The MFA in creative writing is a three-year residency program offering tracks in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students in the program are members of a literary community that includes a student-organized program of readings, potluck dinners with faculty, three journals, a student-run publisher—Stillhouse Press—and the annual Fall for the Book literary festival. Resident faculty members include recipients of prestigious writing awards such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the Yale Series of Younger Poets, the Lannan Foundation, the Whiting Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. 


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. For information specific to the MFA in creative writing, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental website.


For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Reduction of Credit

With the approval of the MFA faculty, the program director, and the dean, the number of credits required for an MFA may be reduced by a maximum of 23 credits on the basis of graduate course work before admission.

Banner Code: LA-MFA-CW

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 48

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

Core Courses


Select two to four courses in consultation with an advisor 16-12
Craft Seminars
Six to twelve credits of6-12
Craft Seminars 2
Visiting Writers
Total Credits13-25

ENGH 798 Directed Reading and Research may not be used to fulfill this requirement.


This course may be repeated for credit.

Concentration in Fiction (FIC)

ENGH 566Forms of Fiction3
Writing Workshops9
Fiction Writing Workshop
Advanced Workshop in Fiction Writing
Total Credits12

Concentration in Nonfiction Writing (NFW)

ENGH 506Research for Narrative Writing 13
ENGH 565Forms of Nonfiction3
Writing Workshops9
Nonfiction Writing Workshop
Advanced Workshop in Nonfiction Writing
Total Credits15

Students should enroll the first semester it is offered after they enter the program.

Concentration in Poetry (POE)

ENGH 564Form of Poetry3
Writing Workshops9
Poetry Writing Workshop
Advanced Workshop in Poetry Writing
Select at least one course in another genre (fiction or nonfiction) 13
Total Credits15

This requirement may be filled by a section of ENGH 608 Craft Seminars in another genre.

Poetry Exam

Students in poetry must pass a written MFA exam based on the authors they have chosen. The authors are selected in collaboration with the writing faculty any time after completing 12 credits of course work and before completing 32 credits. The exam must be completed at least one semester before the student registers for the final 3 credits of thesis.


Select up to 15 credits from electives in consultation with the writing program faculty 115
Total Credits15

The number of electives will vary according to the number of literature courses and workshops that students take. 


ENGH 798 Directed Reading and Research may not be used as thesis preparation. Students who want to register for thesis credits in the summer need the permission of the thesis committee.

Students should be aware of the university policies governing theses. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy and once enrolled in ENGH 799 Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment. These policies are specified in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis.

Total Credits6

Program Outcomes

  1. Students will develop and refine their literary voices and aesthetics.
  2. Students will acquire an understanding of literary traditions and forms.
  3. Students will gain knowledge and strategies toward their professional development.
  4. Students will analyze published works and develop the language for critical discussion.
  5. Students will produce and submit an approved creative thesis.