MFA Creative Writing

MFA Creative Writing

Antioch University’s MFA in Creative Writing focuses on the education of literary artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. Our program is comprised of on-campus residencies – which include classes, readings, and workshops – complemented by a five month online project period during which students live and write in their home communities.

Program Features

Low Residency
The low-residency model supports and mirrors the lives that professional writers actually live. The AULA MFA program provides both the nurturing literary community and the solitary discipline of writing that working writers need. An MFA semester consists of an intensive 10-day on-campus residency, followed by a five-month online project period during which each student writes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for young people, and literary translation, as well as scholarly work, under the supervision of a faculty mentor each term. Students also participate in online discussion forums covering assigned readings and literary issues, and produce other work specified in their individualized Project Period Contract. Learn more about low residency

Write Across Genres
MFA students are admitted in a single genre (Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, and Writing for Young People), but have the opportunity to write and study more than one genre including Literary Translation – and even to challenge the notion of genre itself. Our faculty members publish successfully in multiple genres and are often glad to support students in their cross-genre explorations. Learn more about genres

The Field Study
The MFA Field Study is what sets this creative writing program – and the people who graduate from it – apart from others.The Field Study asks students to put their knowledge and skills as writers to work in service of something they personally value in their local communities. Each Field Study must address at least two of the three aspects of the MFA program’s unique purpose: the education of literary artists, community service, and the pursuit of social justice. MFA Field Studies have changed the lives not only of the students but of those their efforts have served.

MFA Professional Development Semester
The MFA Professional Development Semester is designed to further the professional aspirations of MFA students and alumni at affordable prices. Offered exclusively for continuing MFA students and returning alumni.

Professional Development Semester offers:

  • Option A: Additional Mentoring and Career Consultation (5 units), an additional semester of mentoring to help begin or complete a manuscript, work in a new genre, or consult with a trusted mentor about matters of writing, career, and publication.
  • Option B: Online Teacher Training (5 units) trains MFA students and alumni in online creative writing pedagogy and prepares them to serve as book coaches and online instructors in our new extended education creative writing program, Inspiration to Publication.

Downloadable Materials:


Goals & Outcomes

Some MFA programs are designed to help aspiring writers complete a manuscript and find a publisher. The goals of Antioch’s program are much broader. We place an emphasis on preparing writers for the complete life of a literary artist. Our MFA in Creative Writing graduates will demonstrate:

  • Mastery of creative writing skills in at least one of the following genres: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing for young people.
  • Critical reading, writing, and thinking skills required of a literary artist.
  • Knowledge of ethical dilemmas and social values of the literary arts.
  • Readiness to assume the working life of a professional writer, whether in academia, commercial or independent publishing, or within one’s community.

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Program Details

BenefitsCurriculumAdmissionsCosts & Financial AidOrientationCampus Life

Key Benefits:

AULA’s MFA in Creative Writing program is where emerging writers:

  • Find their place in the larger creative community
  • Develop the skills they need to make it as a writer
  • Work one-on-one with professional writers in a mentor-based program
  • Create a network with peer writers from across the nation and around the world
  • Discover how their writing fosters social justice
  • Explore arts, culture, and society, and examine where writers fit in this matrix
  • Come to the AULA campus in Los Angeles twice a year for residencies –10-day, all-you-can-eat buffets of writing, reading, craft seminars, and dynamic learning opportunities
  • Complete course work between residencies from the quiet of their personal writing studio, communicating with fellow students and mentors via the Internet, mail, and phone
  • Try their hand at translation, community outreach via the field study, and leading online book discussions
  • Give a formal, public reading of their creative work as well as a 20-minute presentation on the literary topic of their choice
  • Complete a final manuscript that showcases their finest creative work during the time in the program
  • Join the community of writers who got their start at AULA, including authors of New York Times’ bestsellers, and winners of countless literary prizes

Program Requirements:

Core requirements are completed during the 10-day on-campus residencies or the 5-month online project periods that follow each residency.

On-Campus Residency Core Requirements

Students in the MFA in Creative Writing program are required to attend at least seven seminars and the genre writing workshops during each residency. Some of these learning activities are described briefly below; required seminars are denoted by an asterisk(*).

