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Information on Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree in Fiction

Majors Overview June 17, 2015

Those with an interest in writing novels or short stories should look into Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) programs in Creative Writing concentrating on fiction or MFA programs in Fiction. Students will work with experienced mentors to write fiction in order to achieve publication and master their skills.

Information on Fiction Programs

Interested students may complete MFA programs in Fiction either through low-residency programs requiring only annual campus visits or through full-time study. Students in schools that offer traditional programs may be expected to teach lower-level English courses; literary journals published by some schools may have to be edited by MFA students. The coursework combines seminars, lectures and fiction workshops. Graduates may be required to complete a thesis project consisting of a short story or novel. Armed with an MFA, graduates may seek work as authors, creative writing instructors, publishers, and editors.

Degree Choices

Schools offer other MFA Creative Writing programs in related specializations such as poetry. Students may also find English master’s degree programs; some could pursue continued education by earning a doctoral degree in creative writing. Low residency options are offered by programs such as:

•Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing – Screenwriting
•Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Creative Writing
•Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing – Poetry
•Master of Arts (M.A.) in English

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Programs in Fiction

Schools typically gear these degree programs toward aspiring authors who treat writing as a permanent component of their lives. Low enrollment numbers at some schools aim to give every student sufficient one-on-one interaction with mentoring faculty. Submission of a final thesis is a requirement in some programs; this could take the form of a short story collection or a completed novel.

Education Requirements

Schools that offer a highly competitive master’s degree program in creative writing may admit as few as six applicants during an academic year. Schools require incoming students to submit either the beginning of a novel or a collection of short stories. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, and meet the grade point average standard. Greater importance is accorded to the quality of the writing samples that students submit, as opposed to the satisfaction of the major and prior coursework requirements.


Students take 2-3 years to complete this degree program. Coursework involves individual conferences with program mentors involving the discussion of students’ progress and the development of coursework. There may also be meetings with other students to share work and offer feedback. Core coursework may include seminars, workshops and classes in topic areas such as:

•Novel writing
•Investigating language
•Teaching first-year writers
•Race in literature
•Analysis of literature
•Character development
•Professional writing

Career Choices

During the completion of a master’s degree program in fiction, graduates may complete short story collections or novels that they can submit to publishing houses or literary agents. Program graduates may choose from possible job options such as:

•Literary agent
•Creative writing teacher
•Publishing professional

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates can pursue continued education by earning a Ph.D. degree in Creative Writing, apart from workshops and writing seminars hosted by writing organizations and universities.

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