The MFA in Creative Writing is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary, multi-genre immersion into the literary arts. Writers may choose to focus on a primary genre, explore a secondary genre, or design their own multi-genre curriculum. The program embodies a creative-critical approach to the literary arts, incorporating literature seminars, workshops, courses in theory and craft, as well as interdisciplinary electives that can be taken accross graduate programs at the college, including travel abroad options. Students will be able to take courses in literary editing and production. A majority of our students also teach as Graduate Student Instructors. 

As a result of successfully completing the program requirements, students should be able to:

  • engage critically across literary texts written in various genres;
  • continue to generate creative work in their chosen genre(s) of study;
  • articulate critical and theorectical approaches to their own creative work as well as the work of others, across genre and literary traditions;
  • demonstrate knowledge of the current literary publishing landscape; and
  • craft texts across media and genre or in a specific form that are informed by tradition, innovation, as well as the contemporary literary discourse

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS - 35 credits required

Choose three of the following courses:

  • CRWR 610 Advanced Graduate Fiction Workshop
  • CRWR 625 MFA Poetry Workshop
  • CRWR 640 Workshop: Open Genre
  • CRWR 662 Graduate Workshop: Nonfiction

Thesis Workshop

Choose one of the following courses:

  • CRWR 645 Thesis Development: Open Genre
  • CRWR 650 Thesis Development: Fiction
  • CRWR 655 Thesis Development: Poetry
  • CRWR 665 Thesis Development: Nonfiction

Craft Seminars

Choose two of the following courses:

  • CRWR 612A Graduate Critical Reading and Writing
  • CRWR 612B Graduate Critical Reading and Writing
  • CRWR 626 Graduate Poetics Seminar
  • CRWR 630A Craft Seminar
  • CRWR 630B Craft Seminar
  • CRWR 661A Form and Theory of Nonfiction
  • CRWR 661B Form and Theory of Nonfiction
  • CRWR 663 Topics in Nonfiction
  • CRWR 699A Topics in Creative Writing
  • CRWR 699B Topics in Creative Writing

Literature Seminars

  • LITR 675 History of the Essay
  • LITR 679A Graduate Seminar in Literature
  • LITR 679B Graduate Seminar in Literature

Thesis Advising

  • CRWR 651 Thesis: Fiction - take twice for two credits 
  • CRWR 656 Thesis: Poetry - take twice for two credits
  • CRWR 660 Thesis: Nonfiction - take twice for two credits
  • CRWR 515 Literary Magazine Editing
  • CRWR 516 Literary Magazine Production
  • CRWR 620 Critical Reading and Writing: Kafka and European Masters
  • CRWR 670 Creative Writing: J-Term in Paris
  • CRWR 671 Dreams and Creative Writing: Prague
  • CRWR 672 Topics in Writing Abroad: Rome
  • GRAD 610 Teaching Methods and Pedagogies
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Creative Writing

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Undergraduate Creative Writing Program Office: 609 Kent; 212-854-3774 http://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Anelise Chen, Fiction, Nonfiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; [email protected]

Undergraduate Executive Committee:

The Creative Writing Program in The School of the Arts combines intensive writing workshops with seminars that study literature from a writer's perspective. Students develop and hone their literary technique in workshops. The seminars (which explore literary technique and history) broaden their sense of possibility by exposing them to various ways that language has been used to make art. Related courses are drawn from departments such as English, comparative literature and society, philosophy, history, and anthropology, among others.

Students consult with faculty advisers to determine the related courses that best inform their creative work. For details on the major, see the Creative Writing website: http://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate .

Margo L. Jefferson

Phillip Lopate

  • Benjamin Marcus
  • Alan Ziegler

Associate Professors

  • Susan Bernofsky
  • Timothy Donnelly
  • Heidi Julavits
  • Dorothea Lasky
  • Victor LaValle
  • Sam Lipsyte
  • Deborah Paredez

Assistant Professors

  • Anelise Chen

Adjunct Professors

  • Halle Butler
  • Frances Cha
  • Bonnie Chau
  • Dennard Dayle
  • Alex Dimitrov
  • Joseph Fasano
  • Elizabeth Greenwood
  • Jared Jackson
  • Katrine Øgaard Jensen
  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee
  • Hilary Leichter
  • Madelaine Lucas
  • Patricia Marx
  • Molly McGhee
  • Mallika Rao
  • Nina Sharma
  • Christine Smallwood
  • John Vincler
  • Madeleine Watts
  • Samantha Zighelboim

Graduate Faculty Fellows

  • Aamir Azhar
  • Naomi Bernstein
  • Rose Demaris
  • Alex Kapsidelis
  • Kai-Lilly Karpman
  • Christian Kennedy
  • Rebecca Levey
  • James McGowan
  • Wyonia McLaurin
  • Sabrina Qiao
  • Rachel Raiola
  • Rhoni Blankenhorn
  • Sophie Dess
  • Nicholas Gambini
  • Kayla Heisler
  • Benn Jeffries
  • Hannah Kaplan
  • Emmett Lewis
  • Frances Lindemann
  • Halley McDonough
  • Kellina Moore
  • Ashley Porras
  • Cory Scarola
  • Jacob Schultz

Major in Creative Writing

The major in creative writing requires a minimum of 36 points: five workshops, four seminars, and three related courses.

Workshop Curriculum (15 points)

Students in the workshops produce original works of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and submit them to their classmates and instructor for a close critical analysis. Workshop critiques (which include detailed written reports and thorough line-edits) assess the mechanics and merits of the writing pieces. Individual instructor conferences distill the critiques into a direct plan of action to improve the work. Student writers develop by practicing the craft under the diligent critical attention of their peers and instructor, which guides them toward new levels of creative endeavor.

Creative writing majors select 15 points within the division in the following courses. One workshop must be in a genre other than the primary focus. For instance, a fiction writer might take four fiction workshops and one poetry workshop.

Seminar Curriculum (12 points)

The creative writing seminars form the intellectual ballast of our program.  Our seminars offer a close examination of literary techniques such as plot, point of view, tone, and voice.  They seek to inform and inspire students by exposing them to a wide variety of approaches in their chosen genre.  Our curriculum, via these seminars, actively responds not only to historical literary concerns, but to contemporary ones as well.  Extensive readings are required, along with short critical papers and/or creative exercises.  By closely analyzing diverse works of literature and participating in roundtable discussions, writers build the resources necessary to produce their own accomplished creative work. 

Creative writing majors select 12 points within the division. Any 4 seminars will fulfill the requirement, no matter the student's chosen genre concentration.  Below is a sampling of our seminars.  The list of seminars currently being offered can be found in the "Courses" section. 

Related Courses (9 points)

Drawn from various departments, these courses provide concentrated intellectual and creative stimulation, as well as exposure to ideas that enrich students' artistic instincts. Courses may be different for each student writer. Students should consult with faculty advisers to determine the related courses that best inform their creative work.

Fiction Workshops

WRIT UN1100 BEGINNING FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The beginning workshop in fiction is designed for students with little or no experience writing literary texts in fiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. The focus of the course is on the rudiments of voice, character, setting, point of view, plot, and lyrical use of language. Students will begin to develop the critical skills that will allow them to read like writers and understand, on a technical level, how accomplished creative writing is produced. Outside readings of a wide range of fiction supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects

WRIT UN2100 INTERMEDIATE FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The departments permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Intermediate workshops are for students with some experience with creative writing, and whose prior work merits admission to the class (as judged by the professor). Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops, and increased expectations to produce finished work. By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least seventy pages of original fiction. Students are additionally expected to write extensive critiques of the work of their peers

WRIT UN3100 ADVANCED FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Building on the work of the Intermediate Workshop, Advanced Workshops are reserved for the most accomplished creative writing students. A significant body of writing must be produced and revised. Particular attention will be paid to the components of fiction: voice, perspective, characterization, and form. Students will be expected to finish several short stories, executing a total artistic vision on a piece of writing. The critical focus of the class will include an examination of endings and formal wholeness, sustaining narrative arcs, compelling a reader's interest for the duration of the text, and generating a sense of urgency and drama in the work

WRIT UN3101 SENIOR FICTION WORKSHOP,Senior Fiction Workshop. 4.00,4 points .

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work. In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student. ,

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course.  Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor.  The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major.  Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work.  In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

Fiction Seminars

WRIT UN2110 APPROACHES TO THE SHORT STORY. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The modern short story has gone through many transformations, and the innovations of its practitioners have often pointed the way for prose fiction as a whole. The short story has been seized upon and refreshed by diverse cultures and aesthetic affiliations, so that perhaps the only stable definition of the form remains the famous one advanced by Poe, one of its early masters, as a work of fiction that can be read in one sitting. Still, common elements of the form have emerged over the last century and this course will study them, including Point of View, Plot, Character, Setting and Theme. John Hawkes once famously called these last four elements the "enemies of the novel," and many short story writers have seen them as hindrances as well. Hawkes later recanted, though some writers would still agree with his earlier assessment, and this course will examine the successful strategies of great writers across the spectrum of short story practice, from traditional approaches to more radical solutions, keeping in mind how one period's revolution -Hemingway, for example - becomes a later era's mainstream or "commonsense" storytelling mode. By reading the work of major writers from a writer's perspective, we will examine the myriad techniques employed for what is finally a common goal: to make readers feel. Short writing exercises will help us explore the exhilarating subtleties of these elements and how the effects created by their manipulation or even outright absence power our most compelling fictions

WRIT UN3111 EXERCISES IN STYLE. 3.00 points .

WRIT UN3127 Time Moves Both Ways. 3 points .

What is time travel, really? We can use a machine or walk through a secret door. Take a pill or fall asleep and wake up in the future. But when we talk about magic machines and slipstreams and Rip Van Winkle, we are also talking about memory, chronology, and narrative. In this seminar, we will approach time travel as a way of understanding "the Fourth Dimension" in fiction. Readings will range from the speculative to the strange, to the realism of timelines, flashbacks, and shifts in perspective. Coursework will include short, bi-weekly writing assignments, a completed short story, and a time inflected adaptation. 

WRIT UN3128 How to Write Funny. 3.00 points .

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." --Mel Brooks "Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the End." --Sid Caesar "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." --E.B. White "What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke." --Steve Martin "Patty Marx is the best teacher at Columbia University." --Patty Marx One of the above quotations is false. Find out which one in this humor-writing workshop, where you will read, listen to, and watch comedic samples from well-known and lesser-known humorists. How could you not have fun in a class where we watch and critique the sketches of Monty Python, Nichols and May, Mr. Show, Mitchell & Webb, Key and Peele, French and Saunders, Derrick Comedy, Beyond the Fringe, Dave Chappelle, Bob and Ray, Mel Brooks, Amy Schumer, and SNL, to name just a few? The crux of our time, though, will be devoted to writing. Students will be expected to complete weekly writing assignments; additionally, there will be in-class assignments geared to strategies for crafting surprise (the kind that results in a laugh as opposed to, say, a heart attack or divorce). Toward this end, we will study the use of irony, irreverence, hyperbole, misdirection, subtext, wordplay, formulas such as the rule of three and paraprosdokians (look it up), and repetition, and repetition

WRIT UN3125 APOCALYPSES NOW. 3.00 points .

