MFA Program in Creative Writing


Welcome to the home page of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Northern Michigan University.

If you're a prospective student looking to learn more about the program, admission, and funding, this page is for you.  If you're a current student looking for paperwork or timelines or on-campus resources, then step this way. 


If you're curious about what makes NMU's MFA special, we asked our creative writing faculty. Read on: 

Dr. Patricia Killelea 

The heart wants what it wants, and it wants the time and space to write. That is the gift. Our students sift through language, lands, and experiences and come out the other side with some of the finest writings being produced today. You can check out our track record and it's all there—the student successes, the publication credits, all of that. But what you can't see are all the hours our MFA students spend with faculty polishing their voice and craft, or that moment when an emerging writer experiments with another genre or medium and comes away with a hybrid artsy work that shines and shines. I'm honored to be a part of our writing community here at NMU because we are the perfect mix of weirdness and dedication, seriousness and playfulness, and we also have cats.

Jon Billman

Lake Superior, the most incredible body of freshwater on Earth, is part of our campus. So are the massive Northwoods. Student writers at NMU have the opportunity to take a class on an island, snowshoe into a field camp writing retreat, and workshop stories around a beach fire. There really is no other program like it.

Dr. Rachel May

We're a hybrid-heavy, snow-laden MFA program tucked in the north woods. Hiking Superior’s shores beneath the pine trees, watching it change moods each day, keeps me inspired. I love to see writers in our program embrace our remote landscape and cozy themselves under the blanket of seven-month winters to read and write more than they imagined they would—often in different genres than they’d imagined, too—for three steady years. It’s a boon to invite back students who have just published their first books, and to see so many of our graduates sustain writing lives and use their voices to change the world. 

Monica McFawn

I love the open-minded, exploratory feel of our MFA. Both students and faculty are encouraged to try new modes and disciplines, and our collaborative community supports creative risks. Because our program allows students to change or expand their genre after enrolling, writers are free to follow what moves them, building new audiences and awarenesses along the way. Our MFA students are creative artists whose reach expands beyond written word to images performances, film, music and more. I feel so fortunate to be part of such a dynamic and forward thinking artistic community. 

Dr. Austin Hummell

What I like about the creative writing program is that students have such a large and wide-ranging group of modest and accomplished writing teachers to study with, and that the community and landscape they will be living and writing and thriving in is, well, cooler than cool.

Jennifer A. Howard

Students in our MFA program tend to build strong connections that last long after they leave NMU, keeping in touch to share writing, to play fantasy football, to continue reading for Passages North just for kicks. Maybe it’s the snow and cold that bond us together, or the fact that Marquette is so far away from everywhere and sometimes literally difficult to leave during winter, or the sublime massiveness of Lake Superior, or the encouragement to write across and between genres so that nobody, even faculty, ever feels sure-footed about the work’s end goal, but our grad students tend to build genuine communities around much more than school. Every year, some of my favorite people in the world graduate from the program and move on to something new far away with three years of UP experience (including I hope at least one albino deer sighting) and so many pages and tactics ready to carry them forward, and the loss of those people in my everyday life is, every time, a good kind of heartbreak.

Matthew Gavin Frank

I love the productive and multi-faceted playfulness of our program—the ways in which we encourage genre fluidity and the making of hybrid work; the ways in which we and our students uncover the secret conversations between nonfiction, fiction, and poetry (and, in some cases, the lyric impulse and the biological fact, verse and mathematical theorem, image and text…). Frankly, the much of the work that the students produce at the end of their three years here resembles no other work that I know (which has been increasingly attracting the attention of publishers, and compelling our disciplines forward into exciting new territory).  And this emphasis on creative whimsy, alongside our TA-ships, and editorial internships with our lit mag, Passages North, yields such a close and generous sense of community, and a program that honors both art and practicality, preparing our students not only for innovative book-making, but also for careers in teaching and publishing.  And all of this wonderfulness takes place next to a big beautiful lake, surrounded by the woods, the deer, the bird-life, the frogs, and the ever-inspiring dragonflies.

Follow the NMU MFA program from a graduate student perspective on Twitter.