Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Melissa Crowe
The Department of Creative Writing offers an intensive studio-academic apprenticeship in the writing of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Courses include workshops in the three genres, special topics and forms courses, as well as a range of courses in literature. While students are accepted in, and expected to demonstrate mastery of one genre, they are encouraged to study, and must show proficiency in, a second genre. Students, in consultation with their advisors, tailor their course schedules to their own professional and educational interests, selecting a variety of courses in creative writing, literature, criticism, rhetoric and composition, film studies, and applicable cultural studies. Though the M.F.A. is a terminal degree designed for writers wishing to pursue various career paths in teaching, writing, publishing, and community arts organization, students are urged to pursue the degree primarily as a way of mastering their art by rigorous study and practice among a community of other dedicated writers. The M.F.A. degree without supporting publication credentials does not guarantee employment.
Applicants seeking admission to the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing are required to submit the following five items to the Graduate School before the application can be processed.
- A typed manuscript in the applicant’s primary genre, labeled “poetry,” “fiction,” or “creative nonfiction”: 10 pages of poetry, 30 pages of fiction, or 30 pages of creative nonfiction (double-space prose, single-space poetry). The manuscript should demonstrate mastery of basic craft and unmistakable literary promise. Applicants are advised not to apply with a mixed-genre manuscript.
- An application for graduate admission.
- Official transcripts of all college work (undergraduate and graduate).
- At least three recommendations from individuals in professionally relevant fields addressing the applicant’s achievement and promise as a writer, and ability to successfully complete graduate study.
- An essay (300-500 words) on the applicant’s goals in pursuing the M.F.A., including previous educational experience.
An applicant must have successfully completed an appropriate undergraduate degree (usually, but not necessarily, a B.A. in English or a B.F.A in creative writing), with at least a “B” average in the major field of study. Acceptable fulfillment of all the above constitutes the minimum requirements for, but does not guarantee, admission to the M.F.A. program.
In general, we are seeking candidates who show artistic commitment and literary promise in their writing, and whose academic background indicates they are likely to succeed not only in graduate study but as publishing professional writers. Therefore, in evaluating candidates, the admissions committee places great emphasis on the quality of the manuscript.
Applications must be received by the published deadline . All interested applicants will be considered for graduate assistantships, which will be awarded on a competitive basis as they become available.
Degree Requirements (48 total credit hours)
- An M.F.A. candidate must successfully complete a minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate study: 21 credit hours in writing ( CRW 530 , CRW 540 , CRW 542 , CRW 544 , CRW 546 , CRW 548 , CRW 550 ); six credit hours of thesis ( CRW 599 ); and 21 credit hours in other graduate literature courses, ( CRW 501 , CRW 503 , CRW 523 , CRW 524 , CRW 525 , CRW 543 , CRW 545 , CRW 547 , CRW 560 , CRW 580 , CRW 581 , CRW 591 , CRW 594 , CRW 598 ; ENG 502 , ENG 504 , ENG 505 , ENG 506 , ENG 507 , ENG 508 , ENG 509 , ENG 511 , ENG 513 , ENG 514 , ENG 560 , ENG 561 , ENG 564 , ENG 565 , ENG 566 , ENG 572 , ENG 580 ) with an option of substituting up to six of those credit hours of study in a related discipline, as determined by the student’s advisor, the M.F.A. coordinator, and the chair of the Department of Creative Writing.
- An M.F.A. candidate is required to complete at least 12 credit hours of writing workshop courses in a primary genre (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction).
- An M.F.A. candidate is required to complete a minimum of six credit hours in a secondary genre, which must include at least one 3-hour writing workshop ( CRW 530 , CRW 542 , CRW 544 , CRW 546 , CRW 548 , CRW 550 ). Forms courses ( CRW 543 , CRW 545 , CRW 547 ) may be used to fulfill the remaining hours.
- A maximum of 9 credit hours in secondary genre(s) workshop courses will count toward fulfilling the 21 hour writing requirement.
- A minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) must be maintained in all graduate course work; a “B” average is required for graduation.
- An M.F.A. candidate must complete a substantial book-length thesis manuscript of literary merit and publishable quality acceptable to the thesis committee: this ordinarily will be a novel; a novella; a collection of short stories, poems, or essays; a single long poem; a long nonfiction narrative; or some combination of the foregoing within the primary genre.
- An M.F.A. candidate must pass the Master of Fine Arts examination.
- A maximum of six credit hours of graduate course credit may be transferred from another regionally accredited institution in partial fulfillment of the M.F.A. UNCW regulations will be applied in determining the transferability of course credits, and requests for transfer credit must be approved by the M.F.A. coordinator, the chair of the Department of Creative Writing, and the Graduate School.
- The M.F.A. program is designed to be completed in three calendar years. All requirements must be completed within five calendar years.
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‘Community Matters Here’: Inside NC State’s Creative Writing MFA Program
The program, known for its commitment to variety and experimentation, is the only one of its kind in the Triangle.
When Meghan Tanaka was preparing to graduate from the University of Mississippi with a double major in English and philosophy in 2020, she knew she wanted to go on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing with a specialization in poetry. What she didn’t know was which of the hundreds of MFA programs in the United States she should apply to.
“It was one of my professors who suggested that I apply to NC State,” she recalls. “He recommended it because the program has really good faculty, and also because it’s smaller. Small class size means you get a lot of faculty attention.”
Tanaka took her professor’s advice, and she’s glad she did. Now in her second year at NC State, Tanaka has flourished in the MFA program . The small classes taught by excellent faculty — including Dorianne Laux, whose sixth book of poetry, Only as the Day Is Long , was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry — are a big reason why, of course. But there’s also one other factor her professor didn’t know about: the sense of community that pervades the program from top to bottom.
