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    University of Memphis
  Nov 18, 2017
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog

Creative Writing, (MFA)

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MFA Degree Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing provides studies in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, along with a variety of options for either a studio degree in Creative Writing, or a degree combining work in either the Department of English or other departments in which course work, or independent study, seems particularly pertinent to the student’s creative thesis. A book-length thesis of publishable quality is required; it will be directed by a member of the MFA faculty. The MFA requires 48 graduate semester hours, with a 3.00 grade point average in all graduate courses.


  1. An overall minimum grade point average of 2.75 at the undergraduate level.
  2. An official undergraduate and if applicable graduate transcript sent to Graduate Admissions.
  3. A portfolio of published or unpublished writing samples in the applicant’s chosen genre (at least 20-25 pages of fiction, 10 poems, or 25 pages of nonfiction), demonstrating a potential for development to a professional standard of writing, should be submitted to the English Graduate Office along with two letters of recommendation and a cover letter stating the candidate’s choice of genre and reasons for pursuing the degree. The writing sample will be evaluated by a committee of MFA faculty. The committee will recommend admission of those applicants with the highest demonstrated talent.
  4. Students who wish to change genres after being accepted in one genre, even if they are already registered and enrolled in the program, must submit a new portfolio of work in the new genre and be approved by the MFA faculty for admission in the new genre.
  5. Baccalaureate degree in English or if baccalaureate is in another field, twelve (12) semester hours in upper division literature or creative writing courses with a minimum grade point average of 2.75 in these courses.
  6. Graduate Record General Examination (a competitive score on the verbal section is expected).
  7. Deadlines: for best consideration apply by January 15 for the following fall semester admission and October 15 for following spring semester. Applications may be considered later but prospective students applying by those dates have first priority.

MA Credit

Any applicant who holds an MA degree in English may apply up to a maximum of twenty-four (24) semester hours in English earned for that degree toward the MFA degree, with the approval of the graduate coordinator. A student’s advisor will insure that the combination of MA credits and courses taken in the program has appropriate breadth. Credit previously earned at another institution must be presented for evaluation not later than the end of the student’s second semester of enrollment.

Program Requirements

All students must fulfill the 48-hour degree requirement from the Core Requirements in section 1 in combination with one area of specialization under the Additional Requirements in section 2: the Studio Option, the Literary Studies Option, The Creative/Professional Option, the TESL/TEFL Option, or the Cross-Disciplinary Option.

Core Requirements

Writing Workshops and Forms Courses

A total of six courses, of at least 3 hours each, required:

Ccross-Genre Course

ENGL 6610  may serve as a cross-genre course if the focus was on a cross-genre, but the student must submit a portfolio of cross-genre work from the course and get written approval from the Creative Writing Coordinator.

Creative Writing Colloquium

At least two sections of 7900 must be taken, each for at least 3 hours.


NOTE: Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write.

Comprehensive Exam

A Comprehensive Exam based on a reading list formed by the student and the student’s thesis director.

Oral Review of Thesis


Although it is not a core requirement for the degree, all students receiving a Teaching Assistantship must take ENGL 7003  either before they become a teaching assistant or during their first semester of teaching. It is included as an alternative course in each of the options for additional requirements below.

Additional Requirements:

7 courses, of at least 3 hours each, chosen from one of the following options:


Students may take, as an alternative to replace up to 3 of these courses, an equivalent number of other courses (of 3 hours or more each) from other disciplines within the Department of English (this includes ENGL 7003 , which is a requirement if the student receives a Teaching Assistantship). Note: as stated in the course descriptions, ENGL 7475  and ENGL 7485  can only be counted for a maximum of 6 hours each toward the degree requirements.

Literary Studies Option:

Twenty-one (21) hours made up of the following:

At least 9 hours of Literature Courses

Literary Editing

Up to 6 hours of

Literary Arts Programming

Up to 6 hours of

Creative/Professional Writing Option:

Twenty-one (21) hours selected from the following:


MFA students may fulfill the 21 optional hours beyond the core by taking 6 elective graduate hours in any area of English, Creative Writing, or Foreign Languages and by completing in addition the 15 hours required for the Certificate Program in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (TESL/TEFFL). (see section VI for additional details)

Program Requirements:

The certificate program requires completion of fifteen (15) semester credit hours

Twelve (12) credit hours must be met by satisfactory completion of the following courses:


Those also seeking ESL add-on endorsement must complete ENGL 7533  and ENGL 7538 . Praxis II for ESL is also required for the add-on endorsement.

Cross-Disciplinary Option:

Twenty-one (21) hours selected from the following: up to 3 English graduate courses from any discipline (includes ENGL 7003 ); and at least 12 hours of graduate courses from another department: Art, History, Journalism, Theater, Foreign Languages, or other department in which course work, or independent study, seems particularly pertinent to the student’s creative thesis.

Up to 9 of the 21 hours may be fulfilled by independent study in another department and/or internship hours, but all cross-disciplinary courses/independent studies/internships must be pre-approved by the coordinator of the Creative Writing program along with another professor in the student’s primary genre. Internships must be of a nature that will allow the student to participate in research that will form the basis of the student’s thesis.


Although taking all 12 hours of the cross-disciplinary minimum in only one other department is not required, it is recommended that the student focus primarily on one area or else have a clear rationale for fulfilling the 12-hour minimum in more than one cross-disciplinary area.

Retention Requirements

Upon entering the MFA program, a student chooses an advisor in his or her concentration. The advisor will monitor the student’s progress toward completion of the degree. Each semester the Graduate Studies Committee will examine the academic progress of all students for retention in the program. If a student receives either two C’s, one D, or one F grade in any English graduate level course, that student will be subject to review and could be dismissed from the program. In order to remain in good standing, all graduate students must maintain a 3.0 average in all courses. Students who are on academic probation for two consecutive semesters will not be allowed to continue in the program.

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