MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing is a small, intensive one-year program (two to three semesters). The goal of the program is to help each of our students become better writers of original prose and poetry and to produce readers, critics, poets, and writers of the highest quality. The program prepares writers to become better critics of their own work and others’ and to teach.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • For 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.
  • For 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 the past.
  • 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 a world language requirement.

At least four of the courses taken must be workshops in fiction or poetry, depending on the genre in which the student is admitted. The four remaining courses are normally graduate-level literature courses, some of which may be completed during the BU summer session(s).

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.

Language Requirement

Each student who has not previously completed at least two college courses of intermediate study in a non-English world language may fulfill the language requirement in one of the following 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 language department for the source language from which they are working). Please note: this course also requires established proficiency as described above in the source language.
  • Satisfactory completion of a BU course in a non-English world language, usually taught in that language (for example, 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 LF 621, LG 621, or LS 621 (these reading knowledge-only courses are offered Pass/Fail for no academic credit, and enrollment is limited).


A substantial master’s thesis in fiction or poetry is required. The thesis should consist of a minimum of 90 pages of prose or 30 pages of poetry.