“For me, community is what sets this program apart from the others,” she says. “It feels really good to know that you can talk with your professors and your classmates about life and writing and the scary stuff we’re all going through. You’ve got people you can lean on.” (You can read Tanaka’s poem “Stargazer” in the literary journal Pigeon Pages .)
An Unlikely Pairing That Makes Good Sense
Although the casual observer might be surprised to discover an excellent graduate-level arts program at a world-class STEM university like NC State, the pairing actually makes sense when North Carolina’s rich literary history is taken into account. The state has been home to so many respected, beloved writers — including Thomas Wolfe, Zora Neale Hurston, David Sedaris, Jaki Shelton Green, Charles Frazier, Jill McCorkle, Randall Kenan, Lee Smith and Anne Tyler, to name only a very few — that it’s fitting for North Carolina’s largest university to host a program dedicated to continuing that legacy.
It also makes sense for a university whose mantra is Think and Do to feature a program devoted to tangible creative output, informed by a mixture of classroom instruction, peer support and faculty mentorship. The MFA is a two-year, 36-hour program comprising writing workshops, interdisciplinary coursework in academic subjects and a final thesis consisting of a book-length literary work supervised by a faculty advisor. The program has two tracks: fiction and poetry. All students admitted to the program receive full funding in the form of a graduate assistantship.
Since the program enrolled its first cohort of students in 2003, it has earned a national reputation for offering high-quality instruction while welcoming many different styles of writing, says Belle Boggs, director of the program.
“Thanks to the vision and example of the program’s founders — John Kessel, Wilton Barnhardt, and John Balaban — we’ve been open to and inclusive of and excited about a wide variety of forms and genres since the very beginning,” Boggs says. “That celebration of a diversity of styles — postmodernism, traditional realism, gritty Southern fiction, science fiction — is not something you can get just anywhere. But we’ve been doing that a long time, perhaps longer than any other program out there.”
The program’s openness to variety and experimentation has made it popular with prospective students, she says.
Celebration of a diversity of styles — postmodernism, traditional realism, gritty Southern fiction, science fiction — is not something you can get just anywhere.
“Last year we received over 275 applications for 13 spots,” Boggs says. “That means we can be selective in recruiting really amazing, interesting writers who build a great community.”
One of those new recruits is Rafeeat Aliyu, a first-year fiction writer from Kwara, Nigeria. Aliyu writes speculative fiction in the burgeoning Afrofuturist tradition. (You can see a list of Aliyu’s publications, and find links to many of them online, at her website .)
“I wrote my first story in primary school, about a family of ghosts, from the point of the view of the young ghost daughter,” Aliyu says. “I kept writing, and after undergrad I got a few stories published; but not many Nigerian magazines cater to what I write. Nigerians have always had these weird, fantastical stories about mermaids and things like that, but when it comes to literature, publishers mostly just go for literary fiction — writers like Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”
Aliyu heard that Western markets might be more friendly to her work, and in 2018 she met an alum of NC State’s program who told her she should consider applying. Now that she’s been admitted to the program, she’s happy to have found such a welcoming artistic home at NC State. Aliyu is studying under the supervision of speculative fiction writer Cadwell Turnbull, author of the acclaimed new novel No Gods, No Monsters . Turnbull’s fiction has appeared in Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 and The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 .
The Key: Rigor and Nourishment
Over on the poetry track, faculty member Eduardo C. Corral — whose second book, Guillotine , was longlisted for the National Book Award in 2020 — says NC State’s emphasis on community is what drew him here.
“My first book of poetry came out in 2012, and after that I started doing poetry readings at colleges all over the country,” he says. “I did 12 to 15 readings a semester for years. I saw a lot of different programs during that time. But when I came to NC State, right away I noticed that community matters here. And that’s important, because the key to making any writing workshop successful is two words: rigor and nourishment. You have to have both, working in tandem. And that only succeeds if the students respect each other. Community is what makes that kind of respect possible.”
Community is what sets this program apart from the others.
When asked what it’s like to teach poetry at a STEM school, Corral laughingly replies, “The undergrads will catch any mistakes I make in anything having to do with math — especially when it comes to grading! The percentages do have to add up to 100, you know?”
He goes on to note that scientists and engineers are a naturally inquisitive bunch. “They’re trying to figure out how to make bridges safer, how to make energy systems more environmentally friendly; they’re problem solvers, and that lends itself to writing poetry. The trick is to remind them that there’s no equation for how to write poetry, so they have to draft a new set of questions for every poem. I help them focus on the questions, not just on the solutions.”
Alumni Making Their Mark
NC State’s MFA program has helped many outstanding writers find their voices. The program’s alumni include:
- Threa Almontaser , whose first book of poetry, The Wild Fox of Yemen , won the 2020 Walt Whitman Award and was recently longlisted for the National Book Award.
- Emily Cataneo and Arshia Simkin , who launched the Redbud Writing Project , an adult education writing school offering classes in fiction, nonfiction and poetry, both in person and online.
- Leila Chatti , whose debut poetry collection, Deluge , was published by Copper Canyon Press and won the Larry Levis Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University.
- Noel Crook , whose debut poetry collection, Salt Moon , won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press.
- Tyree Daye , whose debut poetry collection, River Hymns , earned the American Poetry Review ‘s Honickman First Book Prize. Daye was also a 2019 recipient of the prestigious Whiting Award in poetry, one of the largest and most prestigious awards given to emerging writers in the United States. Daye’s second poetry collection, Cardinal , was featured on the New York Times list of the best poetry of 2020.