From ancient myths of the world’s destruction to cinematic works that envision a post-apocalyptic reality, zealots of all kinds have sought an understanding of “the end of the world as we know it.”  But while apocalyptic predictions have, so far, failed to deliver a real glimpse of that end, in fiction they abound.  In this course, we will explore the narrative mechanisms by which post-apocalyptic works create projections of our own world that are believably imperiled, realistically degraded, and designed to move us to feel differently and act differently within the world we inhabit.  We will consider ways in which which authors craft immersive storylines that maintain a vital allegorical relationship to the problems of the present, and discuss recent trends in contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction.  How has the genre responded to our changing conception of peril?  Is literary apocalyptic fiction effective as a vehicle for persuasion and for showing threats in a new light?  Ultimately, we will inquire into the possibility of thinking beyond our present moment and, by doing so, altering our fate.

WRIT UN3129 Writing Nature in the Age of Climate Change. 3.00 points .

This class aims to look seriously at how we write literature about the environment, landscape, plants, animals, and the weather in an age of worsening climate change. What genres, forms, and structures can we use to creatively respond to and depict the conditions of the anthropocene? How can we use time to capture the simultaneous tedium and terror of the emergency? Can we write about the individual as well as the collective? Is it possible to write about climate change not as something that is coming, but as a phenomenon that’s already a part of our lives? In answering these questions, students will determine how best to address these issues in their own creative work. While this is a fiction class, we will take our lessons from writers working across many different formats. We will read novels and short stories, but also poetry, creative non-fiction, journalism, and theory. Through writing exercises, field journals, critical essays, and their own creative pieces, students will work through, and with, the despair and radical imaginative changes wrought on all our lives by the anthropocene

WRIT UN3130 The Punchline. 3.00 points .

Levity’s worth taking seriously. This seminar examines satire in several forms, including polemics from the late Roman Empire, stand-up from the late British Empire, and novels from the healthy and indestructible American Empire. We’ll explore satirical reactions to historic disasters, and how to apply those techniques during the next one. We’ll see satire flourish on bathroom walls and street signs (my specialty, admittedly). We’ll learn why every subculture has their own version of The Onion. Finally, we’ll apply lessons from the above to develop our own writing with creative responses, in-class exercises, and a final project. Anyone can be a satirist. Dealing with reality is the hard part

WRIT UN3131 NEW WORLDS IN WRIT & VR. 3.00 points .

Creating New Worlds in Writing and in VR is a generative, exploratory fiction seminar where we will read, analyze, and experiment with the process of building new worlds. We will ask, What are the narrative possibilities that unfold within these environments? What are the conventions of sci-fi and fantasy and how can they be used to critique and scrutinize our lives on earth, particularly, experiences of violence, environmental degradation, and racial, sexual, and gender-based oppression? We will use VR technology to help us model our own invented spaces. We will examine how to incorporate traditional literary elements, such as character and dialogue, into these dynamic environments

Nonfiction Workshops

WRIT UN1200 BEGINNING NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The beginning workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with little or no experience in writing literary nonfiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually submit their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects

WRIT UN2200 INTERMEDIATE NONFICTION WRKSHP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The departments permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. The intermediate workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with some experience in writing literary nonfiction. Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops and an expectation that students will produce finished work. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects. By the end of the semester, students will have produced thirty to forty pages of original work in at least two traditions of literary nonfiction

WRIT UN3200 ADVANCED NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Advanced Nonfiction Workshop is for students with significant narrative and/or critical experience. Students will produce original literary nonfiction for the workshop, with an added focus on developing a distinctive voice and approach

WRIT UN3201 SENIOR NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 4.00 points .

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Senior Nonfiction Workshop

Nonfiction Seminars

WRIT UN2211 TRADITIONS IN NONFICTION. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The seminar provides exposure to the varieties of nonfiction with readings in its principal genres: reportage, criticism and commentary, biography and history, and memoir and the personal essay. A highly plastic medium, nonfiction allows authors to portray real events and experiences through narrative, analysis, polemic or any combination thereof. Free to invent everything but the facts, great practitioners of nonfiction are faithful to reality while writing with a voice and a vision distinctively their own. To show how nonfiction is conceived and constructed, class discussions will emphasize the relationship of content to form and style, techniques for creating plot and character under the factual constraints imposed by nonfiction, the defining characteristics of each authors voice, the authors subjectivity and presence, the role of imagination and emotion, the uses of humor, and the importance of speculation and attitude. Written assignments will be opportunities to experiment in several nonfiction genres and styles

WRIT UN3214 HYBRID NONFICTION FORMS. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Creative nonfiction is a frustratingly vague term. How do we give it real literary meaning; examine its compositional aims and techniques, its achievements and especially its aspirations? This course will focus on works that we might call visionary - works that combine art forms, genres and styles in striking ways. Works in which image and text combine to create a third interactive language for the reader. Works still termed fiction history or journalism that join fact and fiction to interrogate their uses and implications. Certain memoirs that are deliberately anti-autobiographical, turning from personal narrative to the sounds, sight, impressions and ideas of the writers milieu. Certain essays that join personal reflection to arts and cultural criticism, drawing on research and imagination, the vernacular and the formal, even prose and poetry. The assemblage or collage that, created from notebook entries, lists, quotations, footnotes and indexes achieves its coherence through fragments and associations, found and original texts

WRIT UN3224 Writing the Sixties. 3.00 points .

In this seminar, we will target nonfiction from the 1960s—the decade that saw an avalanche of new forms, new awareness, new freedoms, and new conflicts, as well as the beginnings of social movements and cultural preoccupations that continue to frame our lives, as writers and as citizens, in the 21st century: civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, LGBTQ rights, pop culture, and the rise of mass media. We will look back more than a half century to examine the development of modern criticism, memoir, reporting, and profile-writing, and the ways they entwine. Along the way, we will ask questions about these classic nonfiction forms: How do reporters, essayists, and critics make sense of the new? How do they create work as rich as the best novels and short stories? Can criticism rise to the level of art? What roles do voice, point-of-view, character, dialogue, and plot—the traditional elements of fiction—play? As we go, we will witness the unfolding of arguably the most transitional decade in American history—with such events as the Kennedy assassination, the Watts Riots, the Human Be In, and the Vietnam War, along with the rise of Pop art, rock ‘n’ roll, and a new era of moviemaking—as it was documented in real time by writers at The New Yorker, New Journalists at Esquire, and critics at Partisan Review and Harper’s, among other publications. Some writers we will consider: James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Rachel Carson, Dwight Macdonald, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Pauline Kael, Nik Cohn, Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Michael Herr, Martha Gellhorn, John McPhee, and Betty Friedan. We will be joined by guest speakers

WRIT UN3225 LIFE STORIES. 3.00 points .

In this seminar, we will target nonfiction that tells stories about lives: profiles, memoirs, and biographies. We will examine how the practice of this kind of nonfiction, and ideas about it, have evolved over the past 150 years. Along the way, we will ask questions about these nonfiction forms: How do reporters, memoirists, biographers, and critics make sense of their subjects? How do they create work as rich as the best novels and short stories? Can criticism explicate the inner life of a human subject? What roles do voice, point-of-view, character, dialogue, and plot—the traditional elements of fiction—play? Along the way, we’ll engage in issues of identity and race, memory and self, real persons and invented characters and we’ll get glimpses of such key publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, and The New York Review of Books. Some writers we will consider: Frederick Douglass, Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Henry Adams, Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, James Agee, John Hersey, Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, Gay Talese, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Janet Malcolm, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Joan Didion, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. The course regularly welcomes guest speakers

WRIT UN3226 NONFICTION-ISH. 3.00 points .

This cross-genre craft seminar aims to uncover daring and unusual approaches to literature informed by nonfiction (and nonfiction-adjacent) practices. In this course we will closely read and analyze a diverse set of works, including Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history of women and war, Lydia Davis’s “found” microfictions, Theresa Hak Cha’s genre-exploding “auto-enthnography,” Alejandro Zambra’s unabashedly literary narratives, Sigrid Nunez’s memoir “of” Susan Sontag, Emmanuel Carrére’s “nonfiction novel,” John Keene’s bold counternarratives, W. G. Sebald’s saturnine essay-portraits, Saidiya Hartman’s melding of history and literary imagination, Annie Ernaux’s collective autobiography, Sheila Heti’s alphabetized diary, Ben Mauk’s oral history about Xinjiang detention camps, and Edward St. Aubyn’s autobiographical novel about the British aristocracy and childhood trauma, among other texts. We will also examine Sharon Mashihi’s one-woman autofiction podcasts about Iranian Jewish American family. What we learn in this course we will apply to our own work, which will consist of two creative writing responses and a creative final project. Students will also learn to keep a daily writing journal

WRIT UN3227 TRUE CRIME. 3.00 points .

The explosion of true crime programming in the past few years—from podcasts to documentaries to online communities sleuthing cold cases—would make you think that poring over real-life atrocities is a recent phenomenon. But in fact, our obsession with death, destruction, duplicity, and antisocial behavior is as old as humanity itself. In this class, we will trace the origins of true crime in nonfiction literature in the United States from Puritanism to the present. We will see how the genre has developed and how its preoccupations reflect the zeitgeist. We will consider how race, gender, class, and other identities shape narratives around victims and victors, guilt and innocence. We will think broadly about what, exactly, crime is, not limiting ourselves to the obvious. We will also look at corruption, fraud, systemic discrimination. Once (and sometimes still) considered a trash genre, we will read elevated works that turn that notion on its head. We will host guest speakers from the multifaceted perspectives true crime writing touches: victims, law enforcement, journalists, and convicts themselves. Since recent true crime reporting is such an expansive field that we can only begin to scratch the surface of in this class, students will present and analyze true crime artifacts to the class. The centerpiece of the semester will be students reporting and writing on a real crime themselves. It is all too easy to critique the work of others at a comfortable distance when one has not entered the thorny fray oneself. Students will craft their own true crime writing project, interrogate their own motivations and interest, and present their findings to the class. The subject matter of this class is disturbing in nature, and we will be looking at all manner of crimes from violent to white collar to sexual to social. Consider this a blanket trigger warning for each and every class. We will cultivate a safe space to think and feel through the crimes we examine and share ways to take care of ourselves. I am here as a resource and to help students navigate university resources as appropriate

Poetry Workshops

WRIT UN1300 BEGINNING POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The beginning poetry workshop is designed for students who have a serious interest in poetry writing but who lack a significant background in the rudiments of the craft and/or have had little or no previous poetry workshop experience. Students will be assigned weekly writing exercises emphasizing such aspects of verse composition as the poetic line, the image, rhyme and other sound devices, verse forms, repetition, tone, irony, and others. Students will also read an extensive variety of exemplary work in verse, submit brief critical analyses of poems, and critique each others original work

WRIT UN2300 INTERMEDIATE POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The departments permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Intermediate poetry workshops are for students with some prior instruction in the rudiments of poetry writing and prior poetry workshop experience. Intermediate poetry workshops pose greater challenges to students and maintain higher critical standards than beginning workshops. Students will be instructed in more complex aspects of the craft, including the poetic persona, the prose poem, the collage, open-field composition, and others. They will also be assigned more challenging verse forms such as the villanelle and also non-European verse forms such as the pantoum. They will read extensively, submit brief critical analyses, and put their instruction into regular practice by composing original work that will be critiqued by their peers. By the end of the semester each student will have assembled a substantial portfolio of finished work

WRIT UN3300 ADVANCED POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: The departments permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. This poetry workshop is reserved for accomplished poetry writers and maintains the highest level of creative and critical expectations. Students will be encouraged to develop their strengths and to cultivate a distinctive poetic vision and voice but must also demonstrate a willingness to broaden their range and experiment with new forms and notions of the poem. A portfolio of poetry will be written and revised with the critical input of the instructor and the workshop

WRIT UN3301 SENIOR POETRY WORKSHOP. 4.00 points .

