Creative Writing Program Requirements
The Creative Writing MFA program requires 48 credit hours, including:
- A minimum of 20 credits of writing workshop courses (16 credits of which must be in the chosen thesis-genre)
- 12 credits of literature courses
- 12 credits of department electives
- 4-credit master’s thesis
Students are admitted into the program in a particular genre: poetry, nonfiction, or fiction. Students may explore other genres by using their remaining 4-credit required workshop and elective credits. Students can take courses in any of the following areas: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, or screenwriting.
At the conclusion of their coursework, students submit and defend a manuscript in one genre to be approved by a thesis committee. MFA students must complete at least 16 credits (four courses) of their required 20 credits of workshops in the genre of the thesis. Students are expected to complete the degree requirements within seven years.
Required Workshop Courses
Poetry students are required to take 16 credits in any of the following workshops (students may take genre workshops more than once):
|WR 605||Poetry Workshop|
|WR 610||Form in Poetry|
Nonfiction students are required to take 16 credits in any of the following workshops (students may take genre workshops more than once):
|WR 613||Nonfiction Workshop|
|WR 655||Writing the Nonfiction Book|
|PB 687||Column Writing|
|PB 676||Magazine Writing|
|WR 515||Topics in Nonfiction|
Fiction students are required to take 16 credits in any of the following workshops (students may take genre workshops more than once):
|WR 606||Fiction Workshop|
|WR 607||Advanced Fiction Workshop|
|WR 652||Novel Workshop|
|WR 629||Playwriting Workshop|
|WR 640||Screenwriting Workshop|
For completion of the MFA degree, students are required to write a thesis of “near publishable” quality. The thesis may consist of a collection of poems, short stories, essays, a script or play, a novel or novel excerpt, or a nonfiction book or excerpt. Minimum required lengths for MFA theses vary according to genre.
It is strongly suggested that the student begin planning the thesis early and develop a work that approaches a publishable book in concept and form. When nearing completion of the program, a student applies for a thesis committee with a chair who works closely with that student to make a work plan, develop the final manuscript, and schedule a thesis defense.
Recent MFA alum Cheryl Buchanan ('15) compiled and edited the book Writers Without, a collection featuring the writing of clients at Boston's St. Francis House day shelter.
Roseanne Montillo's (MFA '98) latest book about track star Betty Robinson is optioned by DreamWorks.
Asako Serizawa (MFA '01) is the recipient of a fiction writing fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.
Poet Christina Pugh (MFA '00) was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Matt Rasmussen (MFA '03) won the Theodore H. Holmes and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize.
MFA '98 Roseanne Montillo's article about 14-year old serial killer Jesse Pomeroy appeared on CBS News Crimsider. Montillo's latest book The Wilderness of Ruin explores the hunt for the child killer during Boston's Gilded Age.
MFA '99 Olen Steinhauer's new book, All the Old Knives was recently reviewed by The New York Times.
Professor Jessica Treadway is featured in the Boston Globe for her new novel “Lacy Eye.” In the Q&A with the Globe, Treadway discusses her writing habits, including writing drafts in longhand.
MFA Stephen Shane (Nonfiction, 2015) and his colleague David Knight created a short documentary on Boston busing called Desegregated, Yet Unequal, and it was named an Editors' Pick by The Atlantic.
MFA Jennifer Crystal (Nonfiction, 2014) signed a book deal with Belfort & Bastion for her memoir Et Voilà: One Traveler's Journey from Foreigner to Francophile.
Megan Marshall won a 2014 Pulitzer Prize for the biography Margaret Fuller: A New American Life.
Laura van den Berg, MFA ('08) received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for her collection of short stories, The Isle of Youth.
Bill Knott, poet and professor at Emerson for over 25 years, passed away on March 12, 2014 from complications with surgery, John Skoyles, Associate Chair of WLP remembers Bill in the piece below.
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Michelle Bailat-Jones (MFA '05) 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.
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Three fiction alumni released debut novels in January 2014: Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirsten Chen (MFA '09), The Kept by James Scott (MFA '07), and What Ends by Andrew Ladd (MFA '10).
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Alexandria 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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Matt Rasmussen's (MFA '03) debut poetry collection Black Aperture was named a National Book Award Finalist and won a Walt Whitman Award and Pushcart Prize.
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Lauren Johnson (Nonfiction, 2014) is the winner of Glamour magazine nonfiction essay contest for writing about her military service in Afghanistan.
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