- Kij Johnson , whose first collection of short stories, At the Mouth of the River of Bees , contained stories that won Nebula and Hugo Awards. Johnson now teaches at the University of Kansas.
- Sarah Grunder Ruiz , whose debut romantic comedy, Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships , comes out this fall with Berkley/Penguin. Sarah teaches in NC State’s First Year Writing Program.
- Alyssa Wong , who as a student in the program won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 2016 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.
Boggs says many of the program’s alumni demonstrate a remarkable commitment to the program even after they graduate. “Alumni frequently come back for readings and workshops, and to mentor our students,” she notes. “For example, Cadwell Turnbull studied in the program under John Kessel and Wilton Barnhardt, and now he’s our newest faculty member. His addition to the program continues their teaching tradition and at the same time brings an important new voice into the program.”
Another alum is Therese Anne Fowler, whose fourth novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald , was a 2013 New York Times bestseller and was adapted into the Amazon TV show Z: The Beginning of Everything , starring Christina Ricci. Her latest novel, It All Comes Down to This , will be published in June 2022.
The program’s famed openness to difference helped Fowler find her way into writing after she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology — not the typical academic preparation for a fiction writer, she notes.
“I came out of the social sciences and did not have a background in reading literature,” Fowler recalls. “For someone like that, who also has the desire to express themselves through fiction writing, it’s important to know you don’t have to be a literary scholar to get into the program.”
Fowler says the most important thing she got out of the program was learning how to critique her own work. “I think you can learn to write without studying it the way we did in the program,” she says, “but because the workshops require you to assess and deconstruct and analyze other people’s work and then produce some kind of commentary on it, that process taught me how to do that for my own work. And gaining that ability helped me shorten the path from aspiration to success.”
The Transformative Impact of Philanthropy
As successful as the program and its alumni have been, now it’s poised for even greater success thanks to Tony McLean Brown ’83 and his family, who earlier this year made a $1 million gift to support the MFA program. The gift marks the largest for a humanities department at NC State and one of the largest funded endowments in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“This gift is transformative,” said Dean Jeff Braden when the gift was announced. “Tony and his family are creating a legacy that will launch the careers of many gifted poets, novelists and other writers for years to come.”
Director Belle Boggs says the Browns’ generous gift will allow the program to greatly expand its efforts to recruit students from diverse backgrounds, likely doubling the impact of the program’s diversity recruiting efforts.
Our students care deeply about their impact on the community.
Boggs says the Browns’ gift will also support the expansion of the program’s community engagement efforts. “Our students care deeply about their impact on the community,” she says, “and we’re exploring ways to support them in programs of outreach teaching, publishing and literary ventures that will positively affect the literary landscape of North Carolina and beyond.”
For example, in 2016 poetry students Tyree Daye and Alabama Stone founded a literary outreach program called Street Smarts and the Arts that hosted informal poetry workshops with homeless youth in Raleigh. The program ended when funding cuts shuttered the homeless center where the workshops were held, but Daye and Stone created a record of the participants’ artistic achievements by publishing an anthology of the poetry produced in the workshops.
The MFA program also sponsors an annual poetry contest and an annual fiction contest , both of which have no entry fee and are open to all North Carolina residents. The fiction contest, which is currently taking submissions, awards two prizes:
- The James Hurst Prize for Fiction ($500) is awarded to the best unpublished short story of no more than 5,000 words.
- The Shorter Fiction Prize ($250) is awarded to the best unpublished short story of no more than 1,200 words.
The postmark deadline for entries in the fiction contest — hard copies only, no electronic submissions — is Oct. 15, 2021. Visit the fiction contest webpage for more details.
For prospective students who are interested in applying to the MFA program, Boggs says the program is first of all looking for students who have extraordinary talent. “But in addition to that talent and spark,” she says, “we also want people who are going to be generous, enthusiastic, constructive, supportive members of our community. We want people who want to be part of a team.”
Boggs says she couldn’t be more happy about having joined this particular team.
“When I first came here as a visiting writer, not to be corny about it, but I fell in love with the program,” she says. “I love being on a big campus that offers cool events like the AV Geeks at the Hunt Library, lectures about public science, art exhibits, musical performances, so many amazing opportunities — but at the same time we have this small, tight-knit community of writers.”
If its history is any indication, this small program will continue to make a big impact on students, the university, the community and the literary landscape for a long time to come.
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Creative Writing at NC State
Majors and minors.
Don't tell anyone, but Creative Writing is one of the most popular concentrations in the English Department. And don't let anyone tell you learning to write creatively and well renders you useless for the job market. Direct mail, journalism, marketing, advertising, public relations, nonprofit fundraising, writing of textbook and software manuals, the civil service, the foreign service ... . Our undergraduates go on to make use of their talents in countless ways besides getting rich as a best-selling author, although that has happened too. Think you got what it takes to be a LCW (English Major with a concentration in Creative Writing)? You can request the concentration your junior year. Click here for the particulars of the major . You can also minor in Creative Writing, too. Click here for information about the minor .
NC State offers an MFA in Creative Writing . Check out our faculty, contests and our reading series of visiting writers which is arguably the best in the South.
Applications are accepted only for Fall admission. The deadline for admission with financial aid is February 1, but it's best to apply in December or early January. The application is online. We admit about ten students/year, in fiction and poetry, and provide stipends and health insurance. Allow yourself time to take the GRE exams, gather three letters of recommendation, and have the results by February 1 or earlier.
