MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing is a small, intensive one-year program that is completed over two to three semesters. The program is designed to help students become better writers of original prose or poetry and to produce readers and critics of the highest quality. Our program also strives to help students improve as creative writing instructors.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Creative Writing MFA program, all students should be able to:

  • If they are fiction writers: write and revise original fiction that has a compelling and original voice; interesting, well-developed characters; a clear narrative arc; and emotional resonance. It should reflect an awareness of previous and current achievement in fiction.
  • If they are poets: write and revise original poetry that uses language, image, voice, and form in interesting ways that reflect an awareness of previous and current poetic achievement.
  • Provide constructive, insightful, and helpful criticism of their peers’ original fiction or poetry.
  • Closely read and critique literature with a particular eye for the way(s) in which their own creative work can benefit from the work of writers before them.
  • Effectively teach creative writing and literature at the high school and/or college level.
  • Demonstrate an understanding (through the world language requirement, including the option of taking Translation Seminar) of the resources available to their own creative work in the literatures of other countries.
  • Through Global Fellowship travel, explore and reflect upon the cultural, historical, geographical, and linguistic landscapes of a country of their choice outside of the United States for up to three months.

Course Requirements

The MFA is an eight-course, 32-credit degree, including four workshops, four graduate literature courses, and completion of a world language requirement.

At least four of the courses taken must be workshops the genre in which the student is admitted (either fiction or poetry). The four remaining courses are normally graduate-level literature courses, some of which may be completed during the BU summer session(s). Students must receive a grade of at least B– in these courses.

It is possible to take a course (or courses) in a subject or discipline other than literature, provided that these are demonstrably essential to the student’s creative work, and show a strong emphasis in reading literary, as distinct from purely scholarly or academic, texts. Such courses are subject to the approval of the program director.

Language Requirement

Each student who has not previously completed at least two college courses of intermediate study in a non-English world language or is not already multilingual may fulfill the language requirement in one of the following ways:

  • Satisfactory completion of CAS TL 540 (the Translation Seminar) (it should be noted that proficiency in a second language is listed as a prerequisite for the course) and its corequisite CAS TL 542 (Literary Translation). Students who choose this option may first wish to consult the Translation Seminar instructor; they must also choose a mentor from the language department for the source language from which they are working.
  • Satisfactory completion of a BU course in a non-English world language, usually taught in that language (for example, CAS LF 350 Introduction to French Texts), or a 500-level reading course in a world language (texts and instruction usually in that language), subject to approval by the Creative Writing Program Director.
  • Passing GRS LF 621 Reading French, GRS LG 621 Reading German, GRS LI 621 Reading Italian, or GRS LS 621 Reading Spanish. These reading knowledge-only courses are offered Pass/Fail for no academic credit, and enrollment is limited.
  • Passing a Translation Exam proctored by a Creative Writing Department administrator or faculty member and graded by an expert in the language being translated.


Completion of a substantial master’s thesis in fiction or poetry is required for all students. The thesis should consist of a minimum of 95 pages of prose or 35 pages of poetry and must be read and signed by two members of Boston University faculty.