Creative Writing M.F.A. Curriculum

Creative Writing M.F.A. Curriculum

The Writer's Foundry recognizes that most students who enroll in a master of fine arts program in creative writing seek to become published writers. We also presuppose our students to become vital members of a writing community, to distinguish themselves as literary citizens engaged in the concerns of the world, and to graduate practiced and fluent in critical thinking.

To that end, we offer the following curriculum:   



Each class is small in size and allows for generous individual attention. Students turn in new and ongoing literary projects, both long and short, to be closely examined in the form of written comments and discussion led by core faculty. We value a supportive writing environment and hold our work to the highest literary standards.

Literature Practicum

This is a how-to, interdisciplinary course aimed at understanding, appreciating and putting into practice the craft of writing. We’ll study texts in poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and learn to read like writers. Assignments are often supplemented with creative prompts and exercises.

Symposium Electives

Here we display our commitment to broadening perspectives with mini-classes that include Prolific Writing, Songwriting, Small Press Publishing, Book Reviewing, Q&A with Literary Agents, Screenwriting and more.

Master Lectures

Each semester, distinguished authors visit the Writer’s Foundry to deliver master lectures on notable works of writing. Each visiting lecturer is asked to speak, one writer to another, on literary concerns of the featured book.

We’re honored to have hosted master lecturers Amy Hempel, Francine Prose, Randall Horton, Leah Nanako Winkler, Gregory Pardlo, Paul La Farge, Sa ya Sinclair, William Wall, Rebecca Wolff, Chloe Honum, Mitchell S. Jackson, Wyatt Mason, An Duplan, Major Jackson, Deborah Eisenberg, Ocean Vuong and Mary Gaitskill.


Following the successful completion of three semesters of coursework with a total of 27 credits earned, students continue to attend the Master Literature Lectures, but in advancing to the fourth and final semester they will have selected one or two members of the faculty to work closely as adviser(s) on a final two-part thesis project.

Creative Thesis

70-100 pages of prose or 35 pages of poetry  
A carefully considered and artfully rendered manuscript — revised, copy-edited and proofread — comprised of stories, poetry, a novella, a play, substantial excerpts of longer fictive prose or essays of fact, witness, reportage, travel writing, memoir or other narrative forms. The manuscript may consist of one uninterrupted work, selections from a longer work or individual and separate short pieces.   

Critical Thesis

20 pages 
The critical thesis is a short, publishable manuscript. It might focus on authors or aspects of literature that connect to the thesis writer’s creative work. The critical thesis might be academic in tone, or it might take the form of a series of interviews, profiles, book reviews, poems or a literary essay, all suitable for publication. An emphasis may be placed on research, not just secondary sources, but also primary and original explorations, and on sifting evidence to find original points of view. The critical thesis should be viewed as an additional testament to a student’s range, flair and mastery of writing.

Literary Citizenship

This course asks writers to seek opportunities to serve local communities through their skills as artists and educators. Youth and senior programs, workshops, reading series and literacy assistance are examples of encouraged capstone projects.

Symposium Electives

  • "Prolific Writing" with Kate Meehan
  • "Songwriting Symposium" with Syd Straw 
  • "The Writer at Work" with Andrew Martin
  • "The Job Market" with Randall Horton
  • "Screenwriting" with Lexy Benhaim
  • "Q&A" with Literary Agents and Editors

Sample Symposia

"The Art of Translation"
with Ricardo Maldonado

"Shakespeare Sampler,""Beckett" and "Jane Austen"
with David Gates

“On Poetic Closure”
with Nathan McClain

“The Poetry of Landscape”
with Grace Bonner and Cathryn Dwyre