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Prerequisites: The departments permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate. Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work. In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student

Poetry Seminars

WRIT UN2311 TRADITIONS IN POETRY. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. “For those, in dark, who find their own way by the light of others’ eyes.” —Lucie Brock-Broido The avenues of poetic tradition open to today’s poets are more numerous, more invigorating, and perhaps even more baffling than ever before. The routes we chose for our writing lead to destinations of our own making, and we take them at our own risk—necessarily so, as the pursuit of poetry asks each of us to light a pilgrim’s candle and follow it into the moors and lowlands, through wastes and prairies, crossing waters as we go. Go after the marshlights, the will-o-wisps who call to you in a voice you’ve longed for your whole life. These routes have been forged by those who came before you, but for that reason, none of them can hope to keep you on it entirely. You must take your steps away, brick by brick, heading confidently into the hinterland of your own distinct achievement. For the purpose of this class, we will walk these roads together, examining the works of classic and contemporary exemplars of the craft. By companioning poets from a large spread of time, we will be able to more diversely immerse ourselves in what a poetic “tradition” truly means. We will read works by Edmund Spencer, Dante, and Goethe, the Romantics—especially Keats—Dickinson, who is mother to us all, Modernists, and the great sweep of contemporary poetry that is too vast to individuate. While it is the imperative of this class to equip you with the knowledge necessary to advance in the field of poetry, this task shall be done in a Columbian manner. Consider this class an initiation, of sorts, into the vocabulary which distinguishes the writers who work under our flag, each of us bound by this language that must be passed on, and therefore changed, to you who inherit it. As I have learned the words, I have changed them, and I give them now to you so that you may pave your own way into your own ways, inspired with the first breath that brought you here, which may excite and—hopefully—frighten you. You must be troubled. This is essential

WRIT UN3315 POETIC METER AND FORM. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. This course will investigate the uses of rhythmic order and disorder in English-language poetry, with a particular emphasis on formal elements in free verse. Through a close analysis of poems, well examine the possibilities of qualitative meter, and students will write original creative work within (and in response to) various formal traditions. Analytical texts and poetic manifestos will accompany our reading of exemplary poems. Each week, well study interesting examples of metrical writing, and Ill ask you to write in reponse to those examples. Our topics will include stress meter, syllable-stress meter, double and triple meter, rising and falling rhythms, promotion, demotion, inversion, elision, and foot scansion. Our study will include a greate range of pre-modern and modern writers, from Keats to W.D. Snodgrass, Shakespeare to Denise Levertov, Blake to James Dickey, Whitman to Louise Gluck etc. As writers, well always be thinking about how the formal choices of a poem are appropriate or inappropriate for the poems content. Well also read prose by poets describing their metrical craft

WRIT UN3320 Provocations in Twentieth-Century Poetics. 3.00 points .

This is a class about poetry and revolt. In a century of wars, unchecked proliferation of industrial and market systems in the continued legacy of settler-colonialism and the consolidation of state powers, does language still conduct with revolutionary possibilities? In this class, we will read manifestos, philosophical treatises, political tracts, literary polemics, poems, scores, and so on, as we consider poetry’s long-standing commitment to visionary practices that seek to liberate consciousness from the many and various structures of oppression. The term “poetry” is not limited to itself but becomes, in our readings, an open invitation to all adjacent experiments with and in the language arts. As such, we will look at the emergence of the international avant-gardes as well as a few student movements that populate and complicate the explorations of radical politics in the twentieth-century. In addition to our readings, students will be asked to produce creative responses for class discussion. Final projects will be provocations of their own design. Required Texts: Friedrich Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morality Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto Aimé Césaire: Notebook of A Return to the Native Land Hilda Hilst: The Obscene Madame D Marguerite Duras: Hiroshima Mon Amour Guy Debord: Society of the Spectacle

WRIT UN3316 WEST TO EAST. 3.00 points .

This course examines two central movements in post World War II American poetry, The San Francisco Renaissance and The New York School, and uncovers their aesthetic impacts on language and cultural production, as well as the relationship to the city as a defining agent in the poetic imagination

WRIT UN3319 POETICS OF PLACE:AMERICAN LANDSCAPES, VO. 3.00 points .

When the American Poet Larry Levis left his home in California’s San Joaquin Valley, “all [he] needed to do,” he wrote, “was to describe [home] exactly as it had been. That [he] could not do, for that [is] impossible. And that is where poetry might begin. This course will consider how place shapes a poet’s self and work. Together we will consider a diverse range of poets and the places they write out of and into: from Philip Levines Detroit to Whitmans Manhattan, from Robert Lowells New England to James Wrights Ohio, from the Kentucky of Joe Bolton and Crystal Wilkinson to the California of Robin Blaser and Allen Ginsberg, from the Ozarks of Frank Stanford to the New Jersey of Amiri Baraka, from the Pacific Northwest of Robinson Jeffers to the Alaska of Mary Tallmountain. We will consider the debate between T. S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams about global versus local approaches to the poem, and together we will ask complex questions: Why is it, for example, that Jack Gilbert finds his Pittsburgh when he leaves it, while Gerald Stern finds his Pittsburgh when he keeps it close? Does something sing because you leave it or because you hold it close? Do you come to a place to find where you belong in it? Do you leave a place to find where it belongs in you? As Carolyn Kizer writes in Running Away from Home, Its never over, old church of our claustrophobia! And of course home can give us the first freedom of wanting to leave, the first prison and freedom of want. In our reflections on each “place,” we will reflect on its varied histories, its native peoples, and its inheritance of violent conquest. Our syllabus will consist, in addition to poems, of manifestos and prose writings about place, from Richard Hugos Triggering Town to Sandra Beasleys Prioritizing Place. You will be encouraged to think about everything from dialect to economics, from collectivism to individualism in poems that root themselves in particular places, and you will be encouraged to consider how those poems “transcend” their origins. You will write response papers, analytical papers, and creative pieces, and you will complete a final project that reflects on your own relationship to place

WRIT UN3321 Ecopoetics. 3.00 points .

“There are things / We live among ‘and to see them / Is to know ourselves.’” George Oppen, “Of Being Numerous” In this class we will read poetry like writers that inhabit an imperiled planet, understanding our poems as being in direct conversation both with the environment as well as writers past and present with similar concerns and techniques. Given the imminent ecological crises we are facing, the poems we read will center themes of place, ecology, interspecies dependence, the role of humans in the destruction of the planet, and the “necropastoral” (to borrow a term from Joyelle McSweeney), among others. We will read works by poets and writers such as (but not limited to) John Ashbery, Harryette Mullen, Asiya Wadud, Wendy Xu, Ross Gay, Simone Kearney, Kim Hyesoon, Marcella Durand, Arthur Rimbaud, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Muriel Rukeyser, George Oppen, Terrance Hayes, Juliana Spahr, and W.S. Merwin—reading several full collections as well as individual poems and essays by scholars in the field. Through close readings, in-class exercises, discussions, and creative/critical writings, we will invest in and investigate facets of the dynamic lyric that is aware of its environs (sound, image, line), while also exploring traditional poetic forms like the Haibun, ode, prose poem, and elegy. Additionally, we will seek inspiration in outside mediums such as film, visual art, and music, as well as, of course, the natural world. As a class, we will explore the highly individual nature of writing processes and talk about building writing practices that are generative as well as sustainable

Cross Genre Seminars

WRIT UN3011 TRANSLATION SEMINAR. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Students do not need to demonstrate bilingual ability to take this course. Department approval NOT needed. Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Students do not need to demonstrate bilingual ability to take this course. Department approval NOT needed. Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students. This course will explore broad-ranging questions pertaining to the historical, cultural, and political significance of translation while analyzing the various challenges confronted by the arts foremost practitioners. We will read and discuss texts by writers and theorists such as Benjamin, Derrida, Borges, Steiner, Dryden, Nabokov, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Spivak, Jakobson, and Venuti. As readers and practitioners of translation, we will train our ears to detect the visibility of invisibility of the translators craft; through short writing experiments, we will discover how to identify and capture the nuances that traverse literary styles, historical periods and cultures. The course will culminate in a final project that may either be a critical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a translators note of introduction

WRIT UN3010 SHORT PROSE FORMS. 3.00 points .

Note: This seminar has a workshop component.

Prerequisites: No Prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Prerequisites: No Prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. Flash fiction, micro-naratives and the short-short have become exciting areas of exploration for contemporary writers. This course will examine how these literary fragments have captured the imagination of writers internationally and at home. The larger question the class seeks to answer, both on a collective and individual level, is: How can we craft a working definition of those elements endemic to short prose as a genre? Does the form exceed classification? What aspects of both crafts -- prose and poetry -- does this genre inhabit, expand upon, reinvent, reject, subvert? Short Prose Forms incorporates aspects of both literary seminar and the creative workshop. Class-time will be devoted alternatingly to examinations of published pieces and modified discussions of student work. Our reading chart the course from the genres emergence, examining the prose poem in 19th-century France through the works of Mallarme, Baudelaire, Max Jacob and Rimbaud. Well examine aspects of poetry -- the attention to the lyrical, the use of compression, musicality, sonic resonances and wit -- and attempt to understand how these writers took, as Russell Edson describes, experience [and] made it into an artifact with the logic of a dream. The class will conclude with a portfolio at the end of the term, in which students will submit a compendium of final drafts of three of four short prose pieces, samples of several exercises, selescted responses to readings, and a short personal manifesto on the short prose form

WRIT UN3016 WALKING. 3.00 points .

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. As Walter Benjamin notes in The Arcades Project: Basic to flanerie, among other things, is the idea that the fruits of idleness are more precious than the fruits of labor. The flaneur, as is well known, makes studies. This course will encourage you to make studies -- poems, essays, stories, or multimedia pieces -- based on your walks. We will read depictions of walking from multiple disciplines, including philosophy, poetry, history, religion, visual art, and urban planning. Occasionally we will walk together. An important point of the course is to develop mobile forms of writing. How can writing emerge from, and document, a walks encounters, observations, and reflections? What advantages does mobility bring to our work? Each week you will write a short piece (1-3 pages) that engages your walks while responding to close readings of the assigned material

WRIT UN3027 Science Fiction Poetics. 3.00 points .

