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Tips and Tricks for a Smooth MFA Setup Process with Microsoft Authenticator
In today’s digital world, the need for strong security measures is more important than ever. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a powerful tool that adds an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. Microsoft Authenticator is a popular MFA app that provides a seamless and secure way to verify your identity. In this article, we will explore some tips and tricks to ensure a smooth MFA setup process with Microsoft Authenticator.
Understanding the Basics of MFA Setup
Before diving into the specific tips and tricks, it’s essential to understand the basics of MFA setup using Microsoft Authenticator. The first step is to download the app from your device’s app store. Once installed, you’ll need to link it to your online accounts by scanning QR codes or manually entering account details.
During the setup process, you may be prompted to choose between different verification methods such as push notifications, one-time passwords (OTP), or biometric authentication. It’s crucial to select the method that works best for you while balancing convenience and security.
Tip 1: Keep Your Device Secure
The security of your device plays a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of MFA with Microsoft Authenticator. Make sure your device has up-to-date operating system software and security patches installed. Enable device lock screens with strong passcodes or biometric authentication like fingerprint or face recognition.
Additionally, avoid downloading apps or clicking on suspicious links that could potentially compromise your device’s security. Regularly scan for malware and keep all apps updated to minimize any potential vulnerabilities.
Tip 2: Backup Your Accounts
Losing access to your Microsoft Authenticator app can be frustrating if you haven’t backed up your accounts properly. To avoid this situation, take advantage of the backup feature within Microsoft Authenticator.
By linking your app with your cloud account (such as Microsoft Account or Google Account), you can easily restore your accounts on a new device or in case of app reinstallation. This simple step ensures that even if you lose your device or switch to a new one, you won’t have to go through the hassle of setting up MFA all over again.
Tip 3: Test the Setup and Troubleshoot
Once you’ve completed the MFA setup with Microsoft Authenticator, it’s essential to test its functionality. Verify that you can successfully log in to your accounts using MFA. This step will give you peace of mind knowing that everything is working as intended.
In case you encounter any issues during the testing process or while using MFA, don’t panic. Microsoft Authenticator provides helpful troubleshooting options within the app itself. Look for support documentation or contact customer support if needed. They can assist you in resolving any technical difficulties and ensure a smooth experience with MFA.
Implementing multi-factor authentication with Microsoft Authenticator is an effective way to enhance the security of your online accounts. By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure a smooth MFA setup process and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your digital presence is well-protected. Remember to keep your device secure, backup your accounts, and test the setup regularly for optimal performance. Stay safe and secure in today’s digital landscape.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Our MFA database includes essential information about low- and full-residency graduate creative writing programs in the United States and other English-speaking countries to help you decide where to apply.
Poetry: Jan-Henry Gray, Maya Marshall Prose: Katherine Hill, Igor Webb
Albertus Magnus College
Poetry: Charles Rafferty, Paul Robichaud Fiction: Sarah Harris Wallman Nonfiction: Eric Schoeck
Poetry: Kyle Dargan, David Keplinger Fiction: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Stephanie Grant, Patricia Park Nonfiction: Rachel Louise Snyder
Poetry: Victoria Chang Prose: Lisa Locascio
Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith Literature: Matthew Heitzman, Christopher Varlack, Elizabeth Vogel, Jo Ann Weiner
Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith
Arizona State University
Poetry: Sally Ball, Natalie Diaz, Eunsong Kim, Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Safiya Sinclair Fiction: Matt Bell, Jenny Irish, Tara Ison, Mitchell Jackson, T. M. McNally Creative Nonfiction: Sarah Viren
Poetry: Aria Aber, Dexter Booth, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Adam Gellings, Tess Taylor, Vanessa Angélica Villareal
Fiction: Kirstin Chen, Brian Conn, Edan Lepucki, Sarah Monette, Nayomi Munaweera, Vi Khi Nao, Naomi J. Williams, Kyle Winkler
Nonfiction: Cass Donish, Kate Hopper, Lauren Markham, Thomas Mira y Lopez, Lisa Nikolidakis, Terese Mailhot, Kelly Sundberg
Poetry: Jim Cihlar, Michael Kleber-Diggs Fiction: Stephan Eirik Clark, Lindsay Starck Nonfiction: Anika Fajardo, Kathryn Savage Playwriting: Alice Eve Cohen, Carson Kreitzer, TyLie Shider Screenwriting: Stephan Eirik Clark, Andy Froemke
Ball State University
Poetry: Katy Didden, Mark Neely Fiction: Cathy Day, Sean Lovelace Nonfiction: Jill Christman, Silas Hansen Screenwriting: Rani Deighe Crowe, Matt Mullins
Mirene Arsanios, CA Conrad, Hoa Nguyen, Christopher Perez, Cedar Sigo, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Roberto Tejada, Monica de la Torre, Simone White
Bath Spa University
Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, John Strachan, Samantha Walton, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Alexia Casale, Lucy English, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Steve Hollyman, Emma Hooper, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, C.J. Skuse, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Celia Brayfield, Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss Scriptwriting: Robin Mukherjee
Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss
Bay Path University
Mel Allen, Leanna James Blackwell, Jennifer Baker, Sari Botton, Melanie Brooks, María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, Áine Greaney, Shahnaz Habib, Jessica Handler, Ann Hood, Susan Ito, Karol Jackowski, Yi Shun Lai, Anna Mantzaris, Meredith O’Brien, Lisa Romeo, Kate Whouley
Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College
Current Faculty: Poetry: April Bernard, Michael Dumanis, Randall Mann, Craig Morgan Teicher, Mark Wunderlich Fiction: Monica Ferrell, David Gates, Manuel Gonzales, Amy Hempel, Jill McCorkle, Elizabeth McCracken, Deirdre McNamer, Stuart Nadler, Katy Simpson Smith, Taymour Soomro Nonfiction: Eula Biss, Jenny Boully, Hugh Ryan, Clifford Thompson, Peter Trachtenberg
Poetry: Tina Chang, Joseph Weil Fiction: Thomas Glave, Leslie L. Heywood, Liz Rosenberg, Jaimee Wriston-Colbert, Alexi Zentner Nonfiction: Leslie L. Heywood
Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University
Poetry: Julie Hensley, Young Smith Fiction: Julie Hensley, Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson Nonfiction: Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson, Evan J. Massey
Boise State University
Poetry: Martin Corless-Smith, Sara Nicholson, Taryn Schwilling Fiction: Mitch Wieland (Director), Anna Caritj Creative Nonfiction: Clyde Moneyhun
Poetry: Andrea Cohen, Karl Kirchwey, Robert Pinsky Fiction: Leslie Epstein, Jennifer Haigh, Ha Jin
Boston University—MFA in Literary Translation
Odile Cazenave, Margaret Litvin, Petrus Liu, Christopher Maurer, Roberta Micaleff, Robert Pinsky (advising), Stephen Scully, Sassan Tabatabai, J. Keith Vincent, William Waters, Anna Zielinska-Elliott
Bowling Green State University
Poetry: Abigail Cloud, Sharona Muir, F. Dan Rzicznek, Larissa Szporluk, Jessica Zinz-Cheresnick Fiction: Joe Celizic, Lawrence Coates, Reema Rajbanshi, Michael Schulz
Brigham Young University
Poetry: Kimberly Johnson, Lance Larsen, Michael Lavers, John Talbot Fiction: Chris Crowe, Ann Dee Ellis, Spencer Hyde, Stephen Tuttle Nonfiction: Joey Franklin, Patrick Madden
Poetry: Julie Agoos, Ben Lerner Fiction: Joshua Henkin, Madeleine Thien Playwriting: Dennis A. Allen II, Elana Greenfield
Poetry: Sawako Nakayasu, Matthew Shenoda, Eleni Sikelianos, Cole Swensen Fiction: Colin Channer, Laird Hunt, Karan Mahajan, Jacinda Townsend Cross Disciplinary & Digital Language Arts: John Cayley, Thalia Field, Sawako Nakayasu
The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023
April 7, 2023
Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.
