Creative Writing, MFA Course of Study

Read. Write. Repeat.

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A student watches a craft talk.

Our Curriculum

The SMC MFA curriculum combines studio writing workshops with literary analysis. Students take five courses per year with the option of one course during January Term. Four writing workshops (which include, each semester, intensive one-on-one tutorial sessions) are required for graduation. The writing workshop is composed of first- and second-year students in the genre and is the focus of their writing work. Students also take Writer in the World, one contemporary literature course in their genre, at two craft seminars, and at two electives. During the spring of the second year, MFA students finish a thesis under the guidance of their thesis director and a second faculty reader.

Course of Study

Writing Workshop

The core of the Program is the writing workshop, which provides an opportunity for student writers to work with established writers to develop their own voice, material, and style. Workshop leaders—permanent faculty alternating with Visiting Writers —are dedicated to fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and professionalism. First- and second-year students work together in the workshop so that over two years students develop a close community and also encounter a variety of worldviews and literary aesthetics. Each workshop is paired with a writing tutorial, during which the students meet one-on-one with workshop facilitators to discuss works in progress and receive individually-tailored craft lessons and reading assignments. 

 

Craft Seminars

Each student is required to take two craft seminars in their chosen genre. Taught by the MFA in Creative Writing faculty, the craft seminars cover a range of aesthetic and thematic issues that inform contemporary work in the genre.

 

Contemporary Literature Courses

These graduate-level courses in the contemporary literature of each genre allow students to gain further knowledge of the form in which they work as well as familiarity with current artists in the field. MFA students are expected to demonstrate the ability to use library resources, information technology, and research strategies. To this end, all Contemporary Literature courses will have a research component designed to build student's deep reading and critical thinking skills. 

 

Writer in the World

Over the course of the year, students will attend a year-long series of readings, craft talks and master classes led by writers, editors and agents. In addition to sharing their own work and scholarship, the speakers will address topics relevant to the three genres of the MFA Program, as well as discuss what it means to be a “writer in the world”—one who balances a creative writing life with the demands of the profession. Sample topics include applying to residencies, publishing, book proposals, poetry publishing, publicity, community, professional options after the MFA, and other topics determined in collaboration with the students.

 

MFA Degree Requirements

The Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program requires 42 units to graduate, but students may take up to 48 units during their two years in the Program.

Required Courses

  • Writer in the World (Fall and Spring of Year 1)
  • 4 Writing Workshops 
  • 4 Workshop Tutorials
  • Contemporary Nonfiction/ or Fiction/ or Poetry*
  • 2 Craft Seminars in Creative Nonfiction/ or Fiction/ or Poetry
  • 2 Electives
  • Thesis (Spring of Year 2)

Sample Course of Study

FALL
  • Writing Workshop (5 units)
  • Workshop Tutorial (1 unit)
  • Writer in the World (1.5 units)
  • Craft Seminar (3 units) OR Contemporary Creative Nonfiction/Fiction/Poetry*  (3 units)
JANUARY TERM
  • Elective (optional, 3 units)

SPRING
  • Writing Workshop  (5 units)
  • Workshop Tutorial  (1 unit)
  • Writer in the World (1.5 units)
  • Craft Seminar  (optional, 3 units)
  • Elective  (optional, 3 units)
FALL
  • Writing Workshop  (5 units)
  • Workshop Tutorial  (1 unit)
  • Contemporary Creative Nonfiction/Fiction/Poetry*  (3 units) OR
    Craft Seminar (3 units)
  • Elective (optional, 3 units)
JANUARY TERM 
  • Elective (optional, 3 units)

SPRING
  • Writing Workshop  (5 units)
  • Workshop Tutorial (1 unit)
  • Craft Seminar  (optional, 3 units)
  • Elective  (optional, 3 units)  
  • Thesis (0 units)

School and Department Information

Chris Feliciano Arnold
Director, MFA in Creative Writing
cfa1@stmarys-ca.edu
925-631-8556


Collin Skeen
Assistant Director of Admissions and Recruitment 
cas38@stmarys-ca.edu
925-631-4190