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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Cynthia Hogue, Director

Jenny Irish, Assistant Director

The ASU MFA in Creative Writing is and has always been an unswervingly student-first program. Through small classes, intimate workshops, and practicum, or one-to-one mentoring, the centuries-old apprenticeship model thrives within the New American University. Creative writing has been a part of the department of English since the 1930s. With the inception of the MFA degree in 1985, creative writing became an ascendant unit; the program was ranked within the top 20 MFA programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. It is consistently ranked among the “top-tier” three-year programs in poetry and in fiction in the most thorough online evaluation of creative writing programs.

ASU Creative Writing is distinguished by an outstanding faculty that has garnered national and international attention: Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, a Pulitzer Prize and several Pulitzer nominations, two Flannery O’Connor Awards, the Western States Book Award, PEN/Faulkner finalist recognition, the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, Pushcart Prizes, the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, and two Medals of Achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

The program requirements include 48 hours of study evenly divided between writing courses and literature courses designed to inform that writing. While students are expected to satisfy these requirements in the genre in which they were accepted, the program encourages cross-genre study, and electives can include courses taken outside of the creative writing program, even outside the English department. Courses such as “Creative Writing and the Professions” and “Internship for Community Outreach” encourage students to envision life beyond graduation. The Creative Writing Program at ASU has been able consistently to offer MFA students among the best funding packages in the nation through teaching and research assistantships, which are renewable for each of the program's three years. Additionally, in concert with the CWP, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing offers a variety of graduate assistantships, international writing and teaching scholarships, and thesis fellowships to continuing students. Students who accept the TA offer are required to take the TA seminar, a pedagogy and training course designed to assist graduate students during their first year. TA seminar is credited as a literature elective. Successful TAs have the opportunity to teach introductory creative writing to undergraduates, under the supervision of one of the program faculty. In the second year students assemble their thesis committees and identify a committee chair. The second year is also when practica begin. In the spring of the third year, students typically take the final practicum, focused on completing the thesis manuscript, with their committee chair.

Contact:

Jenny Irish
Assistant Director of Creative Writing

LL 172 C
Phone: 480-727-9130
FAX: 480-965-3451
E-mail: jennifer.irish@asu.edu

Applicants should have an undergraduate major in English or Creative Writing, with a GPA of 3.00 or above; however, exceptional students who do not have either of these undergraduate majors may be admitted on the basis of writing excellence. Applicants must submit:

  • The application fee online via Graduate Education application ($70 domestic and $90 international)
  • Three (3) hardcopy letters of recommendation sent to the department
  • A personal résumé or curriculum vitae submitted online via Graduate Education application
  • A personal statement including your writing background, intended area of specialization, a brief self-evaluation of recent work, and goals submitted online via Graduate Education application (single-spaced, up to 1000 words)
  • Three (3) hardcopies of a manuscript sample: up to 20 pages of poetry or 30 pages of prose (Note: our program offers tracks in fiction and poetry; we do not have a creative nonfiction track.)
  • Official academic transcripts sent in hardcopy to the Graduate Education (see below).

Plus, to be considered for a Teaching Assistantship, please submit:

We no longer require the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

All materials except for three copies of the manuscript and the letters of recommendation should be submitted online to Graduate Education between September 1 and January 1. (No applications will be read before January 1.) Have your official transcripts sent (from each college attended) directly to:

Arizona State University
Graduate Admission Services
P.O. Box 871003
Tempe, Arizona 85287-1003

Graduate Education will not act on applications that do not include complete transcripts and the application fee.

Send three (3) copies of your creative manuscript and three (3) hardcopy letters of recommendation directly to:

Creative Writing Program
ASU – English
P.O. Box 870302
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302

Do not send your writing sample or letters of recommendation to Graduate Education.

Selection

All application materials must be received by January 1. Selection is based on talent and promise, as demonstrated in the manuscript sample; the academic record; evidence of dedication and potential for growth, from the recommendations and personal statement; and compatibility of the applicant’s goals with the purpose and design of the ASU degree program. In recent years, we have been able to accept the top 3% of applicants.

Transfer of Credits

Subject to the recommendation of the MFA steering committee and the program director, a maximum of nine credit hours taken before admission, not as part of a completed degree at ASU and/or another institution, may be used to fulfill MFA degree requirements. All course work for the ASU Master of Fine Arts in creative writing must be completed within a six-year time limit. Financial aid is not extended beyond the third year.

MFA - Fiction | MFA - Poetry 

MFA COURSE REQUIREMENTS - FICTION

A 48-hour Program of Study
 
with two graduation tracks:
  • Thesis
  • Applied Project

For information about the differences between these options please contact Jenny Irish, Assistant Director of Creative Writing 

jennifer.irish@asu.edu

WRITING COURSES (24 hours)

Students are expected to satisfy the degree requirements in the genre in which they are accepted. Exceptions must be approved by the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee, the dean of the Graduate College, and the instructor. Electives may be taken out of genre, with the permission of the instructor.
Required (15 hours)
ENG 580 Practicum (Fiction) (9 hours)*
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Fiction) (3 hours)
ENG 563 Forms of Fiction (3 hours)
 
*In the Applied Project Option Students will take 1 Practicum for 3 credit hours and 2 Applied Projects for 3 credit hours each.
Electives (choose 9 hours)
ENG 505 Writing Workshops (Special Topics)(3 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar, Selected Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Fiction) (3-6 hours)
ENG 663 Fiction Genres* (3 hours)
ENG 680 First Book Seminar (3 hours)

LITERATURE COURSES (24 hours)

Required (9 hours)
ENG 538 Studies in Modern and Contemporary American Literature (3 hours)
ENG 539 Studies in Modernist and Postmodern Literature and Theory (fiction topics, 3 hours)
ENG 665 Creative Methods, Fiction (3 hours)
Electives (choose 15 hours)
Any 400, 500, or 600 level English course relevant to the student’s program of study, and up to six hours of credit in class work outside the department of English (for example, courses at the 400, 500, or 600 level in theater, music, dance, photography, fine printing and bookbinding, papermaking, or editing and publishing), subject to the approval of the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee (if designated), and the dean of the Graduate College.
 
