduate Assistantships. Fellows teach three (3) writing courses per academic year, and Assistants, two (2) writing courses per academic. These courses are at the freshman and sophomore levels. Fellows also usually have the opportunity to teach an entry-level creative course. Graduate Assistantships are offered throughout the University for work other than teaching. Applicants for Teaching Fellowships and Teaching Assistantships should address their qualifications for teaching in their statement of professional purpose. Additionally, applicants should ask their recommenders to speak to the candidate’s promise as a teacher.
During Winter Semester, active MFA students may apply for a summer Excellence in Education grant. These grants, in the amount of $1,500, are offered by the College of Graduate Studies to fund research and professional travel and to encourage and expand educational opportunities outside the traditional classroom.
The director of the MFA program will advise all graduate students in the MFA program. Students should meet periodically with the director to ensure their plan of study is appropriate to their needs and acceptable to the College of Graduate Studies. Students are individually responsible for carefully reading and selecting courses in accordance with the requirements of this bulletin.
For department information or additional degree requirements, click here
For course description, click on the course.
*Students must meet all requirements stated in the Graduate Bulletin. Master of fine arts thesis requirements are as follows:
Poetry: a minimum of 50 pages of poetry and at least one critical paper of 10 to 20 pages.
Creative nonfiction and fiction: a minimum of 180 manuscript pages of the candidate’s prose and at least one critical paper of 10 to 20 pages.
All 12 thesis credits are devoted to a single project.
Prior to graduation, master of fine arts candidates will read from their theses in a celebration event before faculty and invited guests.
All MFA students are expected to complete EN 504 Principles of Critical Investigation or demonstrate equivalency or proficiency.