Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

VIEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Philosophy

The Master of Science in Nutrition program prepares current and future practitioners to meet the changing demands of health care, education, or business. This graduate program can also strengthen their application for a dietetic internship and allow them to meet the 2024 CDR degree requirements for registration as a dietitian. This master’s degree is designed to broaden the expertise of nutrition educators and scientists, health professionals, and dietitians alike beyond basic nutrition facts and clinical skills. It will increase knowledge of epidemiology, research methods, and clinical and functional nutrition — and prepare students to extend their

impact and influence outside of the traditional scope of dietetic and nutritional science practices. This master’s degree also allows you to work closely with SPU faculty and the extensive network of local area alumni, while also affording an opportunity to integrate your own professional work and interests (see errors and omissions page)

Distinctives

  • Low-residency program that allows you to earn a master’s degree by completing 33 quarter-based credits over a brief 11-month period if full time. 
  • Coursework and experiences are built on a foundation of Christian values — engaging and fostering human flourishing with competence, character, and wisdom. 
  • Complete your MS degree in four academic quarters, which includes one summer term, along with the completion of two three- to four-day in-person intensives prior to Autumn Quarter and immediately following the summer term. 
  • Deepen your knowledge not only in the science of nutrition, but also in the areas of epidemiology, research methods, functional nutrition, and emerging topics in the field. 
  • Advance your choice of diverse and relevant skills in counseling, communication, project design, teaching, or informatics — to give you the ability to extend your impact and influence outside the traditional scope of dietetic and nutritional science practices. 
  • Online program coursework with the exception of the intensive sessions, with some synchronous time to facilitate discussion and relationship building about twice per week in the late afternoon. 
  • Successful completion of the program also includes a thesis or a final capstone project and respective presentation and oral defense or presentation (see errors and omissions page)

GRE scores are not required to apply to this MFA program, but you must have a bachelor’s degree and must submit official transcripts from previous school(s) attended.

Residencies

The Residencies are intensive and include:

  • Workshops
  • Classes on craft
  • Readings and lectures
  • Extended consultations with faculty mentors
  • Art and Faith seminars

Faculty at the Residencies includes core faculty mentors along with a number of invited guest speakers — some of America’s most celebrated writers. 

You are required to attend five residencies over the course of two academic years. The 10-day residencies take place in March and August.

Residency dates for the 2022–23 academic year:

  • August residency:  August 4–14, 2022 
  • March residency: March 16–26, 2023 

Winter residencies will be hosted at the beautiful Camp Casey Conference Center on Whidbey Island, about 60 miles north of Seattle. Summer residencies will be held at the SPU campus in the vibrant city of Seattle. The SPU campus is located near many lively walkable neighborhoods such as Fremont, Queen Anne, and Ballard.

Correspondence quarters

The relationship between students and faculty mentors is at the heart of the low-residency MFA program. You will engage in one-on-one correspondence with two mentors over the course of the program, studying with each for one year.

All students have two responsibilities: the creative writing project in a chosen genre and the reading list.

The creative project

During the academic quarter, you are responsible for generating three packets (at approximately three-week intervals). Each packet consists of the following:

  • A cover letter in which you share thoughts about the creative challenges you are facing.
  • A segment of new or revised creative writing.
  • Short annotations on several of the books you have been reading.
  • When a critical paper is due, you will also include that document.

Mentors respond with detailed comments, pointing out strengths and weaknesses and suggesting fruitful avenues for further development. While most communication is handled through email (and, on occasion, paper mail), the program also utilizes Canvas for basic document sharing and Facebook for discussion threads and community building.

The norm for low-residency MFA courses is for students to spend 25 hours per week on their work.

Reading list/critical essays

In close consultation with faculty mentors, you formulate a course of reading. Readings are chosen from two categories:

  • Classic works from the longstanding and ever-broadening literary tradition.
  • Contemporary works that serve as models and inspiration for your immediate needs.

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 60 titles.

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.

In preparation for each residency, you will read two or more assigned texts from the Common Reading list as assigned. These texts are then studied and discussed during residency at Art and Faith seminars. Recent common readings include texts from these authors:

  • Uwem Akpan
  • St. Augustine
  • Eugene Vodolazkin
  • Dante
  • Annie Dillard
  • John Donne
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Shusaku Endo
  • James Baldwin
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • Anna Kamienska
  • Denise Levertov
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Czeslaw Milosz
  • Flannery O’Connor
  • Walker Percy
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • William Shakespeare
  • Alexandros Papadiamandis
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Simone Weil

Graduation requirements

  • You will choose a specialization in one of four genres — poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or young adult fiction — and complete a thesis under the direction of a faculty mentor. (A student may study two genres, but only by adding a third year in the program; the student may apply for this after completing one full year of study and demonstrating excellence in a primary genre.)
  • You will complete a creative manuscript (i.e., a collection of poems, short stories, essays, or an extended YA fiction manuscript).
  • In close consultation with faculty mentors, you will formulate a course of reading. By the end of the two-year program, you will have read a minimum of 60 books.
  • For each of the first four quarters, you complete a short critical paper on a subject relevant to your chosen course of study. In the fifth quarter of the program, you will complete a long critical paper.
  • 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 program director and faculty mentor.
  • During the final residency, you will give a public reading of your work.

Admission requirements

To qualify for admission consideration, prospective students must turn in an online application packet to the Graduate Admissions. Please bear in mind the following things:

  • You may begin the program during either of the 10-day residencies in March and August.
  • We accept applicants on a rolling basis. Apply before November 1 to begin the program at the residency on Whidbey Island the following March. Apply before May 1 to begin the program at the residency at the SPU campus in Seattle that upcoming August.
  • The creative manuscript will be given special emphasis. You must submit 25 to 30 double-spaced pages of prose in your chosen prose genre — fiction, creative nonfiction, or young adult fiction — or 10 pages of poetry, if poetry is your selected 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.) The steering committee does not accept fiction applications with writing samples that are in genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, western, etc.).
  • You must also submit a three- to four-page (double-spaced) personal essay describing your development as a writer and as 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.

*Applicants 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.

Though GRE scores are not required, all applicants should have a bachelor’s degree and must submit official transcripts from all previous school(s) attended.

We also have modest, partial, merit-based scholarships to assist outstanding applicants. There is no separate process to apply; all admitted students will be considered for aid. 

Questions?