Creative Writing has had a strong reputation in the English Department at NC State, harkening back to earlier faculty members and renowned authors like Guy Owen, The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man; Lee Smith, On Agate Hill; The Devil’s Dream; Oral History ; and Angela Davis-Gardner, Butterfly’s Child; Plum Wine . Our alumni include novelist Therese Fowler, Z: The Beginning of Everything ; Souvenir; Reunion; short story writer Amy Knox Brown's (mostly) Nebraskan tales, Three Versions of the Truth; and novelist William Conescu, Being Written; and poets Noel Crook, Canyon; Jessica Sampley, T uscaloosa to Tupelo ; and Michael Begnal, Ancestor Worship .
Our faculty have won Guggenheim, Lannan, and NEA fellowships, as well as nominations for the National Book Award, and many other awards including the Nebula Award and a National Poetry Series Selection.
MFA faculty include poets John Balaban ( Path, Crooked Path) and Dorianne Laux ( Facts About the Moon , The Book of Men) . Laux’s Poet’s Companion is used in writing programs across the U.S. In the science fiction genre, award-winning writer John Kessel is the author of The Baum Plan for FInancial Independence , among other works. Short story and nonfiction writer Belle Boggs ( Mattaponi Queen and The Art of Waiting ) joins poet Eduardo C. Corral among our newest faculty.
University Catalog 2023-2024
The Department of English offers a two-year studio/academic program in fiction or poetry leading to the Master of Fine Arts degree. The program provides an opportunity for students of superior and demonstrated ability in imaginative writing to develop their skills and critical judgment through the practice of writing and the study of literature. The aim of the program is to prepare talented students for careers in writing. Degree candidates are expected to produce a book-length work of literary value and publishable quality.
Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher; applicants should submit GRE scores (general aptitude and analytical writing); one official transcript of all undergraduate and graduate work; two letters of recommendation; and two writing samples, one creative, one critical. Creative sample: for fiction, two short stories, or for a novel, three chapters (or one chapter and a short story) totaling 25-40 pages; for poetry, 12 complete poems. Critical sample: no more than 15 pages of writing demonstrating your ability to succeed in graduate-level literature classes, a required part of the MFA curriculum.
Requirements for the MFA in Creative Writing
Candidates for the MFA degree must complete a total of 36 credits. Eighteen of these are taken in the area of writing specialization. These include workshop courses (12 credits) and thesis (6 credits). The remaining credits are taken in literature (6 credits) and elective areas (12 credits, including 6 credit hours of teaching preparation for those on a composition teaching assistantship). In their final semester, students must pass a comprehensive written examination on writing craft, based on a book list selected jointly by the student and the faculty. The final thesis must be a book-length manuscript in the student's field of interest. In fiction, an approximate 200 pages are expected; in poetry, 60 pages. See program website for specific requirements by concentration.
Student Financial Support
All students admitted to the MFA program are eligible for teaching assistantships. TAs in the MFA train to teach undergraduate composition courses, and a few selected creative writing classes.
Other Relevant Information
Application deadline is February 1. Students are admitted for the fall semester only.
The English department has a long tradition of academic and literary excellence, including its heritage of writers from Guy Owen to Lee Smith. The strength of NCSU in the sciences offers students the opportunity to do creative work that engages with issues of technology and its effect on individuals and institutions that are not typically addressed in fine arts programs.
Through the NC State Literary Readings Series, the department sponsors readings and visits by distinguished poets, fiction and non-fiction writers.
- Creative Writing (MFA)
- Wilton Barnhardt
- Belle McQuaide Boggs
- Eduardo C. Corral
- Dorianne Louise Laux
- Maya L. Kapoor
- LaTanya Denise McQueen
- Carter Sickels
- Cadwell Turnbull
- John J. Kessel
- Jill Collins McCorkle
- Joseph H. Millar
Study of Old English language with selections from important poems including Beowulf. Examination of the poetry in the light of various modern critical approaches.
Typically offered in Spring only
Study of major works of medieval English literature (exclusive of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales) in historical context, as reflections of and influences on social and cultural change. Includes works such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Langland's Piers Plowman and Malory's Morte d'Arthur.
Prose and poetry of the English Renaissance, excluding drama. Special attention to major authors, including Spenser and Sidney, and to intellectual, cultural and literary backgrounds and developments. Introduction to pertinent methods and issues of scholarly inquiry and critical interpretation.
Typically offered in Fall only
A close examination of the literature of England from 1600 to 1660 with emphasis on major literary figures and movements, development of important literary forms and genres and relationship between literary texts of this period and their philosophical, political and theological contexts. Some bibliographical and textural assignments. Content and focus varies according to instructor's emphasis, but writers covered usually include Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, Marvell and Browne.
Survey of American literature and thought from the beginning to adoption of the constitution. Representative works such as travel and exploration reports, Indian captivity narratives, diaries, journals, auto biographies, sermons and poetry.
Rotating topics in world literature, including treatment of the subject's theoretical or methodological framework. Possible subjects: colonialism and literature; orality and literature; the Renaissance; the Enlightenment; translation; comparison ofNorth and South American literatures; African literary traditions; post-modernism and gender. Readings in English (original languages encouraged but not required).
Survey of African-American literature and its relationships to American culture, with an emphasis on fiction and poetry since 1945. Writers such as Bontemps, Morrison, Hurston, Baldwin, Hayden, Brooks, Naylor, Harper, and Dove.
Requirement: Junior Standing
GEP U.S. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, GEP Humanities, GEP U.S. Diversity
Typically offered in Fall and Summer
The works of the most important writers shaping modern African literature in English (and English translation). Selections from East, West, North and South Africa, spanning colonial through post-colonial Africa--from literature of protest and culture conflict to that of disillusionment, reappraisal and feminism.
A study of British literature during the Romantic era (1780s-1830s), including poetry, periodicals, novels, drama, and criticism as well as their political and cultural contexts.
