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 Like 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 her/his creative work written as part of the program.


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.