Majors & Programs

Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing (Online MFA)

We are driven by plot and character.

Fantasy. Science fiction. Horror. Mystery. Young adult. Which is the right genre for your story? Become a genre fiction author with our online Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing MFA. Our flexible graduate program allows you to work on your writing from anywhere in the world, with online workshops, literature seminars, and publishing courses that fit your schedule. Become a better writer, explore the history of your genre, and learn how to take the first steps toward publishing.

In this program, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Develop your skills and focus on creating plot and character-driven stories;
  • Learn how books are published and marketed from trade publishing professionals;
  • Connect with a network of renowned writers, publishers, and academics; and
  • Craft a thesis to submit to agents or self-publish, with one-on-one support from your advisor.

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Program Summary

The MFA in Popular Fiction Writing and Publishing is one of the first online writing programs to prepare students to write professional-level stories and novels in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, thrillers, and YA. We also welcome students working in more than one genre or writing literary fiction.

The program is an opportunity for students to read deeply, think critically, and discuss popular fiction with peers from various professional perspectives. Students will strengthen their writing and editing skills and learn contemporary practices for publishing their work and bring their vision to a wide readership. 

Students will take one writing workshop each semester alongside either a literature class or a publishing class. The literature classes provide a framework for understanding the history and traditions of various genres, and the publishing courses are designed to help authors get a foothold in the industry and market themselves effectively. 

Working with Emerson faculty—all of whom are active in their fields—will provide you with a strong network of authors, scholars, and publishing professionals that will follow you long after graduation.

The Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College is home to one of the longest running Creative Writing MFA programs in the country and one of the only Masters programs in publishing in North America. The online Popular Fiction faculty are all drawn from this pool of expertise, and many teach students from all three of our Writing, Literature, and Publishing graduate programs.

Based in the heart of downtown Boston, Emerson sits at the crossroads of intellectual inquiry, creative endeavor, and innovation. The College has fostered a community of writers, editors, publishers, and teachers for several decades. Boston itself is a hub for writing and publishing, with industry giants such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and major genre conferences such as Boskone on our doorstep.

The online MFA program provides a chance to understand the nature of storytelling from a personal, historical and market perspective. Online writing workshops serve as the core of the curriculum and are designed to allow writers of different genres to work together to gain a deeper understanding of the art and craft of writing popular fiction. To complement the workshop experience, our online program also requires literature courses on the history and current trends in popular fiction as well as publishing courses which explore different paths to publication.

The online program is convenient and flexible, allowing students from anywhere in the world to work on their writing on their schedule. There are no residency requirements.

Detailed Curriculum

View the curriculum, required courses, thesis information, and more.

Faculty

Meet the Graduate Program Director

Kim McLarin is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Taming It Down, Meeting of The Waters, and Jump At The Sun, all published by William Morrow. Jump at the Sun was chosen as a 2007 Fiction Honor Book by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. It was also nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and chosen by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association as a 2007 Fiction Honor Book. She is also the author of the memoir Divorce Dog: Men, Motherhood and Midlife and the co-author of Growing Up X by Ilyasah Shabazz.

Her nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Glamour, the Washington Post, The Root, Slate, The Morning News, The New England Review, The Sewanee Review, and many other publications. She is a former staff writer for the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Associated Press. She is a frequent speaker and lecturer, and appears as a regular panelist on Basic Black, Boston’s historic weekly television program devoted to African-American themes produced by WGBH-TV in Boston.