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    Jul 22, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin 
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin [Archived Bulletin]

Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFA)

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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 want to teach writing at the college level or seek professional work in the literary marketplace. Hamline’s MFA program, established in 1994, was the first MFA degree in creative writing in Minnesota.

The program, offered full- or part-time, allows students to develop the process and craft of writing in a rigorous, engaged, and supportive environment. Faculty who teach in the program are all accomplished, working writers. 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. Students have the option of serving on the editorial board of Water~Stone Review and experiencing first-hand what it’s like to put together a national literary magazine. They also are able to work one-on-one with nationally known visiting writers who visit campus and teach in our annual Water~Stone Review Summer Writing Workshop.

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 (e.g, realistic, speculative, mystery, etc.), creative nonfiction (e.g., personal and lyric essay, memoir, biography, etc.), or any combination of genres. Numerous elective courses are offered on topics such as composition theory & pedagogy, graphic novel, and shorts shorts (fiction and CNF), to name a few.


MFA Degree Requirements (48 credits and 3.0 GPA):

NOTE: At most, 4 credits of independent study coursework may be counted toward the MFA degree.

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. 

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 (e.g, 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 (e.g., Advanced Workshop: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Poetry). Students choose from an array of other writing courses that are offered each term. Many students choose to take more than one Groundings course while in the program.

Topics (16 credits)

These include The Literary Memoir, The Personal Essay, Lyric Essay, The Novel, Point of View, Slipstream Fiction, The Short Story, Fantasy, 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.

Mid-Point Advising:

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, although the student will have to register again for the course.

  • Thesis 1 requires a complete draft of the envisioned work, in whole or in part. Typical projects include a collection of poetry, short stories, or essays; a novella; a memoir; a novel. Poetry projects may be 48-64 pages in length. Prose projects may be 80-100 pages in length. During this phase, students work on generation and revision of material, focusing 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 substantive work of acceptable literary quality that shows mastery of the craft. The primary advisor and an outside reader 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
  • Complete application 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 transcripts from your undergraduate degree-granting institution.
  • Two letters of recommendation. Request these letters from two people familiar with your academic, writing, and/or professional qualifications.
  • Any supplemental materials you wish the admission committee to consider.

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