Graduate Programs in Writing

The Department of English offers graduate work leading to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry), the M.A. or M.S. in Publishing, and the M.A. or M.S. in Professional and Technical Writing.

Creative Writing M.F.A.

Writing M.A./M.S.

Creative Writing M.F.A.

The M.F.A. degree offers an intensive program of writing in small core workshops and seminars taught by established writers. Students engage in close readings and critiques of their work, and in seminars in which the focus may be a formal element, regional tradition, historical period, the works of a seminal writer or two, or a literary movement. The degree requirements are integrated with the M.A. in English curriculum so that students work with accomplished faculty in literature, critical theory, and rhetoric and composition. The degree emphasizes faculty mentorship throughout each student’s coursework and thesis completion. Consistent with PSU's mandate to serve our city's cultural and professional needs, engagement in Portland’s vibrant local community of writers is central to our students’ movement from academic to creative careers.

M.F.A. students work in a selected genre: fiction, nonfiction or poetry. Prospective students must apply specifically to the genre in which they wish to work. Core workshops are taken in the student’s primary genre, but writing electives may allow students to explore other genres. Students of fiction and nonfiction may work in long or short form and the thesis may be a collection of short pieces or a full-length work. Many students come to the Creative Writing program with a background in English literature, writing or journalism, but this is not required. The program can be completed in two years of full-time coursework; however, many students take additional courses or attend part-time, and they have a maximum of four years to complete the degree.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the M.F.A program must provide satisfactory evidence of preparedness to undertake advanced work, which would include a B.A. or B.S. degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a 3.25 GPA in undergraduate work. The application deadline is January 3. Applicants must submit the following:

Applicants must submit the following through the online application process found at

  • A Departmental application form indicating the genre they will focus on: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
  • One transcript from each post-secondary institution attended.
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation.
  • A two-to-three-page, 1.5 spaced personal introduction describing the applicant’s background as a writer, goals, and interest in this particular program.
  • A letter of introduction.
  • A complete set of transcripts. A transcript from each post‐secondary institution you have attended is required. Unofficial transcripts or photocopies are acceptable for the Department application. You will be asked to upload a transcript for each institution in one of the following supported file types: PDF, JPG, PNG, GIF, or TIF.
  • A manuscript in the applicant’s primary genre. Manuscript form is defined as having one inch margins, double spaced text, a single, clear, 12‐point typeface, no extra space between paragraphs, indented first line for each paragraph, information identifying the author and title of the manuscript on every page, and page numbers. Poetry manuscripts may be single‐spaced. Previously published, single‐authored work will be accepted. Manuscripts should demonstrate mastery of basic craft and literary promise, and should represent your best work regardless of whether or not it has been published.
-In poetry: 12‐15 pages
-In fiction: 20‐30 pages
-In nonfiction: 20‐30 pages of magazine articles or creative nonfiction

Writing Samples can be comprised of one or multiple bodies of work equal to the page requirements listed above. Writing Samples and optional additional material in the form of a C.V. or resume may be uploaded in one of the following supported file types: PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, or TXT.

Note: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing.



Wr 521MFA Core Workshop in Fiction


Wr 522MFA Core Workshop in Poetry



Wr 523MFA Core Workshop in Nonfiction



Wr Seminars


Electives in Literature


Writing electives


Wr 503Thesis


Total Credit Hours:48

Wr 521, Wr 522, Wr 523: (4 classes, repeat minimum of 4 times)

Wr Seminars: (2 classes)

Electives in Literature: (2 classes, one of which may be in Critical Theory, Rhetoric and Composition)

Writing electives: (2 classes, one must be a workshop or seminar in the in the MFA program)

Thesis: (8 credit hours to be arranged)

M.F.A. students will complete 48 credit hours of coursework, with 40 credits in writing and 8 credits in English literature. They must also complete a creative thesis of high literary merit, pass a written examination based on the thesis and an adviser-approved list of 30-40 texts, and pass an oral examination based on the written examination and creative thesis. The M.F.A. curriculum consists of the core workshops: Wr 521 (Fiction), Wr 522 (Poetry), and Wr 523 (Nonfiction); two writing seminars; two electives in literature (one of which may be in critical theory or rhetoric and composition); two writing electives; and eight credits of work on the thesis. The M.F.A. core workshops are restricted to M.F.A. students and may be taken six times for a total of 24 credits.