First of all, what is an MFA?
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.
What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.
Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing
You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.
The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.
Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.
But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.
Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs
Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:
Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs
These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.
- Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
- Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.
Full-Time MFA Programs
These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).
- Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
- Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.
Low-Residency MFA Programs
Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.
- Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.
Online MFA Programs
Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.
- Pros: No major life changes required.
- Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition
The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category
The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.
Fully Funded MFA Programs
1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).
This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).
- Incoming class size: 8 students
- Admissions rate: 11.1%
- Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren
2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)
A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.
- Incoming class size : 12 students
- Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
- Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith
3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.
- Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
- Acceptance rate: 3.7%
- Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft
4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.
This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.
- Incoming class size: 18
- Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
- Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward
5) Brown University (Providence, RI)
Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.
In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.
- Incoming class size: 12-13
- Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
- Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh
Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued)
6) university of arizona (tucson, az).
This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.
This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.
- Incoming class size: 9
- Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
- Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace
7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):
Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.
- Incoming class size: 8-10
- Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
- Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam
FULL-RESIDENCY MFAS (UNFUNDED)
8) new york university (new york, ny).
This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.
- Incoming class size: 40-60
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong
9) Columbia University (New York, NY)
Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.
- Incoming class size: 110
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang
10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)
Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.
- Incoming class size: 30-40
- Acceptance rate: N/A
- Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado
11 bennington college (bennington, vt).
This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.
- Acceptance rate: 53%
- Incoming class: 40
- Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others
12) Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)
This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”
- Incoming class size : 22
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder
13) Vermont College of Fine Arts
One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.
VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.
- Incoming class size: 18-25
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya
14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).
The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.
- Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here
15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)
This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.
There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.
- Incoming class size: 20
- Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
- Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here
Prepare for your MFA in advance:
- Best English Programs
- Best Creative Writing Schools
- Writing Summer Programs
Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:
- The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
- Graduate School Admissions
With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in The Millions , Asymptote , and The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit www.juliaconrad.net
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MFA in Creative Writing Program Guide
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Whether focusing on poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, a creative writing degree prepares students for a multitude of career options. Spanning two years, a master of fine arts (MFA) program trains you to become a skilled writer, communicator, and editor who can receive and apply feedback effectively. This adaptable skill set enables you to work in industries like education, publishing, and journalism. Professionals in these fields flourish in business, where they can apply their skills to promote products, reach consumers, and maintain a company's brand. A creative writing degree can also bolster a student's chances of obtaining a publishing deal.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth for master's in writing careers through 2026, including an 8% increase for writers and authors , a 9% increase for public relation specialists , and an 11% increase for technical writers . This guide provides prospective students with the academic and career information necessary to find the MFA program that best suits their needs.
What are the best MFA programs? Here are our top 5:
- #1 Arizona State University Campus Immersion $10,710 / $28,800
- #2 East Carolina University $4,452 / $20,729
- #3 Texas Tech University $8,683 / $20,953
- #4 The University of West Florida $3,735 / $16,004
- #5 University of Louisiana at Monroe $5,788 / $17,888
Popular Online Master's in Writing Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Should I Get an MFA in Creative Writing?
Creative writing degrees are highly versatile. Students of all academic and professional backgrounds may enroll in an MFA program to strengthen their writing, develop editing skills, and cultivate professional relationships. In addition to gaining in-depth knowledge of literary genres, students benefit from classes in technical, journalistic, and business-oriented writing. Regardless of what areas they specialize in, writers learn to articulate complex and artistic ideas persuasively, which enables them to pursue occupations with nearly any company or organization.
Master's in writing programs also incorporate experiential learning and professional development opportunities into their curricula. Students attend writing conferences, writers' retreats, and guest speaker sessions. These events allow them to meet other writers and professionals in the field. It also exposes them to career opportunities. Additionally, MFA candidates benefit from university fellowships and internships, which typically center on editing, publishing, and teaching.
Creative writing degrees represent one of the fastest growing university programs in the U.S. According to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) 2015 report, 30% of MFA full-residency programs enjoyed an enrollment increase. Distance education represents a viable option for students, especially low-residency programs that allow working professionals to earn their degrees while maintaining career and family responsibilities.
On the other hand, campus-based options offer opportunities for students to directly collaborate with a community of artists. This camaraderie empowers students and cultivates creative and professional relationships that last long after graduation. Traditional MFA programs especially suit learners who transition into graduate-level academics immediately after earning their bachelor's.
What Can I Do With an MFA in Creative Writing?
