Traditional Programs in Creative Writing

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon's MFA program is one of the longest standing in the country, and it focuses on the "act of writing." The program focuses on the writing workshop, and half of a student's credits will come through the workshops. Students study in either poetry or fiction.

University of Florida

The program at the University of Florida subscribes to no specific school of writing, preferring instead to work with the skills the students bring. The goal of the program is to "produce good writers." Workshops are kept small (between six and twelve students), and the workshop atmosphere is one of "rigor and respect." Focuses are offered in both fiction and poetry.

University of Wyoming

The MFA program at the University of Wyoming encourages interdisciplinary study for its students. The program has close ties with other departments on campus, which creates a supportive atmosphere on campus. Students are also required to complete an applicable internship before graduation. There is a focus on students gaining "'real-life' writing skills."

Iowa Writers' Workshop

The Iowa Writers' Workshop is the most prestigious in the country and arguably the finest. It was the first creative writing program in America and has a strong tradition. Many, if not all other programs, are modeled after this one in some way. It is a program that teaches both writing and the teaching of writing, giving graduates more than one way in which to make money after graduation.

Programs with Extra Offerings

University of Southern California

USC was the first program in the USA to offer a master's in professional writing, and it is a self-described interdisciplinary program for writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and screen and television writing. The writing workshops are small, averaging between eight and twelve students. Classes are late afternoon and evening to cater to working individuals.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

The MFA program at UNLV is designed to help "young writers...recognize themselves and their writing in relation to World Writing at large." It is the only program in the United States to require students to spend one semester of their degree abroad in a non-English speaking country. Additionally, it offers students an opportunity to meet degree requirements while serving in the Peace Corps.

University of Baltimore

The University of Baltimore offers an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts, and the goal of the program is to make the student's work public. In addition to creative writing courses, students may take such courses as book art and publishing. The culmination of the degree will be a publication that the student designs and produces in addition to writing.

University of Missouri, St. Louis

The program at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, offers courses in literary editing in addition as part of the MFA degree. The program is designed to be flexible for students, who have the ability to find a balance of literature study and workshop classes that is appropriate for them, though the workshops are still considered the "heart" of the program. Students specialize in either fiction or poetry.

Emerson College

This is a workshop based program in which students specialize in poetry, fiction, drama, screenwriting, or creative nonfiction. The program is designed to focus on "the actual practice of writing as well as its literary underpinnings." Writing is treated as a possible profession as well as a craft, and courses are offered in publishing courses. Also offered is an MA program in Publishing and Writing, though students in one program are encouraged to explore course offerings in both.

Low-Residency Programs

Naropa University

This two-year low-residency program offers focuses in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, performance, and translation. The program prides itself on allowing both traditional and experimental approaches to writing, and both are encouraged. Residencies are four weeks and in the summer, with online courses the rest of the year, and the four weeks spent in residency prominently feature guest speakers.

Goddard College

This two-year low-residency program allows students to focus in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, plays, screenplays, children's and young-adult literature, or a combination of these programs. The program emphasizes "self-education." The program is flexible, allowing the residency period (multiple eight-day residencies) on the Goddard campus of at the Fort Worden State Park in Port Townshead, WA.

Antioch University, Los Angeles

Antioch University's low-residency MFA program is between two and three years in length and it encourages students to think about the social issues involved with their writing. Each semester spent in the program requires the student to attend one ten-day residency. The rest of the year the student will spend time working on an individually tailored writing project. Students can study fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction.

© 2006 Kathryn Houghton