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MFA Creative Writing | Degree Requirements & Admissions

MFA in Creative Writing


Admission to the Program

Applicants must meet the minimum university requirements for graduate study. An undergraduate major in literature is desirable, but applications from candidates who have majored in other fields will be considered. Admission is based on samples of previous writing (15-25 pages), academic record, and two letters of recommendation.

The application deadline for merit awards is November 15. After November 15, the program continues to accept applications on a rolling basis. New applicants will continue to be considered for merit awards upon availability of funds.

Applicants for Fall 2014 can submit through June 1, 2014.

Degree Requirements

  • 48 credit hours of approved graduate work 
  • Advancement to candidacy is automatic on admission to the program, but subject to yearly review 
  • A book-length manuscript of fiction, poetry, or drama, to be approved by the creative writing faculty 
  • One oral examination on the candidate’s manuscript: its merits, characteristics, and relations to the works of others 

Course Requirements

See also Courses & Internships.

  • 12 credit hours in writing workshops: 
  • LIT-700 Advanced Fiction Workshop (3) 
  • LIT-701 Advanced Poetry Workshop (3) 
  • LIT-704 Advanced Creative Writing Nonfiction Workshop (3)
  • Students may concentrate on one genre or work in several 
  • 12 credit hours in literature courses selected from among the regular graduate level literature offerings of the department 
  • LIT-705 Seminar on Translation (3) 
  • LIT-710 Art of Literary Journalism (3) 
  • LIT-691 Graduate Internship (6): possible internship sites include the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, the Writers-in-the-Schools programs, and affiliations with in-house and trade publishers. 
  • 6 credit hours from the following: 
  • Additional writing workshops, offered at American University or elsewhere 
  • Additional courses in literature, cinema studies, or performing arts 
  • With the approval of an advisor, courses in foreign languages, journalism, or in any other discipline which seems germane to the individual student’s interest and consistent with the objectives of the program 
  • 6 credit hours of LIT-797 Master’s Thesis Seminar

Video: Inside the MFA Writing Program

Creative Writing Program Video

See video discussion with students and faculty.

See Inside the Program