MFA in Writing & Publishing (Residential)


The MFA in Writing & Publishing’s curriculum is designed to equip students with skills to navigate pragmatic aspects of the writing life, as well as to learn the philosophies, concepts, and craft practices inherent to artful writing. It is intended to enhance literary community on campus and beyond, by offering significant exposure both regionally and through digital arenas to a wide array of career possibilities in the arts. 

Our curriculum is characterized by:

  • Cross-genre, cross-disciplinary programming with possible specializations in Stage & Screen and Young Adult literature in addition to Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction.
  • An industry-facing approach, offering students hands-on experience in the literary field, as well as an understanding that writing, as a mobile skill, is applicable and relevant in every creative sphere.
  • A diverse line-up of faculty and visiting artists, writers, editors, and publishers, and active participation, mentorship, and collaboration between students, faculty, and visitors.
  • Flexible and varied course offerings, shaped to respond to the needs of each incoming class.
  • Opportunities for partnership and exchange between MFAWP and the six low-residency programs at VCFA (Film, Graphic Design, Music Composition, Visual Arts, Writing, and Writing for Children & Young Adults.)

MFAWP’s coursework is a combination of semester-long and 3-week modular classes. The variety of course structure provides dynamism in MFAWP’s 15-week semesters.

Modular Classes

Modular Classes are made up of several 3-week intensive workshops and seminars, built around common themes, and taught by various faculty members, a model that offers students wider exposure to faculty during their MFA study.

Modular themes range from specific topics such as “Hybrid Forms” or “Flash Fiction” to the general like “Revision.” Modular classes include students from all genre specializations. In other words, poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, stage & screen, and hybrid-form writers will learn together, sharing invaluable cross-genre perspectives. Faculty will also come from various genre and cross-genre backgrounds. More course Descriptions.

Semester-long Classes

“Publishing & Fieldwork” is an example of a semester-long class required of all first-year students. In this 6-credit class, students become an editorial team, generating content and making a publication from start to finish. The course also offers field seminars and slide lectures about the history of publishing and the writer’s role in creative disciplines, visits from guest writers, editors, and publishers, and trips “into the field” to learn about literary roles outside the classroom. More course descriptions.

Thesis Seminar

Thesis Seminar, required of third-semester students, is a semester-long workshop course often team-taught by cross-genre faculty members. This is a focused opportunity to develop thesis material, with the benefit of classmate and faculty commentary.

Thesis Advisory

Following Thesis Seminar comes the fourth semester Thesis Advisory, an in-depth, concentrated independent advisory between student and single faculty member, which culminates in the submission of a thesis manuscript. Students can write a single-genre, 100-page creative thesis or a multiple-genre or hybrid-genre thesis.