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Online MFA Programs in Poetry

Apr 11, 2019

This article highlights a collection of different online MFA programs that offer concentration tracks in poetry. Students can learn about program details and admission standards.

Students who would like to pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in poetry while also benefitting from the flexibility of an online program may want to learn about what kinds of programs are available. Typically, students will find MFA degrees in a broad subject like creative writing and can then select poetry as a concentration or focus. Explore five online MFA programs in greater detail, in addition to general information regarding program admission requirements.

Overview of Schools with Online MFA Programs in Poetry

University of Texas El Paso

At the University of Texas El Paso, students can enroll in the school's Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. This degree can be completed entirely online and allows students to focus on poetry. Students will complete a total of 48 credit hours, 42 of which are comprised of workshop courses and classes that cover topics in literature. Some possible courses that students may take cover topics like prose poetry, poetic form and technique, and advanced poetry writing. Students complete the remaining six hours by writing a master's thesis, with can be a manuscript of poetry for students interested in this writing form. A unique attribute of this program is that students are able to submit their writing in Spanish, though all the coursework is offered in English.

Lindenwood University

The MFA in Writing offered by Lindenwood University can be completed entirely online, though students can also choose to complete some program requirements on-campus if they desire. In this program, students are able to study poetry by selecting it as an emphasis, which then requires them to complete 27 of the required 48 total credit hours in the area of poetry. Some coursework topics may include classical and contemporary foundations in poetry, female poets, prose poetry, love poetry, and the sonnet as a form. Students can finish all the requirements in as quickly as 15 months, but they have up to five years to complete the program.

University of Nebraska

Another option that students have is the online MFA in Writing offered by the University of Nebraska. Students are exposed to a number of different types of writing, including poetry, and are able to take the majority of courses online. There are some short residency requirements that take place at a conference center in Nebraska City, which is about an hour from the university campus in Lincoln. This program may be particularly appealing to students who have already completed some graduate coursework, as there are a couple of different pathways that allow students to receive credit for their previous studies and complete the MFA more quickly. The curriculum requires that students complete 12 credits of poetry seminar that involves both the composition of original poetry and the analysis of existing poetry.

Concordia University - Saint Paul

Students may also be interested in the Creative Writing MFA offered at Concordia University - Saint Paul. This degree can be completed entirely online in two years. In total, students must complete 36 credit hours, or 12 courses, that are predetermined and must be taken sequentially. All students will take courses that cover poetry, creative nonfiction, and novel writing, and then are able to focus on their chosen writing style, like poetry, during advanced workshop courses. The program culminates in a master's thesis, which requires the completion of a full manuscript of poetry.

National University

Another option for students is the online MFA in Creative Writing offered by National University. In this program, students are able to select a genre to pursue, like poetry, which they will focus on throughout their studies, ultimately completing a thesis project in this style. Instead of taking multiple courses at once, this program is structured so that each course is taken individually and takes one or two months to complete. The two-month courses are structured as workshops in which students will regularly submit their writing and receive critiques and feedback from their fellow students and faculty members.

Admissions Standards

Students who are interested in gaining admission to an online MFA program in poetry will need to provide admissions committees with information about themselves as an applicant in order to be considered. Generally, this means submitting application forms, letters of recommendation, past academic transcripts, a personal statement, and a CV or resume. Additionally, an important part of the application for these programs is the writing sample, which is meant to provide admissions committees with an idea of an applicant's writing ability and style. This will help the school determine whether or not the applicant is a good fit for the program.

There are a number of options available to students who are interested in enrolling in online MFA programs in poetry. These programs vary to some extent in terms of their requirements, what types of courses they offer, and the program timeline.


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