The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is one of only thirty BFAs in creative writing available nationwide. With three concentrations to choose from (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), the BFA is structured to give students ample opportunity to learn to write and think creatively while also developing the vocational writing skills that are desperately needed in the workplace. All students pursuing a BFA are strongly advised to complete on-site workplace internships in writing-intensive environments, and finish the degree with a submission of a portfolio of work as part of a final-semester capstone course, with final approval from the faculty.


Acceptance into the program is competitive. Admission to the university does not guarantee admission to the BFA program.

After acceptance to Mason, students who wish to pursue a major in creative writing should inform the academic coordinator in the English department or the director of the creative writing program of their interest in the program and should seek evaluation of any prior coursework as well as guidance on courses to take and the sequence in which to take them. In the program, students enroll in a series of courses intended to introduce them to all forms of creative writing, and then they select a core set of courses built around a specialization in fiction, nonfiction or poetry, along with upper-level writing, literature and advanced studies courses.

Students planning to enter the BFA program are initially designated as "pre-BFA" until they have successfully completed the requirements for full admission. Full admission requires a minimum of three creative writing courses successfully completed with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher in those courses. Alternatively, students who have taken creative writing courses at another institution or in their early undergraduate coursework at Mason may gain full admission status to the BFA program on the strength of recommendations from the instructors in those courses, subject to departmental approval, which is obtained from the Mason creative writing faculty and the director of the creative writing program.

A student admitted to the university and intending to enter the BFA program may designate a major in English and complete English major courses before attempting to move into admitted BFA status. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to full BFA status.


For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Students pursuing this degree must complete 45 credits (15 courses) in English/Linguistics beyond ENGH 300 Cover to Cover (not including ENGH 302 Advanced Composition (Mason Core)) with a minimum GPA of 2.00.

At the discretion of the department, transfer students may substitute transferred lower level creative writing classes for some BFA requirements.

With permission of the department, BFA students may select a substitute for concentration required coursework from the list of courses approved for the writing or literature elective requirement. Substitutions must be justified as specifically relevant to the student's study. Concentration substitutions will not satisfy more than one requirement within the major.

Banner Code: LA-BFA-CW

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Students will complete 21 credits of BFA core requirements, 12 credits from one of 3 concentrations, and 12 credits in English department requirements. 300-level courses in English and linguistics teach the foundational principles for a field of study, include courses of broad scope, and provide an introduction to a genre, literary period, or methodology. 400-level courses in English and linguistics provide an in-depth approach to a field of study, a single genre, literary period, or methodology. They include special topics classes and English honors classes. Some 400-level courses require ENGH 305 Dimensions of Writing and Literature as a prerequisite.

Students should consult with an English department advisor to learn ways in which the Mason Core requirements can also satisfy college-level requirements or the BFA.

Core Courses in the Major

ENGH 301The Fields of English3
ENGH 305Dimensions of Writing and Literature3
ENGH 377Digital Creative Writing3
ENGH 396Introduction to Creative Writing (Mason Core)3
ENGH 495Capstone and Thesis (Mason Core)3
Total Credits15

