Courses of Study

Learn about Writing Workshops, Craft Seminars and Contemporary Literature Courses

Students typically take five courses per year, spread out over the fall and spring semesters, with the option of one course during January Term. Four writing workshops (which include, each semester, a tutorial focus in the genre) 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 least two craft seminars, and at least 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. 

 

Writing Workshop

The core of the Program is the writing workshop, which provides an opportunity for student writers to work and learn with established writers on developing their own voice, material, and style. Workshop leaders—permanent faculty or Writers-in-Residence —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 perspectives. Each workshop is paired with a writing tutorial, during which the students meet one-on-one at mutually agreed upon dates/times with workshop facilitators to discuss works in progress.

 

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 are only offered every other year in either the fall or spring semester and must be taken when they are offered. They allow students to gain further knowledge of the form in which they work as well as familiarity with current practitioners 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 fulfill this requirement.

 

Writer in the World

Over the course of the year, students will attend a year-long series of readings, craft talks, 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.

 

Manuscript Tutorial

During this optional fifth semester course, students will receive one-on-one instruction to complete a book length work. Over the course of the semester, students will study intensively with an instructor in order to revise and expand their capstone thesis and complete a critical paper or project. Students collaborate with faculty to gain greater knowledge of how their work might fit in the current publication landscape by researching residencies, writing query letters and submitting work.

Fill out the Graduate Enrollment form at the bottom of the page and send to Krista Varela Posell at kdv1@stmarys-ca.edu.

 

Degree Completion Requirements

The Program requires 42 units to graduate. Students may take up to 48 units during their two years in the Program.

  • Writer in the World, English 401 and 402

  • 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
     

Typical Student Schedule

YEAR ONE:

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)

 

YEAR TWO:

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)

*Contemporary Nonfiction/Fiction/Poetry is only offered every other year. Students must take this course when it is offered. 

Files
AttachmentSize
PDF icon Graduate Open Enrollment Form_v2.pdf70.39 KB