Welcome to the Online MFA Program in Creative Writing at National University

Thank you for considering the Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program from National University. The MFA in Creative Writing is rare among other MFA programs. Ours is one of the very few online MFA programs with no residency requirement. Our program began in 2005 and was the first fully-online MFA program in the country. The curriculum and philosophy of our program is much like the curriculum and philosophy of on-ground MFA programs in creative writing, but we realize that many potential writers don’t have the time or money to participate in residency requirements.

Our students work from home on their writing and participate in online workshops. The online MFA workshops function much the same way as on-ground creative writing workshops. Every week a student submits a story, poem, essay, or chapter in a longer work and the other students and the professor provide constructive discussion of the work.  We read liberally, discuss the craft of contemporary literature, and use writing activities to help elucidate these principles. Our no residency MFA program culminates in the creation of a publishable quality manuscript in your genre of choice—fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting.

Beyond the online format, there are some differences between our program and others. Our online MFA program has a unique flexibility. Courses are accelerated; students take one course at a time. Workshops are two months long and elective courses are one month long. Students complete a publishable quality manuscript in one genre as a thesis, but students can take advanced workshops in two genres if they so choose. Unlike other programs, you are not locked into a specific track; it is easy to switch from one genre to another if your artistic ambitions change.

One of the primary reasons students choose our program is for its open aesthetics. While we do not encourage pulp writing or writing that only cares about commercial success, we don’t think you are a bad person if you want to write a bestseller, and we are supportive of the writing of well-crafted genre fiction of literary merit. In fact, several of our faculty specialize in writing genre fiction, especially young adult literature, a subject in which we have a special workshop—MCW 635 Writing for Young Adults.

Diversity of student work is one of the main benefits of our program. Our students are not the traditional MFA student. Often, our students are working adults with careers and children and other obligations that prevent them from the residency requirements of other programs. Some of our students are active military members serving in Iraq or Afghanistan; others working (or retired) professionals who spent years in a lab, or in government, or as doctors, or teachers, or nurses; others live overseas or in geographically isolated areas like Alaska or Guam. We are proud of the diversity of experience in our program and think it leads to compelling writing. To see what our students are publishing, visit our Student Success Page.

While our program does not offer graduate assistantships, many of our students go on to teach at the college level. In a recent (2009) alumni survey 36% of our graduates reported teaching at a two or four year college institution in either composition or creative writing. This is impressive considering not all of our students wish to pursue teaching after graduation. In a very tough market, we are glad our students have found success. For a full discussion of the chances and realities of finding work teaching after an MFA, please see the Frequently Asked Questions Page.

Part of this success may be due to our class offerings. In the program, students are required to take MCW 600—Pedagogy of Creative Writing, which explores the theory and practice of creative writing. We also offer an elective, ENG 655: Composition Pedagogy, a course on the theory and practice of teaching college-level composition courses.

If you have any questions about the our online MFA program in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, or creative nonfiction, please feel free to contact the Academic Program Director, Frank Montesonti, at fmontesonti@nu.edu or by phone at (858) 215-4579.  If you have questions on tuition or financial aid or how to apply for the program, please contact online admissions at (619) 563-7123.