MFA in Creative Writing
MFA Program Overview
The low-residency MFA program at Queens involves four semesters of coursework, five on-campus residencies, and the completion of a Master's Thesis comprised of a collection of works written and revised over the course of the program. The MFA program offers courses of study in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing for stage and screen.
Each semester begins with a seven-day on-campus residency that features daily workshops, seminars on the craft and profession of writing, student and faculty readings, and many opportunities to interact informally with faculty and fellow students. In workshops, students work closely with an established writer and receive constructive feedback from a group of peers, in both a large group setting (no more than 10 students) and in a small group setting (no more than four students). Workshops are revision-based and are designed to help students improve their existing work. Faculty lead in-class discussions of student work and meet in individual conferences with each student to suggest additional reading and strategies to advance the student's creative development.
The Summer/Fall semester begins with a residency in late May, and runs through November; The Spring semester begins with a residency in January and runs through mid-May.
Distance Learning Workshops
Following the completion of the residency, the students continue their work for the semester through distance learning workshops. The Queens MFA program was the first and is still one of the only low-residency programs to use a workshop format both during residencies and in the distance learning component of each semester. In these distance learning workshops, each student completes four submissions of new work and submits formal critiques of fellow workshop members' work. These are circulated by email to the other students in the workshop and to the instructor. By requiring all students to continue to share work and to respond to each other's writing throughout the semester, the workshop system strengthens our community of writer.
At Queens, critical writing is integrated into the requirements for each semester, most notably in the formal critiques each student composes in response to her or his peers' submissions in the workshop. This system allows our students to continue to write original works and to participate in workshops in all four semesters, while honing their critical abilities as part of the workshop. Students will also read between 12 and 16 books each semester in preparation for seminars at the next residency and compose informal response papers on some of their reading. In preparation for the graduating residency and under the direction of a faculty advisor, each student will also write a critical essay exploring the topic of a craft seminar that she or he will present as a graduation requirement.
The Graduating ResidencyThe fourth semester is followed by a fifth graduating residency, in which each MFA candidate formally submits her or his thesis, presents a 30-minute craft seminar to fellow students, and gives a public reading from the thesis. During the graduating residency, MFA candidates also participate in special seminars on the vocation of writing and life after the MFA.