English Creative Writing M.F.A.

Mission Statement

The objectives of the proposed MFA degree will be to provide top-level training and experience to writers of promise, in order to best prepare them to be publishing creative writers and/or to pursue careers in college-level teaching. In addition, the program will allow apprentice writers to develop their gifts amidst a community of artists in a university setting; the program will also provide a link between student writers and the wider professional community of published writers, editors, agents, etc. Students will produce bodies of original work, based on an understanding and study of historic, contemporary, and avant-garde literatures, culminating in a book-length thesis. Students will be expected not only to produce creative work, but to develop traditional scholarly and pedagogical skills, so as to better articulate their knowledge--to a potential audience including readers, colleagues, and students--as befits the recipient of a terminal degree in English.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able to demonstrate mastery of manipulation of elements of craft/technique within their chosen area of emphasis. (In fiction, this is defined as: form (the novel, novella, and short story); generic tropes; narrative structure; point of view; tone; and voice. In poetry this is defined as: traditional forms; line/enjambment; imagery and metaphor; meter; rhyme and free verse).
2. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the contemporary publishing landscape for fiction (both genre and literary) and/or poetry, for book-length works as well as for individual stories/poems.
3. Students will be able to demonstrate the ability to curate/edit the creative work of others for publication.
4. Students will be able to create a book-length of work of publishable creative writing, as well as identify its audience/market.
5. Students will be able to analyze and describe their creative work within the context of historical trends/ movements and genres in literature.
6. Students will be able to compile a professional portfolio demonstrating an understanding of future career options and approaches to same.
Assessment Methods

  • Assessment of SLOs will be conducted not only on a student-by-student basis via grades in appropriate seminars and the process of thesis/bibliography/portfolio creation and defense, but also at a programmatic level by the English Graduate Committee, which will periodically review submitted theses, annotated bibliographies, and comprehensive exams for evidence of SLO achievement. The Graduate Committee will report these findings to the department and to the (at present ad hoc) MFA Committee, which will be tasked with reviewing/adjusting pedagogy and curriculum accordingly. In particular the program will be assessed at the end of Year 3 (at which point the first full class of students will graduate) and 5, and then every 3 years thereafter. The department/MFA Committee will conduct one-on-one exit interviews at the time of graduation and closely track student publications and related professional placements (academic positions, publishing jobs, etc.). We will conduct an external review of this new degree program as part of the department's next program review.