The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two-year, low-residency program designed as a vibrant literary community for writers who wish to deepen and broaden their artistic sensibilities, discover a close-knit cadre of fellow writers, enjoy individual attention from an accomplished and forward-thinking faculty, and prepare themselves for the future of creative writing.
The Augsburg Low-Residency MFA includes 10-day summer residencies on the Augsburg campus in Minneapolis, offering daily workshops, readings, and mini-courses that focus on literary craft as well as career skills in teaching, editing, publishing, book arts, marketing, translation, and adaptation. The full degree program includes three summer residencies, featuring visits by distinguished writers in each genre as well as editors, agents, publishers, and literary entrepreneurs.
Fall and Spring Semesters
The first two residencies are followed each year by fall and spring off-campus semesters. During those terms, students work with faculty mentors in virtual classrooms that make use of online and other technologies. Each semester, MFA candidates enroll in one Mentorship section and one section of Critical and Creative Reading. Although MFA learning objectives call for demonstrated expertise in at least one genre by graduation, twenty-first century writers compose their work in an environment in which genre has permeable boundaries and lines between genres are often erased. With this in mind, cross-genre work will be encouraged, with students working in a genre other than the declared specialty, usually during the second off-campus semester.
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 your professor and a community of peers, considering craft, criticism and aesthetics. Meetings are online in the electronic classroom. The format may include online discussion boards, Skype or 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.
Students may repeat mentorship courses (ENL 511, 513, 521, and 523) and critical and creative readings courses (ENL 512, 514, 522, and 524), subject to the permission of the program director.
Genres and Concentrations
Genres include Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, Screenwriting and Playwriting.
The program also includes concentrations in teaching, translation, and publishing. Concentrations require additional coursework. With the program director’s consent, students may enroll in concentration courses simultaneously with MFA studies. Candidates enrolled in the publishing concentration will be the staff of a new publishing house, Howling Bird Press, that will select and publish one book each year. The book prize is open to submissions nationally.
Plan of Study
Students may select a completion plan for the MFA:
- The Traditional MFA in Creative Writing, in which the student chooses one genre as the designated field of study but is encouraged to work outside the designated field of study for one term.
- The Extended Study/Mixed Genre Option in which the student selects a primary genre and works in that genre for at least three of four mentored and reading terms. Students completing the Extended Study Option complete five mentored and reading terms, with at least four in the designated field. Students selecting the Mixed Genre option complete five mentored and reading terms, with two outside the designated field.
- The Career Concentration Option, in which the student also enrolls in electives in teaching, translation and/or publishing. This plan may be added to both the Traditional and Extended Study/Mixed Genre options.
Accommodating Writers Who Work Full-Time and Those Who Live Outside of Minnesota
Augsburg’s Traditional MFA in Creative Writing can be completed in eleven courses (three summer residencies and four off-campus electronic semesters of two courses each). A typical plan of study in the Traditional Low-Residency MFA will work like this:
Summer Residency I, including genre workshops, writing seminars, readings and lectures, ten days on the Minneapolis campus, with assignments before and after residency.
Fall Semester I, electronic classroom including one Mentorship studio and one Creative and Critical Reading course.
Spring Semester I, electronic classroom including one Mentorship studio and one Creative and Critical Reading course (generally “out-of-genre” term).
Summer Residency II, including genre workshops, writing seminars, readings and lectures, ten days on the Minneapolis campus, with assignments before and after residency.
Fall Semester II, electronic classroom including one Mentorship studio and one Creative and Critical Reading This is the craft-based academic paper term and students complete a craft paper at this point.
Spring Semester II, electronic classroom including one Mentorship studio (thesis completion term) and one Creative and Critical Reading (lecture/presentation preparation term). Students complete the creative thesis in the mentorship and in the reading course they plan a craft talk to be delivered in the third residency.
Third Year – Residency Only
Summer Residency III, including genre workshop, writing seminars, readings and lectures. Final term for graduating MFA candidates. Graduates give a public lecture/presentation and a reading from thesis work. Ten days on the Minneapolis campus, with assignments before and after residency.
ENL 510 – Residency in Creative Writing I
ENL 511 – Mentorship I
ENL 512 – Critical and Creative Reading I
ENL 513 – Mentorship II
ENL 514 – Critical and Creative Reading II
ENL 520 – Residency in Creative Writing II
ENL 521 – Mentorship III
ENL 522 – Critical and Creative Reading III
ENL 523 – Mentorship IV
ENL 524 – Critical and Creative Reading IV
ENL 530 – Residency in Creative Writing III
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
- $50 application/reading fee for each genre
- Two letters of recommendation
- A personal essay
- 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 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.
All Augsburg MFA courses carry four semester credits. To earn the MFA, candidates must complete 44 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).
To include a concentration in Teaching or in Translation/Adaptation in the MFA, students must complete 12 courses or 48 credits. For the MFA with a concentration in Publishing, students must complete 13 courses or 52 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 College 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 3.0 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 College 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.