Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 48-hour degree program for students who wish to become professional writers of playwriting, fiction, or poetry. The program requires students to take two sections of ENGL 6100: Literary Forms (one in and one out of genre), twelve hours of workshop in their genre, three to six hours of workshop out of their genre, three to six hours for thesis writing, and eighteen hours of elective credit, six of which must be from literature courses. The Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing does not require a GRE.
Graduates from the MFA program pursue their writing careers in a variety of ways. Sometimes they decide to teach the craft of writing at the college or university level, and many of our students go on to doctoral study in prestigious programs such as those at the University of Georgia, the University of Iowa, the University of Houston, and Ohio University.
The MFA meets the minimal academic qualification appropriate for those who wish to teach the craft of writing at the college or university level.
Department of English Language & Literature
Why Earn Your Creative Writing Master’s Degree at EMU?
Distinguished as one of the only interdisciplinary programs for creative writing in the country, we provide a rich space for exploring the relationships between poetry and poetics, experimental prose, cultural translation, community service, pedagogy and contemporary arts. Locating the writer’s work along the frontiers of social imaginaries and civic possibilities, our program nourishes the development of rigorous and imaginatively engaged writing. The master’s emphasizes aesthetic risk and social application, while offering opportunities for writers to explore multiple arts and mixed genres, sound and performance, digital technologies and new media, as well as community-based and collaborative projects, innovative curating and alternative publishing.
For news and notes from EMU’s creative writing program, visit our blog.
- Program Coordinator: Rob Halpern
For complete curriculum information, see Master’s in Creative Writing .
Visit the course schedule page to see our upcoming course offerings in Creative Writing.
For general information about our our programs, assistantships, and applications, see Graduate Studies.
The following Graduate Creative Writing Workshops have been recently offered:
In this graduate creative writing workshop, we will explore the history of collage in 20th century visual art as well as its evolving use as a technique in creative prose. We’ll read various examples of texts that employ some variation of collage, including (see below) as well as New Media and hybrid texts. Students will work on their own long prose projects incorporating techniques discussed in class. Questions we’ll ask (and explore, and expand upon): What is collage? Why was collage so relevant to Modernism, and is it still relevant today? Is collage a contemporary practice? We’ll explore collage in the “expanded field,” including the “readymade,” appropriation, modular prose, audio collage, and new media.
Poetics and Practice
We will focus on contemporary poetics and the use of poetics toward developing creative works in poetry, prose, trans-genre, and interdisciplinary modes. The course will also offer the opportunity for us to imagine our own work as a site for reflection within the genre of poetics and to construct commentary specific to individuals’ interests in poetics.
Essay as Form
This workshop will function as a lab investigating and experimenting with essays that use techniques associated with other genres and disciplines, sometimes veering toward the lyric, sometimes toward the documentary, and sometimes toward fiction. We will discuss examples of film, radio, video, and image text essays in addition to textual works, all of which will serves a prompts and inspirations for our own work in the form.
Long Poems, Serial Works, Conjoined Texts
The course encourages writing in longer forms, whether these involve the development and continuation of a piece of writing, the investigation of “the series” in which the work develops as a sequence of short texts, or involves the writing of two or more texts that are linked in one way or another. Assigned readings will be on primary texts that will help students to experiment with devices and concepts that are generative for writing in long forms. In addition, readings in literary criticism, poetics, and theory will supplement our discussions of primary texts. We will also keep in mind that many of the creative works we will read offer visions of a critical art practice that blur the disciplinary boundaries between the creative and critical text.
In this workshop we will focus on various dimensions of sound in poetry and sound poetry. How might listening be a form of composition? How might manipulating sound through recording and performance produce new subjectivities? What might become available when a poem’s primary way of making meaning is through the rhythmic, acoustic, sonic, and phonetic aspects of language? Sonic collage, sampling, audio documentary, recitation, spoken word, music, and sound art will inspire multiple ways of approaching the relationship between sound and poetry.
Interdisciplinary Praxis: The Walk
This class explores the walk as a literary/artistic form and walking as method of composition. We will consider the strategies of the flaneur,the walking tour, the drifter, the pilgrim, the psychogeographer, the urban planner, the naturalist, the demonstrator, and the trespasser as well as invent our own. Walking is itself research if given a systematic frame. Questioning both the nostalgic desire for place-bound identities on one hand and the embrace of nomadic fluidity of subjectivity, identity, and spatiality on the other, this class will ask you to re-imagine new models of belonging and transience.