Through MFA programs, students develop creative writing, editing, critical-thinking, and professional leadership skills. Though common perceptions of writers paint them as loners, creative writing degrees necessitate collaboration. Students discuss famous literary works and each other's writing in workshops that help them become better orators and listeners. Even the thesis process requires communication because candidates must work with their advisers to revise their projects and prepare them for publication. Therefore, MFA graduates become exceptional team members, who give, take, and apply criticism effectively. These writers also possess strong grammatical and rhetorical skills, which they apply to diverse genres, including poetry, memoir, search engine optimization, and grant writing.
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These writers create content for blogs, journals, magazines, films, video games, and television series. They can also sell their own fiction, nonfiction, and poetry through either a publishing firm or a self-publishing platform. Depending on their specific position, authors can work independently or in project teams with technicians, designers, and managers. Median Annual Salary: $61,820*
Also referred to as technical communicators , these writers craft how-to manuals and instruction guides for companies and organizations. Technical writers ensure that these materials are standardized and dispersed across all of a company's channels. Though students can pursue this career with a bachelor's, an MFA opens more doors through advanced skill and leadership training. Median Annual Salary: $70,930*
As a terminal degree, the MFA prepares students for work as college and university instructors . Professors teach courses in their own genre, such as conventional literature classes or writing-intensive workshops. They also pursue creative projects, research, and publication. Like other educators, postsecondary teachers develop curricula, assess testing standards, and support university administration. Median Annual Salary: $76,000*
Public Relations Specialist
These professionals work in teams to cultivate and maintain a positive public image for their business or organization. Their work involves creating and implementing promotional and social media branding campaigns. Public relations specialists also handle press releases, field requests from news outlets, and write speeches for the company's top executives. MFA graduates typically need additional training to obtain this position, either through on-the-job experience or a certificate program. Median Annual Salary: $59,300*
These leaders work with teams of writers , graphic designers, sales agents, and advertisers to create and actualize promotional campaigns. They also negotiate marketing contracts, maintain budgets, and train employees. Additionally, marketing managers analyze brand effectiveness using data-analytical methods. As a high-level career, these professionals need a graduate degree, extensive continuing education, and at least five years of relevant work experience. Median Annual Salary: $129,380*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose an MFA in Creative Writing Program
When researching prospective master's in writing programs, students need to consider cost, length, and location. In general, graduate students can secure substantial funding through scholarships, grants, and fellowships. The most competitive MFA programs boast full tuition coverage and stipends. However, students should look at their financial situation practically, discerning how much they can afford without resorting to loans. They should also seek out private scholarships through local companies and professional organizations.
Most universities follow a two-year timeline as established by the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the first accredited MFA program in the U.S. However, creative writing represents a highly malleable field with different pedagogical philosophies and curricular design choices. Certain programs last three years, while others last up to five. Relatedly, prospective students should consider whether they want to enroll part or full time. Online and low-residency MFA programs often facilitate part-time enrollment, while traditional programs often require full-time participation.
Distance learners should note that remote creative writing degrees typically use a hybrid format, requiring them to attend conferences and summer retreats. Coursework and specializations reflect other important considerations. These factors fluctuate based on faculty interests and the school's overall direction. Some master's in writing programs highlight the American literary canon, while others focus on works from writers who occupy marginalized identities. And still others break with tradition altogether, emphasizing experimental writing styles and multimedia forms.
Finally, MFA applicants need to factor in location. For traditional students, this includes heightened tuition prices due to out-of-state residency status. Learners should also look into job prospects and cost of living. Many of the most popular programs are located in cities where rent is high and employment is competitive.
Programmatic Accreditation for MFA in Creative Writing Programs
To confer valid degrees, colleges and universities need to earn accreditation at the national, regional, and/or programmatic level. Schools with a religious or vocational focus typically seek out national accreditation. Schools may also earn the more prestigious regional accreditation from one of six organizations depending on their location. Students should look for nonprofit higher education institutions with national or regional accreditation. Students should confirm a school's accreditation status before starting the admission process.
In addition to national and regional backing, colleges and universities may also receive programmatic accreditation. For example, teaching programs usually need to earn the support of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation if they want to uphold state licensure standards. Creative writing degrees stand out because they do not subscribe to formal programmatic accreditation. However, many MFA programs are AWP institutional members . Students who enroll at participating schools benefit from scholarship opportunities, writer-to-writer membership programs, and conference discounts.
MFA in Creative Writing Program Admissions
Creative writing degrees generally require standard admission materials. These comprise academic transcripts, resume/CV, recommendation letters, personal statement, and standardized test scores. Candidates should consult their prospective schools' websites for details, including the admissions deadline.
Conventional requirements aside, the most important part of an MFA candidate's application is their writing sample. Programs typically require students to declare genre specialization in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. A student's choice dictates the bulk of classes they take and their thesis requirement. Specifics vary by program, but poets can expect to submit around 10-15 pages worth of poetry. Fiction and nonfiction writers usually turn in 25-30 pages of prose. Crafting an effective writing sample requires time, so students should plan accordingly. They should also look into the program's guiding aesthetic. Some MFA programs prefer traditional works, while others find experimental narratives more engaging and indicative of a writer's potential.
Bachelor's degree, professional experience, minimum gpa, admission materials, application:, transcripts:, letters of recommendation:, test scores:, application fee:, what else can i expect from an mfa in creative writing program.
Graduate creative writing degrees center on three specializations: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. However, MFA programs aim for a holistic approach to the writing craft. This means that a poet must also take fiction and nonfiction classes, whether they be literature seminars or intensive writing workshops. Students also pursue coursework outside the three genres. Beyond some core classes, topics vary greatly based on faculty specializations.
Courses in an MFA in Creative Writing Program
While coursework differs based on the individual program, an MFA degree plan typically breaks down into four parts: literature courses, writing workshops, independent study, and thesis hours. Students can expect literature classes to encompass both classic and modern works. Independent study allows students to take classes outside the three main genres. Possible topics include journalism, gender studies, technical writing, and grant writing.
Reading Across Genres
MFA programs operate under the philosophy that experimenting across genres builds better writers. In this class, students learn how to effectively interact with works in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Learners also develop the skills to analyze how such fundamental ideas, like plot, character, and point of view, operate in each genre to achieve desired effects.
This class provides students who already write poetry with the knowledge and practice to advance their art. Unlike the workshop, this craft class emphasizes literary analysis that enables writers to break down a poem into component parts. Topics include meter, rhyme, rhythm, stanza pattern, and lineation. Students also delve into traditional and experimental poetic forms.
