MFA in Creative Writing Programs in Illinois

Oct 03, 2019

If you want to study the craft of writing and also earn a graduate degree, then you may consider a master's degree in creative writing. Learn more about Illinois-based MFA in Creative Writing programs, including their format and common entrance requirements.

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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs will usually require that you take a mix of graduate-level English courses as well as writing workshops and writing craft classes. In most MFA programs, you will be able to choose the genre you want to study, either fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. Below, we will discuss various Illinois-based MFA in Creative Writing programs, including their coursework and other requirements.

Illinois-Based MFA in Creative Writing Programs

Northwestern University

In Evanston, Northwestern University offers a unique MFA in Creative Writing program that will also lead to a MA in English as well. This program includes two years of coursework that feature writing workshops in your chosen genre, either fiction, poetry, or non-fiction; also included are craft-focused classes, editorial classes, and courses in British, American, and global literature. By the end of the second year, you also complete a critical MA capstone essay, and during the third year, you complete a book-length creative thesis. In this program, you also have the opportunity to do editorial work at the literary journal TriQuarterly.

Roosevelt University

Located in Chicago, Roosevelt University offers a 45-credit MFA that allows you to choose a fiction or non-fiction specialization. In this program you take 21 credits in writing workshops, 12 credits in literature and theory courses, and also need to complete writing internships in the realm of publishing, public service, marketing, or teaching. If you enroll in the literary magazine production course, you have the opportunity to edit the Oyez Review, a publication of the program. Last, you also need to complete a book-length thesis to earn your MFA.

Chicago State University

Chicago State University's MFA program features tracks in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as opportunities to take workshops in playwriting and scriptwriting. This is a 36-credit program with a critical focus on African American literature, which means most of your literature and theory coursework will focus on topics of African American literature, including courses on black women writers, the Harlem Renaissance, and black American poetry. This program is also housed under The Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, which exists to research, study, and advocate the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks. In this program, you are also required to undergo a comprehensive exam in African American literature, complete an oral presentation, and complete a thesis.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University, which is located in Carbondale, offers a 48-credit hour MFA that includes a poetry or fiction concentration. In this program, you take workshops in your chosen genre, as well as workshops in other genres, and are required to take course in contemporary literature. You may also choose an editorial internship with the literary journal Crab Orchard Review and can apply for graduate assistantships that allow you to teach in the first-year writing program. A thesis and defense are required in this program.

University of Illinois

In Urbana, the University of Illinois has a 3-year MFA program that requires 48 hours of coursework. During the course of this program, you take workshops in your chosen genre, either poetry or fiction, as well as literature classes. This program also offers opportunities to teach or to work with the literary journal Ninth Letter. Like other MFA programs, you will also need to complete a thesis in order to earn your degree.

Entrance Requirements

Most MFA in Creative Writing programs have a common set of entrance requirements, including an application, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. You will likely also be required to submit a personal statement that speaks to your interest in studying creative writing at the graduate-level. Next, you typically need to submit a creative writing sample in your chosen genre and possibly a critical writing sample as well. Some, but not all programs, also require that you submit GRE scores.

In most MFA in Creative Writing programs, you can hone your skills in poetry, fiction, or non-fiction while also studying English literature and theory. When applying to this type of MFA program, you will likely be required to submit a creative writing sample and may need to submit a critical writing sample as well.

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