Introduction to the study of Chaucer through an intensive reading of The Canterbury Tales.
R: Sophomore standing and above
GEP Global Knowledge, GEP Humanities
An intensive study of a particular phase of the Shakespeare canon. Emphasis will normally be on one dramatic genre (tragedy, comedy, history), but occasionally the focus may be more limited.
Explore how writers represented the tumultuous Victorian era (1837-1901), spanning responses to industrialization, political reform, religion, colonialism, class, gender, and race at home and abroad. The course covers an array of literary forms and seeks to include perspectives from within the British Isles as well as from across the British empire.
Typically offered in Fall and Spring
An intensive reading of Milton with attention to background materials in history and culture of seventeenth-century England.
British writers of the period 1600-1790 studied in historical and cultural contexts. Usually includes works by Dryden, Swift, Pope, Defoe, Mandeville, Boswell and Johnson, but addition of other significant writers possible.
Selected British novels of the Restoration and eighteenth century from a variety of contemporary critical perspectives. Such writers as Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, Burney, Smollett and Austen.
Study of selected British novels published between 1837 and 1901 in contexts of the development of the genre, historical period and current literary theory. Such writers as Dickens, Thackeray, Bronte, Trollope, Eliot, Meredith and Hardy.
Study of literary culture of United States from 1860s to early 1900s with emphasis on fiction by such realists and naturalists as Twain, Howells, Chesnutt, James, Crane, Wharton, Dreiser and Norris. Inclusion of prose of writers such as Adams and DuBois possible.
Examination of British fiction of this century and relationship of significant intellectual, historical and political issues. Inclusion of such writers as Joyce, Conrad, Woolf, Lawrence, Beckett and Murdoch possible but also post-colonial novelists as well.
Development of English poetry from its late Victorian phase through Modernism to present post-war scene. Inclusion of such writers as Hardy, Yeats, Eliot, Smith, Auden, Larkin, Heaney, Wolcott and Hill possible.
Survey of modern British drama from its beginnings at turn of the century to present.
A survey of modern American drama centering on major figures.
Introduction to literary culture of "the South," tracing the roots of the twentieth-century "Southern Renaissance" in such ante-bellum genres as plantation fiction, Southwestern humor, fugitive-slave narration and pastoral elegy. Examination of persistence of "Southern" writing within increasingly standardized culture of the United States.
Development of modern American poetry from rebellion against the romantic and genteel verse of the 1890's; special attention to Robinson, Frost, Pound, Williams, Stevens and Ransom.
An examination of representative American writers of novel and short fiction.
Elizabethan and Jacobean drama from 1580 to 1642, excluding Shakespeare. Coverage of such writers as Marlowe, Jonson, Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher, Heywood, Tourneur and Ford.
Prerequisite: ENG 261 and upper division or Graduate standing
Representative British plays of the period 1660-1780 studied in cultural, social and ethical contexts. Usually includes works by Etherege, Wycherley, Behn, Dry-den, Otway, Vanburgh, Farquhar, Congreve, Lillo, Gay, Goldsmith and Sheridan.
Post-1945 literary theory in relationship with representative avant-garde writers. Theoretical and argumentative essays in such areas as chaos theory, deconstruction, feminism and the limits of fiction. Fiction readings by Calvino, Pynchon, Barthelme, Cortazar and others.
Prerequisite: Graduate standing
Variation in content. Selected problems and issues in literature.
Advanced work in techniques of writing fiction for students with substantial experience in writing. Workshop sessions with students commenting on each other's work.
Prerequisite: ENG 488 or ENG 489
Advanced work in techniques of writing poetry for students with substantial experience in writing. Workshop sessions with students commenting on each other's work.
Prerequisite: Master's student
Typically offered in Fall, Spring, and Summer
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2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog
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2020-2021 Graduate Catalog
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Creative writing, m.f.a.
The Master of Fine Arts in creative writing is a two-year residency program with an emphasis on providing studio time for the writing of poetry or fiction. Our students develop their particular talents through small classes in writing, literature, publishing, and the arts.
As a community of writers, students read and comment on each other’s work under the guidance of distinguished resident and visiting faculty, who also meet with students in one-on-one tutorials.
- UNC Greensboro’s Creative Writing program is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the country.
- The residential faculty at the MFA Writing Program in Greensboro are not only award-winning writers, but also committed teachers who have spent their careers mentoring young writers.
- Graduates have published more than 200 works of poetry and fiction since 2008.
- Many graduates have received prestigious literary prizes. For example, MFA alumna Kelly Link was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist in fiction.
THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE
- The program is kept intentionally small, enabling students to work one-on-one with faculty in a close-knit community of writers.
- 18-24 hours in writing courses are required, including workshop courses for poetry or fiction and tutorials in writing where students work one-on-one with members of the faculty.
- The program offers fully funded graduate assistantships, including out-of-state and in-state tuition, health insurance, and a stipend.
- Students serve as fiction and poetry editors for “The Greensboro Review,” the program’s literary journal for more than 50 years.
- Each year the faculty also invites writers and editors to visit the campus for readings, workshops, and master classes with MFA students.
- Alumni from the MFA Writing Program at Greensboro have gone on to teach or direct writing programs at such places as Clemson University, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Florida State University, the University of Vermont, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
- Graduates have continued their literary careers with a variety of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, and numerous grants including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
APPLY TO Creative Writing, M.F.A
*Only required if there are additional admission requirements
- For a full list of application instructions, visit https://english.uncg.edu/mfa/admission-assistantships/
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are no longer required for admission to this program.
- Students must submit a writing sample of fiction or poetry to be reviewed by all faculty members in the genre. The primary decider of admission is the student’s writing sample.