  • Arts, Culture, and Society I & II*: These seminars explore the relationship between the arts and society. Both historical and philosophical, the material in these seminars lays the groundwork for the individual writer’s understanding of the development of culture.
  • Faculty and Guest Seminars on Craft, Aesthetics, and Critical Reading: Seminars in these areas focus on how literature is composed, read, and studied. They assist the student in developing an individual aesthetic/critical perspective.
  • Orientation to the Field Study *: MFA students must complete an approved field study that puts their knowledge and skills as writers to work in service of something they value in their home community or elsewhere. The residency orientation to the field study covers such issues as how to develop field study placements and how to design learning objectives. In some instances, pre-approved field studies are available and in other instances, students develop opportunities for these learning experiences under the guidance of the program chair.
  • Genre Studies: Students fulfill the genre studies requirement by attending seminars and lectures focused on their chosen genre concentration. Core and visiting faculty present historical, critical, and process seminars on writing and the work of writers. Students may attend seminars in all genres during the residency periods, and they may elect to study for one project period in a genre other than their main area of study.
  • Genre Writing Workshops*: During each residency, all students meet in small groups with an assigned faculty workshop leader to critique student work, discuss and define personal aesthetics, develop critical faculties, and, when appropriate, participate in writing exercises.
  • Critical Paper Seminar: Offered at each residency, the Critical Paper Seminar reviews the methodology of academic research for the critical paper. Students learn to choose an appropriate topic, design a research plan, and prepare correct documentation according to Modern Language Association (MLA) format.
  • Teaching of Creative Writing: Several courses are designed to introduce practical and theoretical models of teaching creative writing. Additionally, students pursuing the Certificate in the Pedagogy of Creative Writing read selections from a list of books and articles about the teaching of writing and take a required orientation to certificate study.
  • The Art of Translation Seminar*: Offered at each residency, the Translation Seminar exposes students to the art of translating literary texts, the workings of language, and how individual writers make language choices. Faculty and guests present issues about the art of translation and demonstrate steps in the translation process.
  • Writers at Work Sessions: Lectures, field trips, and other resources illustrate ways in which creative writers earn a living in contemporary society and culture.
  • Reading as a Writer*: This seminar, strongly recommended for students in their first two terms, focuses on three areas of reading like a writer. Part one will consider all the ways we can read critically and learn more about what we read by being conscious of word choice, sentence structure, characters, paragraphs, etc. In part two, we’ll consider how to use these tools to prepare for our genre writing workshops, including how to mark up a text, how to offer helpful comments, and how to address the issues you see in the workshop format. And in part three, we’ll explore in a general way the writing of annotations – how a careful and critical analysis of what you read can serve you as a writer. Bring an open mind and a critical eye!
  • Graduating Student Presentation *: During the final residency, each student delivers a 20-minute conference-style presentation on a topic related to literary studies, such as a presentation on the work of an individual author, discussion of a craft issue in a specific genre, or the elucidation of a theoretical position. Graduating student presentations are presented in blocks of two or three presentations, with time for questions in between presentations.
  • Graduating Student Reading *: During the final residency, each graduating student delivers a public reading of their creative work written as part of the program.
  • Orientations*: Specialized sessions provide students with a working knowledge of specific required and optional aspects of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA) program. The required orientations are: New Students I and II, Sakai and Antioch Gmail, Post-MFA Certificate in the Pedagogy of Creative Writing, Field Study, The Long Critical Paper Seminar, the Final Term, and How to Prepare for and Present a 20-Minute Graduating Student Presentation.

Online Project Period Core Requirements

  • Art of Translation and Adaptation Online Conference*: After the residency experience, MFA in Creative Writing students continue in a semester-long online translation conference in which they actively participate on a weekly basis. The conference involves discussion of the writing issues that arise through the practice of translation, including theories of translation and any learning applicable to the process of writing in general. It is not necessary to know a foreign language in order to take the seminar or the conference.
  • Field Study: The MFA field study involves the student in an experiential learning activity that enhances awareness of different possibilities in a writing life, such as publishing, teaching, working in media, designing websites, learning letterpress printing, making books, or participating in a variety of supervised internships in which writing is a component. Students design and complete this non-classroom learning experience sometime during their first two semesters in the program. The project should take 4 to 12 months to complete and may extend from one term to another. The field study is not necessarily supervised or evaluated by the faculty mentor; instead, it is completed under the supervision of and evaluated by a qualified individual closely associated with the placement.
  • The Short and Long Critical Papers*: During the second project period, each student writes a short critical paper in preparation for writing the longer paper (25-40 pages) during the third term. This paper is based on library or online research or is an in-depth critical reaction to a topic agreed upon by the student and the mentor. The paper typically examines a topic of literary or cultural theory, or a craft issue in a genre. It may also be a literary or historical study or a biographical study.
  • The Final Manuscript*: During the fourth project period, each student prepares a final manuscript of work to submit during the fifth residency. Poetry manuscripts must be a minimum of 40 pages in length; fiction and creative nonfiction manuscripts must be a minimum of 100 pages. Students completing a Dual Concentration submit a manuscript reflecting work done in both genres. Dual Concentration manuscript requirements are:
    1. Prose in a combination of fiction and creative nonfiction: 150 pages, 60 percent in the primary genre and 40 percent in the secondary genre.
    2. Prose combined with poetry: 100 pages of prose, not less than 25 pages of poetry
    3. Poetry combined with fiction or creative nonfiction: 50 pages of poetry and not less than 50 pages of prose
  • Cumulative Annotated Bibliography*: The cumulative annotated bibliography is composed in MLA format and submitted with the final manuscript. The cumulative annotated bibliography represents a complete record of what the student has read and studied during the MFA program.

