The Master of Fine Arts in Writing is part of The Creative Writing Programs (CWP) at Hamline University. The MFA is a terminal degree for students who wish to pursue careers as writers and/or who want to teach writing at the college level. Hamline’s MFA program, established in 1994, was the first MFA degree in creative writing in Minnesota. It is distinguished from many writing programs around the country by its interdisciplinary emphasis and its encouragement of multi-genre explorations.
The program, offered full- or part-time, allows students to develop the process and craft of writing in a rigorous, engaged, and supportive environment. Our small class sizes provide an intimate setting in which students will establish trust and rapport with classmates and receive one-on-one advising and feedback from their professors.
Many students will focus primarily on one genre in the advanced stage of the program as they move toward thesis. Students can choose from poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction (e.g., the essay, memoir, biography, etc.), children’s literature, or any combination of genres. A number of elective course are also taught on topics such as composition theory & pedagogy, graphic novel and flash fiction to name a few.
MFA Degree Requirements (Total 48 credits):
Core Seminar (4 credits):
The MFA journey begins with a core seminar course, “Writers and Readers: Creators Both.” The course is a reading-intensive examination of the relationship between reading and writing. Students expand their knowledge of the craft of writing and the use of literary texts as guides for their own work. They also learn the value of giving and receiving constructive feedback, and increase their understanding of the creative process and of the relationship between writer and reader. After successful completion of the Core Seminar, and with the recommendation of the core professor, the student becomes a degree candidate. The next phase includes six writing courses and three electives.
Writing Courses (24 credits):
MFA students complete a total of six writing courses. One must be a fundamentals course covering craft techniques in depth in one of the genres. (Groundings in the Craft: Elements of Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Poetry). Another must be an advanced course in the genre in which the student does his/her thesis (Advanced Workshop: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Poetry). Students choose from an array of other writing courses that are offered each term.
Groundings Course (4 credits):
Advanced Course (4 credits):
Topics (16 credits)
These include The Literary Memoir, The Personal Essay, Lyric Essay, The Novel, Point of View, Slipstream Fiction, The Short Story, Form and Vision in Poetry: Ode & Elegy, Form and Vision in Poetry: The Long Poem & Lyric Sequence, and more.
Electives (12 credits):
MFA students choose three elective courses (or 12 credits) to complement their exploration of the writing craft and expand their knowledge of other areas.
After completion of six courses, MFA students meet with their faculty advisor to discuss their goals and progress in the program. Under consideration are the student’s plans for thesis, including the choice of genre(s), prospective thesis advisors, and timeline for completion of degree requirements.
Capstone (8 credits):
The MFA capstone is a two-part process, Thesis 1 (WRIT 8491) and Thesis 2 (WRIT 8492) respectively. Each is one semester long. If necessary, Thesis 1 or 2 can be extended to two semesters.
- Thesis 1 requires a completed draft of the envisioned work. During this phase, students work with their primary advisor on content, craft, and process. At the end of Thesis 1, the student and primary advisor meet to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the work and to discuss revisions.
- Students then register for Thesis 2 in which they revise the draft into a book-length work of acceptable literary quality that shows mastery of the craft. Both primary and secondary advisors read and critique the final draft. Students also are required to write an artist’s statement in which they discuss their process and goals in writing the thesis and explore the subjects and themes contained therein.
MFA Application Requirements:
- Complete application (online at http://www.hamline.edu/graduate/admission/cla/).
- Complete questionnaire.
- Critical Essay: Write a 3-4 page critical essay, focusing on an element of craft or a particular subject in a book you admire as a writer.
- Writing sample: Attach a 20-page creative writing sample. Prose should be double-spaced. Choose whatever you regard as your best work.
- Official, sealed transcripts from your undergraduate degree-granting institution.
- Two letters of recommendation. Request these letters from two people familiar with your academic and/or professional qualifications.
- Any supplemental materials you wish the admission committee to consider.