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Degree Type: Master's
College/School: College of Arts and Sciences
Program Type: Major
Class Type: In Person
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- English, M.A.
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Terry Kennedy Director of MFA in Creative Writing Department of English [email protected] 336-334-5459
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“The MFA Program for Writers’ unique rigor and emphasis on craft endow its students with a strength both rare and deeply necessary.”
“Perhaps the greatest gift the program offers is commitment, an awareness of the writer’s evolving creativity and confidence.”
“Writers are made on this mountain in North Carolina; humble and generous human beings are made here.”
“The Program not only transformed my writing and thinking, but also afforded me the discovery of my best self.”
“I leave this program with confidence and community, neither of which I could lay claim to before. But I also leave with a sense of calling.”
Founded in 1976
Award-winning faculty and alumni
One of the top writing programs in the nation
About the Program
Tuition and Financial Aid
The four-semester course of study toward the Master of Fine Arts degree is carried out by alternating on-campus residency sessions with semesters of independent study under close faculty supervision. The January and July residencies, attended by all faculty and students, are ten days long and initiate each semester.
The Non-resident Semester
Following the residency, correspondence between the student and the faculty supervisor occur at regular, contracted intervals. This individualized course of study and thorough engagement with faculty, occurring within the context of one’s ongoing adult life, make the Program useful to writers at all stages of their development.
Low Student-Faculty Ratio
In the lectures, seminars, classes, and team-taught workshops, students will find an environment that is non-competitive, while our low student-faculty ratio (usually 3:1 and never more than 5:1) ensures that each student will receive personalized attention that will help provide direction for the semester.
Shop the MFA Store
Our program’s unparalleled instruction in the writer’s craft is available to all through our MFA store. Audio recordings of residency lectures and videos from our new “Craft and the Writing Life” series are available for download, and our faculty anthologies are available for order from local bookseller Malaprop’s. All proceeds from store downloads and anthology royalties go to scholarships to support our MFA students.
CRAFT AND THE WRITING LIFE
Application deadlines for program admission in fiction or poetry are March 1 for the July semester and September 1 for the January semester. Requirements include the application form, a fiction or poetry manuscript, personal and critical essays, transcripts and curriculum vitae, and two letters of recommendation. The application is routed through Submittable; the fee is $75.
The Holden Residency Scholarship
Supported by the Holden Fund for Diversity, this residency-only, fully funded opportunity is intended for a writer of color who is contemplating pursuing an MFA degree and wishes a deeper introduction to what our program offers and entails before applying for full admission. Deadlines are the same as for full-program entry.
I will always be humbled by, and grateful for the program that changed my life .
The program is intellectually rigorous, but with that rigor comes a generosity of spirit that you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson taught me that no matter where we are in our writing lives, there is always more work to be done; such work is a gift, and the Program gave me the tools to honor it.
– Lara Egger (poetry, 2016)
Spring 2024 MFA Faculty Announced!
Congratulations, july 2023 graduates, mfa public events schedule – summer 2023, graduate reflections 2021-2023, our next virtual open house is dec. 10th.
Shop for MFA Faculty Books Online
AWP Podcast: 40th Anniversary Reading
In honor of the program’s 40th anniversary, and continuing a tradition–”The Fastest Reading in the World”– begun at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, NC, twenty faculty and alumni read from their work at the AWP Conference in Los Angeles on April 1, 2016.
R eaders include faculty members Debra Allbery, Dean Bakopoulos, Charles Baxter, Marianne Boruch, Karen Brennan, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Lan Samantha Chang, A. Van Jordan, Matthew Olzmann, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Mary Szybist, Peter Turchi, Monica Youn, and C. Dale Young, and alumni Natalie Baszile, Robin Black, Victoria Chang, Jenny Johnson, Rose McLarney, and Meghan O’Rourke.
The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College
701 Warren Wilson Rd. Swannanoa, NC 28778 [email protected] (828) 771-3715
STUDENT ACCOUNTS STUDENT ACCESS FACULTY ACCESS
Chapel Hill has always been a magnet for writers. Some students come with the goal of becoming novelists or short story writers or poets or dramatists; others discover their vocations while undergraduates.
The University has long had a vigorous writing tradition, beginning when “Proff” Koch, Paul Green, and Samuel Selden were working with Thomas Wolfe, Kay Kyser, Betty Smith, Frances Gray Patton, and Howard Richardson in the early twentieth century. Beginning in 1947 and continuing for almost two decades, Jessie Rehder served as a one-woman program and published several books of her students’ work; upon her death in 1966, Max Steele became director of Creative Writing the program expanded to include such legendary writers as Doris Betts and Daphne Athas. In the years since, Carolina’s Creative Writing program has been home to luminaries like Randall Kenan, Lee Smith, Sarah Dessen, Carolyn Kizer, Algonquin Books founder Louis D. Rubin, Alan Shapiro, Pam Durban, Michael Chitwood, and Marianne Gingher. Hundreds of alumni have gone on to write books, films, albums, plays, and television shows, pursue graduate study in creative writing, and publish stories, poems, and essays in the world’s best journals, magazines, and newspapers.
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M.A. in English: Creative Writing Concentration
The field of Creative Writing is diverse and involves the writing and publishing of poetry, fiction, narrative nonfiction, and screenplays. The Creative Writing faculty at the UNC Charlotte seek to familiarize aspiring writers with the techniques and theories of their chosen genre. Integral to a creative writer’s experience at UNC Charlotte is the workshop where students share work and comment on the work of their peers. Also important are issues of craft, the literary history of a writer’s genre, and the culture of publishing (book, magazine, and online).