English Department Requirements

Literature before 1800
Select one course from the following:3
Literature of the Middle Ages
English Poetry and Prose of the 16th Century
Introduction to Shakespeare
Studies in Shakespeare
English Renaissance Drama
English Poetry and Prose of the 17th Century
Augustan Age: 1660-1745
Age of Sensibility: 1745-1800
Restoration and 18th Century Drama
British Novel of the 18th Century
Early American Literature
Topics in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Total Credits3
Literature before 1915
Select one course from the following:3
British Poetry of the Romantic Period
Prose and Poetry of the Victorian Period
British Novel of the 19th Century
Literature of the American Renaissance
Post-Civil War American Literature, 1865-1920
Development of the American Novel to 1914
Beginnings of African American Literature Through 1865
African American Literature: Reconstruction to 1903
Continental Fiction, 1770-1880
Continental Fiction, 1880-1950
A second course from literature before 1800 list above
Total Credits3
Minority, Folkloric, or Popular Literary and Cultural Traditions
Select one course from the following:3
Topics: Women and Literature
Folklore and Folklife (Mason Core)
Popular Culture
Beginnings of African American Literature Through 1865
African American Literature: Reconstruction to 1903
African American Literature Through 1946
Contemporary African American Literature
Topics in Ethnic American Literature
Global Voices (Mason Core)
The Idea of a World Literature (Mason Core)
World Literatures in English
Topics in Folklore Studies
Folklore and the Supernatural
Folk Arts and Folk Artists
Folklore and Migration
RS: Topics in Folklore Research (Mason Core)
Topics in Popular Literature
Science Fiction
Critical Study of Children's Literature
RS: Writing Ethnography (Mason Core)
Total Credits3
Writing or Literature Electives
Select one course from the following:3
Additional Writing Courses
Professional and Technical Writing
Honors Independent Study
RS: Writing Ethnography (Mason Core)
Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop
Advanced Workshop in Nonfiction
Advanced Poetry Writing Workshop
Topics in Creative Writing
Independent Study
Document Design
Courses in Contemporary Literature
Folklore and Folklife (Mason Core)
Popular Culture
British Poetry after 1900
British Novel after 1900
British and Irish Drama after 1900
Development of the American Novel since 1914
American Drama of the 20th Century
American Poetry of the 20th Century
Contemporary African American Literature
Modern Drama
Topics in Folklore Studies
Folklore and the Supernatural
Folk Arts and Folk Artists
Topics in Popular Literature
Science Fiction
Critical Study of Children's Literature
Topics in Fiction
Topics in Poetry
Topics in Drama
Topics in Literary Nonfiction (for fiction and poetry concentrators only)
Course in Writing for other Arts
Writing for Artists
Playwriting I
Playwriting II
Screenplay Workshop
Advanced Playwriting
Total Credits3

Required Workshop Courses

The workshops are in the two areas outside of the chosen concentration. The remaining workshop is included as part of the concentration requirements.

Select 6 credits from the following:6
Poetry Writing
Fiction Writing
Creative Nonfiction Writing
Total Credits6

Concentrations in the Major

Students must complete one of the following concentrations. 

Available Concentrations

Concentration in Fiction (FIC)

ENGH 398Fiction Writing3
ENGH 392Forms of Fiction3
ENGH 355Recent American Fiction3
ENGH 492Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop3
Total Credits12

Concentration in Nonfiction (NFIC)

ENGH 399Creative Nonfiction Writing3
ENGH 393Forms of Nonfiction3
ENGH 456Topics in Literary Nonfiction3
ENGH 493Advanced Workshop in Nonfiction3
Total Credits12

Concentration in Poetry (POE)

ENGH 397Poetry Writing3
ENGH 391Forms of Poetry3
ENGH 356Recent American Poetry3
ENGH 494Advanced Poetry Writing Workshop3
Total Credits12

Writing-Intensive Requirement

The university requires all students to complete at least one course designated "writing intensive" in their majors at the 300 level or above. Students majoring in creative writing may fulfill this requirement by successfully completing ENGH 305 Dimensions of Writing and Literature.

Upper Level Requirement

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements.

Additional Electives

Any remaining credits may be completed with elective courses to bring the degree total to 120.

College Level Requirements for the BA Degree

In addition to the Mason Core program, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the coursework below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements (Mason Core requirements or requirements for the major).

Philosophy or Religious Studies
Select 3 credits from the following:3

Note that the following courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement:

  • PHIL 323 Classical Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 324 Modern Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 327 Contemporary Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 393 Humanities College to Career 
  • PHIL 460 Senior Seminar in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Additionally, PHIL 253RELI 235RELI 333, and RELI 339 cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select 3 credits of social and behavioral sciences from the following (additional to the Mason Core social and behavioral sciences requirement) 13
Or choose from the following GGS courses:
Major World Regions (Mason Core)
Human Geography (Mason Core)
Introduction to Geoinformation Technologies
Political Geography (Mason Core)
Geography of Resource Conservation (Mason Core)
Population Geography (Mason Core)
Economic Geography
Urban Geography
Geography of the United States
Geography of Latin America
Geography of Europe
Geography of North Africa and the Middle East
Geography of Eastern Europe and Russia
Urban Planning
Geography of Virginia

The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and Mason Core requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. 


