MFA in Creative Writing

Our selective and academically rigorous 48-credit, three-year program is designed to provide talented writers with the opportunity to work closely with both outstanding faculty and gifted peers.

Students will strengthen their craft, develop their literary aesthetics, enrich their understanding of existing traditions and compositional possibilities, and participate actively in the life of the literary community at large.

The primary tracks are poetry and fiction, and admission is highly competitive. In addition to the poetry and fiction workshops, there are courses available that focus on writing drama, nonfiction, and screenplays, as well as courses that provide practical experience in editing.

The basic requirements to complete the MFA degree program are simple and straightforward, and include 12 semester hours of writing workshops, 12 hours graduate literature courses, and six to 12 hours of thesis work. Thesis hours enable students to produce a substantial creative writing thesis, a requirement of graduation.



In addition to completing a thesis, fiction students will learn effective approaches for creating sustained works of fiction distinguished by a nuanced use of appropriate narrative elements, techniques and conventions and will demonstrate a highly developed proficiency in understanding and creating story structures.


Students in the poetry concentration will gain skillful use or knowledge of major poetic devices and classic poetic forms in addition to completing a thesis.

Dual Genre

We have expanded creative nonfiction/CNF work and created the new dual genre concentration to allow our MFA students to formally add CNF to their academic concentrations.

Program Highlights

Increased Financial Support

Graduate assistantship stipends have greatly increased, and now range from $12,500 up to $24,000 a year (plus tuition waiver). All current full-time MFA students are funded.

Teaching Opportunities

Assistantships not only offer teaching opportunities in writing and rhetoric coursework, but also undergraduate creative writing classes as well.

Travel Funding

We have newly established travel stipends for MFA students for summer writing conferences and study abroad travel, as well as yearly travel funding and registration waivers for students attending the annual AWP conference.

Assistantship Options

Assistantship assignments also include the opportunity to coordinate VCU’s national literary awards, including the Cabell First Novelist, Levis Reading Prize, and Tarumoto Prize in short fiction.

Dual Genre Concentration

We have expanded creative nonfiction/CNF work and created the new dual genre concentration to allow our MFA students to formally add CNF to their academic concentrations.

Independent Study and Internships

We offer three-year course requirements that enable MFA students to design up to six credits of independent study and six credits of professional internships, including opportunities to work in electronic publishing (editorial, web design, digital sound editing, and more) via the program’s nationally prominent online literary journal, Blackbird.

Small Workshops

We boast an excellent 4 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Our program has nine full-time MFA faculty and approximately 30 graduate students.

Coursework Options

We have additional and regular offerings in screenwriting, form and theory coursework, and literary editing/publishing seminars.

Active Authors

Every one of our full-time faculty members has a recent or forthcoming book publication.

Faculty Specialties

We have recent faculty hires in both fiction and creative nonfiction.


A polished, book-length creative thesis is the capstone project of the MFA curriculum. Assessment of learning outcomes are conducted through a comprehensive review of each student’s thesis by the student’s thesis director and second reader (always a member of the MFA faculty). In addition, to determine each student’s comprehension of the literary antecedents and cultural contexts of their work, and to evaluate the written and oral articulation of personal aesthetics, an exit interview (or in some cases, a traditional “thesis defense”) will be conducted by members of the MFA faculty.