Graduate Program

Program Overview

The Creative Writing MFA is an eight-course, thirty-two credit program. After coursework is completed, each student must present a creative thesis of either ninety pages in fiction or thirty-five pages in poetry. As a capstone to the MFA, we offer the Leslie Epstein Global Fellowships in Fiction and the Robert Pinsky Global Fellowships in Poetry. Students travel for up to three months, anywhere on Earth, so that they might live and write abroad without financial worry, as Hemingway did in Paris. Our graduates have been to Patagonia, Iran, Cuba, Bhutan, Greenland–you can read about them here. Our hope, and so far our practice,  is to offer such a Fellowship to every student who wants one

Please click to visit The Atlantic‘s site here to read about us in their “Best of the Best” guide to graduate programs in Creative Writing.


At least four of the courses taken must be workshops in fiction or poetry, depending on the genre in which you are admitted. These workshops are part of a fixed program, taken in sequence, which all of the students admitted in each genre will complete as a cohort.

The four remaining courses are normally graduate-level literature courses. These courses may be fulfilled in the summer session; the workshops may not. It is possible to take a course (or courses) in another department, provided that these are demonstrably essential to the student’s creative work, and show a strong emphasis in reading literary, as opposed to purely scholarly or academic, texts.

If a student is admitted in fiction, he or she may apply to fulfill one of the literature courses via a workshop in poetry, and vice versa for a student admitted in poetry.

As most of our students teach in either the fall or spring semester, most follow this schedule: four courses in the semester in which they do not teach, two in the semester in which they do, and then two summer courses.

Graduate Courses, Spring 2014

Fiction Workshop II: The Novella

CAS EN 504, A1
Wednesdays, 4:00-6:00pm
Ha Jin

Poetry Workshop II

CAS EN 505, A1
Fridays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Robert Pinsky

Creative Writing: Fiction

CAS EN 507, A1
Mondays, 5:00-7:00pm
Leslie Epstein

Creative Writing: Poetry

CAS EN 508, A1
Mondays, 10:00am-12:00pm
Henri Cole

All fiction and poetry workshops, both graduate and undergraduate, meet at 236 Bay State Road, Room 222.


The Master’s thesis consists of a minimum of ninety pages in fiction or thirty-five pages of poetry.

Foreign Language Requirement

Each student who has not previously completed at least two college courses of intermediate study in one foreign language may satisfy the requirement in a number of ways:

  • Satisfactory completion of XL 540: Literary Translation: Practice and Theory (students who choose this option may first wish to consult the course instructor; they must also choose a mentor from the appropriate language department).
  • By completing any course in a foreign language (for example, LF 350: Introduction to French Texts), or a 500-level reading course in a foreign language, subject to approval by the Program Director
  • By scoring 520 or above on any SAT II language test
  • By passing a translation examination (usually one hour, with a dictionary), or by completing an independent translation project approved by the Program Director
  • By passing LF 621, LG 621, or LS 621 (these courses are offered pass/fail, and enrollment is limited)

Transfer of Credit

Students may transfer in a maximum of two semester-length courses from another institution toward their degree. These courses must be graduate-level and must not have been required to complete another degree.

Global Fellowships

Before students travel, they must complete all requirements for the MFA, including the thesis, which must be delivered in final format to the graduate school. During their travels, global fellowships are considered Traveling Scholars and are thus eligible to receive university health insurance. Official graduation always follows travel. If a student does not need to take summer courses, he or she can hand in the thesis by June 1, travel in summer, and graduate in September. If a student needs to take summer courses, he or she must complete those and the thesis pre-travel and graduate the following January.

An overview
of the program

The Director's letter

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The Global Fellowships

Our MFA students have the opportunity to live, write, and explore for up to three months, anywhere in the world.

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The Legacy
of Room 222

Read about our two most celebrated workshops

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