As one of the most popular creative nonfiction forms, the memoir tells the personal story of an individual or a community. In this course, writers learn the art of memoir through ideas like tone, voice, structure, and subtext. They also develop knowledge of subgenres, including the autobiographical memoir and those that deal with food, travel, family, addiction, and grief.
The Short Story
This narrative form represents the premier learning tool for MFA fiction students due to its relative brevity and popularity with literary magazines. This course provides writers with an in-depth study of the short story form, focusing on narrative arc, pacing, characterization, and internal/external action. Students also learn about short story history by reading the works of famous authors, such as Donald Barthelme, Alice Munro, and Octavia E. Butler.
While the structure of the workshop varies by MFA program and individual professors, this course always focuses on providing students with the feedback needed to improve their writing. Workshops also help students develop skills as editors and book reviewers. In addition to submitting creative work, students need to turn in written analyses of other students' writing.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MFA in Creative Writing?
Like other master's programs, creative writing degrees typically take two years, or 36 credits. Some schools follow a three-year curriculum. A student's enrollment status affects the timeline. Online and low-residency MFA programs provide more flexibility, allowing students to accommodate busy schedules by taking courses part-time. They may also offer accelerated degree plans that let students finish seminars and workshops in as few as 12 months.
Full-residency programs prefer a structured approach, similar to cohort learning, in which all students in the program take the same classes every semester, advancing through their degree work at a communal pace. Relatedly, MFA candidates who receive fellowships may not take more than the standard course allotment each term due to how university tuition waivers work.
Finally, the nature of a student's capstone project also affects their degree timeline. Many writers want their MFA thesis to be publishable manuscript, so they often take additional semesters to polish their work before submission and defense.
How Much Is an MFA in Creative Writing?
According to Peterson's , a higher education organization, graduate students who attend a public university pay $30,000 in average annual tuition, while those who attend private institutions pay $40,000 each year. However, prices vary with individual schools. The University of New Orleans and Columbia University offer two popular creative writing degrees. UNO's yearly graduate tuition is $8,892 for Louisiana residents and $13,462 for non-residents. Columbia charges $28,230 per semester.
MFA programs operate under the jurisdiction of the college of liberal arts or arts and sciences. This means they usually charge rates that match other graduate programs in that area. The most renowned and competitive creative writing degrees offer every student a full tuition waiver and monthly stipends. Other MFA programs provide institutional and departmental scholarships. Students should also seek out awards from professional organizations and businesses.
Beyond tuition and related fees, students need to consider cost of living, particularly housing. Websites like Payscale and Numbeo allow students to calculate living expenses using city-specific data. They can also compare prices between locations. MFA students should set aside money from conference attendance because these events represent important professional development opportunities for new writers. Research and technology costs also warrant consideration. Fortunately for writers, their field does not require expensive machinery or software. However, they should prepare to face high printing costs.
Certifications and Licenses an MFA in Creative Writing Prepares For
American grant writers' association (agwa) certified grant writer.
Organizations highly value grant writing, making it one of the most lucrative professions for freelancers. AGWA's certification series offers courses on proposal writing, program development, and review. Candidates take the exam in person, which comprises handwritten and computer-based sections. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree to qualify for the program.
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Medical Writer Certified
AMWA operates an intensive, exam-based certification program that enables writers to demonstrate their knowledge and improve their marketability. The in-person test consists of 125 multiple-choice questions and takes 2.5 hours. To be eligible, applicants need to possess at least a bachelor's degree in any field and two years of paid medical communication experience.
Society for Technical Communication (STC) Certified Professional Technical Communicator
Operated by STC, this program offers technical writers three certification levels: foundation, practitioner, and expert. The foundation certification exam covers such topics as project planning, analysis, content management, organizational design, and written and visual communication. The exam costs $250 for STC members and $495 for nonmembers.
American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) Copywriting Certifications
AWAI offers multiple training and certification options for copywriters. These include an accelerated foundation program, a master's program, and an advanced training program for seasoned professionals. Copywriters can also pursue training in specialized topics, such as web/online content, business-to-business copywriting, grant writing, resume writing, and event travel writing. Furthermore, AWAI offers membership that comes with benefits like discounts and a career database.
American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Certificate in Editing
Through ACES , writers can enroll in fundamental and advanced certification programs. Fundamental level classes cover topics like clarity, accuracy, and search engine optimization. The advanced program comprises courses in copyright/fair use, fact-checking, and numeracy. To obtain the certificate, students need to pass individual assessments that come after every module.
Resources for MFA in Creative Writing Students
Duotrope provides the tools writers need to locate agents and publishers. The website also operates a massive database of literary magazines and journals, which writers use to submit and track work for publication.
Poets & Writers
Poets & Writers offers the resources writers need to publish, promote, and develop their art. The organization also operates writing contests, workshops, networking events, and a database of MFA programs.
This organization regularly publishes articles on writing tips, literary discussions, and new books. Writer's Digest also operates numerous writing competitions, including those for poetry, fiction, and self-published books. Writers can strengthen their craft through free webinars and paid workshops.
Literary Hub provides an interactive platform for writers to discuss craft, design, and literary criticism. The website also highlights relevant pop culture and political issues. Additional resources include book reviews, daily fiction, and podcasts.
Facilitated by Information Today Inc., Literary Marketplace operates the world's largest searchable database of publishers, literary agents, and industry events. Users benefit from 180 search terms, enabling them to find publishers by size, location, and genre.
Professional Organizations for MFA in Creative Writing Students
MFA programs offer valuable academic training and networking opportunities, which new writers can bolster through engagement with professional organizations. These organizations facilitate literary databases, award competitions, topical webinars, and in-person writing workshops. Furthermore, students can take advantage of insider information and first-hand accounts to find the master's in writing programs that best suit them. Perhaps the greatest benefit of writer's organizations is their networking and community-building events. These include readings, guest speaker series, and annual conferences, like the AWP Conference and Bookfair which draws over 12,000 attendees each year.
Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Individual membership provides access to the writer's calendar, job list, and the writer to writer mentorship program. Members also enjoy career guidance and discounts on literature and conference attendance. Students can take advantage of the organization's comprehensive guide to writing programs.
