MFA in Writing

Academic Study Options

More than nearly any other writing program—low-residency or traditional—the VCFA MFA in Writing program offers academic study options to meet the needs of students who write in more than one genre and/or in translation.  

In addition, we have also designed postgraduate academic options to serve our alumni as they continue with their work and sustain a writing community beyond graduation (see Alumni pages for more information).

Dual-Genre Study

Students are typically accepted into the MFA program to study poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Exceptional writers may be accepted in two genres. Dual-genre candidates must complete a five-semester course of study and creative theses in both genres. Dual-genre study may also include study in the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program. 

Cross-Discipline Study

Students may also apply for a Cross-Discipline Semester that allows them to explore another genre for a term without completing an additional thesis. Cross-Discipline studies can include study in the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program.


Concentration in Translation

Students studying poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction can add translation as an area of concentration by completing a fifth semester of study. 

This fifth semester will involve both the study and the practice of translation, and will culminate in a translation essay and a substantial translation project. To be eligible for this fifth semester, a student must have participated in translation workshops during at least two of the previous four semesters.  A student need not be fluent in the language of the work he or she is translating, but a student who is not fluent must arrange to consult and/or collaborate with someone who is.

Students who fulfill the requirements for the translation concentration receive a certificate indicating completion of the concentration, and their transcripts list both the major area of study (poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction) and “Secondary Concentration in Translation.”

Translation Studies

The MFA in Writing program also offers all students the opportunity to enhance their facility with both a foreign language and their own language by exploring and practicing the art of translation. 

Our faculty and visiting translators offer translation workshops, panels, and lectures that are open to all students, not just those who intend to pursue a concentration in translation. The study and practice of translation is valuable for all students regardless of their level of knowledge of another language. Developing a practitioner’s grasp of translation leads not only to a deeper understanding of other writers and other approaches to writing, but also to better writing in the student’s own language. 

Students may further their study of translation at one of VCFA’s summer residencies in Slovenia or winter residencies in Puerto Rico. In both the Slovenia and Puerto Rico residencies, students meet with visiting writers and have the opportunity to participate in translation workshops and/or talks.

Administrative Staff: 

Melissa Fisher

Program Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8840
[email protected]

Jackie Smith-Nielsen

Assistant Director
866-934-8232, ext. 8753
[email protected]

Stephanie Turner Reich

Program Assistant
866-934-8232, ext. 8865
[email protected]


Lucy Bourgeault

Director of Admissions and Financial Aid
866-934-8232, ext. 8819
[email protected]

Residency Dates:

Teaching Philosophy

Learn more about our philosophy and focus of each genre:

Residencies Abroad

Summer in SloveniaWinter in Cozumel

Postgraduate Writing Opportunities

Novel Retreat

Postgraduate Writers' Conference

Writing Semester

Coming Home: What It Means To Be a Part of the MFA in Writing ProgramComing Home: What It Means To Be a Part of the MFA in Writing Program

“The goal of all creative writing, Rilke tells us, is to change our lives. In the nearly thirty years that I have taught at Vermont College of Fine Arts, I have seen time and again how indelibly the MFA in Writing Program has transformed budding writers' lives—simply (and mysteriously) by helping them to realize their potential as artists. This seems to me a small but crucially good thing in this world, a world very much in need of the virtues good writing can offer it."

– David Wojahn, Faculty Chair, MFA in Writing