MFA in Writing

About the Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts allows students to earn a 64-credit MFA degree over a two-year period through a combination of ten-day, on-campus residencies followed by six-month semesters of self-created study, supported and guided by a dedicated faculty mentor. 

Writing students focus on fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction and may opt for a special concentration in translation as well. There are also opportunities for dual-genre and cross-discipline study, including Writing for Children & Young Adults. 


The ten-day residency is a vibrant time of workshops, seminars, lectures, discussions, and readings by faculty, graduating students, and visiting writers from all over the country. Students participate in small, intensive, faculty-guided workshops in which each writer’s work is carefully examined. Special workshops are regularly offered in translation, the novel, cross-genre, and other focused topics.

Residency allows students to spend time immersed in the small town of Montpelier, Vermont, in historic Slovenia for a summer residency, or in the culturally rich landscape of Puerto Rico for a winter residency.

Whether on the Vermont campus or abroad, the MFA in Writing program offers an exceptional diversity of perspectives, attitudes, and voices. Students are challenged, inspired, and affirmed by this tight-knit, nonhierarchical community of writers. Students and faculty stay on campus and have plenty of opportunities for informal exchange over meals or at events, creating a group of writers whose powerful relationships and artistic support systems endure long past graduation.

Our 5:1 student-faculty ratio guarantees a high level of individual attention and fosters close relationships between students and faculty mentors. Residencies are the time for students to choose their faculty advisor, develop a unique individualized study plan for the coming semester, and gain both direction and inspiration for the semester work ahead. Students generally choose a different advisor for each semester, ensuring a wide range of input and a diverse mentorship experience. 

Semester Work

Following residency, students return home to devote a minimum of 25 hours per week to their self-created reading and writing curriculum.

Semester study plans are designed around students’ individual goals and passions, and are born out of intensive dialogue with faculty mentors. While the semester’s work is termed “independent study,” students are closely supervised every step of the way and maintain a constant dialogue with faculty and peers.

The main focus of the semester is creative work, supplemented by a substantial reading list and critical analysis appropriate to individual backgrounds, interests, and needs. Students send “packets” of creative and critical writing to their faculty mentor every month. Faculty advisors tailor feedback and critique to meet the student’s individual needs, while maintaining an academic rigor that has marked our program’s success. Each member of our faculty is highly invested in student progress and artistic growth, and students feel both challenged and supported by the sustained dialogue with writers of national reputation.

Our mentorship model provides students with the crucial combination of solitude and community artists need. After the vibrant residency, the semester provides a welcome change: concentrated periods of reading and reflection; focused, on-going dialogue with a mentor; and hours and hours of writing.

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 in Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, and Poetry.

Residencies Abroad

Summer in SloveniaWinter in Cozumel

Postgraduate Writing Opportunities

Novel Retreat

Postgraduate Writers' Conference

Writing Semester

Translation Study Opportunities

Concentration in Translation

Translation Studies

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