MFA Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements (49 hours)

Four on-campus residencies (12 hours)

  • At least three must be in the student’s chosen genre.

Although the program allows students to work in more than one genre, upon admission each student selects a concentration in fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction. During the residency, students will attend workshops in their elected genre, genre seminars in their elected genre, readings in all genres, craft lectures in all genres, and panels on editing, publishing and other professional matters. Students also meet several times during the residency with their assigned faculty mentors. Each student and mentor will collaboratively design a work plan for the succeeding tutorial semester, including a reading list and proposed writing projects.

One on-campus thesis residency (1 hour)

  • The final residency, during which students defend their theses, give teaching presentations, and participate in other exit activities, but do not attend workshop or seminars.

During the thesis residency, graduating students defends their theses, give a public reading, and teach a class on a topic developed from annotations on the tutorial reading lists. After successfully defending their theses and discussing any required revisions with their thesis committees, students meet with the MFA thesis consultant, who will assist them in processing their theses according to university guidelines.

Three semesters of off-campus tutorial (18 hours)

  • At least two must be in the student’s chosen genre.
  • Tutorials are completed in the semester immediately following an attended residency.

In the thesis tutorial, students focus exclusively on the thesis as final product. They revise the body of original work they have produced in the previous three residency/tutorial sequences into a thesis and write a critical introduction to it. Students rotate through three different assigned mentors in the tutorial semesters, then choose a mentor for the thesis tutorial.

One semester of New Madrid field study (3 hours)

  • Should occur in the student’s second or third semester.

Published twice a year and released at the residencies in January and July, New Madrid is the national journal affiliated with Murray State's MFA program. All MFA students must register for at least one semester on the New Madrid staff. Every winter issue is a special issue. Every summer issue is an open issue. As interns, students use Submission Manager software to read submissions and Collaborate software (embedded in Murray State's Canvas system) to convene online for editorial meetings. Each student also writes and revises a book review for publication in New Madrid.

One semester of thesis tutorial (6 hours)

  • Should occur at the end of the student’s program, once all other course requirements have been filled and immediately following the student’s last residency.

In the thesis tutorial, students focus exclusively on the thesis as final product. They revise the body of original work they have produced in the previous three residency/tutorial sequences into a thesis and write a critical introduction to it. Students rotate through three different assigned mentors in the tutorial semesters, then choose a mentor for the thesis tutorial.

Three semesters of graduate-level literature courses (9 hours)

  • One class must focus on contemporary literature.

Students must complete three literature courses before signing up for the thesis tutorial. One of these courses must be in contemporary literature. Literature courses may be taken online or on campus at Murray State.