Timeline and Satisfactory Progress
- The degree should be completed within six full-time quarters (or their part-time equivalent). Completing the MFA degree within that time period constitutes satisfactory progress.
- In each of the first three quarters in residence, students must complete a creative writing workshop and receive a grade of 3.0 or higher.
- The Preliminary Critical Essay must be submitted by February 1st of the second year in residence and receive a "Pass" or "Satisfactory Progress" from the entire Thesis Committee before the Preliminary Creative Manuscript can be submitted.
The requirements for the Master of Fine Arts degree include workshops and seminars, preparation of a reading list, a Creative Manuscript, a Critical Essay, and an Oral Presentation.
Fifty-five credits of English graduate courses are required for the MFA, apportioned as follows: 20 credits in creative writing workshops (one may be outside the student's genre); 15 credits in advanced literature (5 credits of which must be a seminar numbered 506-510, 550, 551, or 581); 5 elective credits (5 graded credits of Internship  can count for degree credit); and 15 thesis credits.
The Thesis Committee guides the student's work on both the Critical Essay and the Creative Manuscript. By May 7th of the first year in residence, the student will supply the program coordinator with a list of three Creative Writing faculty members they would like to serve on their thesis committee. These should be faculty members from the student's genre. The student will include writing samples if they have listed a faculty member with whom they have not studied. The requests will be compiled and submitted to the appropriate faculty group, and the results will be emailed to the students within three weeks.
A preliminary reading list must be submitted to the Creative Writing Office for distribution to the Thesis Committee no later than October 31st of the second year in residence This list should include 20 to 30 books, falling into three categories: specialization or core (substantial representation of an author, approach, or form of particular interest to the student); a survey of the genre or contexts; and works of criticism. This reading list amounts to a plan of study, and should guide the student's research toward the MFA essay. The Committee returns the Reading List with comments and recommendations within two weeks.
This essay should address the student's relationship to their reading based on the student's own writerly concerns and studies. It cannot be construed only as an act of literary criticism or scholarship, though some students choose to include conventional literary studies. The essay must ultimately, however, address the issue of the writer's relationship to (and peculiar slant on) the larger context in which they produce art—the map of a particular literary landscape and their position on that map. This map, of course, can also include specific cultural forces and traditions shaping that landscape.
These essays should function to benefit the thesis student--as an investigation into the particular writerly concerns of its author--and because of this they will develop somewhat holistically from your conversations with your thesis advisors. A good question to ask your reader or supervisor: what are your particular requirements for the critical essay? Each professor has different expectations for your required reading and ultimate critical thesis draft and it’s important for you to understand these early on in the process.
A draft of the Critical Essay must be submitted to the Thesis Committee Supervisor no later than January 8th of the second year in residence. The Supervisor will provide feedback within two weeks. The official Preliminary Critical Essay must be submitted to the Creative Writing Office for distribution to the entire Thesis Committee no later than February 1st of the second year in residence. The Committee returns the Preliminary Critical Essay with comments, recommendations, and a grade of Pass, Satisfactory Progress or Non-Satisfactory Progress within two weeks.
The Final Critical Essay must be submitted to the Creative Writing Office no later than April 15th of the second year in residence. The Committee reads the Final Critical Essay and returns it with comments and a grade of High Pass, Pass or Fail within two weeks.
A minimum of 30 poems, or 5 short stories and/or personal essays (at least 100 pages), or 150 pages of a novel or book-length essay
The Preliminary Creative Manuscript may only be submitted after the Preliminary Critical Essay has received a grade of "Pass" or "satisfactory Progress" from the entire Thesis committee. It must be submitted to the Creative Writing Office for distribution to the Thesis committee no later than March 15th of the second year in residence. The Committee returns the Preliminary Creative Manuscript with comments, recommendations, and a grade of Pass, Satisfactory Progress or Non-Satisfactory Progress within two weeks.
The Final Creative Manuscript must be submitted to the Creative Writing Office for distribution to the Thesis Committee no later than May 15th of the second year in residence. The Committee returns the Final Creative Manuscript with comments and a grade of Pass or Fail within two weeks. Once the entire Thesis Committee has approved the Final Creative Manuscript, the student is ready to give the Oral Presentation.
The Oral Presentation should be scheduled with the Creative Writing office when the Final Creative Manuscript is submitted. The Oral presentation lasts 60 minutes and should be understood as the culminating performance of the last quarter in residence. It will consist of a discussion of the Creative Manuscript and the Critical Essay with the Thesis Committee and may include a reading from the Creative Manuscript. The Thesis supervisor obtains the Master's warrant from the English Graduate Office before the presentation begins. At the end of the Oral presentation, the Master's warrant is signed and the student should obtain the necessary signatures on the Committee Approval Form.
Students in the MFA program are advised by the Director of Creative Writing, with whom they should meet before their first quarter in residence. The adviser will review degree requirements and assist in the choice of coursework. Throughout the student's program, the adviser will continue to provide advice on matters of scholarship and professional preparation and in planning further coursework.
Applying for the Degree
A student applying for the Master of Fine Arts degree must submit that application to the Graduate School no later than the fourth week of the quarter in which the degree is to be conferred and must be registered during that quarter.