Our Creative Writing faculty at UNC Charlotte have achieved national distinction and have appeared in such publications as American Poetry Review, Esquire, Denver Quarterly, Crazyhorse, McSweeney’s, Glimmer Train, Colorado Review, North American Review, Quarterly West, Gettysburg Review, Columbia Poetry Review, New Stories from the South , and many others.
Our creative writing faculty have won such awards as the AWP Poetry Award andthe Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in Fiction. The faculty hold MFAs/PhDs from Vanderbilt, University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and the University of Denver.
Students completing the M.A. Concentration in Creative Writing will be well-prepared for M.F.A. and Ph.D. programs in the field.
- Bryn Chancellor
- Allison Hutchcraft
Click here for information about 1. guidance regarding MFA programs; and 2. the capstone experience in creative writing, including descriptions of the project and thesis options, as well as samples of prospectuses, help with critical introductions to creative work, and other helpful materials.
How to Become a Writer in North Carolina with a BFA, MFA or Similar Creative Writing Degree
Created by CreativeWritingEDU.org Contributor
With literary greats like Thomas Wolfe and O. Henry on the roster of authors hailing from North Carolina, the tradition of serious novelists doing impactful work has long been cemented into the creative culture here. It’s a fact that gives writers here a backdrop for comparing and critiquing their own work, providing something to strive for or rebel against.
Long-time Greensboro resident Orson Scott Card earned his master’s in English here before going on to become one of the most successful sci-fi authors of the modern era. Thomas Wolfe also earned a master’s degree and focused on playwriting.
Maya Angelou was in a class all her own, with heart-rending work that is as relevant today as it ever was. And the fact that Maya wasn’t only a student of literature here in North Carolina, but a professor for 30 years, also puts her on an entirely different level.
Every book would be a classic if there was a formula for how to write well. We all know it takes real courage and discipline, and more than a little education. It might start with a BA or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) , but for many that’s just the groundwork for an MA or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing.
In the end, every writer knows there’s no magic recipe for inspiring creativity and launching a writing career. When it comes to putting pen to paper, maybe the best advice for starting comes from Angelou herself.
North Carolina’s Literary Masters
Greensboro-native William Sydney Porter, best known by his pen name O. Henry, wrote his classics during the transition between the 19 th and 20 th centuries. Romanticizing the average person warts-and-all became his short-story trademark, along with plot twists. He was convicted of embezzlement before turning 40 but continued to write from his prison cell to make a living.
Thomas Wolfe was born in 1900 and called Asheville home growing up. The Pulitzer-Prize winning author was regarded as one of the nation’s most promising young novelists, the greatest talent of his generation. His work would go on to influence Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Philip Roth, and more.
Born in 1928, poet and author Maya Angelou is perhaps best known for her work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing . A tenured professor and Winston-Salem resident for more than three decades, Angelou was also influential in the Civil Rights Movement in addition to writing children’s books and composing music.
Sci-fi fans know Orson Scott Card, especially his novel Ender’s Game that was also made into a movie. Born in 1951, this current Greensboro resident is still at it and has big plans for the future.
Your future also involves big plans. North Carolina’s next generation of literary masters is poised to pick up the torch and carry on creating tomorrow’s most thought-provoking works. Someone’s got to do it, so it might as well be you.
North Carolina’s Creative Writing Classes, Courses, and Workshops Can Prepare You for a Creative Writing Degree
Just like how Maya Angelou polished her literary mastery as part of a writer’s guild, getting involved in your local writing scene is a great way to gain experience and hone your craft.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of writing groups, poetry readings, conferences, and other opportunities it gain insight and experience as an aspiring author wherever you are in the state.
The North Carolina Writers’ Network is a noteworthy resource if you’re looking for support and feedback about your writing. One of its underlying goals is to promote and develop the state’s writing community. It’s headquartered in Winston-Salem but organizes events across the state, including thrice-yearly writing conferences.
Winston-Salem Writers is a non-profit group that exists to help members improve and network. It’s a hub of information, circulating a regular newsletter and organizing monthly open mic nights, workshops, writing competitions, and book showcases.
Having just celebrated its 90 th anniversary, the North Carolina Poetry Society is proud to host quarterly get-togethers which are usually held in Southern Pines. It has well over 500 members throughout the state and continues in its original mission to support North Carolina’s poets and friends of poetry. You can expect workshops, panels, readings, contests, and more.
Raleigh hosts the Carolina Book and Writer Conference each year, a great place to hear experienced writers speak and make connections with your fellow artisans, as well as publishers looking for new talent.
As you gain experience and make connections, you can start thinking about finding a publisher. North Carolina’s publishers are many, and widely dispersed rather than being focused on the literary scene in a single city. They include:
- Black Mountain Press in Asheville focusing on short stories, poetry, and novels
- Red Adept Publishing in Garner, specializing in fiction
- Press 53 in Winston-Salem, with hundreds of titles published in the poetry and fiction genres
It can be challenging to organize your yellow legal pads with feedback from writing groups, your notes from conferences, and your latest plot ideas into a coherent piece that’s fit for publication. That’s where an academic program can help – a BFA or MFA, or other bachelor’s or master’s in creative writing.
