Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
MFA IN CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM
328 WEST NICKERSON
The low-residency MFA at Seattle Pacific University is a creative writing program for apprentice writers — both Christians and those of other traditions — who not only want to pursue excellence in the craft of writing
but also want to place their work within the larger context of the Judeo-Christian tradition of faith.
dimension of this program is not intended to produce didactic, sectarian, or sentimental literature. Nor is this
MFA intended to produce writers of "Christian fiction." Far from it. Seattle Pacific's program seeks to
extend the tradition of Christian writing in which the highest standards of art, an open-eyed exploration of
human experience, and a respect for transcendent mystery come together.
At the heart of any low-residency program is the ancient relationship between master and apprentice.
Writing is ultimately a solitary experience, so the rhythm of students sending packets of completed material
and receiving feedback from mentors is both appropriate and effective. The beauty of this type of program is
that it allows students to maintain their current jobs and locations, while offering two stimulating and
intensive residency periods at stunning locations in the American West: the high desert of New Mexico
and an island off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
The residencies are intensive and include:
- Classes on craft
- Lectures and
- Extended consultations with faculty mentors
Faculty at the residencies consists of a
group of current mentors along with a number of invited guest speakers, including some of America's most
celebrated writers. Students are required to attend a total of five residencies over the course of two
The 10-day residencies take place in March and August. The
residency dates for the 2013-14 academic year are July 25–August 4, 2013, and March 20–30, 2014.
The summer residencies are held alongside the Glen Workshop, a program run by Image journal, the
leading quarterly of arts and religion based at Seattle Pacific University. The Glen, held on the campus of St.
John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, features daily lectures, readings, concerts, and worship services
with some of the leading artists and writers at work today. MFA students will pursue their own activities,
but will have the benefit of all the presentations at the Glen Workshop.
The spring residencies are located amidst the beautiful waterfront surroundings of Whidbey Island at
SPU's Camp Casey Conference Center. MFA students will have the opportunity to sample the many
cultural and recreational possibilities in the area, including visits to nearby historic Coupeville as well as Port
Townsend, just a short ferry ride away from Whidbey.
The relationship between the student and his or her
faculty mentors is the heart of the low-residency MFA program. Each student will have two responsibilities: the creative writing project in a chosen genre
and the reading list.
THE CREATIVE PROJECT
During the academic quarter, students are responsible for generating three packets (at approximately
three-week intervals). Each packet will consist of the following:
- A cover letter, in which the student might share thoughts about the creative challenges he or she is facing.
- A segment of new or revised creative writing.
- Short annotations on several of the books the student has been reading.
packets include critical papers that are due.
Mentors respond with detailed comments, pointing out
strengths and weaknesses and suggesting fruitful avenues for further development. While the lion's share of
this communication is handled through email or paper mail, the program also utilizes the online technology Blackboard and Facebook to allow for manuscript exchanges and discussion threads.
norm for low-residency MFA courses is for students to spend 25 hours writing and reading per week.
READING LIST/CRITICAL ESSAYS
In close consultation with your faculty mentors, you will formulate a course of reading. Readings
are chosen from two categories: classic works from the Judeo-Christian literary tradition and
contemporary works that may serve as models and inspiration for students' immediate creative needs and
gifts. Special emphasis is placed on gaining a deeper understanding of the classic works in your chosen genre. By the end of the two-year program, you will have read a minimum of 62 books.
You will write one short critical paper (approximately seven pages in length) per quarter in preparation
for your long critical essay (20 pages), due at the end of the fifth quarter.
Each quarter, all students in the program study a text from the common reading list. Recent common-reading texts include:
- Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
- Simone Weil, Waiting on God
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems
- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
- Robert Alter, Genesis
- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
- Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners
- In this program, you will choose a specialization in one of three genres — poetry, fiction, or creative
nonfiction — and you will complete a thesis under the direction of a faculty mentor. You may choose to
study two genres during the course of the program, but this will require a third full year of study.
- You will work toward completion of a full-length manuscript in one of the following categories:
collection of poems, collection of short stories, novel, or book-length work of creative nonfiction.
- In close consultation with your faculty mentor, you will formulate a course of reading. By the end of the two-year program, you will have read a minimum of 62 books.
- For the first four quarters, you will complete a short critical paper on a subject relevant to
the chosen course of study. In the fifth quarter of the program, you will complete a long
- Recommendation for the degree can be made only after the successful completion of at least six
quarters of work and five residencies (64 graduate credit hours) as well as the approval of the
- During the final residency, you will give a public reading of your work.
To qualify for admission consideration, turn in an online application packet to The Graduate Center. Please bear in
mind the following things:
- You may choose to begin the program during either of the 10-day residencies in March and
- The application deadline to begin the program during the August residency is February 1. The
application deadline to begin the program during the March residency is October 1.
- The creative manuscript will be given special emphasis. As an applicant, you must submit 10 pages of
poetry or 25 to 30 pages of prose, whether of fiction or creative nonfiction, in your chosen
genre.* (In the case of prose, you must decide whether to send an excerpt of a longer
manuscript or stories or essays that fall within the page limit.) Your application should include three manuscript copies. The manuscripts cannot be returned.
- You must also submit a three- to four-page personal essay on your development as a writer
and a person of faith.
- Three letters of recommendation must be submitted. Two should be focused on your abilities as a writer; one should touch on your academic achievements.
- A $50 nonrefundable application fee is required and cannot be waived.
* You may apply in only one genre to enter the program, but may apply for a third year of study in a second genre upon the successful completion of the first year.
Note: Though GRE scores are not required, you must have a bachelor's degree and must submit official transcripts from previous school(s) attended.
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