Creative Writing Program Overview
Our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing degree program at Manhattanville College prepares well-rounded and versatile writers who are ready for today’s creative opportunities, from traditional publishing and editing careers to freelance writing and teaching.
As a student in our creative writing master’s program, you’ll raise your writing potential, hone your craft, challenge convention, meet real authors, and connect with a nurturing literary community in New York City and the Tri-State Area.
Through a minimally structured combination of workshops, craft courses, independent study, and a culminating thesis, you’ll develop your unique voice, learn how to revise and publish your work, critique various mediums, and learn teaching strategies, all in weeknight or weekend courses and at your own pace.
Flexible, Self-Paced Master’s in Creative Writing Program in New York
MFA in Creative Writing candidates immerse themselves in their chosen genres, taking focused workshops and craft courses. We also believe in genre freedom: our students can concentrate in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting, or they can take a mixed approach, writing in several genres. You’ll never have to choose and stick to one concentration alone.
Full-time students can finish the MFA in two years, while many take one or two courses per semester, earning their 36 credits while working or caring for family. Students on our three-year Teaching Pathway complete the degree while also gaining valuable in-classroom experience to help launch their academic careers.
No two writers find their voice and develop their style in the same way or at the same pace. Therefore, our master’s in creative writing program is designed to give students the latitude to grow as writers in any traditional or experimental genre.
Connect With a Vibrant Literary Community
Beyond the flexible curriculum, the MFA in Creative Writing degree program is dedicated to building community both on campus and in the thriving Lower Hudson Valley literary scene.
Through gathering for BBQs, visiting local galleries, attending readings at local arts centers and libraries, connecting with local writers, and celebrating our students’ and alums’ writing, we forge tight, sustaining bonds. MFA students also engage in the literary and writing community of New York City, the cultural capital of the world and home to hundreds of your favorite writers, just a train ride away. Scribbling away at your desk is made less lonely in this scene of like-minded writers, readers, and artists.
A uniquely flexible course structure empowers our MFA candidates to focus on one genre, blend genres, or write in multiple genres. The 36-credit master’s in creative writing degree program curriculum has only two required components:
- One Foundations in Graduate Creative Writing course
- Thesis project
Students in the MFA in Creative Writing degree program also participate in regular workshop courses in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, and YA/Middle-Grade fiction. They also take classes on special craft topics like organizing a novel, experimenting with form, episodic writing, and issues of representation. The program also works to pair students with gifted mentors to pursue independent study on writing topics that are important to them.
With the help of gifted faculty and mentors, pursue independent or experiential study opportunities for course credit. Elective courses are chosen to fit your current interests and long-term goals, including Research Across Genres, MFA internship opportunities, and intensives such as the Writers’ Week conference.
Students in the undergraduate BA in English program can pursue a dual degree pathway to add the MFA in Creative Writing to their bachelor’s degree in an accelerated time frame.
Our beautiful location and facilities contribute to the vitality and creativity of our community. Our Creative Writing Center, Barat House, is a hive of activity where classes, programs, and social events take place. Reid Castle, the centerpiece of Manhattanville’s campus, is a fitting venue for the literary figures who join us for special events.
We are dedicated to bringing dynamic visiting writers to campus and to engaging our students in the conversations that drive contemporary literature. Our annual events include:
- Poetry Festival: a celebration of verse, featuring panel discussions, craft talks, and readings. Traditionally, an autumnal event, in 2023-24, we’ll add a second festival in the spring.
- Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Festivals: based on the success of our poetry festival, in 2023-24, we are planning to add festivals focused on fiction (fall) and creative nonfiction (spring). These festivals will gather groups of writers for discussions, craft lessons, and readings.
- Summer Writers’ Week: The crown jewel of our events, this intensive week gathers writers on campus for a creative writing extravaganza featuring workshops, readings, craft talks, and good food. We offer workshop tracks in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, screenwriting, and YA/Middle-grade fiction.