Academy of American Poets
As the largest professional organization for poets, the academy offers up-to-date publishing news, award programs, and job opportunities. Members also benefit from a variety of creative networking events.
National Writers Union
Established in 1981, the NWU advocates for the rights and economic advancements of its members, who work in diverse writing and education fields. Operating 12 regional chapters, the union provides members with legal advice and promotional support. Emerging writers benefit from a searchable talent database.
The Authors Guild
As the oldest and largest professional organization for writers, the Authors Guild offers legal assistance, online seminars, media liability insurance, and an expansive resource library. Members also gain access to discounts, conferences, and awards.
The organization supports independent workers through government policy advocacy and community engagement programming. Members benefit from health, dental, and life insurance assistance. Freelancers Union also provides retirement support. Membership is free.
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For further and more detailed information on how the scores are generated see the methodology page.
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Disclaimer: No endorsement of these ratings should be implied by the writers and writing programs listed on this site, or by the editors and publishers of Best American Short Stories , Best American Essays , Best American Poetry , The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Pushcart Prize Anthology .
15 Best Low Residency MFA Programs
Author: Natalie Harris-Spencer Updated: February 18, 2023
The best low residency MFA programs offer you a more cost-effective way to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. The difference between a low residency and a fully remote program is that you’ll be expected to stay on campus for short periods throughout the year, giving you greater flexibility than if you’d have either been living on campus, or full-time in front of a computer screen.
What can you expect from the best low residency MFA programs?
These programs will force you to juggle your writing time around your day job , family, and cats, while still plunging you into that writers’ life you so crave. In many ways, they’re harder than the traditional brick-and-mortar school program, in that they give you a truer flavor of what it’s like to pursue a writing career with a million other things going on in your life. They’re also far more immersive than an online-only program.
You’ll be hit with a combination of remote and in-person learning. A typical school year comprises two semesters, of which there is usually a 10-day intensive residency on campus per semester (so, two residencies per year, for two years). The time in between residencies is remote i.e. spent from your writing desk at home, where you will be paired with a mentor or smaller groups of writers. In fact, the 1:1 mentorship is a huge benefit of a low residency MFA program ; you’ll get closer attention than you would if you were in a traditional college class.
The best low residency MFA programs will offer a variety of genres , including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, popular fiction, scriptwriting, literary translation, graphic novels and comics, and writing for young people, while some allow for a dual-genre path.
While MFAs are not cheap, low residency programs are certainly on the more affordable side. Read on for 15 best low residency MFA programs, listed in alphabetical order.
1. Antioch University
Offered by AU Los Angeles, Antioch University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program is dedicated to the education of literary and dramatic artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. It offers two, 10-day residencies in June and December.
2. Bard College
Bard College offers MFAs for artists in a variety of disciplines, not just writing. Each summer session runs for eight intensive weeks (there is no winter residency), and does not follow the traditional semester schedule. Most students receive some amount of financial aid, making it an attractive option for candidates.
3. Bennington College
Bennington College is widely regarded as one of the best low residency MFA programs in the United States. Residencies take place in picturesque Vermont, and their prestigious faculty includes many multi-published authors and literary prizewinners. You can elect to pursue a dual-genre path. Bennington’s residencies take place in January and June.
4. Cedar Crest College
This pan-European MFA offers a single 15-day residency at the beginning of July that rotates between Dublin, Ireland, Barcelona, Spain, and Vienna, Austria, with new locations coming soon. Unlike other programs, you’ll only attend three residencies in total, and you won’t go to the university campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania. But…you get to travel to Europe.
5. Goucher College
The only program dedicated solely to nonfiction writing, this low residency MFA attracts applicants and faculty interested in pursuing narrative, memoir, personal essay, and literary journalism. Literary agents and editors attend the two 10-day residencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and there are sponsored trips to New York to meet top publishing professionals.
6. Institute of American Indian Arts
Now in its tenth year, the emphasis with this particular Creative Writing MFA is on Native writers, voices, texts, and experience, although applications are open to all. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it offer two 8-day residencies in January and July.
7. Lesley University
While the nine-day residencies take place in the “literary mecca” of Cambridge, Massachusetts, there’s also the opportunity for students to study abroad at a 12-day residency in rural Wales. Lesley has relationships with literary agencies and presses , so that you get a fast-track into publishing on submitting your thesis when you graduate.
8. Lindenwood University
Located in St. Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University is unique in that there is no formal residency requirement: you can take classes fully on campus, online, or choose the low residency model. The program is more affordable than others due to its flexibility, and offers financial aid to teachers and candidates over the age of sixty.
9. New York University
Based on NYU’s campus in Paris, France, there are five, 10-day residencies held in January and July. This is one of the more expensive programs, with limited funding available. However, its faculty line-up is always incredible, and you’re paying for the prestige of Paris.
10. Pacific University
Based in Portland, Oregon, Pacific University’s MFA program places a strong emphasis on craft . It offers multiple full and partial merit-based scholarships to qualifying candidates. Residencies are in January and June.
11. Sewanee School of Letters
The model at Sewanee School of Letters in Tennessee is slightly different: you complete a single, six-week residency over the summer , which in turn is spread over the course of three to five summers, making it more affordable than other low residency programs.
12. University of New Orleans
Despite positioning itself as online MFA, the University of New Orleans is actually low residency, in that it offers a month-long residency every summer at various international locations, including Ireland and Italy.
13. University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast)
My alma mater . Stonecoast at USM offers two 10-day residencies in January and July, alongside a concurrent writers’ conference, in the picturesque town of Freeport, Maine. Its popular fiction program is especially popular with writers of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, and its WISE program (writing for inclusivity and social equity) is at the heart of its ethos. In my humble opinion, it will always be one of the best low residency MFA programs.
14. Vermont College of Fine Arts
Another Vermont entry: proof that this beautiful state inspires creativity. Residencies are nine days and take place in December and July, with past residencies going further afield: Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Cozumel, Mexico, Rome, and Asheville, North Carolina. Literary translation and dual-genre paths are available.
