The Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program broadens and deepens the artistic sensibilities of the student writers, creating a close-knit community with fellow writers within and outside of the program. Students receive individual attention from accomplished and forward-thinking faculty who help them prepare themselves for the future of creative writing.
The MFA at Augsburg University is designed to accommodate writers who work full-time, live outside of Minnesota, or simply desire the flexibility of a low-residency experience. This two-year program offers one-on-one work with mentors throughout the year, features an annual ten-day summer residency, and provides the opportunity to join a lifelong community of writers.
- Creative Nonfiction
- Two-year program
- Annual summer residency
- Online classrooms
- One-on-one mentor work
- Student to mentor ratio of 5:1
Begin the program with a ten-day summer residency in Minneapolis, participating in daily workshops, readings, and mini-courses that focus on literary craft as well as career skills in teaching, editing, publishing, book arts, advertising, and translation. The program includes three summer residencies in Minneapolis.
Fall and Spring Semesters Online
The first and second residencies are each followed by two off-campus semesters of work with faculty mentors in virtual classrooms that make use of online and other technologies. Each semester, MFA candidates enroll in a Mentorship and Creative and Critical Reading course. In addition, students complete a craft paper during the third off-campus semester and prepare a craft talk in the fourth. Cross-genre work is encouraged.
The Mentorship is a one-on-one experience with a faculty mentor who guides the student’s production of work and study of craft. This one-on-one creative studio experience is focused on the MFA candidate’s own writing and growth as a writer.
Critical and Creative Reading in an Online Classroom
This is a reading-as-writers course that provides an opportunity to work with the mentor and a community of peers, considering craft, criticism and aesthetics. Meetings are online in the electronic classroom. The format may include online discussion boards, video chats, and teleconferences with mentors and fellow learners. The online classroom offers an opportunity to continue conversations begun during the residency with members of the MFA community.
Traditional Plan of Study
Augsburg’s Traditional MFA in Creative Writing program can be completed in nine courses (46 credits) over two years by taking the three summer residencies, four long-distance mentorship and reading courses (fall and spring semesters), a craft paper course, and a thesis course.
- First Year
- Summer Residency I (6 credits), held for ten days on the Minneapolis campus, includes a workshop in the student’s declared genre, as well as readings and lectures. To earn credit for the residency, students must complete reading and writing assignments in the weeks before and after the residency (Summer Term 2).
- Fall Semester I (6 credits), Mentorship and Creative and Critical Reading course. This work is conducted remotely, via computer, phone, and/or mail. Students work closely with their mentor and other writers in their declared genre.
- Spring Semester I (6 credits), Mentorship and Creative and Critical Reading course — this time in a genre outside the student’s chosen area of specialization. This work is conducted remotely, via computer, phone, and/or mail.
- Second Year
- Summer Residency II (6 credits), held for ten days on the Minneapolis campus, and including a workshop in the declared genre, as well as readings and lectures. To earn credit for the residency, students must complete reading and writing assignments in the weeks before and after the residency.
- Fall Semester II, Mentorship and Creative and Critical Reading course (6 credits) and a Craft Paper course (2 credits) in which students complete a craft paper examining some aspect of writing. This work is conducted remotely, via computer, phone, and/or mail.
- Spring Semester II, Mentorship and Creative and Critical Reading course (6 credits) and a Thesis course (2 credits) in which students complete their thesis. This work is conducted remotely, via computer, phone, and/or mail.
- Third Summer
- Summer Residency III (6 credits), held for ten days on the Minneapolis campus, and including a workshop in the declared genre, as well as readings and lectures. Graduating students give a public craft talk and a reading from their thesis (students should prepare for this work during their second year). To earn credit for the residency, students must complete reading and writing assignments in the weeks before and after the residency.
Optional Courses of Study
- Extended Study. Designed for students who wish to prolong their studies in a single genre, this option has students completing at least five mentored and reading semesters instead of the standard four. At least four of these semesters should be used to study the student’s declared genre.
- Mixed Genre. Designed for students who want to more deeply immerse themselves in a secondary genre, this option has students completing at least five mentored and reading semesters, including three in the student’s primary declared genre and at least two in a different genre.
- Post-MFA. Designed for students who already have an MFA, this option allows students to drop into the program for a single residency or semester of study — or longer. Students seeking this option should contact the program director, as the director’s approval is required.
- Career Concentration Option. Designed for students who wish to better prepare themselves for the job market, this option allows students to enroll in electives in teaching, translation and/or publishing. This work is usually completed alongside a traditional or extended/mixed genre course of study. The career concentration courses are also available as post-MFA studies. Career concentrations includes:
- Teaching Practice and Theory – The Concentration in Teaching is a one-semester program (4 credits) combining practical and theoretical pedagogy to better prepare students who intend to teach. Students work with accomplished writing faculty as they consider curriculum and syllabi development. Students gain teaching experience by completing an internship in the teaching of writing. Prerequisite: teaching practice and theory seminars during summer residencies.
- Publishing: Howling Bird Press Book Prize – The Concentration in Publishing is a two-semester experience (8 credits total) designed to introduce students to various aspects of the trade, including acquisition, editing, graphic design production, marketing and distribution. Each year, students work with experienced faculty to select and publish the winner of the Augsburg Howling Bird national competition. During the second semester, students work as the staff and editors of Howling Bird Press; in exchange for this workload, students pay a registration fee rather than full tuition for the semester. Prerequisite: seminars in publishing during summer residencies.
- Translation – The Concentration in Translation is a one-semester experience (4 credits) in reading, translating, adapting, and creating. Working with a published literary translator, students focus on translation methods, approaches, and production of text. Prerequisite: translation seminars during summer residencies.