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." —Carl Sagan "Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming." —David Bowie "I grew up reading science fiction." —Jeff Bezos Science fiction is the literature of the human species encountering change. It is the literature of the Other, of philosophy and ideas, of innovation and experimentation. This seminar will examine how poets and writers from around the world have imagined alternate realities and futures, linguistic inventions, and new poetic expressions inspired by science. We will discuss what these imaginings might tell us about the cultural and political presents in which they were conceived, as well as what the extreme conditions offered by science fiction might teach us about writing into the unknown. Topics will include astroecology and apocalyptic ecopoetics, extraterrestrial aphrodites, monstrous bodyscapes, space exploration and colonization, future creoles and the evolution of language, bio-poetics and crystalline formations, immortal texts, and global futurisms—from the European Futurists of the early 20th century to Afrofuturism, as well as recent figurations such as Gulf Futurism and Arabfuturism. Course reading will include work by Aase Berg, Etel Adnan, Chen Qiufan, Johannes Heldén, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Velimir Khlebnikov, Hao Jingfang, Eve L. Ewing, Sun Ra, Ursula K. Le Guin, Italo Calvino, Anaïs Duplan, Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Dempow Torishima, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Octavia E. Butler, Tracy K. Smith, Cathy Park Hong, and others

WRIT UN3028 LOST & FOUND IN THE ANTHROPOCENE. 3.00 points .

We are living through a time of unprecedented change. This change is characterized by “solastalgia,” a word that describes a response to environmental loss in our daily lives which encompasses both pain and solace. In this course we will think seriously about the imperative to notice, pay attention, and remember that which is changing or disappearing. How might we work through and with loss, and how might we harness attention and awareness to envision different futures and new creative approaches? Students will consider the ways writers and other artists are working with losing and finding in a posthuman world across different forms, genres, and cultures. Will take an imaginative and interdisciplinary attitude to these questions, studying literary work alongside visual art, anthropology, psychology, literary theory, and science. We will consider extinction, elegy, landscape, geological temporalities, fragments, trash, and ghosts. In his call to arms, The Great Derangement, author Amitav Ghosh writes that climate change resists so many of the literary and artistic forms we currently possess. As such, he calls for an embrace of hybrid genres. Through reflections, critical essays, and their own creative work, students will think seriously about hybridity and the imaginative challenge of being alive in the world today

WRIT UN3031 INTRO TO AUDIO STORYTELLING. 3.00 points .

It’s one thing to tell a story with the pen. It’s another to transfix your audience with your voice. In this class, we will explore principles of audio narrative. Oral storytellers arguably understand suspense, humor and showmanship in ways only a live performer can. Even if you are a diehard writer of visually-consumed text, you may find, once the class is over, that you have learned techniques that can translate across borders: your written work may benefit. Alternatively, you may discover that audio is the medium for you. We will consider sound from the ground up – from folkloric oral traditions, to raw, naturally captured sound stories, to seemingly straightforward radio news segments, to highly polished narrative podcasts. While this class involves a fair amount of reading, much of what we will be studying and discussing is audio material. Some is as lo-fi as can be, and some is operatic in scope, benefitting from large production budgets and teams of artists. At the same time that we study these works, each student will also complete small audio production exercises of their own; as a final project, students will be expected to produce a trailer, or “sizzle” for a hypothetical multi-episode show. This class is meant for beginners to the audio tradition. There are some tech requirements: a recording device (most phones will suffice), workable set of headphones, and computer. You’ll also need to download the free audio editing software Audacity

WRIT UN3032 IT'S COMPLICATED: WRITING AS A RELATIONSHIP. 3.00 points .

In this cross-genre class, we’ll explore writing process as relationship, one that reflects how we relate to both ourselves and the world. How do we bring the public back to the private space of the writing desk? How do our social, cultural, and political realities and histories influence our writing process? How is our relationship with our audience informed by our relationship with language? How can we be at play in structures of grammar and narrative without assimilating to what seems otherwise unrelatable? Seeing the sentence as a set of relationships, one tied to our human relations, we will write and revise with the hope of fostering an enduring relationship with the page. Coursework will include in-class writing exercises and 3 short (3-6 page) pieces

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Literary Arts

Opportunities for study and practice of writing and literature abound at Columbia. 

writing

Aspiring writers may major in creative writing as undergraduates or pursue an MFA in Writing in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry at the School of the Arts. The study of English and Comparative Literature flourishes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Teachers College features a specialization in English education. The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society promotes a global perspective in the study of literature, culture, and their social context at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

In addition, literary events on campus are accessible to all. The Creative Writing Lecture Series at the School of the Arts brings a diverse and brilliant roster of writers to Columbia for original talks on literary craft. Nonfiction Dialogues is a student-initiated series featuring interviews with distinguished nonfiction writers about their work and careers.

The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

April 7, 2023

mfa creative writing programs

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

First of all, what is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.

What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.

Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.

Fully Funded MFA Programs

1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).

This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Incoming class size: 8 students
  • Admissions rate: 11.1%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)

A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.

  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  •   Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Incoming class size: 18
  • Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.

  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

6) university of arizona (tucson, az).

This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Incoming class size: 9
  • Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):

Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.

  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam

FULL-RESIDENCY MFAS (UNFUNDED)

8) new york university (new york, ny).

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.

  • Incoming class size: 40-60
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University (New York, NY)

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)

Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.

  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: N/A
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado

LOW RESIDENCY

11 bennington college (bennington, vt).

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.

  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 40
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Incoming class size : 22
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.

  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya

ONLINE MFAS

14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).

The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.

  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)

This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.

  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Prepare for your MFA in advance:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Creative Writing Schools
  • Writing Summer Programs

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • https://www.pw.org/mfa
  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

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Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit  www.juliaconrad.net

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I’m Emptying My Bank Account to Go to Columbia

Growing up in northern Uganda, I managed to piece together an education by winning one scholarship after another. But I will somehow have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars on my own to attend one of America’s most elite institutions.

columbia creative writing mfa cost

The good news came first: I had been admitted to Columbia University’s MFA writing program. I danced in celebration.

The bad news came later: The school would provide no financial aid—at least this was the news at first. I was devastated, but told myself, Anena, this is Columbia, you can’t let it go . I put up a GoFundMe where I am presently begging the world to contribute to my approximately $100,000 costs of attendance for just the first year of a two-year program ($62,912 of that is tuition, the rest is “living expenses” and other fees). By mid July, I had slightly more than $1,500 in donations.

In the months since I was admitted in March, I have continued singing into Columbia’s ears, telling her how much I need her, asking her to give me some funding. She said, I don’t have funding now; when I get it, I’ll let you know. In early June, I received an email saying I had received a scholarship after all. My heart leapt into my hands. I clicked the link to my student profile to see how much I had actually been given. $10,000. I quickly told myself, Relax, Anena . This is a more-than-good start. It means Columbia wants you for real real . So I wrote again and asked Columbia for more. On July 9, Columbia gave me another $10,000.

I danced again, but cautiously, careful not to jinx further good fortune. The cost of attendance for just one year is tens of thousands more, and I simply do not have it. I am praying, hoping. Every little bit helps, and I’m determined to come up with the rest . The mystery was—and still is—how.

Read: Elite colleges constantly tell low-income students that they do not belong

I have spent 18 years in school, 16 of which were on some form of scholarship. From when I began primary school, in 1993 in northern Uganda, I knew that my parents didn’t have the means to sufficiently take care of the eight children they had brought into the world. But I understood that if I excelled in class, I would always get a bursary for school, as was common at the time: Because of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency led by Joseph Kony, northern Uganda had become a hub for humanitarian agencies and nongovernmental organizations, many of which sought to help poor children—especially bright girls—attend school.

I began secondary school in 2000 at one of the best schools in the region, Sacred Heart Girls Secondary School, which had given me a partial scholarship. My father rode his bicycle to school every fortnight to bring me roasted groundnuts and peanut butter, and to remind me not to lose sight of the twin goals of keeping my grades high (so that I could keep my scholarship) and graduating. I was happy.

During the long vacation before I started high school, I sat under the mango tree at home with my mum one day. We were listening to Radio Mega, the government-owned community radio station we always used to listen to, when an announcement aired about a writing competition. I quickly left the shade of the mango tree for the hut I shared with my two big sisters. I plucked out a sheet from my exercise book and wrote a poem. I won the contest and secured a bursary for a year of high school. The poem had saved my future.

I grew up in a culture of storytelling. By the fireplace, my paternal grandmother would tell us endless stories that made us laugh, awed and scared in equal measure, until she became born-again and said the folktales were ungodly. Luckily for me, the stories had found a home in my head. They were not going to leave.

During secondary school, I fell in love with literature. I read Soyinka, Achebe, Ngugi, and p’Bitek. Mills and Boon novels were the it then too. I buried my face in between pages as others screamed their voices hoarse at athletics. I went on to study literature—literature, always literature, as writing was never on offer—in high school as well. I emerged at the top of my class.

Read: When disadvantaged students overlook elite colleges

University beckoned. When results for the national exams were released, I was among the top five students from the district and was offered a scholarship to Makerere University. I wanted to be a poet but, because no university in Uganda offers creative writing, I settled for journalism. I loved literature, but what I wanted to do was write. With a journalism course, I would write my fingers numb.

For three years, I studied journalism, contributing articles to different newspapers. I continued writing poems in a big book specially dedicated to them. I graduated and worked as a writer and an editor in a newsroom for four years. During this time, I wrote more poetry and ventured into the short-story form as well.

I eventually decided to leave the newsroom to write more. The following year, 2015, I published my first collection of poems, A Nation in Labour . Three years after publication, the collection won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. My short stories also started getting recognition, becoming finalists for various prizes.

I wanted formal education in creative writing, the education I’d never had. I applied to universities around the world. For five years now I have been applying to schools, gaining admission but not financial aid. I have declined admissions offers and deferred many more, failing, always, to raise the necessary funds.

But Columbia is different to me. This was the program, the education I have dreamed of all my life. I put my all into my application for admission (granted) and my application for financial aid (denied). Only my appeals for further aid—what’s known as “institutional aid”—have been met with success so far, but I still have a long way to go.

Sometimes I get tempted to ask Columbia with a tone of entitlement— Columbia, you say you want me, then show me you want me —but I don’t, because she was clear from the start that all applicants had to be sure of their funding source. I had none. I just applied because she was the one I wanted.

I have taken the risk to pursue the course anyway. I have emptied my bank account to pay the tuition and housing deposits. I have put aside my shame to beg strangers to contribute to my GoFundMe. A poetry performance in June at the National Theater in Kampala managed to bring in $4,603. I plan to do another. My hope has never been this fat, this wild. But my anxiety has never been this intense. I try to breathe. I smile when it gets unbearable.

I’m trusting the road will smoothen out eventually—this road to bettering my craft; this road to writing and not just reading like school here taught me to; this road to a dream that has refused to go, like a scar on a forehead.

Applications for 2024 Columbia Summer Session programs are now open!

Creative writing.

