MFA in Creative Writing

MFA in Creative Writing Genre Concentrations

By Writers, For Writers

Our program was built entirely by writers, to guide authors organically through the exploration of their craft and thorough preparation for a sustainable life of creation and publication. No other program nurtures a writer from line and sentence to essay, story, poetry collection or novel like ours does.

Our editing semester is a uniquely practical experience in crafting work which is both thrilling and publishable. Our gifted faculty are here because they want to launch unique, individual voices within a global dialogue; to see risks taken, new moves in language braved, and students grow into professional and artistic peers.

Come lean toward our fire and tell us your stories, poems, essays. We’re listening.

How does a low-residency program work?

We’ve made this program so that people who are unable to walk away from jobs and families and service can still become masters of their craft . . . NOW.

Over four distance-learning semesters punctuated by five week-long residencies, students will focus on their chosen genre (be it fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction) while exploring new territories of artistic expression.

Faculty meet with their students one-on-one during each residency to set plans, then work with them intensively throughout the semester providing written critiques. With a student-to-mentor ratio never greater than 5:1, students receive creative, focused, individualized feedback.

Each residency is an eight-day intensive period of workshops, seminars, readings and more, in which we explore the wide landscape of the writing life from practical tricks-of-the-trade to subtleties of conceptual nuance. Residencies take place in early January and early August, with one of every five residencies (for the program as a whole) located overseas. Our August 2014 residency was in Doolin, Ireland – our January 2017 residency will be in Jamaica.

Meet Our Faculty

MFA Directory

Honorary Creative Writing Faculty

Carolyn Forché: Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. According to Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times Book Review, Forché’s ability to wed the “political” with the “personal” places her in the company of such poets as Pablo Neruda, Philip Levine, and Denise Levertov.

Summer Residency Visiting Artist

Photo of Dine author Brendan BashamBrendan Basham is Diné, born in Alaska and raised in northern Arizona. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Santa Fe Literary Review, Red Ink, Yellow Medicine Review, Juked, and Sheepshead Review. He was a nominee for a 2016 PEN / Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and is currently finishing his first novel.

Each of our faculty members is an experienced writer and an incredible teacher of their art. Here are a few:

Photo of Natalie Baszile
Natalie Baszile


Photo of Joanna Cardenas
Joanna Cardenas

Editing, Writing for Children & Young Adults

Photo of Gailmarie Pahmeier
Gailmarie Pahmeier


Faculty & Student News

MFA Faculty Kristen Radtke is promoted to deputy publisher of The Believer magazine.

MFA Nonfiction Writing Student Rebecca Evans' short story, "Veiled," is accepted by Willowdown Books for the anthology, Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, to be published July 2018.

MFA Faculty Joe McGee's book, Peanut Butter & Brains is in its third printing and Scholastic has purchased rights for Peanut Butter and Aliens placement in its book clubs.

MFA Faculty Laura McCullough is awarded July residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

MFA Faculty Gayle Brandeis receives the 2018 Multi-Genre Maverick Writer Award from the Willamette Writers and will be the keynote speaker at the 2018 Willamette Writers Conference.

Learn More

We want artists who will write for the rest of their lives. If you are interested in adding your voice to this transformative conversation and intrigued by the possibility of working with teachers and peers who are passionate about the art they love, then please contact us — we look forward to meeting you.

Sophie Cherry
MFA-CW Program Coordinator and Graduate Admissions Counselor

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