MFA Creative Writing Course of Study
Arcadia’s low residency MFA Program in Creative Writing utilizes up-to-date technology for an experience that fits your lifestyle. Through residencies, mentoring, and workshops, you will learn to read critically and write creatively while preparing for your career.
During the two-year duration of the MFA Program, you will meet in person three times: the first at the beginning of the program in August, at our campus; the second during the following summer for the residency abroad, in Scotland; and the final time in January of the second year, again on Arcadia’s campus.
Each residency is about a week long, and includes workshops, writing exercises, discussions with a visiting writer, and the building of community within the group.
Workshops are conducted during each fall and spring semester, and consist of online discussion boards. Asynchronous discussions have weekly deadlines but no set time to attend a session, making it possible to fit the workshops into your schedule.
Additionally, the software we use for the discussions themselves and for file sharing are accessible via laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so the course goes anywhere you want it to.
Each week, you will review some of your peer’s submissions and get to submit work for peer review several times per semester.
Practicum courses consist of one-on-one mentoring with an instructor through the semester. You will have at least four meetings per semester, but usually no more than six or seven. Because you schedule these meetings at your convenience, often in the evenings, you can accommodate work and family schedules. These meetings can be held via video call, so students can complete the Practicum courses from wherever they reside.
Each meeting focuses on a piece of writing submitted to your instructor a few days before the appointment. Each practicum appointment is about an hour long and consists of an in-depth discussion about the work in question and the specific methods or techniques the student might adopt to improve their writing.
At the end of your second year in the program, you will turn in a thesis. For fiction students, this is a manuscript of roughly 60,000 words, and can be either a novel or a collection of short fiction. For poets this is a manuscript of about 48 pages of verse.
The guidelines can be discussed with the faculty and changed based on your goals. Most importantly, in producing the thesis you develop the habits necessary to lead the life of a writer, including a plan for publication after the program ends.
MFA students must take a course on the craft of contemporary literature, either fiction or poetry, depending on the track they are in. This is a literature course, not a creative course, but focuses on the technical aspects of contemporary writing. The course is always offered online.
In addition to the craft course, MFA students must take one graduate level literature course while in the program. The choice of which course is completely up to the student, and it can be taken at any point during the program. We have online offerings every semester.
Sample Course Sequence Scenario
- Residency One, August: Arcadia University
- Fall Semester: Workshop 1, Practicum 1
- Spring Semester: Workshop 2, Practicum 2
- Summer Semester: Traditional Literature Course, Craft Course
- Residency Two, July: Edinburgh, Scotland
- Fall Semester: Workshop 3, Practicum 3
- Residency Three, January: Arcadia University
- Spring Semester: Workshop 4, Practicum 4—Thesis Preparation. Thesis turned in at the close of Spring Semester 2024.
Residencies (9 credits)
- EN550 MFA Residency I
- EN551 MFA Residency II
- EN552 Residency III
Workshops (12 credits)
- EN555A MFA Fiction Workshop I or EN555B MFA Poetry Workshop I
- EN556A MFA Fiction Workshop II or EN556B MFA Poetry Workshop II
- EN557A MFA Fiction Workshop III or EN557B MFA Poetry Workshop III
- EN558A MFA Fiction Workshop IV or EN558B MFA Poetry Workshop IV
Practicums (12 Credits)
- EN560 Practicum 1
- EN561 Practicum 2
- EN562 Practicum 3
- EN563 Practicum 4: Thesis Preparation
Literature Courses (3 Credits)
- Choose any graduate literature offering from Arcadia
Craft Course (3 Credits)
- EN553 Craft of Contemporary Fiction or EN554 Craft of Contemporary Poetry
You must complete all of the above requirements before being awarded a degree. It is important to make all possible efforts to complete the classes in order, so as to maintain a community within the program. If you must take a leave of absence, it is best to take a full year so that it is easiest to rejoin the program at a natural point. Extenuating circumstances will be evaluated at the faculty’s discretion.