The Creative Writing Department offers writing workshops in fiction writing, poetry, and nonfiction writing. Courses are also offered in film writing, structure and style, translation, and the short story.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department.

Registration Procedures and Course Approval

All creative writing classes have limited enrollments and require instructor or departmental approval prior to registration.

Students should visit the Writing Department's website for details and instructions.

Registration Procedures

BEGINNING FICTION WORKSHOP WRIT1100W001 3 pts

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The beginning workshop in fiction is designed for students with little or no experience writing literary texts in fiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. The focus of the course is on the rudiments of voice, character, setting, point of view, plot, and lyrical use of language. Students will begin to develop the critical skills that will allow them to read like writers and understand, on a technical level, how accomplished creative writing is produced. Outside readings of a wide range of fiction supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

Course Number

Spring 2024, times/location, section/call number, beginning fiction workshop writ1100w002 3 pts, beginning fiction workshop writ1100w003 3 pts, beginning fiction workshop writ1100w004 3 pts, beginning fiction workshop writ1100w005 3 pts, beginning nonfiction workshop writ1200w001 3 pts, beginning nonfiction workshop writ1200w002 3 pts, beginning poetry workshop writ1300w001 3 pts, beginning poetry workshop writ1300w002 3 pts, intermediate fiction workshop writ2100w001 3 pts, intermediate fiction workshop writ2100w002 3 pts, approaches to the short story writ2110w001 3 pts.

The modern short story has gone through many transformations, and the innovations of its practitioners have often pointed the way for prose fiction as a whole. The short story has been seized upon and refreshed by diverse cultures and aesthetic affiliations, so that perhaps the only stable definition of the form remains the famous one advanced by Poe, one of its early masters, as a work of fiction that can be read in one sitting. Still, common elements of the form have emerged over the last century and this course will study them, including Point of View, Plot, Character, Setting and Theme. John Hawkes once famously called these last four elements the "enemies of the novel," and many short story writers have seen them as hindrances as well. Hawkes later recanted, though some writers would still agree with his earlier assessment, and this course will examine the successful strategies of great writers across the spectrum of short story practice, from traditional approaches to more radical solutions, keeping in mind how one period's revolution -Hemingway, for example - becomes a later era's mainstream or "commonsense" storytelling mode. By reading the work of major writers from a writer's perspective, we will examine the myriad techniques employed for what is finally a common goal: to make readers feel. Short writing exercises will help us explore the exhilarating subtleties of these elements and how the effects created by their manipulation or even outright absence power our most compelling fictions.

INTERMEDIATE NONFICTION WRKSHP WRIT2200W001 3 pts

Traditions in nonfiction writ2211w001 3 pts.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. The seminar provides exposure to the varieties of nonfiction with readings in its principal genres: reportage, criticism and commentary, biography and history, and memoir and the personal essay. A highly plastic medium, nonfiction allows authors to portray real events and experiences through narrative, analysis, polemic or any combination thereof. Free to invent everything but the facts, great practitioners of nonfiction are faithful to reality while writing with a voice and a vision distinctively their own. To show how nonfiction is conceived and constructed, class discussions will emphasize the relationship of content to form and style, techniques for creating plot and character under the factual constraints imposed by nonfiction, the defining characteristics of each authors voice, the authors subjectivity and presence, the role of imagination and emotion, the uses of humor, and the importance of speculation and attitude. Written assignments will be opportunities to experiment in several nonfiction genres and styles.

INTERMEDIATE POETRY WORKSHOP WRIT2300W001 3 pts

Traditions in poetry writ2311w001 3 pts.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. 

“For those, in dark, who find their own way by the light of others’ eyes.” —Lucie Brock-Broido

The avenues of poetic tradition open to today’s poets are more numerous, more invigorating, and perhaps even more baffling than ever before. The routes we chose for our writing lead to destinations of our own making, and we take them at our own risk—necessarily so, as the pursuit of poetry asks each of us to light a pilgrim’s candle and follow it into the moors and lowlands, through wastes and prairies, crossing waters as we go. Go after the marshlights, the will-o-wisps who call to you in a voice you’ve longed for your whole life. These routes have been forged by those who came before you, but for that reason, none of them can hope to keep you on it entirely. You must take your steps away, brick by brick, heading confidently into the hinterland of your own distinct achievement.

For the purpose of this class, we will walk these roads together, examining the works of classic and contemporary exemplars of the craft. By companioning poets from a large spread of time, we will be able to more diversely immerse ourselves in what a poetic “tradition” truly means. We will read works by Edmund Spencer, Dante, and Goethe, the Romantics—especially Keats—Dickinson, who is mother to us all, Modernists, and the great sweep of contemporary poetry that is too vast to individuate.

While it is the imperative of this class to equip you with the knowledge necessary to advance in the field of poetry, this task shall be done in a Columbian manner. Consider this class an initiation, of sorts, into the vocabulary which distinguishes the writers who work under our flag, each of us bound by this language that must be passed on, and therefore changed, to you who inherit it. As I have learned the words, I have changed them, and I give them now to you so that you may pave your own way into your own ways, inspired with the first breath that brought you here, which may excite and—hopefully—frighten you. You must be troubled. This is essential

SHORT PROSE FORMS WRIT3010W001 3 pts

Translation seminar writ3011w001 3 pts.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Students do not need to demonstrate bilingual ability to take this course. Department approval NOT needed. Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students. This course will explore broad-ranging questions pertaining to the historical, cultural, and political significance of translation while analyzing the various challenges confronted by the arts foremost practitioners. We will read and discuss texts by writers and theorists such as Benjamin, Derrida, Borges, Steiner, Dryden, Nabokov, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Spivak, Jakobson, and Venuti. As readers and practitioners of translation, we will train our ears to detect the visibility of invisibility of the translators craft; through short writing experiments, we will discover how to identify and capture the nuances that traverse literary styles, historical periods and cultures. The course will culminate in a final project that may either be a critical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a translators note of introduction.

Inhabiting Form: Writing the Body WRIT3018W001 3 pts

The body is our most immediate encounter with the world, the vessel through which we experience our entire lives: pleasure, pain, beauty, horror, limitation, freedom, fragility and empowerment. In this course, we will pursue critical and creative inquiries into invocations and manifestations of the body in multiple genres of literature and in several capacities. We will look at how writers make space for—or take up space with—bodies in their work.

The etymology of the word “text” is from the Latin textus , meaning “tissue.” Along these lines, we will consider the text itself as a body. Discussions around body politics, race, gender, ability, illness, death, metamorphosis, monstrosity and pleasure will be parallel to the consideration of how a text might function itself as a body in space and time. We will consider such questions as: What is the connective tissue of a story or a poem? What is the nervous system of a lyric essay? How is formal constraint similar to societal ideals about beauty and acceptability of certain bodies? How do words and language function at the cellular level to build the body of a text? How can we make room to honor, in our writing, bodies that have otherwise been marginalized?

We will also consider non-human bodies (animals & organisms) and embodiments of the supernatural (ghosts, gods & specters) in our inquiries. Students will process and explore these ideas in both creative and analytical writings throughout the semester, deepening their understanding of embodiment both on and off the page.

INTRO TO AUDIO STORYTELLING WRIT3031W001 3 pts

It’s one thing to tell a story with the pen. It’s another to transfix your audience with your voice. In this class, we will explore principles of audio narrative. Oral storytellers arguably understand suspense, humor and showmanship in ways only a live performer can. Even if you are a diehard writer of visually-consumed text, you may find, once the class is over, that you have learned techniques that can translate across borders: your written work may benefit. Alternatively, you may discover that audio is the medium for you.

We will consider sound from the ground up – from folkloric oral traditions, to raw, naturally captured sound stories, to seemingly straightforward radio news segments, to highly polished narrative podcasts. While this class involves a fair amount of reading, much of what we will be studying and discussing is audio material. Some is as lo-fi as can be, and some is operatic in scope, benefitting from large production budgets and teams of artists. At the same time that we study these works, each student will also complete small audio production exercises of their own; as a final project, students will be expected to produce a trailer, or “sizzle” for a hypothetical multi-episode show.

This class is meant for beginners to the audio tradition. There are some tech requirements: a recording device (most phones will suffice), workable set of headphones, and computer. You’ll also need to download the free audio editing software Audacity.

THE AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE WRIT3036W001 3 pts

What is an aesthetic experience and what does it tell us about art or about ourselves? An aesthetic experience might be best initially defined as a subjective and often profound encounter with an object, artwork, or phenomenon that elicits a heightened sense of beauty, appreciation, or emotional response. It involves a deep engagement with the sensory, emotional, and intellectual aspects of the object of appreciation. Aesthetic experiences typically involve a sense of pleasure, contemplation, or emotional resonance, and they often transcend practical or utilitarian considerations. These experiences can encompass a wide range of phenomena, literature, natural landscapes, and even everyday objects when perceived with a heightened sense of awareness and appreciation. Aesthetic experiences are highly personal and can vary from person to person based on individual preferences, cultural backgrounds, and emotional responses.

For me, an aesthetic experience is both mysterious and confounding—I’m impacted physically as much as it might mentally or emotionally. In the throes of an aesthetic experience, I might feel the small hairs on my arms or on the back of my neck stand up. I might feel nearly ill from a racing heart or my stomach turning. I might feel energized by new thoughts prompted by the experience or feel my heart swell in appreciation and awe. I might also feel a deep sense of recognition—one that connects me to the art object and its maker in a way that transcends time and place. But why do I feel this? Where does this feeling come from? What is really happening?? In this class, we’ll study this question on two levels:

1. A ‘theoretical’ level. Theorists, critics, and philosophers have long tried to understand what it means to have an aesthetic experience. Plato likened this experience to madness, Kant to the sublime; Tolstoy argued the aesthetic experience was a form of communication only accessible through engagement in art. Historians place aesthetic experience within the context of time and culture. We’ll study and discuss theories that have tried to define this mysterious phenomenon. 

 2. A ‘practical’ level. We’ll also read the work of writers who have puzzled through this question of the aesthetic experience by writing about their connection to a work or body of work by another artist. Often this involves a search to understand the self via the work of another artist.

Books: Required books available at Book Culture on 112th Street and Broadway or in course reserves at Butler Library. Several readings will be available for free via our courseworks page. They are indicated on the syllabus as (CW).

ADVANCED FICTION WORKSHOP WRIT3100W001 3 pts

Advanced fiction workshop writ3100w002 3 pts, senior fiction workshop writ3101w001 4 pts, how to write funny writ3128w001 3 pts.

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."   

--Mel Brooks 

"Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the 

End."                                                                                                                --Sid Caesar 

"Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it."                                                                                                                                  --E.B. White 

"What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke."                                                                                                                                       --Steve Martin 

"Patty Marx is the best teacher at Columbia University."

--Patty Marx 

One of the above quotations is false. Find out which one in this humor-writing workshop, where you will read, listen to, and watch comedic samples from well-known and lesser-known humorists. How could you not have fun in a class where we watch and critique the sketches of Monty Python, Nichols and May, Mr. Show, Mitchell & Webb, Key and Peele, French and Saunders, Derrick Comedy, Beyond the Fringe, Dave Chappelle, Bob and Ray, Mel Brooks, Amy Schumer, and SNL, to name just a few?