Possible English courses include:
ENG 537 Studies in Modern and Contemporary British Literature (3 hours)
ENG 543 Studies in Anglophone Literatures (3 hours)
ENG 545 Studies in Women’s Literature (3 hours)
ENG 550 Translation (3 hours)
ENG 584 Internship* (3-6 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar (Selected Topics, 3 hours)
ENG 593 Pedagogy (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (TA Seminar) (4 hours)
ENG 598 Special Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 667 Writing for the Professions (3 hours)
 
*May be repeated for credit if topics are distinct. 

MFA COURSE REQUIREMENTS - POETRY

A 48-hour Program of Study
 
with two graduation tracks:
  • Thesis
  • Applied Project

For information about the differences between these options please contact Jenny Irish, Assistant Director of Creative Writing 

jennifer.irish@asu.edu

WRITING COURSES (24 hours)

Students are expected to satisfy the degree requirements in the genre in which they are accepted. Exceptions must be approved by the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee, the dean of the Graduate College, and the instructor. Electives may be taken out of genre, with the permission of the instructor.
Required (15 hours)
ENG 580 Practicum (9 hours)*
ENG 594 Graduate Poetry Workshop (3 hours)
ENG 562 Forms of Poetry (3 hours)
 
*In the Applied Project Option Students will take 1  Practicum for 3 credit hours  and 2 Applied Projects for 3 credit hours each.
Electives (choose 9 hours)
ENG 505 Writing Workshop (3 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar, Selected Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Poetry) (3-6 hours)
ENG 662 Poetic Genres* (3 hours)
ENG 680 First Book Seminar (3 hours)

LITERATURE COURSES (24 hours)

Required (9 hours)
ENG 538 Studies in Modern and Contemporary American Literature (3 hours)
ENG 539 Studies in Modernist and Postmodern Literature and Theory (poetry topics, 3 hours)
ENG 665 Creative Methods, Poetry (3 hours)
Electives (choose 15 hours)
Any 400, 500, or 600 level English course relevant to the student’s program of study, and up to six hours of credit in class work outside the department of English (for example, courses at the 400, 500, or 600 level in theater, music, dance, photography, fine printing and bookbinding, papermaking, or editing and publishing), subject to the approval of the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee (if designated), and the dean of the Graduate College.
 
Possible English courses might include:
 
ENG 537 Studies in Modern and Contemporary British Literature (3 hours)
ENG 543 Studies in Anglophone Literatures (3 hours)
ENG 545 Studies in Women’s Literature (3 hours)
ENG 550 Translation (3 hours)
ENG 584 Internship* (3-6 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar (Selected Topics, 3 hours)
ENG 593 Pedagogy (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (TA Seminar) (4 hours)
ENG 598 Special Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 667 Writing for the Professions (3 hours)
 
*May be repeated for credit if topics are distinct.

Graduate Assistantships

Currently, all students admitted to the MFA program who submit a complete and approved teaching assistantship application are awarded a TA by the Department of English. Each assistantship carries a three course per year load and includes a tuition waiver and health insurance in addition to the TA stipend ($15,000 per year). Graduate students with assistantships must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours each semester.

During the first year of teaching, TAs can expect to teach three sections of ENG 101 or 102 and to be enrolled in the teaching assistant seminar, which may be used to fulfill three hours of literature elective credit.

During two subsequent years as TAs, students will continue to teach composition, but may apply to teach beginning creative writing by submitting a request to the director of creative writing. Selection of teachers is made by faculty in the appropriate genres. The first semester of teaching creative writing is done under supervision of a member of the creative writing faculty, and includes a required pedagogy component.

Financial Aid

Graduate College fellowships and a small number of Research Assistantships provide other sources of funding. RAs are not typically awarded for the first year.

Awards

Each year eligible MFA students are invited to participate in award programs sponsored by various donors and organizations inside and outside the university. These include (but are not limited to) the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing, the Associated Writing Programs’s INTRO Awards, the English Department’s Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing, and the Katharine C. Turner Award from the Academy of American Poets. The Virginia G. Piper Center offers summer travel fellowships and other awards.

Sally Ball - poetry, 20th century American poetry

Matthew Bell – fiction

Norman Dubie - poetry

Beckian Fritz Goldberg - poetry; contemporary American poetry

Cynthia Hogue - creative writing/poetry; modernist and contemporary poetry; ethical poetics, women's poetry

T. R. Hummer - poetry and poetics

Tara Ison - fiction

T.M. McNally - fiction

Jewell Parker Rhodes – fiction, children’s literature

Alberto Álvaro Ríos - poetry; fiction; magical realist literature