M.F.A. in Creative & Professional Writing

mfa illustrationDirector: Dr. Phoebe Jackson; (973) 720-3704  

The master of fine arts (M.F.A.) program in creative and professional writing at William Paterson University provides a supportive academic environment focused on the production of high-caliber writing. Designed to hone essential creative skills and nourish talent in poetry, fiction, memoir, literary biography, TV/film/theater scripts, cultural reviews, and more, the program will advance students’ writing to a professionally competitive level. Participants will also gain valuable experience in manuscript evaluation and editing, up-to-date methodologies of teaching writing, and the advanced interpretation of literature. The University’s highly accomplished faculty members in the Department of English will guide students’ reading interests and help them explore both the process and the product of the writing craft within the context of contemporary literary publishing standards.

Possible Careers

The M.F.A.'s rigorous course of study prepares participants for a wide variety of careers, including secondary education and university-level teaching, book and magazine publishing and editing, journalism, copywriting, public relations, and professional writing. In addition, students will benefit from the program’s applied focus on developing a substantial manuscript portfolio, targeting appropriate markets, and submitting work for publication according to professional standards.

Course of Study

The combined studio/research M.F.A. program of 41 credits encompasses four
major components:

  • writing workshops (18 credits)
  • the study of literature (12 credits)
  • a teaching portion with an optional publishing/editing internship opportunity (3 credits), and
  • a master’s thesis--a substantial manuscript of publishable quality, accompanied by an essay on writing craft (8 credits).

The program can be completed in two years. With evening classes and online offerings, the program is ideal for commuters. In addition, summer courses, including an intensive
Summer Writing Institute program, are offered regularly.

Graduate Assistantships Available

A graduate assistantship is an academic award that carries a $6,000 stipend and a waiver of tuition and fees for the extent of the appointment. Graduate assistants are students who are matriculated and enrolled full-time in a graduate program. Graduate assistants work on campus a total of twenty hours per week.

A Distinguished Faculty

The creative and professional writing program’s faculty is dedicated to nurturing students' expertise with a broad range of methodologies relevant to the art of creative writing and to the competitive marketplace standards of professional prose. The faculty in the Department of English consists of poets, novelists, literary biographers, editors, screenwriters, memoirists, and literary scholars active in the fields of linguistics, film criticism, literary and cultural theory, and women’s studies. Departmental faculty have published widely in both scholarly and creative genres and won numerous awards, including guest appointments at major universities, Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, and Fulbright fellowships. They participate regularly in national and international literary and scholarly conferences.



The requirements for admission are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university;
  2. A cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the undergraduate major;
  3. A minimum score of 400 on the Miller Analogies Test or a minimum of 150 verbal and 4.5 analytical on the Graduate Record Examination General Test;
  4. Two letters of recommendation attesting to your writing skills;
  5. A brief written statement of purpose.
  6. A ten-page writing sample in the genre you intend to pursue. A hard copy of the writing sample must accompany the application to the Graduate Studies office, and an electronic copy should be sent to MFAdirector_English@wpunj.edu.

Students currently enrolled in the WPU English Department. M.A. program, but who have not yet completed the degree, must apply to the M.F.A. program through the Graduate Studies Office. While such students do NOT have to retake the GRE or MAT, and while they do NOT have to pay the application fee, they will need to provide two new letters of recommendation and submit a writing sample.

The M.F.A. Program requires all students to complete 41 credit hours, of which up to 11 credit hours may be waived for those students who have completed coursework toward an M.A. or M.F.A. in writing. A minimum of 30 additional credit hours of coursework must be completed for the degree.

Graduate Admissions and Enrollment Services at William Paterson University