Intense Life Writing
This graduate writing workshop and seminar will investigate, critique, and practice the dynamic relations between experience, language and writing. Some of the questions we will ask include: How does writing shape rather than reflect experience? How do the generic conventions associated with autobiography and confession both enable and disable our efforts to write dynamically through the very life experiences that our writing simultaneously works to construct and enact? What might it mean to write ourselves into language in ways that promise to transform our understanding of ourselves and our social relations, rather than simply rehearse things we already think we know? What formal methods and experimental models might we devise for intensifying the relation between life and writing in the interest of being ever more faithful to both? How do we arouse and organize feelings of rage or disgust, longing and loss in our writing? What do structures of identity and politics have to do with these things? Through intensive reading and writing, you can expect to run far and wide with these questions, while developing a range of creative works in verse and/or prose.
What is interdisciplinarity, and why is it an important part of our program?
One of the hallmarks of the Creative Writing Program at EMU is that it is interdisciplinary. Students in our program enjoy a rich, immersive experience in interdisciplinary practices through (1) the combining of creative writing with sound, visual, and performance arts; (2) the conjoining of literary studies with creative writing through critical and creative practices across the creative writing curriculum and through coursework that includes literary theory; and (3) cognate studies, which support creative writers in exploring creative and academic subjects that fuel their writing endeavors. Popular cognates include Visual Art and Photography, Philosophy, Women’s and Gender studies, Theater and Performance, Technical Writing, Linguistics, and Literary Studies.
What is community outreach, and why is it important for our program?
Community Outreach, is a vital and unique part of our graduate program. Each Creative Writing M.A. student chooses an arts organization or nonprofit to which they devote 30 hours of service. In this form of experiential education, students participate in meaningful service activities that meet identified community needs. Students also reflect on and theorize about that service to gain further understanding of (1) the role of the writer in civic life, (2) the transformative possibilities of language and writing in social contexts, (3) the ways in which students’ creative and intellectual skills (as writers, thinkers, problem solvers) are invaluable in the community/workplace, and (4) the possibilities of new forms of social and economic cooperation. Students thereby gain invaluable experience in arts administration, grant writing, editing, publicity, and/or teaching. The Creative Writing program supports each student’s community engagement with a class, CRTW 550, that is both a practicum of public projects in the arts and a mini-seminar that explores the significance of literary arts in community life. Learn more about Community Outreach, or Academic Service Learning, at EMU.
What can you do with a M.A. in Creative Writing?
An M.A. in Creative Writing provides students with the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to enable their careers as writers. A Creative Writing degree helps students build foundational skills to prepare them for a variety of careers. Through the intense study of prose, poetry, new media and hybrid forms, our M.A. nourishes creative and critical problem-solving abilities, offers invaluable writing and editing experience, and teaches analytical thinking. After graduation, our students enter careers as writers, teachers, advertising copywriters, arts administrators, creative directors, digital copywriters, editors, librarians, social media managers, as well as careers in the non-profit sector. In addition, many of our Creative Writing M.A.’s go on to receive their MFA’s and Ph.D.’s.
Why an M.A. and not an MFA?
While the MFA is considered a “terminal degree,” the M.A. in Creative Writing at EMU prepares its students for a wide range of ongoing creative, intellectual, and community-oriented endeavors.
The M.A. in Creative Writing can augment a career path, open the door for more advanced study (MFA or Ph.D.), or offer a stepping stone to a new field of study. While the MFA is organized more strictly around traditional workshops focusing on genre-specific disciplines (poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction), our M.A. at EMU is untraditionally expansive, exploratory, inquiry-driven, and critically grounded in both theory and practice. We do not ask our students to identify themselves by way of a single genre orientation, and our approach is hybrid and interdisciplinary. In short, the MA in Creative Writing at EMU deepen one’s sense of possibility for a range of cultural, educational, community and writing endeavors.
Does the M.A. in Creative Writing offer teaching experience or opportunities for other types of funding?
Yes, our graduate students are competitive for graduate assistantships in first-year writing, tutoring at the Writing Center, arts and journals administration. These positions offer tuition remission in addition to a monthly stipend. There are also campus wide assistantships available. While we accept applications for our MA program at anytime during the academic year (September through March), applications for these assistantship positions are due in mid-January.