HIST 100 and HIST 125 may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Foreign Language
Intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language, fulfilled by: 1
Or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test
Or completing the following ASL three course sequence:
American Sign Language (ASL) I
American Sign Language (ASL) II
American Sign Language (ASL) III

Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Non-Western Culture

Select 3 credits of an approved course in the study of a non-Western culture (additional to the Mason Core requirement in global understanding)

Select 3 credits (additional to Mason Core Global Understanding requirement) 1
ANTH 114Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Mason Core)3
ANTH 300Civilizations3
ANTH 302Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ANTH 307Ancient Mesoamerica (Mason Core)3
ANTH 308Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Mason Core)3
ANTH 309Peoples and Cultures of India (Mason Core)3
ANTH 313Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)3
ANTH 314Zombies3
ANTH 317East Asian Cultures3
ANTH 330Peoples and Cultures of Selected Regions: Non-Western3
ANTH 332Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Globalization (Mason Core)3
ANTH 381Medical Anthropology3
ANTH 396Issues in Anthropology: Social Sciences (Mason Core)3
ARAB 360Topics in Arabic Cultural Production3
ARAB 420Survey of Arabic Literature3
ARAB 440Topics in Arabic Religious Thought and Texts (Mason Core)3
ARTH 203Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 204Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 206Survey of African Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 318Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt3
ARTH 319Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Mason Core)3
ARTH 320Art of the Islamic World (Mason Core)3
ARTH 382Arts of India (Mason Core)3
ARTH 383Arts of Southeast Asia (Mason Core)3
ARTH 384Arts of China (Mason Core)3
ARTH 385Arts of Japan (Mason Core)3
ARTH 482RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art3
CHIN 318Introduction to Classical Chinese (Mason Core)3
CHIN 320Contemporary Chinese Film3
CHIN 325Major Chinese Writers (Mason Core)3
CHIN 470Special Topics in Chinese Studies3
DANC 118Global Dance Perspectives I (Mason Core)3
ECON 361Economic Development of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ECON 362African Economic Development (Mason Core)3
FREN 454Topics in Caribbean Francophone Literature and Culture3
GGS 101Major World Regions (Mason Core)3
GGS 316Geography of Latin America3
GGS 317Geography of China (Mason Core)3
GGS 325Geography of North Africa and the Middle East3
GGS 399Select Topics in GGS3
GOVT 332Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa3
GOVT 333Government and Politics of Asia3
GOVT 338Government and Politics of Russia3
GOVT 340Central Asian Politics3
GOVT 341Chinese Foreign Policy3
GOVT 345Islam and Politics3
GOVT 433Political Economy of East Asia3
HIST 251Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 252Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 261Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 262Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 271Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 272Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 281Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 282Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 326Stalinism3
HIST 327The Soviet Union and Russia Since World War II3
HIST 328Rise of Russia (Mason Core)3
HIST 329Modern Russia and the Soviet Union (Mason Core)3
HIST 353History of Traditional China3
HIST 354Modern China (Mason Core)3
HIST 356Modern Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 357Postwar Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 358Post-1949 China (Mason Core)3
HIST 360History of South Africa (Mason Core)3
HIST 364Revolution and Radical Politics in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 365Conquest and Colonization in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 366Comparative Slavery3
HIST 387Topics in Global History (Mason Core)3-6
HIST 461Arab-Israeli Conflict3
HIST 462Women in Islamic Society (Mason Core)3
HIST 465The Middle East in the 20th Century3
JAPA 310Japanese Culture in a Global World (Mason Core)3
JAPA 340Topics in Japanese Literature (Mason Core)3
JAPA 380Japan in Motion3
KORE 300Korean Culture and Society3
KORE 320Korean Popular Culture in a Global World3
KORE 385Introduction to Korean Linguistics3
MUSI 103Musics of the World (Mason Core)3
RELI 211Introduction to Religions of the "West" (Mason Core)3
RELI 212Introduction to Religions of Asia (Mason Core)3
RELI 312Islam3
RELI 313Hinduism (Mason Core)3
RELI 314Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions3
RELI 315Buddhism (Mason Core)3
RELI 317Daoism3
RELI 318Korean Philosophy and Religions3
RELI 338Qur'an and Hadith3
RELI 342Comparative Study of Mysticism3
RELI 344Muhammad: Life and Legacy3
RELI 358Islamic Thought (Mason Core)3
RELI 367Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics3
RELI 368Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights3
RELI 490Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)3
RUSS 353Russian Civilization (Mason Core)3
RUSS 354Contemporary Post-Soviet Life (Mason Core)3
WMST 407Transnational Sexualities3

