Master of Fine Arts in Writing
Kathleen Driskell, M.F.A.
Karen Mann, M.A.
Associate Program Director
Lynnell Edwards, Ph.D.
Associate Director of Communications and Alumni Relations
Katy Yocom, M.F.A.
The low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing is a post-baccalaureate, terminal graduate degree. The MFA differs from the Ph.D. 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, playwriting, and screenwriting. The low-residency program consists of intensive ten-day 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 in study, which includes reading and original writing. Students enrolled in the nine-month summer semester should plan to spend about 15 hours a week.
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, which is held in an international location.
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.
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, screenwriting, or playwriting. The quality of the writing is judged by a committee of MFA faculty, who read the sample without knowing the identity of the applicant, and the Program Director or Associate Program Director. Application material also includes an application form, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and two essays. A bachelor's degree is required. Applicants who have a significant number of hours toward a bachelor's degree may petition for an exception to the undergraduate degree requirement. 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.
Residencies include workshops, lectures, and readings. During the residency, the student also plans, in consultation with his or her instructor, an Independent Study Plan for the upcoming semester 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 10-day residency sessions and four independent study sessions. In addition, degree requirements include a third-semester Extended Critical Essay of 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 Graduation Reading of their original work and a 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 MFA office).
Grading in the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program is a discursive evaluation report. The faculty mentors and Program Director determine that credit will be Awarded, Not Awarded, Incomplete, or Deferred. For more information, see the MFA Student Handbook or the Graduate Academic Policies section of this catalog.
For Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program students to remain in the program, evaluations of Credit Awarded must be received at the end of each semester. If evaluations of Credit Not Awarded are received, a semester may be repeated one time. All tuition and appropriate fees are required. If at the end of the repeated semester the student does not receive Credit Awarded evaluations, the student will not be allowed to continue in the program.
Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Creative Writing
Those who wish to pursue quality graduate instruction in creative writing, but do not wish to complete the 65-hours necessary to earn the MFA degree, may apply to Spalding University’s post-baccalaureate certificate in creative writing program. Once admitted, certificate students are taught alongside MFA students by current Spalding University low residency Master in Fine Arts faculty.
The 15-hour Post-baccalaureate Creative Writing Certificate is earned when the student successfully completes two courses:
• ENG612: Introductory MFA Residency, a 3-credit course (the 10-day residency course in Louisville or abroad), and
• ENG613: Introductory Independent Studies, a 12-credit course (the independent study at home).
Students may enter studies with any residency (Fall, Spring, or Summer, which includes traveling abroad for the residency course) and may opt for the 6-month semester, or if entering in Spring or Summer, may opt for the 9-month semester. The same amount of work is required in each semester.
Certificate applicants are required to meet the same admission standards as degree-seeking applicants. The application consists of a completed application form, payment of the university application fee, a writing sample, two essays, two letters of recommendation, and appropriate transcripts (the BA or BS is the minimum education requirement).
Upon earning the post-baccalaureate certificate in creative writing, should certificate students wish to continue MFA studies, they are qualified to do so. The certificate student simply transitions into the second semester courses and continues the coursework required for the MFA degree.
Tuition and Fee Payment Policy
Full payment of tuition and fees for the Master of Fine Arts in Writing 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 refund schedule for the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program is found in the MFA Student Handbook.
Withdrawal and Refund Policy
For information regarding the withdrawal and refund policy for the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program, see the MFA Student Handbook or contact the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at (502) 873-4400.