15. Warren Wilson College
Established in 1976, Warren Wilson is the original low residency MFA program, introducing the format to North America and the rest of the world. Consequently, it’s on the pricier end, but there are multiple grants and financial aid available. It offers two, 10-day residencies in January and July near the wonderful town of Asheville, North Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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The M.F.A. centers around the Graduate Writers' Workshop, a group which meets each quarter in poetry and fiction, in which faculty and students share in criticism and discussion of student writing. There are twelve MFA students in poetry and twelve in fiction, half in their first year and half in their second year in the Writing Program. About two-thirds of the Writing Program student's work consists of participation in the Workshop; the other third is devoted to graduate-level seminars offered by the MFA faculty and other faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature and other graduate programs. The aim of the Programs in Writing is the training of accomplished writers who intend to make their writing their life. What we expect of our students is passionate precision, character, and stamina. What we want most for our students is that each will sooner or later write something that lasts. Successful writing, we think, is writing that succeeds itself each time it is read with interest and care by a succession of new readers. To facilitate such writing, the faculty has kept the Writing Program small in order to ensure the high quality of the students as well as to permit much teaching on a one-to-one basis. All students consult frequently with the staff for assistance with their work. In recent years, visiting writers and lecturers have included: Ralph Angel, John Ashbery, Wilton Barnhardt, John Calvin Batchelor, Ethan Canin, Jennifer Clarvoe, Killarney Clary, Gwyneth Cravens, Stuart Dybek, Robert Farnsworth, Amy Gerstler, Louise Glück, Jay Gummerman, Ursula Hegi, Brenda Hillman, Rust Hills, T.R. Hummer, Cynthia Huntington, P.D. James, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Margot Livesey, Thomas Lux, Lynne McMahon, Heather McHugh, Maile Meloy, Jeredith Merrin, Josephine Miles, Wright Morris, Howard Moss, Carol Muske-Dukes, Robert Olmstead, Ann Patchett, Bette Pesetsky, Martha Rhodes, Mark Richard, Mary Robison, Thomas Sanchez, Sherod Santos, Christine Schutt, Lynn Sharon Schwartz, Alan Shapiro, Jim Shepard, Mona Simpson, Ted Solotaroff, Pamela Stewart, Robert Stone, Mark Strand, Melanie Thernstrom, Lawrence Thornton, Brad Watson, Joy Williams, and William Wiser.
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Seton Hill University
Writing popular fiction (m.f.a.), write the book you want to read , a premier online program supported by intensive on-campus writers' residencies.
Celebrating More Than 20 Years of Inspiring Authors!
This one-of-a-kind program teaches writers to create – and market – the fiction that sells. It is designed for new or experienced authors who wish to write within popular fiction genres such as romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery or young adult.
Get the Information You Need to Move Forward.
Fill out our easy online request for information form
Seton Hill’s flexible, low-residency format allows you to:
- Earn a master of fine arts degree while working full-time or caring for a family.
- Develop a novel-length writing project in a genre of your choice.
- Enjoy courses, workshops and one-on-one mentoring by established writers.
- Become part of an active, supportive writing community.
- April 5 to begin the program with a June residency .
- Oct 5 to begin the program with a January residency .
"What I didn’t expect was the lifelong support network of like minded friends and allies I would gain. Without them, and the skills I learned at Seton Hill, I could never have sold a three book deal to a big four publisher." - Troy Carrol Bucher
Hear What a Professor, Alumna/Mentor & Student Have to Say About the Writing Popular Fiction Program!
To learn more about this program, sign up for a virtual information session.
Faculty in this program are published authors who are also experienced professors and scholars in the fields of writing and popular fiction. In addition, you will have mentors - also published authors - who will work with you personally on your writing.
As a student in this program, you will learn the business of freelance writing, from establishing your brand name as genre author to finding agents and submitting to book publishers. Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction Program also provides training in the teaching of writing as a potential career option (graduates with an M.F.A. are equipped to teach at the postsecondary level), in addition to fostering careers in:
“The Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction MFA program was amazing and instrumental in helping me achieve my dream of becoming a published writer. One of the best things that this program provided was a wonderful, safe, inclusive community, which continues long after graduation.” - Valerie M. Burns
Learn more about the Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. from Seton Hill University:
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Ready to apply? Apply online now for free!
“The twice-yearly residencies are by far the best part of the program. Coming together with the classmates, mentors, and professors you've interacted with online is an amazing experience. It's a week of intense workshops, lectures, classes, and guest speakers that leaves you feeling invigorated and inspired. WPF is more than a program, it's a network and a family who entertain, teach, and inspire." - Kristin (Molnar) Lord
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The 10 Best Creative Writing MFA Programs in the US
The talent is there.
But the next generation of great American writers needs a collegial place to hone their craft.
They need a place to explore the writer’s role in a wider community.
They really need guidance about how and when to publish.
All these things can be found in a solid Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program. This degree offers access to mentors, to colleagues, and to a future in the writing world.
A good MFA program gives new writers a precious few years to focus completely on their work, an ideal space away from the noise and pressure of the fast-paced modern world.
We’ve found ten of the best ones, all of which provide the support, the creative stimulation, and the tranquility necessary to foster a mature writer.
We looked at graduate departments from all regions, public and private, all sizes, searching for the ten most inspiring Creative Writing MFA programs.
Each of these ten institutions has assembled stellar faculties, developed student-focused paths of study, and provide robust support for writers accepted into their degree programs.
To be considered for inclusion in this list, these MFA programs all must be fully-funded degrees, as recognized by Read The Workshop .
Creative Writing education has broadened and expanded over recent years, and no single method or plan fits for all students.
Today, MFA programs across the country give budding short story writers and poets a variety of options for study. For future novelists, screenwriters – even viral bloggers – the search for the perfect setting for their next phase of development starts with these outstanding institutions, all of which have developed thoughtful and particular approaches to study.
So where will the next Salinger scribble his stories on the steps of the student center, or the next Angelou reading her poems in the local bookstore’s student-run poetry night? At one of these ten programs.
Here are 10 of the best creative writing MFA programs in the US.
University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
Starting off the list is one of the oldest and most venerated Creative Writing programs in the country, the MFA at the University of Oregon.
Longtime mentor, teacher, and award-winning poet Garrett Hongo directs the program, modeling its studio-based approach to one-on-one instruction in the English college system.
Oregon’s MFA embraces its reputation for rigor. Besides attending workshops and tutorials, students take classes in more formal poetics and literature.
A classic college town, Eugene provides an ideal backdrop for the writers’ community within Oregon’s MFA students and faculty.