The crux of our time, though, will be devoted to writing. Students will be expected to complete weekly writing assignments; additionally, there will be in-class assignments geared to strategies for crafting surprise (the kind that results in a laugh as opposed to, say, a heart attack or divorce). Toward this end, we will study the use of irony, irreverence, hyperbole, misdirection, subtext, wordplay, formulas such as the rule of three and paraprosdokians (look it up), and repetition, and repetition.  

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK WRIT3133W001 3 pts

There’s a new cast of characters in American fiction: kids, teens, young adults who won’t grow up or grow up much too soon—kids of immigrants, most of them, millennials, a lot of them, and they’re telling stories, different stories, stories that dispel stereotypes and decenter the dominant, white gaze. In this seminar we will examine contemporary novels and short stories by immigrants and kids of immigrants that resist cliched diaspora narratives. Starting with the old guard that first defined immigrant writing, including Vladimir Nabokov and Sandra Cisneros, we’ll dig into how this genre has evolved in the 21st century first with Julie Otsuka and Jhumpa Lahiri, and, more recently, with Jenny Zhang, Jade Sharma, and Anthony Veasna So. Duty, guilt, grandmas, food, debt, intergenerational trauma and buried family secrets that rise from the dead will be ever-present, of course, but we’ll also find joy, absurdity, blasphemy, and other surprises as we study the distinct ways these authors reframe the immigrant experience and move beyond the lens of identity politics. Though our primary focus will be coming-of-age narratives, we’ll read numerous works from adult perspectives, too, grappling especially with the concept “anagnorisis” (Greek: “recognition”), which, in literary works, is a character’s often startling discovery of their true identity. Throughout the course we’ll use what we learn to produce new creative work biweekly, all while envisioning and executing ways to ultimately recast the “other” in our own fiction.  

BUILDING BETTER WORLDS WRIT3134W001 3 pts

As 20th century literary traditions prove increasingly ill-equipped to capture the realities of 21st century life, readers look towards fictional worlds for inspiration and escape from the political chaos of day-to-day existence. When we write we shape the world, because the worlds we imagine impact the world we inhabit. But what does it mean for a writer to 'build a world?' What obligations does the creator of a fiction have to readers who inhabit a world they wish to escape? Are the worlds we build for escape always political? Can we build another world as an avenue to better understand this one?

In this seminar we will explore the concept of "world building" by looking at a variety of work from authors who are known for their immense secondary worlds (such as J.R.R. Tolkein, Ursula K. Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, or Octavia Butler) but also at fiction that applies techniques of both immersion and politics in ways that may subvert our understanding of what it means to 'create.' Writers discussed are as wide ranging as Toni Morrison, Angela Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Clive Barker, all the way up to contemporary writers whose works populate our best loved Independent bookstores: Helen Oyeyemi, Victor LaValle, Ted Chiang, Marlon James, Jeff VanderMeer, Colson Whitehead, Salman Rushdie, Carmen Maria Machado, Alexandra Kleeman, or Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

MORE THAN SCIENCE FICTION WRIT3135W001 3 pts

In this course we will explore the possibilities of scientific language and ideas both as literature and in literature. The texts we will consider will range from science fiction, to writings by scientists, to nature writing, and much else. We will also consider works that might at first appear unrelated to scientific thinking, such as folk tales, mysteries, and fantastical stories. Special attention will be paid to the special effects generated by scientific language when it appears near other styles of expression. Students will also be responsible for four short creative assignments inspired by the readings, as well as a brief in-class presentation.

SENIOR NONFICTION WORKSHOP WRIT3201W001 4 pts

Writing the sixties writ3224w001 3 pts.

In this seminar, we will target nonfiction from the 1960s—the decade that saw an avalanche of new forms, new awareness, new freedoms, and new conflicts, as well as the beginnings of social movements and cultural preoccupations that continue to frame our lives, as writers and as citizens, in the 21st century: civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, LGBTQ rights, pop culture, and the rise of mass media. We will look back more than a half century to examine the development of modern criticism, memoir, reporting, and profile-writing, and the ways they entwine. Along the way, we will ask questions about these classic nonfiction forms: How do reporters, essayists, and critics make sense of the new? How do they create work as rich as the best novels and short stories? Can criticism rise to the level of art? What roles do voice, point-of-view, character, dialogue, and plot—the traditional elements of fiction—play? As we go, we will witness the unfolding of arguably the most transitional decade in American history—with such events as the Kennedy assassination, the Watts Riots, the Human Be In, and the Vietnam War, along with the rise of Pop art, rock ‘n’ roll, and a new era of moviemaking—as it was documented in real time by writers at The New Yorker , New Journalists at Esquire , and critics at Partisan Review and Harper ’s, among other publications. Some writers we will consider: James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Rachel Carson, Dwight Macdonald, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Pauline Kael, Nik Cohn, Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Michael Herr, Martha Gellhorn, John McPhee, and Betty Friedan. We will be joined by guest speakers.

NONFICTION-ISH WRIT3226W001 3 pts

This cross-genre craft seminar aims to uncover daring and unusual approaches to literature informed by nonfiction (and nonfiction-adjacent) practices. In this course we will closely read and analyze a diverse set of works, including Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history of women and war, Lydia Davis’s “found” microfictions, Theresa Hak Cha’s genre-exploding “auto-enthnography,” Alejandro Zambra’s unabashedly literary narratives, Sigrid Nunez’s memoir “of” Susan Sontag, Emmanuel Carrére’s “nonfiction novel,” John Keene’s bold counternarratives, W. G. Sebald’s saturnine essay-portraits, Saidiya Hartman’s melding of history and literary imagination, Annie Ernaux’s collective autobiography, Sheila Heti’s alphabetized diary, Ben Mauk’s oral history about Xinjiang detention camps, and Edward St. Aubyn’s autobiographical novel about the British aristocracy and childhood trauma, among other texts. We will also examine Sharon Mashihi’s one-woman autofiction podcasts about Iranian Jewish American family. What we learn in this course we will apply to our own work, which will consist of two creative writing responses and a creative final project. Students will also learn to keep a daily writing journal.

CLIMATE AND TIME WRIT3229W001 3 pts

This class is called Climate and Time, Writing in Catastrophe. The focus of the course is intentionally narrow and specific. Climate refers to all aspects of climate change and its repercussions. It is, to me, the most consequential factor operating in our understanding of the world right now. It is also one of the slowest moving changes that we have experienced in our lifetime. It is the kind of change that mounts in consequences on a massive scale, so much so that the changes seem almost imperceptible until they become visible to us as cataclysm. This class is also about time because time factors in, very heavily, to our understanding of our opportunity to engage, intercede and report on climate change. Specifically, time is out of bounds of our typical understanding of it. We live in human time, the human lifecycle, which in this country is around 70 years. Many of these changes are happening in geological time that stretches across eras of change that have garnered magnitude from a chronology parallel to human time but does not rely at all on our lifecycle to frame it. The resulting tension is that we struggle to know whether we are perceiving change accurately.

The terms “nature” and “environment” are also subject to time, in that they attempt to frame a way of thinking about a set of phenomena that are perceived to exist outside of human engagement. These terms that holds vestiges of enlightenment thinking, the 18th c. European philosophy that has not been particularly useful in defining power dynamics that support observable phenomena or non-ownership models of land holding. As the climate crisis continues to be revealed, we face new conflicts informed by time: ice is melting faster than expected, sea levels rising faster than expected, fires happening more frequently than expected, marine level die-offs happening faster than expected, etc. The urgency with which the facts are now being revealed keeps changing the timelines we must confront, and yet, if we do not understand time—beyond our biological relationship to it—we may miss the opportunity to engage in meaningful work.

One goal of this seminar is to write artfully and compellingly about our changing climate in a way that invites thoughtful engagement, imagining and reconsideration of accepted values. This may require us to reckon with existing forms of expertise, institutions, and writing about the physical world, which are often saturated in philosophies of nostalgia, xenophobia, colonialism, and militarism. Another goal is to support each other in our pursuit of topics related to climate change through readings, research, and writing. To this point, we will also confront some of the emotional challenges associated with doing work on the physical world, especially in these particularly dynamic times. This is not a historical course, but it is a practical one that is very much engaged with the current issues we must face as writers—some of which are immense in proportion. Because the data and stakes related to this era are complex, we will also develop protocols for research that are appropriate to enhancing your ongoing and emergent interests in fact-based, deeply researched storytelling and lyric. The culminating work is a substantial research portfolio on a topic of your choosing that can be used for future writing projects.

SENIOR POETRY WORKSHOP WRIT3301W001 4 pts

Waste writ3322w001 3 pts.

What if we think of writing as waste management? “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now,” said Samuel Beckett then, famously, but: What does this mean? In this course, we will explore the many ways in which artists and writers have tried to answer this question, not only with waste as a figure for thought but as the concrete and recalcitrant reality of our being. Students will be asked to keep a notebook, with the instruction to keep everything that is for them a signature of thought. In this way, a pinecone or a piece of garbage is as much “writing” as anything else. Together, we will create an archive for the semester, of everything that is produced and/or consumed under this aegis of making. This class is designed to pose questions about form and the activity of writing and, in turn, the modes and methods of production not only as writers, but as persons. In addition to our weekly readings, we will be taking field trips throughout the city, convening with Freegan.info for a trash tour and meeting with the artist in residence at the Department of Sanitation, as well as hosting visitors for additional conversations over Zoom.

SENSORY POETICS WRIT3324W001 3 pts

“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist” —Vladimir Nabokov

“Every word was once an animal.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do writers use words to bring whole worlds to life in the senses? Sensory Poetics is a semester-long exploration of how this formal question has propelled the last 150 years of formally innovative poetry, manifestos and essays on craft. Here, we will read by critically and creatively responding to these texts with a single goal in mind: Borrow their methods to compose a dossier of writing that brings just one thing to life in the senses—any one thing—of your individual choosing. To that end, the semester is divided into 3 Labs that each isolate a different register of sensemaking: Sound, Image, and Line. For example, in the Sound Lab unit, you’ll respond to poems and essays by acoustic-centered poets like John Cage, Kamau Brathwaite and Gertrude Stein, transcribing the sound of your one thing, and writing a metered sonnet based on models from different periods and artistic contexts. To capture the look and logic of your one thing, further in you’ll read Surrealists like Aimé and Suzanne Césaire (for Image Lab), Kathy Acker’s cut-ups, and the psychedelic prose poems of Georges Perec and Yoko Ono (for Line Lab). Throughout, we’ll also read Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style , a book that is similarly a dossier of one thing written a hundred different ways. Class time focuses on close-reading and analyzing poems together. At the end of each of the three Labs, you’ll submit a portfolio which showcases and reflects on your favorite creative/critical writing generated during the unit. So, no matter how boring or inflexible your one thing may appear to you at any point, your only limits beyond this constraint—make a dossier on one thing—will merely be the finite plasticity of your own imagination, which luckily, readings in this course are curated to expand. This is a place to encounter, practice and experiment with new and exciting forms that broaden your repertoire for articulating your obsessions in ways that bring them to life in the ears, eyes and minds of your audience. Writers of all majors and levels welcome.