Residency & Semester Student Handbook for Winter/Spring 2017

Application Deadlines

We are currently accepting applications for the following term(s):

SemesterInternational Application*Application Review BeginsClasses Begin
Winter/Spring 2017July 25, 2016ClosedDecember 8, 2016
Summer/Fall 2017January 23, 2017February 15, 2017June 15, 2017

Admissions Process

Three easy steps to apply:
1. Complete an online application and the Admissions Dialogue Essay.
2. Submit official transcript indicating Bachelor’s degree conferral from a regionally accredited college or university to AULA Admissions.
3. Learn more about the specific application requirements for this program.

Please submit all materials to: Admissions Office, 400 Corporate Pointe, Culver City, CA 90230.


Semester Cost per Semester
Summer/Fall 2015 $8,202
Winter/Spring 2016 $8,448
Summer/Fall 2016 $12,582
Winter/Spring 2017 $8,448
Please note: Additional fees for all Antioch University Los Angeles programs may include (but are not necessarily limited to) charges for materials, late registration, enrollment maintenance, parking, graduation, transcripts, tuition payment plan, late payments, late registration, and returned checks. For a complete list of applicable fees, please visit the AULA Catalog. For further information, contact Student Accounts at (310) 578-1080 ext. 405, or 413.

Financial Aid

A majority of AULA students finance their education through some form of financial aid. You may not be sure which federal, state, public and private aid packages – such as loans, scholarships, and grants—are right for you. Our staff is here to help you, so you can focus on what’s most important: beginning your academic program at AULA. Returning to school is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. For more information, please visit


Thursday, June 15th

At AULA, we are a community of innovators, free-thinkers, and rabble-rousers, determined to make a lasting and positive impact on the world.


Antioch University Los Angeles is located on three floors of an unassuming office building at 400 Corporate Pointe in Culver City. But don’t let our address or building fool you.

Our intimate campus crackles with life, as students explore eye-opening, sometimes radical new ways to look at the world. Inside our comfortable classrooms, they engage in heady dialogue with each other and with their instructors, who encourage out-of-the box thinking and novel approaches to longstanding problems. The lively conversations spill over into our courtyard, where you can find students collaborating on projects, socializing over a meal at the café, or enjoying some solitude in the California sunshine.

It may not look like a traditional university campus, but then, there’s nothing traditional about AULA. We have no sprawling green quads, no Ultimate Frisbee games, no music pumped out of dorm room windows. What we offer instead is a place that nurtures and develops your academic interests and professional goals, providing unique, customizable degree programs and unparalleled faculty support.

If you want to be part of a passionate community of learners, to take part in eye-opening conversations on issues that matter and experience the occasional mind-blowing revelation, we invite you to visit us. We think you’ll like what you see.


Why Antioch University Los Angeles?

Writing and Community, Angeleno-Style
AULA’s MFA residencies take place in the urban film capital of Los Angeles. By car or bus, one can easily venture to Venice Beach, visit Hollywood – or attend a performance at the postmodern Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. But you’ll be lucky to find the time. Each 10-day MFA residency is packed with readings, workshops, seminars, lectures, and panels that are as varied and compelling as the dreams that brought Angelenos here in the first place.

As a student...
  • Study with like-minded adult students in a creative, supportive, and collaborative environment.
  • Balance work, personal life, and your studies with our flexible schedule designed for working adults.
  • Study with our internationally-recognized faculty members who bring their unmatched knowledge, passion, and commitment into every course.
 As a graduate...

Faculty Who Love to Teach As Well As Write

Every MFA faculty mentor is an actively publishing writer who is also an exceptional teacher. Our mentors care as deeply about their students as they do about their own writing.