Master of Fine Arts in Writing | Spalding University Catalog

Master of Fine Arts in Writing

MFA Program Description
The Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing is a post-baccalaureate, terminal graduate degree. The MFA differs from the PhD in that the MFA emphasizes the practice of creative writing. The MFA offers concentrations in writing fiction; poetry; creative nonfiction; writing for children and young adults; and writing for TV, screen, and stage (screenwriting or playwriting).

The low-residency program consists of intensive residency sessions at the beginning of the semester, after which students and faculty then return home for an independent study session. 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 MFA Program 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.

Residencies take place in Louisville for the six-month spring and fall semesters. Students enrolling in the nine-month summer semester have the option of attending the spring Louisville residency or the summer residency.

The four-semester program serves people who wish to write and want the experience of graduate-level instruction. While the MFA is the degree most commonly held by writers who teach creative writing at the college level, many low-residency students simply cherish the experience for its intrinsic value.

The MFA program has an embedded Graduate Certificate in Writing, with a creative writing track, and also an embedded Master of Arts in Writing (MAW), with a creative writing track, which means students can move seamlessly from the Graduate Certificate program through to the MFA program as the application requirements are the same and the courses are nearly the same. See the sections for the MAW and the Graduate Certificate in Writing in this catalog.

MFA Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program is based primarily on the quality of the applicant's original creative writing 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.

The quality of the 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 material also includes an application form and fee, transcripts, and two essays. A bachelor’s degree is required. The program may accept transfer credit from other low-residency MFA in Writing programs for one semester. The program accepts post-graduate students who have written creative writing theses for one or two post-graduate semesters.

MFA 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 ENG512/612 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 MFA if the student chooses to pursue the MFA or the embedded Graduate Certificate in Writing after earning the BA or BS.
Upon conferral of the BA or BS, successful completion of ENG512/612, and with recommendation from that course’s instructor and approval of the Chair or Associate Programs Director, the student may matriculate into the MFA 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, ENG605: 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 MFA 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 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 MFA 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 MFA program remains good for one year.

Residencies include workshops, lectures, and readings, and other assigned curricular session. The student also plans, in consultation with their mentor, an Independent Study Plan for the upcoming course in original creative 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. Students also exchange ideas and work with other students.

Degree requirements include the completion of five rendering courses and four independent study courses. In addition, degree requirements include a third-semester Research Project of at least 20 pages and a fourth-semester Creative Thesis of original writing. At the Graduation Residency, graduating students further demonstrate acquired skills and knowledge by giving a 20-minute Graduation Reading of their original work and a 30-minute Graduation Lecture on a topic chosen by the student with the advice of the faculty mentor. Students who have published a book or produced a play or screenplay may apply for acceleration, which allows a student to complete the program in three semesters plus the graduation residency (for details, contact the School of Writing office).

Grading in the MFA 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 MFA 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 Credit Awarded evaluations, the student will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Tuition and Fee Payment Policy
Full payment of tuition and fees for the MFA courses 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 MFA Program is found in the NMS Student Handbook.

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

Application for Degree
Students who are completing ENG 643 and wish to graduate fill out an Application for Graduation form, found on the NMS portal page ( The forms must be submitted through Self-Service 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 645 (the Graduation Residency) 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 Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing The MFA oversight will rest under the supervision of the School of Writing Chair and Associate Programs Director who will review evaluations, reports, and the projects of the MFA students.

Program Sheets for the School of Creative and Professional Writing
Master of Fine Arts in Writing
Master of Arts in Writing: Creative Writing Track
Master of Arts in Writing: Professional Writing and Editing Track
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Writing: Creative Writing Track or Professional Writing and Editing Track
Post-Master's Certificate in the Teaching of Creative Writing
Post-Master's Certificate in Writing Enrichment