SHORT PROSE FORMS DISC WRIT3406W001 0 pts

Required discussion section for WRIT UN3010 Short Prose Forms

NONFICTION-ISH DISC WRIT3407W001 0 pts

Required discussion section for WRIT UN3226 Nonfiction-ish

INTRO TO AUDIO STORYTELLING DISC WRIT3408W001 0 pts

Independent writing project writ3700w001 3 pts, independent writing project writ3700w002 3 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r001 6 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r002 6 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r003 6 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r004 6 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r005 6 pts, fiction workshop writ5100r006 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r001 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r002 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r003 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r004 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r005 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r006 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r007 6 pts, nonfiction workshop writ5200r008 6 pts, poetry workshop writ5300r001 6 pts, poetry workshop writ5300r002 6 pts, poetry workshop writ5300r003 6 pts, special projects workshop writ5500r001 6 pts, independent study writ5700r001 6 pts, independent study writ5700r002 6 pts, independent study writ5700r003 6 pts, cross-genre seminar writ6010q001 3 pts.

CROSS-GENRE SEMINAR

CROSS-GENRE SEMINAR WRIT6010Q002 3 pts

Cross-genre seminar writ6010q003 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r001 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r002 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r003 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r004 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r005 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r006 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r007 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r008 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r009 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r010 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r011 3 pts, fiction seminar writ6110r012 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r001 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r002 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r003 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r004 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r005 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r006 3 pts, nonfiction seminar writ6210r007 3 pts, poetry seminar writ6310r001 3 pts, poetry seminar writ6310r002 3 pts, poetry seminar writ6310r003 3 pts, poetry seminar writ6310r004 3 pts, poetry seminar writ6310r005 3 pts, translation workshop writ6400r001 3 pts, translation workshop writ6400r002 3 pts, translation seminar writ6410r001 3 pts.

TRANSLATION SEMINAR

TRANSLATION SEMINAR WRIT6410R002 3 pts

Fiction lecture writ6510r001 3 pts, nonfiction lecture writ6520r001 3 pts.

NONFICTION LECTURE

POETRY LECTURE WRIT6530R001 3 pts

Master class writ6610q001 2 pts, master class writ6610q002 2 pts, master class writ6610q003 2 pts, master class writ6610q004 2 pts, master class writ6610q005 2 pts, master class writ6610q006 2 pts, master class writ6610q007 2 pts, master class writ6610q008 2 pts, master class writ6610q009 2 pts, master class writ6610q010 2 pts, master class writ6610q011 2 pts, master class writ6610q012 2 pts, master class writ6610q013 2 pts, master class writ6610q014 2 pts, master class writ6611r001 1 pts, master class writ6611r002 1 pts, master class writ6611r003 1 pts, teaching beyond the gates: a practicum on arts administration and pedagogy writ6650r001 0 pts.

The Writing Program has in place several programs that involve more than 70 students a term going beyond the Columbia gates to teach writing in community groups and schools. These programs include Columbia Artist/Teachers (CA/T), Our Word, The Incarcerated Artists Project (IAP), The Incarcerated Writers Initiative (IWI), as well as public programs on and off campus (including Lenfest) that are produced collaboratively.

The diverse array of partner organizations (see attached)—curated to provide a multiplicity of teaching experiences as well as service to the community—require various modalities of pedagogy and administration. About  14 students (see attached) are in leadership positions, with dual responsibilities of working with the partner programs in structuring and troubleshooting programs while also supervising the MFA participants and providing pedagogical guidance. In effect, these leaders are acting as arts administrators, an experience that may be useful for them in pursuing post-MFA employment.

The Writing Program’s Director of Community Outreach oversees these programs and student leaders on an ad hoc basis. The purpose of this no-credit, no-tuition course is to formalize faculty supervision and support for the Writing Program’s outreach component.

The shape of this course will be mutable, tailored to the ongoing needs of the students, their partner organizations, and the Writing Program. Contact hours will comprise in-person meetings as well as emails and phone calls, focusing on: setting up and running programs and events, working collaboratively, implementing pedagogy, and troubleshooting.

Student leaders will meet as a group with the instructor three times a term.

Individuals leaders will meet with the instructor an additional minimum of twice a term.

The CA/T Director and the instructor will meet about eight times a term.

FICTION THESIS WORKSHOP WRIT8100R001 9 pts

Fiction thesis workshop writ8100r002 9 pts, fiction thesis workshop writ8100r003 9 pts, fiction thesis workshop writ8100r004 9 pts, fiction thesis workshop writ8100r005 9 pts, fiction thesis workshop writ8100r006 9 pts, fiction thesis workshop writ8100r007 9 pts, poetry thesis workshop writ8300r001 9 pts, poetry thesis workshop writ8300r002 9 pts, poetry thesis workshop writ8300r003 9 pts, poetry thesis workshop writ8300r004 9 pts, research arts writing writ9000qra1 0 pts.

Research Arts for MFA Writing Program - Students Must Have Completed 60 Points to Register

THESIS ADVISEMENT - WRITING WRIT9001Q001 0 pts

Writ research arts internship writ9800r001 6 pts, writ research arts internship writ9800rri1 6 pts.

Interenship for MFA Writing Research Arts Students

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Hal Ackerman

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Former co-chair of the Screenwriting Program at UCLA.
  • His play, Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me, received the William Saroyan Centennial Prize for Drama and won Best Script at the 2011 United Solo Festival.
  • He has sold material to all the broadcast networks and major studios.
  • His book Write Screenplays That Sell…The Ackerman Way is now in its third printing.

Khris Baxter

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Screenwriter, producer, and the founder of Lost Mountain Entertainment.
  • Developed and financed a wide range of projects in partnership with Cross Creek Pictures and Echo Lake Entertainment.
  • Co-produced “Above the Shadows,” which won the Audience Award at the 2019 Brooklyn Film Festival.
  • Teaches Writing for Film & TV at Dickinson College.
  • Serves as a judge for the Virginia Film Office’s annual screenwriting competition.

Peter Behrens

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Screenwriter, essayist, and fiction writer.
  • Author of four books of fiction, including “The Law of Dreams,” which won the Governor-General’s Award and has been published in nine languages.
  • His stories, essays, and reviews appear in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, and many anthologies.
  • Former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and former fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Cathy Smith Bowers

Instructor, Poetry [email protected]

  • Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 2010-2012.
  • Her poems appear widely in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review.
  • Author of five collections of poetry.

Morri Creech

Associate Professor, Poetry Writer in Residence, Queens University of Charlotte [email protected]

  • Author of four collections of poetry, one a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
  • His poems appear in Poetry, The New Criterion, The New Republic, The Southwest Review, The Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Critical Quarterly, Sewanee Review, Southern Review, and  elsewhere. 
  • He has received the Stan and Tom Wick Award, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a fellowship from The Louisiana  Division of the Arts.

David Christensen

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Executive producer at the National Film Board of Canada where he oversees a slate of documentary, interactive, and animation productions made nationally and internationally.
  • Two Oscar-nominated films and multiple premiers at Berlin, Sundance, Toronto, and New York film festivals.

Ann Cummins

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of a story collection and novel.
  • Recipient of a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship.
  • Stories appear in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Antioch Review, The Best American Short Stories, and The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories.

Jonathan Dee

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of eight novels.
  • His novel “The Privileges” was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2011 Prix Fitzgerald and the St. Francis College Literary Prize.
  • A former contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a senior editor of The Paris Review, and a National Magazine Award-nominated literary critic for Harper’s.
  • Received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Kristin Dombek

Instructor, Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of “The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism,” which has been translated into multiple languages, and “How to Quit,” forthcoming soon.
  • Essays appear in The New Yorker, Vice, The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, London Review of Books, n+1, The Financial Times, The Paris Review, and Best American Essays.
  • Recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Rona Jaffe Foundation.
  • Has taught at Queens College/CUNY and Princeton.

Shelley Evans

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Has written teleplays for ABC, CBS, Showtime, USA Network, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and Lifetime Television.

Elizabeth Gaffney

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of two novels.
  • Has also translated three novels and a memoir from German.
  • Resident artist at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Blue Mountain Center.
  • Former staff editor at The Paris Review, and currently serves as the editor-at-large of A Public Space.

Myla Goldberg

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Bestselling author of four novels, including “Bee Season,” which was a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Borders New Voices Prize. It was adapted to film and widely translated.
  • Has also published an essay collection, a children’s book, and short stories that have appeared in Harper’s.
  • Teaches also in the fiction programs at Sarah Lawrence and NYU.

Emily Fox Gordon

Instructor, Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of a novel, a collection of personal essays, and two memoirs, one of which was a New York Times Notable Book.
  • Her work appears in Boulevard, Salmagundi, The American Scholar, and Southwest Review, and has been anthologized in the Anchor Essay Annual.
  • Has taught writing workshops at Rice University, the University of Houston, The New School, the University of Wyoming, and the MFA program at Rutgers/Camden.
  • Recipient of two Pushcart Prizes.

Trish Harnetiaux

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Her play “Tin Cat Shoes” premiered in 2018 kicking off Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks (Playwrights Horizons Superlab).
  • Three other plays have been published by Samuel French.
  • Executive producer on the off-beat comedy series “Driver Ed” which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
  • She has been a resident at MacDowell, Yaddo, The Millay Colony, and SPACE at Ryder Farm.

Marcus Jackson

Instructor, Poetry [email protected]

  • Author of two poetry collections.
  • His poems appear in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, The New York Times, and The Cincinnati Review.

Fred Leebron

Program Director, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford and Fulbright Scholar.
  • Author of five books of fiction, including “Six Figures,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and became a feature-length film.
  • Co-editor of “Postmodern American Fiction: A Norton Anthology;” and co-author of “Creating Fiction: A Writer’s Companion.”
  • Recipient of an O. Henry Award, a Puschart Prize, a Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown Fellowship, and two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Instructor, Poetry

  • Author of six books of poetry, including “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.
  • Her book “Bright Dead Things” was named a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
  • Currently the Poet Laureate of the United States and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow.

Rebecca Lindenberg

Instructor, Poetry [email protected]

  • Author of two poetry collections, including the winner of the 2015 Utah Book Award.
  • Awarded an Amy Lowell Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Grant, a Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown Fellowship, and a residency grant from the MacDowell Arts Colony.
  • Her poetry, lyric essays, and criticism appear in The Believer, Poetry, McSweeney’s Quarterly, American Poetry Review, Conjunctions, and Iowa Review.

Rebecca McClanahan

Instructor, Poetry and Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of eleven books, most recently “In the Key of New York City: A Memoir in Essays” and a revised edition of “Word Painting: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively,” which has sold nearly 50,000 copies.
  • Her work appears in Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, and in anthologies published by Doubleday, Norton, and Penguin.
  • Recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, the Glasgow Award in nonfiction, and four fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

James McKean

Instructor, Poetry and Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of three books of poems and two books of essays.
  • His poetry and nonfiction appear in Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Best American Sports Writing, and Poetry Northwest, and have been featured in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.