Writing Colleges in North Carolina Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing Provide a Path to Becoming a Writer
North Carolina has an impressive history of great professors, including Maya Angelou. Your creative writing instructors have been there and done that; they know the tricks of the trade and can adeptly navigate their way in the world of publishing. It’s only natural for professors to speak about the mistakes they’ve made so you won’t have to repeat them. And that’s exactly the kind of wisdom you hope to glean in a creative writing degree program
Earning your degree can help you shatter that ceiling of self-sustaining circular writing group feedback and breakthrough to the next stage of your writing career. It can make the difference between being a hobbyist and professional writer.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Other Bachelor’s Degrees in Creative Writing in North Carolina
HURLEY SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Degree: Bachelor – BA
- English-Creative Writing
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND CREATIVE WRITING
- Creative Writing
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
Queens University of Charlotte
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
- English and Writing Studies-English and Creative Writing
St. Andrews University
DIVISION OF LIBERAL AND CREATIVE ARTS
Degree: Bachelor – BFA
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Warren Wilson College
CREATIVE WRITING DEPARTMENT
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Other Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing in North Carolina
THOMAS WOLFE CENTER FOR NARRATIVE
Degree: Master – MFA
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
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Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Nonfiction
- A terminal degree in Creative Writing ( MFA, PhD) or closely related degree
- At least one book of nonfiction of literary merit from a national press
- Demonstrated, sustained excellence in teaching nonfiction writing at both undergraduate and graduate levels
- Strong publication record in poetry and/or fiction, as well as nonfiction
- Experience with the curricula of varied underrepresented subject areas of American literature, including publishing.
- Cover letter
- Curriculum Vitae
- Writing Sample – One essay or book excerpt
- Combined Unofficial Graduate Transcripts
- Statement of Teaching Philosophy – including teaching interests and subject areas of expertise, as well as a list of potential course offerings.
- List of 3 Professional References
- If needed, applicants may upload additional materials under the Other category.
- Cover Letter
- Curriculum Vita
- Writing Sample
- Teaching Philosophy
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It’s always in the details
- November 15, 2023 November 13, 2023
- Editors' Blog
By Desiree Dighton, Assistant Editor
As a writer and teacher, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about details. In writing classrooms, those details are the concrete, vivid language that shows a duck to be a merganser or even a bufflehead. Language details might evoke setting through changing a juniper to a cypress or reveal a character through a ripped blouse or the dangle of reading glasses. As I assigned the undergraduates in my document design course the task of formatting and styling book reviews for NCLR ’s next issue, we had to shift our thinking away from the concrete details that create what John Gardner called the “vivid and continuous dream” of good fiction writing. We didn’t give up thinking of details, but the details changed. We focused on the often taken for granted bits and bobs involved in magazine publication. These may not be the concrete details that make us fall in love with a piece of writing, but they are the details of publishing layout and design that allow readers to immerse themselves in that very dream.
Part of any magazine’s duty is getting those details right. In the document design course, we’d read about the importance of concepts like contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity—students had even practiced applying those concepts in designs of their own—but opening Word files of book reviews and figuring out how to get them into magazine form had a whole different vibe. Students began by sorting through digital folders, discovering books from newcomers and established writers alike. As I leaned over their workstations, I spotted a review for Mother Country , Jacinda Townsend’s latest novel. Townsend, both a Duke Law and Iowa MFA alumna, was also one of my fiction professors during my MFA studies at Southern Illinois (She’s now at the University of Michigan), and seeing her work reminded me of the awesome responsibility of editors and magazines—to do right by taking care of both our readers and writers—even as I thought I could hear students’ hearts race as their fingers stumbled to find the selection tool, the character tab, and the layout icons. Would we be able to learn the intricacies of InDesign well enough—a challenging Adobe software inconspicuously present behind most good publications and totally new and frustrating to my undergraduate students, who are mostly non-English majors—to honor these responsibilities to NCLR and its writers and readers?
As those in publishing know, there are details of style that are generally considered, but there are also those style details particular to each in-house style guide. These details of style became paramount while students worked to lay out, format, and style NCLR ’s book reviews. With Editor Margaret Bauer’s guidance and support from student intern Abby Trzepacz and editorial assistant Amber Knox, those raw book review files began to transform into the bold, color blocked book reviews that NCLR will publish, and you, dear readers, will enjoy. To get there, however, is a lot like the writing process—messy, scary, and full of small but significant triumph: Students poured book review text into templates designed by NCLR ’s art director Dana Ezzell Lovelace. Once in the template, students styled text with different character and paragraph features. They aligned artwork, images, and gorgeous historic postcards like those depicting Mt. Mitchell in George Hovis’s review of Robert Morgan’s latest collection, In the Snowbird Mountains and Other Stories. Like writing, this work does not always go smoothly, but in the end, it feels good to have done it.
As students reflected on their NCLR layout and design process in remixed reflective pieces, some chose technological expressions while others opted for handmade remixes. All of them made brilliant connections to concepts and technical skills of aspects like scaling image files and attention to rhetorical design principles like visual hierarchy and balance. Rather than a typical academic essay, I gave them the leeway to employ any creative genre they’d like, a nice counterbalance, I hoped, to the vigilance involved in producing a unified and cohesive publication like NCLR . Students created reflective riffs that spanned the gamut from graphic adventure stories, to a “Mean Girls”-style burn book about InDesign, a food blogger style website of InDesign and NCLR “recipes,” a soccer gameday stats and blog, and even a Sponge Bob episode storyboard. Through it all, it was very clear to me how much they’d learned from having a professional production editing experience. We hope next time you read an NCLR book review, you know a little more about the concepts and labor at work behind the scenes. For our part, we hope we helped the brilliance of the magazine shine just a little brighter. Thank you, NCLR , and thank you students:
- Rose Brown
- Mckinley Butler
- Emily Fass
- Abigail Fletcher
- Maddie Gipp
- Jaylyn Gore
- Anna Hancock
- Layla Hope
- Kendall Knox
- Diego Lerma
- Garrett Moore
- Favour Nako
- Nicky Nieto Ramirez
- Austin Norton
- Alissa OBryan
- Keni Orourke
- Morgan Rock
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- Claire StCyr
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