Tsunami Books , a local bookseller with national caché, hosts student-run readings featuring writers from the program.
Graduates garner an impressive range of critical acclaim; Yale Younger Poet winner Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Cave Canem Prize winner and Guggenheim fellow Major Jackson, and PEN-Hemingway Award winner Chang-Rae Lee are noteworthy alumni.
With its appealing setting and impressive reputation, Oregon’s MFA program attracts top writers as visiting faculty, including recent guests Elizabeth McCracken, David Mura, and Li-young Lee.
The individual approach defines the Oregon MFA experience; a key feature of the program’s first year is the customized reading list each MFA student creates with their faculty guide.
Weekly meetings focus not only on the student’s writing, but also on the extended discovery of voice through directed reading.
Accepting only ten new students a year—five in poetry and five in fiction— the University of Oregon’s MFA ensures a close-knit community with plenty of individual coaching and guidance.
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
Cornell University’s MFA program takes the long view on life as a writer, incorporating practical editorial training and teaching experience into its two-year program.
Incoming MFA students choose their own faculty committee of at least two faculty members, providing consistent advice as they move through a mixture of workshop and literature classes.
Students in the program’s first year benefit from editorial training as readers and editors for Epoch , the program’s prestigious literary journal.
Teaching experience grounds the Cornell program. MFA students design and teach writing-centered undergraduate seminars on a variety of topics, and they remain in Ithaca during the summer to teach in programs for undergraduates.
Cornell even allows MFA graduates to stay on as lecturers at Cornell for a period of time while they are on the job search. Cornell also offers a joint MFA/Ph.D. program through the Creative Writing and English departments.
Endowments fund several acclaimed reading series, drawing internationally known authors to campus for workshops and work sessions with MFA students.
Recent visiting readers include Salman Rushdie, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Margaret Atwood, Ada Limón, and others.
Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Arizona State’s MFA in Creative Writing spans three years, giving students ample time to practice their craft, develop a voice, and begin to find a place in the post-graduation literary world.
Coursework balances writing and literature classes equally, with courses in craft and one-on-one mentoring alongside courses in literature, theory, or even electives in topics like fine press printing, bookmaking, or publishing.
While students follow a path in either poetry or fiction, they are encouraged to take courses across the genres.
Teaching is also a focus in Arizona State’s MFA program, with funding coming from teaching assistantships in the school’s English department. Other exciting teaching opportunities include teaching abroad in locations around the world, funded through grants and internships.
The Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing, affiliated with the program, offers Arizona State MFA students professional development in formal and informal ways.
The Distinguished Writers Series and Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference bring world-class writers to campus, allowing students to interact with some of the greatest in the profession. Acclaimed writer and poet Alberto Ríos directs the Piper Center.
Arizona State transitions students to the world after graduation through internships with publishers like Four Way Books.
Its commitment to the student experience and its history of producing acclaimed writers—recent examples include Tayari Jones (Oprah’s Book Club, 2018; Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2019), Venita Blackburn ( Prairie Schooner Book Prize, 2018), and Hugh Martin ( Iowa Review Jeff Sharlet Award for Veterans)—make Arizona State University’s MFA a consistent leader among degree programs.
University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
The University of Texas at Austin’s MFA program, the Michener Center for Writers, maintains one of the most vibrant, exciting, active literary faculties of any MFA program.
Denis Johnson D.A. Powell, Geoff Dyer, Natasha Trethewey, Margot Livesey, Ben Fountain: the list of recent guest faculty boasts some of the biggest names in current literature.
This three-year program fully funds candidates without teaching fellowships or assistantships; the goal is for students to focus entirely on their writing.
More genre tracks at the Michener Center mean students can choose two focus areas, a primary and secondary, from Fiction, Poetry, Screenwriting, and Playwriting.
The Michener Center for Writers plays a prominent role in contemporary writing of all kinds.
The hip, student-edited Bat City Review accepts work of all genres, visual art, cross genres, collaborative, and experimental pieces.
Recent events for illustrious alumni include New Yorker publications, an Oprah Book Club selection, a screenwriting prize, and a 2021 Pulitzer (for visiting faculty member Mitchell Jackson).
In this program, students are right in the middle of all the action of contemporary American literature.
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)
The MFA in Creative Writing at Washington University in St. Louis is a program on the move: applicants have almost doubled here in the last five years.
Maybe this sudden growth of interest comes from recent rising star alumni on the literary scene, like Paul Tran, Miranda Popkey, and National Book Award winner Justin Phillip Reed.
Or maybe it’s the high profile Washington University’s MFA program commands, with its rotating faculty post through the Hurst Visiting Professor program and its active distinguished reader series.
Superstar figures like Alison Bechdel and George Saunders have recently held visiting professorships, maintaining an energetic atmosphere program-wide.
Washington University’s MFA program sustains a reputation for the quality of the mentorship experience.
With only five new students in each genre annually, MFA candidates form close cohorts among their peers and enjoy attentive support and mentorship from an engaged and vigorous faculty.
Three genre tracks are available to students: fiction, poetry, and the increasingly relevant and popular creative nonfiction.
Another attractive feature of this program: first-year students are fully funded, but not expected to take on a teaching role until their second year.
A generous stipend, coupled with St. Louis’s low cost of living, gives MFA candidates at Washington University the space to develop in a low-stress but stimulating creative environment.
Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
It’s one of the first and biggest choices students face when choosing an MFA program: two-year or three-year?
Indiana University makes a compelling case for its three-year program, in which the third year of support allows students an extended period of time to focus on the thesis, usually a novel or book-length collection.
One of the older programs on the list, Indiana’s MFA dates back to 1948.
Its past instructors and alumni read like the index to an American Literature textbook.
How many places can you take classes in the same place Robert Frost once taught, not to mention the program that granted its first creative writing Master’s degree to David Wagoner? Even today, the program’s integrity and reputation draw faculty like Ross Gay and Kevin Young.
Indiana’s Creative Writing program houses two more literary institutions, the Indiana Review, and the Indiana University Writers’ Conference.
Students make up the editorial staff of this lauded literary magazine, in some cases for course credit or a stipend. An MFA candidate serves each year as assistant director of the much-celebrated and highly attended conference .
These two facets of Indiana’s program give graduate students access to visiting writers, professional experience, and a taste of the writing life beyond academia.
