MFA in Creative Writing Programs in Virginia

Oct 10, 2019

Writers looking to finesse their skills in an MFA in Creative Writing program have various options in Virginia. Keep reading to learn about the different programs that universities offer and how to get in so you can find one to meet your needs.

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Virginia MFA programs in creative writing offer students the opportunity to focus on writing skills and grow their portfolios. Programs usually include at least a poetry track and fiction writing track, and some also have a nonfiction track. Most programs are relatively small, accepting no more than 10 students each year and boasting a low student-to-faculty ratio.

Virginia Universities with MFA Programs in Creative Writing

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia has a two-year MFA program in creative writing. It is a full-time residency program, which means students are expected to live near the Charlottesville campus and attend classes in person. This program accepts 10 students each year: half in the poetry track and half in the fiction track. Students have the opportunity to take classes with visiting writers during the program, and the final thesis is a collection of poems or short stories or a novel, depending on a student's track. All students accepted to the program receive fellowship and teaching income. (Students do not have to teach their first year of the program, so they can focus on their writing.)

Virginia Tech

Students can complete a three-year, full-time MFA program in creative writing at Virginia Tech, based in Blacksburg. Each year, the program accepts seven to nine students, about half in the poetry concentration and half in the fiction concentration. Besides coursework in the two main tracks, other classes students can take cover creative nonfiction, play-writing, new media and literary editing. All students in the program are funded through work as teaching assistants. However, like those in the University of Virginia program, they are not required to teach during their first year.

Virginia Commonwealth University

A three-year MFA in Creative Writing program is also available at Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University. The program accepts about 10 students each year, and although the program is generally full-time, the school may allow some students to complete it on a part-time basis. The curriculum consists of 48 credits in a poetry or fiction track and includes workshops that give students practical writing experience as well as form and theory courses that include the study of literature. Other courses cover topics like nonfiction writing, linguistics and more. Students can become teaching assistants to get funding for the program. The thesis for this program is a portfolio of a student's poetry or short stories, or a novel excerpt.

George Mason University

George Mason University in Fairfax offers three tracks for its 48-credit, three-year MFA in Creative Writing program: fiction, nonfiction and poetry. This is a residency program, meaning that students are expected to live nearby and take courses in person. Coursework focuses on the craft of writing the chosen genre and on literature. Students also have opportunities to take a class in a different genre area and study with a visiting writer. To graduate, students are required to complete a thesis, as well as complete a final exam or project.

Randolph University

The two-year MFA in Creative Writing program at Randolph University in Lynchburg has tracks in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. For this program, students are not required to live and attend classes full time. This program is set up so that students work one-on-one with a mentor during four semesters, instead of learning in a classroom setting. The only times they are required to be in specific locations are during five residency sessions that last 10 days each, making this program feasible for those who also work full-time jobs. Students must also complete a thesis featuring their works of poetry, fiction or nonfiction.

Old Dominion University

The MFA in Creative Writing program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk offers tracks in poetry, fiction and nonfiction. It consists of 54 credit hours that can be completed in three years full time or six years part time. This program not only aims to give students the skills to become writers but also to prepare them to have careers in editing and publishing. During the program, students can work with a writer in residence and also possibly study abroad. Students also take elective classes in a concentration other than their own. To graduate, they must write and defend a thesis, which is a manuscript of their writing in their chosen genre.

Hollins University

This Roanoke university has a two-year MFA program that involves writing and studying literature. All students receive some kind of funding that does not require them to teach, but there are teaching fellowships available in the second year if students want them. Besides covering the foundations of writing in the core genres, courses also cover screenwriting, experimental writing and more. The final thesis is a collection of a student's work in one genre or a combination of multiple genres.

Program Admission Requirements

The main requirement to apply for an MFA in Creative Writing program in Virginia is to submit a writing sample of poetry, short stories or a novel excerpt. The length requirements vary by program, but they generally range from 12 to 30 pages, and schools ask that students don't go over the page limit.

Besides the writing samples, most universities require college transcripts and recommendation letters or reference contact information. Some programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or above and ask for a statement of purpose and resume. Schools don't generally require the GRE.

In summary, Virginia MFA programs in creative writing feature different concentrations, program structures, lengths and funding options, but most are fairly competitive, with only about 10 spots open each year. All students graduate with a portfolio of their work, whether poetry, fiction or nonfiction, which counts as their thesis.

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