- Fall Writers’ Weekend: This Friday-to-Sunday workshop offers critique of existing work and opportunities to generate new work. The genre focus of the workshop rotates annually. In Fall 2023, we will focus on YA/Middle-grade fiction.
- WRITERS’ HUB Workshops: An open-to-the-public series of Saturday workshops focused on discrete creative writing topics from developing characters to pitching agents.
For more details and registration information, please visit our events page.
Since 1995, Inkwell has been a proud part of Manhattanville College’s literary tradition.
The publication has a dual mission: to find new literary voices and to provide established writers with a venue for further developing their work. With every issue, we seek to publish work that upholds the highest literary standards and meaningfully contributes to the national literary conversation.
Inkwell continues to launch careers, inspire writers, and delight readers through the varied mix of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that grace our pages. We’ve read what the greats from multiple traditions have said, and in the pages of Inkwell, we publish writers who answer.
Our Teaching Pathway allows students to gain valuable classroom experience while also developing their creative writing skills. The pathway requires a three-year commitment. During the first year, students in the Teaching Path take one pedagogical training course per semester and round out their schedules with MFA classes. They receive a three-credit tuition waiver per semester for this year. Then, in the second and third years of the pathway, students teach one course per semester in Manhattanville’s undergraduate Academic Writing program, receiving support and mentorship from our Academic Writing faculty. This teaching load leaves students plenty of time to take MFA classes and focus on their own writing. In return for their teaching, students’ final two years of tuition are covered with waivers–financial assistance and real-world experience!
Graduate Assistantship Opportunities
Students in the MFA in Creative Writing program may have the opportunity to complete graduate assistantships to help manage the cost of their degree. As graduate assistants, students earn a three-credit tuition waiver in return for employment with the campus writing center, the MFA program office, or Inkwell editorial staff. Up to six creative writing students can work in graduate assistantships.
Graduate assistantships are a great benefit to students’ resumes, building demonstrable experience and skills in teaching, publishing, or marketing while also earning tuition credit.
Financial Aid and Graduate Housing
Our tuition rates are reasonable–you shouldn’t have to break the bank to hone your writing craft–and qualified students are eligible to apply for financial assistance during their application process. The MFA Program has several scholarship funds dedicated to supporting the growth of your writing.
Graduate housing is available for students in the master’s in creative writing degree program. Contact program administration to inquire.
Students may apply for admission to begin in the spring or fall semesters. When you enroll, you’ll begin meeting with an academic advisor to finalize your course list according to your goals and that semester’s course offerings.
Application requirements for the graduate creative writing program include:
- Online application
- Two-three page autobiographical essay
- 10-30 page writing sample
- Official school-sent undergraduate transcripts
- 1-2 Letters of recommendation
The autobiographical essay should be reflective, responding to these questions:
- What is your interest in and experience with creative writing?
- How and why did you decide to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at Manhattanville?
- How can this program further your personal and professional goals?
- What special abilities, qualities, and experiences can you bring to Manhattanville’s MFA writing program?
You should try to submit finished essays, stories, or poems as your writing sample. You may submit both poems and prose pieces as your sample as long as you adhere to the page limit. Your writing sample can be a portion of a longer work, but please indicate that on page one.
Letters of recommendation should be from recommenders who can speak to your intellectual and academic ability, your writing and your ability to work in groups, and your potential for graduate-level literature and writing studies. We prefer letters from recommenders who have known you in an academic setting but also accept professional recommendations.
Reach out to admissions with any questions. If you want to speak with someone who has gone through the process before, we’re happy to connect you with current or former MFA writing students. Contact us to facilitate.
Learn More and Visit Manhattanville
Get to know our program by visiting Manhattanville’s picturesque, 100-acre campus just 30 miles from New York City. To learn more, meet current students, or sit in on a course, sign up to attend the next MFA in Creative Writing information session. Or, email us to schedule a visit at a time that works for you.
Apply to the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Manhattanville
Manhattanville College offers an accessible Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing degree program where candidates tailor their coursework to their talents, interests, and career aspirations.