A course used to fulfill the Mason Core global understanding requirement may not be simultaneously used to satisfy this college-level requirement. A course used to fulfill this requirement may be used simultaneously to fulfill any other requirements (Mason Core requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Students who have completed the following credentials are eligible for a waiver of the Foundation and Exploration (lower level) requirement categories. The Integration category (upper level) is not waived under this policy. See Admissions for more information. 

  • VCCS Uniform Certificate of General Studies
  • VCCS or Richard Bland Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.&S.), or Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)
Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Global History3
Global Understanding3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.


Minimum 3 credits required.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Sample Plan of Study 

A sample four year graduation plan and degree planning worksheet can be found at The plan is a recommended sequencing of courses based on prerequisites and scheduling. This may not fit every student's needs and is a guideline, not a requirement. Students should confirm major requirements with their academic advisor each semester and with their PatriotWeb Degree Evaluation to ensure they enroll in the proper courses and are on track to graduate.

Honors in the Major

Highly qualified students in the BFA in Creative Writing program may pursue advanced work leading to graduation with honors in the major. To graduate with honors in the major, students must complete a two-course honors sequence and receive a minimum GPA of 3.50 in all courses counted toward the major and, separately, a minimum GPA of 3.50 in their honors courses. Honors courses may simultaneously satisfy concentration and distribution requirements in the major.

Students may satisfy the honors course sequence in one of the following ways:

BFA students may write a creative honors thesis in ENGH 401 RS: Honors Thesis Writing Seminar (Mason Core). BFA students may substitute ENGH 401 (if they write a creative honors thesis) for ENGH 495 Capstone and Thesis (Mason Core).

Students interested in pursuing honors in the major should consult the English Department for more information.

Program Outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate a broad understanding of forms and elements of craft used by published writers and apply that knowledge to their own work.
  2. Students will synthesize creative written work, critical analyses, artist statements, and professional queries into a dynamic final portfolio.
  3. Students will develop an individual writing practice that includes creation/revision as well as an ability to comment on peers' work critically and productively.
  4. Students will gain knowledge of various career paths available to them as well as of the publishing landscape.
  5. Students will demonstrate an advanced knowledge of and proficiency in chosen genre.

The accelerated master's program listed below specifies the BFA in creative writing as a feeder degree for its program. It is important to note, however, that many accelerated master's programs are available for any bachelor's degree at Mason. See the full list of degrees with accelerated programs at George Mason. In addition, as a student with a BFA in creative writing you may be particularly interested in the accelerated MA in English with a concentration in linguistics.

English, BA or Creative Writing, BFA/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education English Concentration)


Highly-qualified Mason undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's option and obtain a BA in English or a BFA in Creative Writing and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Education English concentration) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 143 credits.

See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

This accelerated option is offered jointly by the Department of English and the School of Education.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

BAM Pathway Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Policies and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits, and additional unit-specific criteria.

Students who are accepted into the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits and course-specific pre-requisites.

Accelerated Master’s Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MEd program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form:

  • 3.0 overall GPA                                                      
  • Completion of specific undergraduate coursework          
  • Successfully meeting Mason’s requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation. 

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following which can be taken as Advanced Standing or Reserve Graduate credit (to be determined by the student and their advisor):

EDRD 619Disciplinary Literacy3
SEED 502Young Adult Literature in Multicultural Settings3
SEED 522Foundations of Secondary Education3
SEED 540Human Development and Learning: Secondary Education3
SEED 569Teaching English in the Secondary School3
SEED 669Advanced Methods of Teaching English in the Secondary School3
SEED approved elective

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies.