Graduate Catalog 2019-2021

Creative Writing M.F.A.

Dr. Kerry Neville, Coordinator
Laura Caron, Administrative Assistant

Department E-mail:


The MFA degree prepares artists—in this case, short story writers, novelists, poets, and other writers—to study their craft seriously and create publishable works in their respective genres. Although students in the program will typically focus on one genre, they are required and encouraged to explore at least one other genre. To this end, the program will prepare resourceful and open-minded writers rather than specialists. Because great writers are also great readers, the program will also expect students to study literature and other graduate courses in linguistics, criticism, and pedagogy in the Department of English. In this way, the program prepares talented writers by taking advantage of complementary, current departmental talents and strengths. Creative Writing courses will emphasize studio work (peer workshops and mentoring from distinguished, publishing writers) that will be complemented by studies in literature, poetics, prose forms, the pedagogy and practice of teaching writing, and other special topics related to the aesthetics of creative writing. The program enhances a student’s curricular experience with superior extracurricular experiences not only in creative writing but also in editing, publishing, arts programming, education, and community service. Finally, the MFA Program in Creative Writing is designed to fulfill the University’s institutional mission—to be the state’s designated public liberal arts university—a mission ideally suited to creative writing. The writer more than any other artist is a student of all the liberal arts, ranging among the humanities, the social sciences, the fine arts, and the sciences, a student whose work is both in the classroom and in the world at large.  Although MFA graduates will pursue positions in teaching, editing, publishing, marketing, arts-programming, and related fields, the program's primary goal is focused on helping talented writers improve, refine, and develop their careers as writers.

Regular Admission Requirements

Admission to the MFA in Creative Writing Program is competitive and based primarily (but not exclusively) on the candidate’s Writing Portfolio. Students regularly admitted to the program will successfully meet the following criteria.

  1. Writing Portfolio.  A writing sample in your thesis genre (please label as fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction). Submission should indicate the genre to which you are applying: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Submit up to 10 pages of poems (typed, single-spaced, no more than 1 poem per page); or submit up to 20 pages of prose, one or two short stories or creative nonfiction essays/memoir excerpt (typed and double- spaced).
  2. Statement of Purpose. Submit a 500-word essay (typed, double-spaced) in which you discuss expectations and goals for your writing, as well as any other relevant points you may wish to make regarding your studies in the MFA program.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation from teachers or other references able to comment on your creative writing and your potential for successful graduate study.                    
  4. Submit one copy of official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate studies (including institutions where you only took courses but did not complete a degree). An appropriate four-year degree is required for admission. Transcripts should reflect prior coursework in both intuitive and discursive writing as well as critical reading. Student transcripts should demonstrate a 3.0 GPA (based on a 4.0 scale) in the final 60 hours of undergraduate work and in all prior graduate-level work; however, the 3.0 GPA is not a requirement, but only a measure of what most of our students have achieved in their academic work (most have had even higher GPA's in prior academic work).

NOTE: Please submit your Writing Portfolio and Statement of Purpose directly to the MFA Program Coordinator. ALL other materials need to be sent directly to the Graduate Admissions Office. Please see the MFA Web site for complete application details.

Provisional Admission

Students who do not meet regular admission criteria may be admitted provisionally. After completing nine hours of coursework (at least one course should be in literature) with at least a “B” in each course, the student may be granted regular admission status. Students enrolled with provisional status are not eligible for graduate assistantships.

Academic Dismissal

Only grades of "B" or higher in graduate courses will count towards the MFA degree. Students who receive more than one grade of "C" or lower in a graduate course, or whose GPA at any time falls below a 3.0, will be dropped from the program.

Degree Requirements

Basic Requirements:

  1. All students complete 42 hours (34 hours coursework and 8 thesis hours). See below for specific requirements relating to coursework and thesis work.
  2. Only grades of “B” or higher in graduate courses will count towards the MFA degree. Students who receive more than one grade of “C” or lower in a graduate course, or whose GPA at any time falls below a 3.0, will be dropped from the program.
  3. No more than six hours of coursework may be transferred from another M.A. in English or MFA program (if approved by the program director), and no hours may be transferred in a student’s major writing genre. Only courses in which the student earned a “B” or higher will be considered for transfer credit.
  4. The MFA program of study is designed to be completed in three years and must be completed in no more than four years. All degree work (with the exception of accepted transfer credits), including the thesis, must be completed in residence.

Program of Study

All students take 34 hours of coursework: ENGL-MFA 4-semester credit hour courses (28 hours); ENGL 3-semester credit hour courses (6 hours):

12 hours: 5000-level and 6000-level courses in the student's major writing genre (3 courses): ENGL 5021, ENGL 6021 and ENGL 6025 (poetry genre); ENGL 5012, ENGL 6012 and ENGL 6026 (creative nonfiction genre); ENGL 5022, ENGL 6022 and ENGL 6026 (fiction genre).

4 hours: Course in non-thesis genre workshop (1 course); ENGL 5011, ENGL 5012, ENGL 5021, or ENGL 5022. Note that 5000-level workshops in a genre are the prerequisite for 6000-level seminars in a genre (see electives section below).

12 hours: Electives chosen from ENGL 5011, ENGL 5012, ENGL 5021, ENGL 5022, ENGL 6012, ENGL 6021, ENGL 6022, ENGL 6024, ENGL 6025, ENGL 6026 (these courses are repeatable; some have prerequisites; approved ENGL 5950 MFA Special Topics may also be chosen (no more than 8 hours of MFA Special Topics courses may count towards elective requirements).

6 hours: Non-MFA ENGL 5000-6000 level courses (at least one course at the 6000 level).

All students also complete the MFA Thesis (8 hours). See below for more details about the thesis and thesis defense.

For a list of all ENGL graduate courses, visit the ENGL courses page in the graduate catalog.

Total Credits required: 42

Other Requirements

Thesis and Thesis Defense. Students typically devote two years (four semesters) to their thesis work. With the thesis director (selected near the end of the student’s first year), the student will establish a timetable and proposal for completing the thesis in a timely manner. In the second (or early in the third) year the student and thesis director will establish a committee of two other departmental graduate faculty members and one outside reader (optional) proficient in that student’s major genre who will also read the final draft of the thesis. The student’s thesis will be a full-length creative work of superior literary quality (for example a novel, a collection of short stories, a collection of poems, a collection of essays or book-length work of creative nonfiction). Students must enroll for at least one thesis hour and defend their thesis in the semester in which they graduate. If a student does not complete the thesis in the Spring semester of the third year, the student must register for at least one thesis hour in the semester in which the student defends the thesis and graduates. The thesis defense will include a presentation to the thesis committee of aesthetic and other issues related to the student’s work, as well as questions and comments from the thesis committee. Students also participate in a short reading from the thesis and any other curricular or extra-curricular questions related to the student’s progress. Students are required to submit to the library electronic copies of the thesis at a cost determined by the Ina Dillard Russell Library.


The general advisor of all students working towards the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree is the Coordinator of the MFA Program. However, students should work closely with their thesis advisors in preparation for a specific thesis project.

Graduate Assistants: Teaching Fellows


Students selected for MFA graduate assistantships may apply to teach (typically in their second and third years); teaching Fellows must meet certain eligibility requirements (including the completion of 18 hours of graduate ENGL credit) in order to teach.  Teaching Fellows will also be required to take additional pedagogy course work (beyond their degree course work) and participate in training, orientation, and other supervisory requirements as determined by the Department of English. 


Please contact the Department of English for more details about the application process.

Further Information

Please visit the Creative Writing Web site for more details about the program, courses offered, and the creative writing community at GC. Inquiries about the program, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial assistance should be directed to the MFA Program, Department of English, CBX 44, Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA 31061. Telephone: 478-445-3509. Fax: 478-445-5961. E-mail: