Creative Writing Curriculum

Our MFA program focuses on the actual practice of writing as well as its literary underpinnings. You are exposed to writing as an art form and as a professional pursuit. We know your goal is to publish, to bring your work to an audience and the marketplace.

Workshop Experience in Multiple Genres

We believe the MFA program is a chance for you to explore aspects of writing and literature that interest you. Although you will concentrate and complete your thesis in one literary genre (fiction, nonfiction, or poetry), you may elect to take workshops that cover topics such as how to write poetry, fiction, memoir, short story, and screenwriting. Workshops serve as the core of our program. To complement the workshop experience, you will take Literature courses and an array of electives.  

MFA Thesis

You will conclude the MFA program by producing a thesis of professional quality in a single genre:

  • a novel or novel excerpt
  • a nonfiction book or excerpt
  • a collection of poems, short stories, or essays

The thesis often forms the basis for future published work. Selected books by our MFA alumni »

Teaching College Composition 

Each year, a selected number of MFA and MA students learn to teach writing at the undergraduate level. Teaching College Composition is a 4-credit, one-semester course that prepares students to teach at Emerson during their master’s program and then at other institutions after graduation.

Although taking the course does not guarantee a part-time teaching position at Emerson, students who have completed the course are interviewed by faculty and are often offered appointments. Many students find that this foundation in teaching is a valuable tool in pursuing jobs after graduation. 

Learn more about graduate student teaching »



APR '14

Megan MarshallThe WLP Department and MFA Program extend congratulations to Associate Professor Megan Marshall, who has won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for the biography Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

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Laura van den Berg

Laura van den Berg, MFA alumni and part-time WLP faculty, has been recognized by The American Academy of Arts and Letters for her collection of short stories, The Isle of Youth. She received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, given to a “young writer of considerable talent for work published in 2013,” and a prize of $10,000.

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MAR ’14

Bill Knott, teachingBill Knott, poet and professor at Emerson for over 25 years, passed away on March 12, 2014 from complications with surgery. Here, John Skoyles, Associate Chair of the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing, remembers Bill.
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Michelle Bailat-Jones has won the inaugural Christopher Doheny Award for her novel Fog Island Mountains. The award recognizes a book-length work of fiction or nonfiction exploring the experience of serious illness.It is awarded by the Center for Fiction in New York.
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JAN ’14

Kirsten ChenJanuary 2014 brings the publication and early acclaim for three debut novels by Emerson MFA alumni: Kirsten Chen (Fiction, 2009), James Scott (Fiction, 2007), and Andrew Ladd (Fiction, 2010).
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DEC ’13

Alexandria Marzono-LesnevichAlexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (Nonfiction, 2009) wins a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship and receives a Notable Essay selection in Best American Essays 2013.
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The WLP Department and the MFA Program extend congratulations to Matt Rasmussen (Poetry, 2003) for the outstanding success of his debut poetry collection: National Book Award Finalist, Walt Whitman Award and Pushcart Prize.
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NOV '13

Lauren JohnsonLauren Johnson (Nonfiction, 2014) is the winner of Glamour magazine nonfiction essay contest for writing about her service in the military and Afghanistan. Lauren received $5000, publication in the November 2013 issue of Glamour, and a meeting with a literary agent in New York. Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Jane Smiley was a judge.
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