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MFA in Creative Nonfiction

The no-residency MFA is a comprehensive, 39-credit-hour, two-year degree program that prepares graduates to write literary nonfiction of publishable quality and to understand and write about the history of creative nonfiction as a literary genre.

Through the study and practice of various creative nonfiction forms—stories of the spiritual journey, food and travel writing, health and wellness narratives, biographies, women’s stories, narrative journalism, the personal essay, and the memoir—students will learn the essentials of strong writing that will help them develop a master’s thesis: a 150-page manuscript that can serve as the foundation for a full-length book. Two-semester professional tracks will train students in the areas of publishing and teaching creative writing; each track will include a second-semester practicum.

The program consists of:
- Six Core Courses (21 Credits) listed in the table below
- One Track (6 Credits) choose Publishing or Teaching Creative Writing
- Four Electives (12 Credits) listed in the drop down menus below

Curriculum & Schedules

Code Course Name Credit Hours
MFA615 Mentorship Lab I 3

This course will provide students with a foundation in the genre of creative nonfiction through reading and writing assignments. We will read and discuss books and articles on the writing craft with an emphasis on CNF techniques, including Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Lee Gutkind's You Can’t Make This Stuff Up. We will also read a series of short creative nonfiction pieces from the anthology In Short that will serve as models and points of departure for weekly writing assignments. We will produce a minimum of ten pages of original creative nonfiction, share work we may have produced in other courses or written independently, and carefully respond to each other's work. In this way, we will have the opportunity to practice as writers and editors of creative nonfiction. Throughout the semester, our primary focus will be on “befriending” the creative self, expanding the range of our imagination, and cultivating the habit of daily writing.

MFA620 Mentorship Lab II 3

Mentorship Lab II, the second in a three-course series, will provide students with advanced practice as both writers and readers of creative nonfiction. We will read and hold in-depth audio discussions (via Voice Thread or using Canvas Rich Content Editor) on three book-length memoirs, The Color of Water by James McBride, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and Lit by Mary Karr. Students will produce a minimum of 10 pages of original creative nonfiction three times during the semester and incorporate instructor feedback into a final 30-page draft, in addition to hosting a book discussion and leading a flash seminar during the course. Our primary focus will be on strengthening our writer’s voice, expanding our knowledge of creative nonfiction techniques, and deepening our understanding of the writing process.

MFA625 Mentorship Lab III 3

Mentorship Lab III represents the third step in the program-long process of working toward the major project that is the student’s 150-page thesis. The focus of this intensive 8-week course is two-fold: 1) generating a substantial body of work that will serve as the foundation for thesis work in the second year; and 2) learning the art of significant revision with an eye toward polished, structured, and creatively distinctive writing. The course will provide students with advanced practice as writers, readers, and editors of creative nonfiction. Students will submit original work for full-class workshopping a minimum of twice per semester (one longer piece of up to 3,000 words and one shorter piece of up to 700 – 1,000 words); carefully read, reflect on, and discuss their classmates’ work; and turn in their significantly revised longer piece to the instructor at the end of the semester. In addition to the final essay, students will hand in a one-page statement explaining their editorial choices and describing the challenges faced and discoveries made during the revision.

MFA660 Creative Nonfiction Writing I: Form & Theory 3

This introductory seminar course is aimed at intensive study of and experimentation with the forms and techniques of nonfiction. Reading assignments will be delivered online and original work might include a braided essay, a memory told in second person, an in-depth interview. Discussion of reading assignments will occur online via the Bay Path University online educational delivery system.

MFA661 Creative Nonfiction Writing II: Form & Theory 3

This introductory seminar course is aimed at intensive study of and experimentation with the forms and techniques of nonfiction. Reading assignments will be delivered online and original work might include a braided essay, a memory told in second person, an in-depth interview. Discussion of reading assignments will occur online via the Bay Path University online educational delivery system.

MFA690 Thesis I 3

This two-course sequence represents the culmination of a program-long process of working toward the completion of a book-length piece of creative nonfiction. Via the internet, students will further develop the craft of shaping a book-length nonfiction project by working individually with a faculty mentor, and by discussing their shared writing experiences with student peers. Though each student will actively work toward the creation of new pieces of nonfiction, and toward the revision of individual works, the primary emphasis of the course will be on developing the student's ability to shape a book-length collection of writing into an aesthetic construct that is at once informed by, and larger than, the sum of its parts. Regular online workshops will be provided for peer feedback and critique.

MFA691 Thesis II 3

This two-course sequence represents the culmination of a program-long process of working toward the completion of a book length piece of creative nonfiction. Via the internet, students will further develop the craft of shaping a book-length nonfiction project by working individually with a faculty mentor, and by discussing their shared writing experiences with student peers. Though each student will actively work toward the creation of new pieces of nonfiction, and toward the revision of individual works, the primary emphasis of the course will be on developing the student's ability to shape a book-length collection of writing into an aesthetic construct that is at once informed by, and larger than, the sum of its parts. Regular online workshops will be provided for peer feedback and critique.