MFA in Creative Writing

For over three decades, VCU’s selective and academically rigorous forty-eight credit, three-year program has provided talented writers with the opportunity to work closely with both outstanding faculty and gifted peers to strengthen their craft, develop their literary aesthetics, enrich their understanding of existing traditions and compositional possibilities, and to participate actively in the life of the literary community at large.

poster design by Patrick Scott Vickers

design by Patrick Scott Vickers

The primary tracks are poetry and fiction, and admission is highly competitive. In addition to the poetry and fiction workshops, there are courses available in  creative nonfiction and screenplay writing, as well as courses that provide practical experience in editing and publishing.  MFA students may utilize the dual genre concentration to major in more than one area (i.e., fiction and creative nonfiction, or fiction and poetry).

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


Building upon its recent 30th anniversary, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Master of Fine Arts in creative writing continues to celebrate its ongoing achievements and programmatic developments, including:

  • Expanded creative nonfiction/CNF course offerings and created a “Dual Genre” track allowing our MFA students to formally add CNF to their academic concentrations.
  • Small MFA workshop size. Excellent 3 to 1 student to faculty ratio.  Currently: 9 full-time MFA faculty, approximately 27 graduate students.
  • Every one of the nine full-time faculty members has a new or forthcoming book publication.
  • New faculty hires in both fiction and creative nonfiction, including writers Hanna Pylvainen, Sonja Livingston, and Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas.
  • Graduate assistantship stipends have greatly increased, and now range from $14,000 up to $24,000 a year (plus tuition waiver).  All current full-time enrolled students are funded.
  • Assistantships not only offer teaching opportunities in composition and expository writing, but also undergraduate creative writing classes as well.
  • Assistantship assignments also include opportunity to coordinate VCU’s national literary awards, including the Cabell First Novelist, Levis Reading Prize, and Tarumoto Prize in short fiction.
  • Offered new coursework in collaborative comic/graphic novelist pairing up MFA students with artists from VCU’s acclaimed School of the Arts.
  • Additional and regular offerings in screenwriting, form and theory coursework, and literary editing/publishing seminars.
  • Newly established travel stipends for MFA students for summer writing conference and study abroad travel, as well as yearly travel funding and registration waivers for students attending the annual AWP conference.
  • Three-year course requirements that enable MFA students to design up to 6 credits of independent study and 6 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.


Clint McCown, Director of Creative Writing
Thom Didato, Graduate Programs Advisor