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Workshops, Electives & Independent Studies|Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing


Workshops are at the core of our curriculum. Students typically take three workshops in their primary genre and one in another genre, but students with multiple-genre/hybrid genre interests may consult with the MFA director regarding the most productive workshop schedule for their particular aesthetic goals.  The program also will begin regularly offering creative writing seminars that a student may take alongside, or in substitution for, workshops, decisions to be freely made in consultation with the MFA director. Students in their first semester may not take more than one workshop (ENGL 5560) except with permission of the MFA director. Students, in consultation with the MFA director, may choose to take more than the four required workshops, but a student should take no more than a total of seven workshops and creative writing seminars (including both semester-long workshops/seminars and short intensive workshops/seminars) during their time in the program. Manuscript consultations, master classes, and other non-credit opportunities with visiting writers are not included in the seven-workshop/seminar total.


Beyond workshops and creative writing seminars, MFA students take several elective courses as well as credits towards the MFA project (see “MFA Project” for details on that requirement).  Students may take electives in any department or program across campus.  Students with strong interests in another discipline or field are welcome to concentrate their non-workshop coursework in that area if it serves their creative goals.  Students should work in close consultation with the MFA director in mapping out their elective coursework.

Teaching-Related Coursework

Students teaching first-year composition are required to take ENGL 5010 in their first semester, and to take ENGL 5900 in every semester in which they teach 1010. Students who are teaching a course other than ENGL 1010 will be required to take a similar mentoring credit with a teaching mentor selected in consultation with the MFA director.  This credit will replace the ENGL 5900 requirement in that semester. Students with equivalent graduate-level coursework, or with a graduate teaching degree, may have the option to waive ENGL 5010.  Students in this case should consult with the MFA director before the semester begins; the MFA director will discuss the waiver with the director of 1010.

Independent Studies

Because MFA faculty members are already working in intensive one-on-one settings with MFA students through workshops, MFA projects, and thesis service, they typically cannot direct independent studies devoted to the production of creative work.  Only in rare circumstances can such a request be approved.  Too, university rules require that independent studies typically be on topics that a student otherwise could not pursue through regular coursework.  If a student finds that their writing would benefit from a workshop-free semester, they may consult with the MFA director regarding a reduction of workshop-credit requirements and a substitution of elective credit instead.  Students are also welcome to explore designing independent studies in subject matter related to their creative goals (readings, research, etc) that they could not otherwise study through formally-offered university courses.  These independent studies may be with MFA faculty or faculty members in other departments and programs.

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