Master of Arts in Writing | Spalding University Catalog

Master of Arts in Writing

Program Description
The Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing’s low-residency Master of Arts in Writing (MAW) is a post-baccalaureate, 35-credit graduate degree that emphasizes the practice of writing and is appropriate for those wishing to receive advanced instruction in writing for its intrinsic value and/or gain professional writing skills to advance established careers or to shift into a new career path as a professional writer. The MAW differs from the MFA in that the MAW is not a terminal degree. The MAW offers a concentration in creative writing. At this time, the professional writing and editing track is inactive and not accepting applicants.

The low-residency program consists of an intensive residency course at the beginning of the semester, after which students and faculty return home for an independent study course. During the independent study, the student and mentor communicate about the writing deployed in a series of five packets.

Students may begin the program in spring, summer, or fall. For the six-month spring and fall semesters, the School of Writing recommends that students plan to spend about 25 hours a week reading and writing during the independent study. Students enrolled in the nine-month summer semester should plan to spend about 12 hours a week writing and reading during the independent study.

The two-semester plus capstone residency program serves people who wish to write creatively and want the experience of graduate-level instruction. As the MFA is the terminal degree most commonly held by writers who teach creative writing at the college level, if MAW students wish to earn the MFA, they may transfer their MAW credits into the MFA program and earn the MFA in two more semesters plus a graduation residency.

The MAW program has an embedded graduate, Certificate in Writing, which means students can move seamlessly from the graduate Certificate in Writing program to the MAW program as the application requirements are the same and the courses for the graduate Certificate in Writing are the same as the first semester of the MAW. See the next section of this catalog to learn more about the graduate Certificate in Writing.

MAW Admissions Requirements

Admission to the Master of Arts in Writing Program is based primarily on the quality of the applicant’s original writing. Applicants who wish to be considered for admission should send a writing sample in one of the particular areas of fiction (short story and/or novel); poetry; creative nonfiction; writing for children and young adults; and writing for TV, screen, and stage (screenwriting or playwriting).

The quality of the applicant's writing is judged by a committee of School of Writing faculty, who read the sample without knowing the identity of the applicant, and the Chair or Associate Programs Director. Application materials also include an application form and fee, transcripts and two essays. A bachelor’s degree is required.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so they may be submitted at any time. The deadline for the fall semester is August 1; the deadline for the spring and summer semesters is February 1. Prospective students who miss the deadline may inquire with the NMS Office about the possibility of applying after the deadline.

MAW Admission Requirements: Acceleration for Spalding Seniors

Spalding undergraduate students who have achieved senior status (have earned 90 credits or more) may be given permission to take the bridge course ENG 512/612 Introductory Creative Writing Residency. This offers Spalding undergraduates the opportunity to successfully complete an elective 3--credit residency course to fulfill the first required course for the MAW if the student chooses to pursue the MAW or the embedded Graduate Certificate in Writing after earning the BA or BS.

Upon conferral of the BA or BS, successful completion of ENG 512/612 or ENG 514/614, and with recommendation from that course’s instructor and approval of the Chair or Associate Programs Director, the student may matriculate into the MAW program by completing a graduate application form, submitting the required materials (writing sample, two essays), paying an application fee, and submitting official BA or BS transcripts.

Acceptance Information
The School of Writing usually makes decisions on applications four to six weeks after the complete application has been received.

If a student is denied admission, he or she is advised to seek additional instruction at a local undergraduate program and/or to work privately with a publishing writer or writing group. Another way to seek additional instruction is to take adult education courses in creative writing. The School of Writing offers a 3-hour course, ENG 605: Advanced Creative Writing, that helps prepare students to enter graduate school. After additional experience, applicants may re-apply for admission to the program, submitting a new manuscript.

The School of Writing Faculty Committee recommends students for admission to the MAW program on a rolling basis.

1. Applicants will not be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.
2. Successful applicants may enter the program in fall or spring or summer, based upon the admission cycle the applicant applied.
3. After completing all components of the MAW admission process, graduate students’ application materials are submitted to Spalding University’s Graduate Committee by the School of Writing Chair for university admission as a graduate student; once approved by the University Graduate Committee, acceptance into the MAW program will occur.
4. If an applicant is selected and admitted into the program, yet is unable to begin in the next residency course, the initial acceptance into the MAW program remains good for one year.

Residency courses include workshops, lectures, readings, and other assigned curriculum sessions. The student also plans, in consultation with his or her instructor, an Independent Study Plan for the upcoming course in original writing and reading (with critical commentary). Five times during the independent study, the student sends to the instructor a packet consisting of original creative writing, a detailed cover letter with questions about the craft of writing, and short essays commenting on the reading list. The instructor responds within a week to each aspect of the packet. A 5-hour capstone residency, during which the student presents their final project, completes the degree.

Degree requirements include the completion of three residency courses and two independent study courses. In addition, degree requirements include a culminating writing portfolio that demonstrates mastery in creative writing and a presentation of that work at the capstone residency. At the capstone residency, graduating students further demonstrate acquired skills and knowledge by fulfilling culminating degree requirements.

Grading in the Master of Arts in Writing Program is a discursive evaluation report. The faculty mentors and Chair or Associate Programs Director determine that credit will be Awarded, Not Awarded, Incomplete, or Deferred. For more information, see the NMS Student Handbook or the Graduate Academic Policies section of this catalog.

Academic Status
For MAW Program students to remain in the program, evaluations of Credit Awarded must be received at the end of each course. If evaluations of Credit Not Awarded are received, a course may be repeated one time. All tuition and appropriate fees are required. If at the end of the repeated course the student does not receive a Credit Awarded evaluation, the student will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Tuition and Fee Payment Policy
Full payment of tuition and fees for the MAW Program is due before or on the first day of the semester. Tuition and fees may be paid by check, money order, cash, or credit card. The University also offers a 5-month payment plan.

The refund schedule for the MAW Program is found in the NMS Student Handbook.

Withdrawal and Refund Policy
For information regarding the withdrawal and refund policy for the MAW Program, see the NMS Student Handbook or contact the School of Writing Office at (502) 873-4400.

Application for Degree
Students who are completing ENG 623/625 and wish to graduate fill out an Application for Graduation form, found on the NMS portal page ( The forms must be submitted through the SPalding Portal no later than two months before graduation. Students who do not submit these forms cannot expect to receive the degree in a timely manner. The degree conferral date changes by semester and is not the same as the graduation ceremony date.

Students who plan to take the enrichment semester after ENG 623/625 may choose to defer their official graduation until the end of the elective semester so they still qualify for student loans. Or they may take the Post-Master’s Certificate in Writing Enrichment, which also qualifies for student loans.

Oversight of the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing
The MAW oversight will rest under the supervision of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing Chair and Associate Programs Director who will review evaluations, reports, and the projects of the MAW students.

Program Sheets for the Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing
Master of Fine Arts in Writing
Master of Arts in Writing: Creative Writing
Master of Arts in Writing: Professional Writing and Editing Track (inactive)
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Writing
Post-Master's Certificate in the Teaching of Creative Writing
Post-Master's Certificate in Writing Enrichment