- ENL 531 – Residency in Creative Writing: Fiction
- ENL 532 – Residency in Creative Writing: Nonfiction
- ENL 533 – Residency in Creative Writing: Poetry
- ENL 534 – Residency in Creative Writing: Screenwriting
- ENL 535 – Residency in Creative Writing: Playwriting
- ENL 536 – Residency in Creative Writing: Multi-Genre
- ENL 541 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Fiction
- ENL 542 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Nonfiction
- ENL 543 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Poetry
- ENL 544 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Screenwriting
- ENL 545 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Playwriting
- ENL 546 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading: Multi-Genre
- ENL 547 – Craft Paper: Fiction
- ENL 548 – Craft Paper: Nonfiction
- ENL 549 – Craft Paper: Poetry
- ENL 550 – Craft Paper: Screenwriting
- ENL 551 – Craft Paper: Playwriting
- ENL 552 – Craft Paper: Multi-Genre
- ENL 553 – Thesis: Fiction
- ENL 554 – Thesis: Nonfiction
- ENL 555 – Thesis: Poetry
- ENL 556 – Thesis: Screenwriting
- ENL 557 – Thesis: Playwriting
- ENL 558 – Thesis: Multi-Genre
- ENL 559 – Thesis
- ENL 561 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Fiction
- ENL 562 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Nonfiction
- ENL 563 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Poetry
- ENL 564 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Screenwriting
- ENL 565 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Playwriting
- ENL 566 – Mentorship and Critical and Creative Reading – Half-time: Multi-Genre
- ENL 525 – Teaching Writing: Practice and Theory
- ENL 526 – Literary Translation Practicum
- ENL 527 – Publishing I
- ENL 528 – Publishing II
For a complete list of courses and descriptions, see the Course Description Search.
Admission to MFA
Qualified applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher for all undergraduate coursework. Students with a GPA of 2.5-3.0 may be admitted conditionally into the program based on the strength of their writing samples.
Applications Must Include
- Completed online application
- One letter of recommendation
- A personal essay
- Applicants must submit an official transcript(s) from the regionally-accredited institution granting the Bachelor’s degree and from the most recently attended institution, if not the same.
- Military veterans are required to submit all official transcripts from previously attended institutions to qualify for military benefits.
- In the case where prerequisite requirements exist or transfer credits or waivers are sought, official transcripts are required from institutions at which the prerequisites or equivalents were completed.
- The Program Director may ask for additional transcripts if determined to be necessary.
- A writing sample:
- Fiction or Creative Non-Fiction, 20 pages, double-spaced
- Poetry, 15-20 pages, single-spaced
- Screenwriting or Playwriting, up to 30 pages in script/playwriting format
Admission as an International Student
International applicants must submit the required application materials listed above. Refer to the additional requirements outlined in Admission of International Students in the Graduate Admissions section.
To earn the MFA, candidates must complete 46 semester credits, write a critical/creative paper, deliver a public lecture/presentation, give a public reading/staging, and complete a book length manuscript of publishable quality (fiction, nonfiction and poetry), a screenplay/calling card script (screenwriting), or a full-length play of producible quality (playwriting).
The residencies and the combined mentorship and critical and creative reading courses carry six credits each. Craft paper and thesis courses carry two credits each.
To include a concentration in Teaching or in Translation in the MFA, students must complete 10 courses or 50 credits. For the MFA with a concentration in Publishing, students must complete 11 courses or 54 credits.
Augsburg’s low-residency MFA includes in-person and online elements that help us maintain a strong community and create a culture in which our writers thrive.
This studio degree is the terminal degree in writing and because of the unique features of a terminal, low-residency, studio degree, the final decision on transfer credit will depend on review by the Augsburg University MFA Program. A maximum of eight semester credits from traditional residency MFA programs and from MA programs in creative writing or English literature may be accepted. The MFA Program Director will review and may offer up to four additional credits in transfer for equivalent residency or workshop experience completed in another program. The maximum transfer credits allowed is 12 credits.
The MFA Program uses fine arts studio grading practices, formative in nature and designed to be an element of the teaching curriculum. A narrative transcript composed of comments on those elements that the particular student writer is working on during a particular term will be used to assess progress in the mentorship courses. These are formative and qualitative assessment elements and professors’ responses will vary as professor/artists and student/artists approach student work with the student’s individual artistic aims in mind. In addition to the fine arts formative and qualitative assessment, students will be assessed in light of their success in meeting learning objectives of the course while completing work assigned.
MFA in Creative Writing Courses are graded on a Pass/No Credit basis, using the Augsburg graduate grading model scale as described below:
P – Represents work at B or higher and meets acceptable standards.
N – No credit, not counted in grade point average.
Alignment of Course Outcomes
MFA courses are aligned with the Program Hallmarks of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), the national professional organization for writing programs and the writers who teach in those programs.
Students are expected to fully participate in Summer Residencies, attending workshop sessions and scheduled meetings with mentors as well as a majority of readings, lectures and other scheduled sessions. Participation in off-campus coursework is expected to occur during the designated time for each Mentorship studio critique session and “time away” for creative work. Students are also expected to take part in synchronous and asynchronous sessions with mentors and demonstrate “presence” in the Creative and Critical Reading courses through regularly scheduled exchanges with faculty and peers.
Augsburg’s high expectations for academic honesty will be applied to this class. Please refer to the Student Guide at inside.augsburg.edu/studentaffairs/studentguide/academic-honest-policies if you have any questions.
The Augsburg University MFA Program is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and curriculum is based on the AWP Hallmarks of an Effective Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing.
A complete list of Augsburg’s accreditation, approvals, and memberships, is available in the Accreditation, Approvals, and Memberships section.