Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Available Online

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a studio degree where students produce creative work and refine it through workshops that focus on developing craft in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting. In online workshops, students write constructive critiques of the work of their classmates, read modern texts from the writer’s perspective, and participate in generative writing activities.

Courses are taught by established writers in the field who share their perspective and expertise in the craft. Participating in seminars and workshops, students build valuable skills in their chosen concentration. The culmination of the program is the thesis project, a publishable quality final project in the student’s chosen specialty that demonstrates a critical application of knowledge in the field, which should make an independent contribution to existing work in that area. During the thesis process, students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor in drafting and revising a publishable quality thesis.

This program is excellent preparation for a professional career in writing, working in the areas of publishing or filmmaking, and is the minimal academic qualification appropriate for those who desire to teach creative writing at the college or university level. Students are expected to focus in one genre, but are required to take seminar workshops in different genres in order to broaden the scope of their reading and writing.

Students are encouraged to take graduate courses in English Literature as electives, as the critical study of literature goes hand in hand with its composition. Interested students may submit to, or volunteer to work on, the student literary journal, the GNU.

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program is entirely online with no on-ground residency requirement.

Application Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the University graduate admission requirements listed in the general information. In addition, applicants in creative writing should submit portfolios of their writing directly to: The portfolio should include 20-30 pages of fiction or literary nonfiction (usually two to three short stories or essays), 10-20 pages of poetry, a completed screenplay, or a substantial sample of work in several forms. Based on the portfolio, applicants may be advised to complete one or more of the following undergraduate courses prior to enrolling in the advanced writing workshops:

  • ENG 401 Fiction Workshop
  • ENG 402 Poetry Workshop
  • ENG 403 Screenwriting Workshop

BA English to MFA Transition Program

Students who are in the process of completing a BA with a major in English and concentration in creative writing at National University may be eligible for the BA to MFA transition program. Requirements for the transition program are listed under the Bachelor’s Degree with a major in English in the catalog.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate various aesthetic theories of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
  • Formulate practical and theoretical models of teaching and learning the writing of fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry and screenwriting.
  • Critique specific works of literature and screenwriting.
  • Develop publishable-quality writing in fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.
  • Evaluate different literary formats.
  • Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, and language in the creation of fiction.
  • Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, and language in the creation of literary nonfiction.
  • Implement craft principles of language, style, themes, technique, rhythm, and form in the creation of poetry.
  • Implement craft principles of plot, characterization, style, point of view, narrative technique, language, form, dialogue, and other issues of screenwriting.


To receive the MFA in Creative Writing, students must complete at least 58.5 quarter units; a total of 13.5 quarter units may be granted for equivalent work completed at another institution, as it applies to this degree, and provided the units were not used in earning another advanced degree. Students should refer to the General Catalog section on graduate admission requirements for specific information regarding admission and evaluation.
Core Requirements (5 courses; 22.5 quarter units)
Students are required to take MCW 600 and MCW 610, one seminar in their chosen specialty, and two additional courses of their choice in different areas.
Core Requisite(s):
Core Specialized Study (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
Students are expected to take two advanced workshops in their specialty. All advanced creative writing courses are conducted by teachers who are accomplished creative writers sensitive to the efforts of writing. Classes are conducted as workshops, with student work comprising much of the text for the course.
Core Requisite(s):
Elective Requirements (4 courses; 18 quarter units)
Thesis Courses (2 courses; 9 quarter units)
Thesis: The thesis must be a mature, substantial body of work e.g. a collection of stories, essays, or poems, a novel, or a full-length screenplay. The thesis will include an aesthetic statement (minimum 2000 words) in which the writer discusses her/his evolution as an artist and the evolution of the work. The student will choose a mentor for the thesis, and will work with the mentor in an individualized manner, decided upon through conference with the mentor.
Core Requisite(s):
Language Requirement
There is no language requirement for this program. It is possible, however, to pursue a series of electives in a particular language when such study is demonstrably essential to the student’s creative work. The candidate must work out a specific program in conjunction with the lead program faculty.