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program cultivates its students with a combination of workshop-driven course work and vigorous programming on and off-campus. Inventive new voices in fiction and poetry consistently emerge from this two-year program.
The campus hosts multiple readings, events, and contests, anchored by the Zell Visiting Writers Series. The Hopgood Awards offer annual prize money to Michigan creative writing students .
The department cultivates relationships with organizations and events around Detroit, so whether it’s introducing writers at Literati bookstore or organizing writing retreats in conjunction with local arts organizations, MFA candidates find opportunities to cultivate a community role and public persona as a writer.
What happens after graduation tells the big story of this program. Michigan produces heavy hitters in the literary world, like Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Kostova, Nate Marshall, Paisley Rekdal, and Laura Kasischke.
Their alumni place their works with venerable houses like Penguin and Harper Collins, longtime literary favorites Graywolf and Copper Canyon, and the new vanguard like McSweeney’s, Fence, and Ugly Duckling Presse.
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
Structure combined with personal attention and mentorship characterizes the University of Minnesota’s Creative Writing MFA, starting with its unique program requirements.
In addition to course work and a final thesis, Minnesota’s MFA candidates assemble a book list of personally significant works on literary craft, compose a long-form essay on their writing process, and defend their thesis works with reading in front of an audience.
Literary journal Great River Review and events like the First Book reading series and Mill City Reading series do their part to expand the student experience beyond the focus on the internal.
The Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series draws exceptional, culturally relevant writers like Chuck Klosterman and Claudia Rankine for readings and student conversations.
Writer and retired University of Minnesota instructor Charles Baxter established the program’s Hunger Relief benefit , aiding Minnesota’s Second Harvest Heartland organization.
Emblematic of the program’s vision of the writer in service to humanity, this annual contest and reading bring together distinguished writers, students, faculty, and community members in favor of a greater goal.
Brown University (Providence, RI)
One of the top institutions on any list, Brown University features an elegantly-constructed Literary Arts Program, with students choosing one workshop and one elective per semester.
The electives can be taken from any department at Brown; especially popular choices include Studio Art and other coursework through the affiliated Rhode Island School of Design. The final semester consists of thesis construction under the supervision of the candidate’s faculty advisor.
Brown is the only MFA program to feature, in addition to poetry and fiction tracks, the Digital/Cross Disciplinary track .
This track attracts multidisciplinary writers who need the support offered by Brown’s collaboration among music, visual art, computer science, theater and performance studies, and other departments.
The interaction with the Rhode Island School of Design also allows those artists interested in new forms of media to explore and develop their practice, inventing new forms of art and communication.
Brown’s Literary Arts Program focuses on creating an atmosphere where students can refine their artistic visions, supported by like-minded faculty who provide the time and materials necessary to innovate.
Not only has the program produced trailblazing writers like Percival Everett and Otessa Moshfegh, but works composed by alumni incorporating dance, music, media, and theater have been performed around the world, from the stage at Kennedy Center to National Public Radio.
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
When most people hear “MFA in Creative Writing,” it’s the Iowa Writers’ Workshop they imagine.
The informal name of the University of Iowa’s Program in Creative Writing, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop was the first to offer an MFA, back in 1936.
One of the first diplomas went to renowned writer Wallace Stegner, who later founded the MFA program at Stanford.
It’s hard to argue with seventeen Pulitzer Prize winners and six U.S. Poets Laureate. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is the root system of the MFA tree.
The two-year program balances writing courses with coursework in other graduate departments at the university. In addition to the book-length thesis, a written exam is part of the student’s last semester.
Because the program represents the quintessential idea of a writing program, it attracts its faculty positions, reading series, events, and workshops the brightest lights of the literary world.
The program’s flagship literary magazine, the Iowa Review , is a lofty goal for writers at all stages of their career.
At the Writers’ Workshop, tracks include not only fiction, poetry, playwriting, and nonfiction, but also Spanish creative writing and literary translation. Their reading series in association with Prairie Lights bookstore streams online and is heard around the world.
Iowa’s program came into being in answer to the central question posed to each one of these schools: can writing be taught?
The answer for a group of intrepid, creative souls in 1936 was, actually, “maybe not.”
But they believed it could be cultivated; each one of these institutions proves it can be, in many ways, for those willing to commit the time and imagination.
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Creative writing m.f.a. program, three-year m.f.a. in creative writing.
The three-year M.F.A. program in Creative Writing gives promising fiction writers and poets an opportunity to practice and study their art with dedicated fellow writers. We accept six students in fiction and six students in poetry each year. We have no non-fiction track. All students receive a full tuition waiver and a yearly stipend (currently $20,000 per year). All students have undergraduate teaching duties in their second and third years.
The M.F.A. program is committed to creating a supportive environment for its students. As a program that aims to nurture new voices, we particularly want to welcome writers from underrepresented communities. We encourage people of color to apply. We believe a program is at its best when it is comprised of strong writers from a full spectrum of backgrounds and experiences. Our program strives to be a comfortable and supportive environment for POC-identified students, LGBTQ+ students, international students, veterans, first-generation college students, disabled students, and for everyone who chooses to join us.
Read our Statement of Solidarity .
Some notable books by recent alumni
“Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear,” by Mosab Abu Toha ’23 (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award)
“Chain Gang All-Stars,” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah ’16 (longlisted for the National Book Award)
“House of Cotton,” by Monica Brashears ’22
“Grace Engine,” by Joshua Burton ’19
“Tomb Sweeping,” by Alexandra Chang ’18
“Their Divine Fires,” by Wendy Chen ’17
“How It Works Out,” by Myriam Lacroix ’20
“Last Acts,” by Alexander Sammartino ’18
“Songs on Endless Repeat,” by Anthony Veasna So ’20
“We’re Safe When We’re Alone,” by Nghiem Tran ’20
During its nearly 50-year history, the creative writing program has produced an outstanding array of writers whose work has been published by major presses and magazines and won prestigious awards. Distinguished alumni include George Saunders, Lily King, Tom Perrotta, Julia Alvarez, Cheryl Strayed, M.T. Anderson, Daniel Chaon, Rebecca Curtis, Keith Gessen, Jay McInerney, Deb Olin Unferth, and Claire Messud.
M.F.A. in Creative Writing
The three-year M.F.A. program in Creative Writing gives promising fiction writers and poets an opportunity to practice their art with dedicated fellow writers.