How to Get an MFA in Fiction: Program Overview

Students in a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Fiction or an MFA in Creative Writing program typically work on writing fiction under the guidance of experienced mentors with the goal of honing their craft and achieving publication.

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Essential Information

Fiction MFA programs may be completed through full-time study or through low residency programs that require only yearly visits to campus. These degree programs are typically geared toward aspiring authors who view writing as a permanent part of their lives. Schools that offer traditional programs might expect students to teach lower-level English courses, and some schools publish literary journals that are edited by MFA students. A thesis project consisting of a novel or short story collection may be required for graduation. Those who complete an MFA may go on to work as creative writing instructors, authors, editors and publishers.

Admission into a master's degree program in creative writing can be highly competitive. Some schools accept as few as six students per academic year. In general, schools expect to see either a collection of short stories or the beginning of a novel as part of the student's submission packet. A bachelor's degree is required, usually with transcripts showing a minimum required grade point average. The major and previous coursework are typically not as important as the quality of the writing samples submitted with the application.


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  • Creative Writing, General
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Master of Fine Arts in Fiction

This degree program can take 2-3 years to complete, depending on school requirements. Students generally meet with program mentors for individual conferences to discuss their progress and the development of their curricula. They can also meet with other students within their cohort to share their work and offer feedback. MFA in Fiction programs can include courses, workshops and seminars in topics like:

  • Analysis of literature
  • Race in literature
  • Novel writing
  • Professional writing
  • Narration
  • Character development

Popular Career Options

Upon completion of a master's degree program in fiction, graduates may have completed novels or short story collections that can be submitted to literary agents or publishing houses. Some employment opportunities could include:

  • Author
  • Editor
  • Literary agent
  • Publishing professional
  • Creative writing teacher

Continuing Education

An MFA graduate can continue academic study by pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing. They can also attend writing seminars and workshops hosted by universities and writing organizations to continue working on their craft.

An MFA in Fiction is a highly competitive degree program that gives students interested in becoming authors a chance to seek feedback and guidance on their writing.

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