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    Jul 16, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin 
2017-2018 Graduate Bulletin [Archived Bulletin]

Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFA)

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The Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) is part of The Creative Writing Programs (CWP) at Hamline University. The MFAC program offers an exciting opportunity for writers who wish to significantly increase their knowledge and skills in, and potential for publishing, writing for children and young adults. The program, established in 2007, is a natural extension of the Master of Fine Arts in Writing that Hamline established in 1994.

The MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults is a low-residency program that requires students to travel to Hamline’s St. Paul campus twice a year for intensive, 11-day residencies. They then return home where they complete their coursework, working one-on-one with MFAC professors. During the residencies, students attend lecture, intensive mini-courses, workshops, and readings. Each student is assigned to a faculty advisor to work with throughout the semester. The low-residency model accommodates working adults and those who do not wish to or cannot relocate to attend college.


MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Requirements (52 credits and 3.0 GPA):

The usual time frame for earning the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults degree is just over two years.

Five Residencies (20 credits):

Each January and July, faculty and students gather for eleven days of intensive—and exhilarating—lectures, mini-courses, workshops, seminars, and readings devoted exclusively to writing for children and young adults.

Our unique, comprehensive program is not defined by specific required courses. Rather, it examines the following subjects in depth over the period of five residencies:

  • Elements of the craft
  • The writing process
  • Forms of writing (e.g., picture book; early reader; middle-grade or young-adult fiction: fantasy, mystery, science fiction, historical, verse; nonfiction; poetry; graphic novels; comics) 
  • The history of children’s and YA literature (including classic and seminal texts)
  • Critical thinking and writing
  • Diversity: what does it mean to write for a diverse audience?
  • The business of publishing (e.g., finding and working with an agent, the editorial process, etc.)
  • The writer’s life (e.g., keeping the work going, making a living as a writer, promoting one’s work, etc.)

Children and young adult literature will be explored through a required reading list and lectures and mini-courses during the residencies by faculty and experts in the field. Guest presenters such as agents, editors, and publishers bring the business-of-books to real life.

Faculty, visiting writers, and graduating students deliver lectures, and faculty run intensive mini-courses that examine a broad range of issues for writers in the field. Workshops made up of six-ten students and run by two faculty advisors meet most mornings of the residency. Readings allow students and faculty alike to share their latest creative work with attentive and enthusiastic audiences. All residency events are held on the Hamline University campus. Summer living quarters are on the Hamline campus as well, while winter living quarters are at a nearby hotel with shuttle-bus service provided for students and faculty to travel easily from their lodgings to campus and back. Following each residency, the student works closely with a faculty advisor who provides mentoring and detailed manuscript critique by way of monthly correspondence. Students focus on establishing an effective writing process and achieving mastery of the craft in their chosen genre. 

Four Semesters (32 credits):

In the first two semesters, students are required to submit—in addition to their creative writing—monthly critical responses to assigned works in the field. The assigned reading is designed to provide students with pertinent lessons in craft while developing their ability to read as writers and learning to deconstruct a text from the inside out.  While the primary focus of the program is on the craft and process of writing, students are also expanding their critical thinking and writing abilities. This culminates in their third semester, when students must submit—in addition to their creative writing and annotated bibliographies—an extended critical essay of fifteen to twenty pages on an aspect of craft or of children’s/young adult literature. Students present a short lecture based on their critical essay during their fourth residency. In the fourth semester, students write and revise a creative thesis, a substantive manuscript of original work (e.g., a collection of picture books, poems, a middle-grade or young-adult work of fiction or nonfiction).

MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults 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 children’s or young adult book that has impressed you.
  • Writing sample: Attach a writing sample in at least one of the following areas: two to three picture book stories, 20 pages middle grade prose (double-spaced,) 20 pages young adult prose (double-spaced.).
  • 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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