2020 - 2021 Graduate Bulletin


Creative Writing

The English Department offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.  Our innovative three-year program offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, as well as mixed or hybrid options for students who work in multiple genres or whose work defies genre. Special topics classes in screenwriting, image and text, experimental writing and more offer options for students to further expand their practice.  The MFA is a terminal degree that will serve students seeking careers in writing, higher education teaching, publishing and related fields.

Program Requirements

Candidates design, in consultation with the director of the MFA program, a plan of study including workshops, courses and seminars at the 500 and 600 levels.

Admission Requirements

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 Office of Graduate Education, 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 Assistantship (see below) should address their interest in and qualifications for teaching in the statement of professional purpose. Candidates 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. The application deadline is February 1 of each year. The application materials are non-returnable. Page requirements are as follows:

Poetry: 10 pages

Fiction: 20-30 pages

Nonfiction: 20-30 pages 

Mixed: 20-30 pages of any mix of poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction

Hybrid: 20-30 pages primary comprised of work that does not fall into traditional genre boundaries or categories, or that blends genres


Funding Opportunities

The University offers two types of funding. Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Assistantships. Assistants teach two (2) writing courses per academic year. These courses are at the freshman and sophomore levels. Graduate Assistantships are offered throughout the University for work other than teaching. Applicants for 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 Office of Graduate Education and Research 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 Office of Graduate Education and Research. 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.

  • Total Credits Required for Degree

Students must meet all requirements stated in the Graduate Bulletin. Master of Fine Arts thesis requirements are as follows:

  1. Poetry: a minimum of 50 pages of poetry and at least one critical paper of 10 to 20 pages.
  2. Creative nonfiction, fiction, hybrid or mixed theses: a minimum of 180 manuscript pages of the candidate’s work and at least one critical paper of 10 to 20 pages.
  3. All 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.