Orlando Menes

Instructor, Poetry [email protected]

  • Author of five poetry collections.
  • His poems appear in Poetry, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, The Antioch Review, Hudson Review, Shenandoah, Callaloo, and The Southern Review.
  • Editor of “Renaming Ecstasy: Latino Writings on the Sacred.”
  • Has published translations of poetry in Spanish, including My Heart Flooded with Water: Selected Poems by Alfonsina Storni.

Daniel Mueller

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of three short story collections.
  • His work appears in The Missouri Review, The Iowa Review, Story Quarterly, Story, The Mississippi Review, Henfield Prize Stories, and Playboy.
  • He is the director of the Creative Writing program at the University of New Mexico.

Brighde Mullins

Instructor, Writing for Stage & Screen [email protected]

  • Her plays have been developed and produced in New York, Dallas, Salt Lake City, London, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
  • Recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Playwriting, a Whiting Foundation Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
  • She has held residencies at Lincoln Center, New York Stage and Film, MacDowell, and Yaddo. She is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop and has been a Core Member of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.
  • Has taught at Harvard, Brown, and the University of Southern California.

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of three novels, including “The Perfect Man,” which won The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best Book of Europe and South Asia.  His work has been translated into eight languages. 
  • Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a PEN Beyond Margins Award. 
  • Has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Missouri, Western Michigan, and Northwestern University.

Jenny Offill

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of three novels, including “The Department of Speculation,” named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times, and shortlisted for the Pen/Faulkner Award and the L.A. Times Fiction Award.
  • Co-editor of two anthologies: “The Friend Who Got Away” and “Money Changes Everything.”

David Payne

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • NY Times Notable author of five novels and a memoir.
  • His work appears in The New York Times, Libération, The Washington Post, and The Oxford American.
  • Has taught at Bennington, Duke, and Hollins.

Susan Perabo

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of two story collections and two novels.
  • Her fiction appears in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize Stories, New Stories from the South, One Story, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Sun.
  • She is a Writer in Residence and professor of English at Dickinson College.

Instructor, Nonfiction and Poetry [email protected]

  • Author of multiple books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, two of which won the Library of Virginia Book of the Year Award.
  • He is a professor of English at William and Mary College in Virginia.

Robert Polito

Instructor, Poetry and Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction, including “Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson,” which received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
  • Editor of the Library of America volumes “Crime Novels: Noir of the 1930s & 1940s” and “Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s,” as well as “The Selected Poems of Kenneth Fearing.”
  • His poems and essays appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Best American Poetry, Beast American Essays, and Best American Film Writing.
  • Recently served as President of the Poetry Foundation.

Patricia Powell

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of three novels. 
  • The recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award and a Lila-Wallace Readers Digest Writer’s Award.
  • Has taught at Harvard University, U-Mass, MIT, and Mills College.

Steven Rinehart

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of a story collection and a novel.
  • The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener Center, and the Virginia Center for the Arts.
  • Writes and ghostwrites for a former US President, Fortune 100 CEOs, entrepreneurs, and social activists.
  • He teaches at the Gallatin School of NYU.

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of 12 books of fiction.
  • A two-time National Book Award Finalist, and an Edgar Award Nominee.

Elissa Schappell

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of two books of fiction, including “Use Me,” a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award, a New York Times “Notable Book” and a Los Angeles Times “Best Book of the Year.”
  • Co-editor of two essay anthologies: “Money Changes Everything” and “The Friend Who Got Away”
  • Her fiction and nonfiction appear in One Story, McSweeney’s, BOMB, Interview, the KGB Bar Reader, The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Real Simple.
  • She has taught at NYU, Texas State, and Columbia University.

Dana Spiotta

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of five novels, which have won the St. Francis College Literary Prize and have been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award.
  • Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters John Updike Prize in Literature.
  • She also teaches at Syracuse University.

Maxine Swann

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of three books of fiction.
  • Awarded an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and her work has been included in The Best American Short Stories of 1998 and 2006.

Héctor Tobar

Instructor, Fiction and Nonfiction [email protected]

  • Author of five books of fiction and nonfiction, published in ten languages, including the New York Times bestseller “Deep Down Dark,” which was adapted into a feature film.
  • Work appears in Best American Short Stories, L.A. Noir, The New Yorker, and The Los Angeles Times, and he is currently a contributing writer for the New York Times opinion pages.
  • He is an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Ashley Warlick

Instructor, Fiction [email protected]

  • Author of four novels.
  • Recipient of an NEA Fellowship and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship.
  • Her work appears in The Oxford American, McSweeney’s, Redbook, and Garden and Gun.
  • She is a partner at M. Judson, Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, SC.

IMAGES

  1. Columbia MFA in Theatre, Playwriting Concentration

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  2. The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate

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  3. creative writing mfa columbia

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  4. How to get into Columbia University's MFA Program!

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  5. Columbia Mfa Creative Writing Acceptance Rate

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  6. Online MFA creative writing cost, guidelines and futures

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COMMENTS

  1. Writing MFA Tuition

    Admissions Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid 2023-24 Tuition & Fees Writing MFA Tuition Writing MFA Tuition Columbia University School of the Arts awards over $13 million in student aid each year in the form of tuition scholarships, paid service positions, teaching appointments and institutional awards.

  2. 2021-2022 Tuition and Fees

    2021-2022 Tuition and Fees First- and Second-Year MFA Students, All Programs * Domestic students may request a waiver from the Columbia Student Health Insurance plan by submitting a waiver application at the beginning of the academic year with proof of comparable coverage. The Health Services Fee cannot be waived.

  3. Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid

    Students in the Film, Theatre, or Writing MFA programs who register for Research Arts status in their third year, created for the purpose of focusing on completion of the required MFA thesis, will be billed a much lower tuition rate (typically 8-9% of the full-time tuition rate) and will maintain full-time status.

  4. PDF Creative Writing (MFA) Estimated Program Costs

    As a student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be part of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres. Innovative and exploratory approaches are encouraged, as are more traditional approaches to prose and/or poetic forms.

  5. Creative Writing Master Degree Program

    As a full- or part-time student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be a member of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres. Innovative and exploratory approaches are encouraged, as are more traditional approaches to prose and/or poetic forms.

  6. PDF Creative Writing (MFA) Estimated Program Costs

    As a student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be part of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres. Innovative and exploratory approaches are encouraged, as are more traditional approaches to prose and/or poetic forms.

  7. Creative Writing, Master

    Columbia College Chicago's Creative Writing MFA is a single, ... As a full- or part-time student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be a member of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres. ... Living costs for Chicago. 1297 -2491 USD /month .

  8. Program: Creative Writing, MFA

    The MFA in Creative Writing is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary, multi-genre immersion into the literary arts. Writers may choose to focus on a primary genre, explore a secondary genre, or design their own multi-genre curriculum.

  9. Creative Writing < Columbia College

    Prof. Sam Lipsyte, Fiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; [email protected]. Prof. Deborah Paredez, Poetry, 609 Kent, [email protected]. Prof. Alan Ziegler, Fiction, 415 Dodge; 212-854-4391; [email protected]. The Creative Writing Program in The School of the Arts combines intensive writing workshops with seminars that study literature from a ...

  10. Literary Arts

    Opportunities for study and practice of writing and literature abound at Columbia. Aspiring writers may major in creative writing as undergraduates or pursue an MFA in Writing in fiction, nonfiction, or poetry at the School of the Arts. The study of English and Comparative Literature flourishes at ...

  11. The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

    The best MFA Creative Writing Programs in 2023 are revealed. We cover everything from online MFAs to fully-funded residential programs. ... Columbia University (New York, NY) ... This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions. Acceptance rate: 100%; Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here; 15) Bay Path University (Long ...

  12. Columbia Accepted Me, but Will It Fund Me?

    I was devastated, but told myself, Anena, this is Columbia, you can't let it go. I put up a GoFundMe where I am presently begging the world to contribute to my approximately $100,000 costs of ...

  13. Creative Writing

    Creative Writing. The Creative Writing Department offers writing workshops in fiction writing, poetry, and nonfiction writing. Courses are also offered in film writing, structure and style, translation, and the short story. For questions about specific courses, contact the department.

  14. MFA in Creative Writing Programs Guide

    Choosing a Program MFA in Creative Writing Program Guide By Staff Writers Updated on October 24, 2023 Learn more about our editorial process Whether focusing on poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, a creative writing degree prepares students for a multitude of career options.

  15. 2021-2022 Tuition and Fees

    2021-2022 Tuition and Fees Third-, Fourth- and Fifth-Year Writing MFA Students (Research Arts) * Domestic students may request a waiver from the Columbia Student Health Insurance plan by submitting a waiver application at the beginning of the academic year with proof of comparable coverage. The Health Services Fee cannot be waived.

  16. PDF Creative Writing (MFA) Estimated Program Costs

    Estimated Program Costs Creative Writing (MFA) Estimated Program Costs As a student in the Creative Writing MFA program at Columbia, you'll be part of a vibrant community of writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid work across genres.

  17. My experience applying to 15 of the best Creative Writing MFA ...

    I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. I also got accepted at Columbia and Iowa. But Syracuse wouldn't cost me any money, so I chose there. It was a decent program -- Mary Karr, Tobias Wolff, Stephen Dobyns, etc. Graduated. Then moved to NYC, got a job, and started going to a writing workshop.

  18. Writing

    Most MFA programs require 48 credits or as few as 36 credits, but the Columbia Writing Program considers the study of literature from the practitioner's point of view—reading as a writer—essential to a writer's education.

  19. Is the writing MFA worth the cost? : r/columbia

    My sister did everything right in narrative screen writing (BA from SAIC, MA from NYU, 6 years uninterrupted internships and paid field work, graduated with 2 fully funded films completed, one funded by the UN, one making a successful run in the 2017 indie film festival circuit.) Graduated in 2017. Still unemployed. Writing is insanely competitive.

  20. On the creative writing major at Columbia : r/columbia

    3 rextilleon • 2 mo. ago Unless someone else is paying for your education, I would advise you NOT to major in creative writing. There are so many effective ways to hone your tools as a writer, that don't involve the cost of a Columbia education. 17 antiterra • 2 mo. ago

  21. Apply

    Create. Collaborate. A place where artists can do research, take risks, and be fearless in their thinking. Thank you for your interest in Columbia University School of the Arts. Fall 2024 applications open October 1, 2023.

  22. MFA in Creative Writing Faculty

    Hal Ackerman Instructor, Writing for Stage & [email protected] Former co-chair of the Screenwriting Program at UCLA. His play, Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me, received the William Saroyan Centennial Prize for Drama and won Best Script at the 2011 United Solo Festival. He has sold material to all the broadcast networks and

  23. Writing Undergraduate Major

    Home now to a top-ranked graduate MFA program in creative writing, an undergraduate program that allows students to pursue their craft under the diligent supervision of a world-class faculty, the Columbia literary experience includes rigorous writing workshops at all levels in fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, dramatic writing, and screenwri...