Students may apply for admission in Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, or Writing for Stage and Screen. In order to complete the degree, students must attend five on-campus residencies, complete four semesters of course work and complete a Master's Thesis comprised of a collection of works written and revised over the course of the program.
Residencies are seven days in length and mark the outset of each semester. Each student participates in four such residencies and then return for a graduating residency, in which the student leads a craft seminar, submits a final thesis draft and offers a public reading. The specific components of the curriculum are described in more detail below.
MFA students may combine their fourth residency with a graduating residency, but it should be noted that this configuration is especially arduous and that all fees apply. An altered thesis submission schedule will be followed in such a configuration.
Students attend daily seminars during the on-campus residencies, including four craft seminars in the their genre. These craft seminars change every semester. Sample topics from past semesters include:
- Fiction - Who's On First? A Craft Lecture on Point of View
- Poetry - From the Confessional Movement to Black Arts
- Creative Nonfiction - Character, Narrator, The Essence of Truth
- Writing for Stage and Screen - The Written and the Performed
In addition, students attend one gateway seminar in each of the other genres. The topics of these gateway seminars are:
- Reading as a Writer
- Literary Reviewing
- Shaping a Book
- Teaching Creative Writing
Each semester, students choose one craft seminar and one gateway seminar to respond to with a written paper, limited to about 500 words each.
Students attend one writing workshop daily during the on-campus residency. Each workshop offers students the opportunity to work closely with an established writer and to receive constructive feedback from a group of peers over the course of an intensive week dedicated to creative work. Workshops are revision-based and are designed to help students improve their existing work. Faculty lead in-class discussions of student work and suggest suitable exercises and additional reading to help further advance the students' creative development. Students make make two submissions per residency for critical response by workshop and provide a formal written critical response to all other student work submitted in their workshop.
Distance Learning Workshops
In the interim periods between the on-campus residencies, students produce four submissions per semester, to be exchanged via email with both the instructor and the other 2 to 3 students in the workshop. In poetry, the submissions should be 5 to 10 pages; in prose, the submissions should be 8 to 25 pages (double-spaced).
The students in the workshop compose formal written responses, of 300 to 500 words in length, to all work submitted by the other students and to send those responses via email to all members of the distance learning group by the stipulated deadline.
Prior to the graduating residency, and under the direction of a thesis advisor, the candidate for graduation prepares and submits a collection of prose pieces, a collection of poetry or a novel or nonfiction book for evaluation by the thesis advisor and two other faculty in the candidate's field of writing. The candidate offers a public reading excerpted from the thesis during the graduating residency.
In addition to the public reading, the candidate teaches a 30 minute seminar on some element of writing craft. In preparation for the craft seminar and under the direction of the craft seminar advisor, the candidate will prepare 6-8 page critical paper exploring the topic of the seminar. Under the direction of a craft advisor, the candidate must also prepare and submit a proposal for the craft seminar.
In order to successfully meet the requirements for graduation, students must complete 48 hours of course work. These requirements are broken down as follows:
- Four workshops in the student's chosen literary genre, worth three credit hours each, with one taken each semester.
- Four gateway seminars, worth three credit hours each, with one taken during the on-campus residency at the onset of each semester.
- Twelve craft seminars, worth one credit hour each, with three taken during the on-campus residency at the onset of each semester.
- Six hours of thesis hours, earned during the third and fourth semesters of the program.
- Six hours of craft seminar preparation, earned during the third and fourth semesters of the program.
- These course requirements are supplemented by the following other graduation requirements:
- The successful completion of a Master's thesis comprised of work written and revised over the course of the program.
- A public reading of work from the thesis.
- Developing and then successfully teaching a craft seminar for other students in the program.
Because of the inherent difficulty and inevitable subjectivity involved in the evaluation of creative work, all work for the MFA program will be graded on a pass-fail basis. Any student who does not satisfactorily complete the required number of submissions and formal critiques during a workshop or the required number of response papers during a seminar will receive a failing grade for that part of the program.
Because a writer's development is always ongoing and always subject to change, the program offers several options beyond the four semesters and graduating residency scenario.
First, any MFA candidate in good standing may prolong their study one full semester prior to embarking on preparation for the graduating residency. In this semester, the MFA candidate can choose which gateway and craft seminars to take and the candidate will respond to them as other candidates and will also participate accordingly in writing workshops.
Second, any MFA degree recipient in good standing may enroll in a postgraduate semester in the same genre, or can apply for admission and be admitted to a postgraduate semester in another genre.
In addition, any MFA degree recipient in good standing may apply for admission and be admitted to a postgraduate program of two or more semesters in another genre, in order to earn a postgraduate certificate of study. In two or more semesters, the candidate will be required to enroll at Queens and participate in all relevant gateway and craft seminars and writing workshops and then will embark on preparation for a graduating residency. Upon completion of the thesis in the new genre and the presentation of a craft seminar related to the genre, the MFA degree recipient will earn a postgraduate certificate of study in that genre.
The fees for post-graduate work, both per-semester and for the graduating residency will be the same as the fees for all MFA students.