MFA in Creative & Professional Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing is a full-residency program of 41 credits, with tracks in Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Cross-Genre. Providing a supportive academic environment focused on the production of high-caliber writing, we are geared to prepare you for real-world work in teaching, writing, editing, and publishing. Graduate Assistantships, tutoring work in our Writing Center, and teaching opportunities with tuition waiver are offered to outstanding students.

We are pleased to announce that our new 5-year accelerated B.A./M.F.A. program is now accepting applications for Fall 2019; prospective students should apply by May 30th.

Please contact John Parras at parrasj@wpunj.edu for details.Those with a bachelor's degree may also take up to three graduate courses as a non-degree or non-matriculated student prior to applying to the program. We recommend ENG 6160 Creative Writing I as a starting point. For more information visit: Graduate Admissions and Enrollment Services at William Paterson University.

View requirements and course descriptions in the University Course Catalog:
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Admissions Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university.
  • A cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the undergraduate major.
  • two letters of recommendation attesting to your writing skills.
  • A ten-page Writing Sample (double-spaced for prose) in the genre you intend to pursue. Send an electronic copy to parrasj@wpunj.edu and to graduate@wpunj.edu, and please include your full name and student ID.
  • A Statement of Purpose addressing your writing interests, reading influences, and career-related goals (approximately 750-1000 words); send an electronic copy to parrasj@wpunj.edu and to graduate@wpunj.edu, and include your full name and student ID.

Graduate Assistantships

Note that if you are applying for a Graduate Assistantship, all materials must be filed by February 28th. In addition you should state your interest in a Graduate Assistantship in your Personal Statement, as well as discuss your qualifications for a Graduate Assistantship. For those applying for a Graduate Assistantship, we also ask that you email a copy of your CV to: parrasj@wpunj.edu. Finally, the Miller Analogies Test (with a minimum score of 400) or the Graduate Record Examination General Test (with a minimum score of 150 verbal and 4.5 analytical) is recommended--especially for those seeking Graduate Assistantships or on-campus employment--but not required. Note that Graduate Assistantships are available only to incoming students beginning the program in fall semesters.

Contact Us

Professor John Parras
Program Director, Department of English
parrasj@wpunj.edu
973-720-3067

Course of Study

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

  • Writing workshops (18 credits) courses in fiction, poetic craft, creative nonfiction, memoir, literary biography, script writing, criticism, writing for young adults, technical writing, professional writing, writing for the web.
  • The study of literature (9 credits) courses in Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner & Morrison, Postcolonialism, Adolescent Literature, Queer Literature, Ethnic Literature, The Beat Generation.
  • A pedagogy/teaching portion with an optional publishing/editing internship opportunity (3 credits).
  • One elective (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. On-campus housing is also available. In addition, summer courses, including our intensive Summer Writing Institute program, are offered regularly.

Small Classes: In-Person & Online

Designed to hone essential creative skills and nourish talent in poetry, novel writing, short fiction, memoir, literary biography, film/theater scripts, culturalnstudies, professional writing and more, the program aims to advance your writing to a competitive level. You take intensive writing workshops, study contemporary literature, and gain valuable experience in manuscript evaluation and editing. In our pedagogy courses, you practice up-to-date methodologies in the teaching of writing. And because we are a small program, you receive close, individual guidance from faculty members, particularly while you work on your culminating M.F.A. thesis project a substantial manuscript of publishable quality.

Accomplished Faculty

Our core creative writing faculty have published poetry, novels, short story collections, adolescent fiction, memoirs, literary biographies, TV/film/theater scripts, and cultural studies and have extensive experience in pedagogy, editing, and the publishing industry. Accomplished faculty members in the Department of English will help guide your reading interests and encourage you to explore both the process and the product of the writing craft in the context of today's literary publishing standards. And because we understand that creative writing is a profession, we cover the in's and out's of preparing manuscripts for submission, researching publication markets, corresponding with agents and editors, and other skills essential to careers in writing.

Diverse Opportunities

Located commuting distance from New York City, we run an annual Spring Writer's Conference, which has featured writers such as Francine Prose, Russell Banks, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Chang-Rae Lee. We also publish Map Literary: A Journal of Contemporary Writing & Art, and welcome students to participate as submissions readers and to assist in the production and editing process. Map Literary is also proud to administer the biannual Rachel Wetzsteon Chapbook Award. And in collaboration with The Playwright's Theater of New Jersey, we have inaugurated a program in which professional actors and directors arrange live performances of William Paterson University M.F.A. student writing (poetry, fiction, scripts). In addition, M.F.A. students regularly read their work on campus as part of our Living Writers Series.

Career Preparation

The M.F.A.'s rigorous course of study prepares you 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. You 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. Teaching and tutoring opportunities at William Paterson University are available to outstanding alumni.