MFA in Prose and Poetry

Northwestern’s part-time Master of Fine Arts in Prose and Poetry program provides students the opportunity to grow as artists within the specializations of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and publishing and professional development. A dual-genre specialization is also offered. The small-group workshop format allows for individual attention from published, award-winning faculty. Students also have the opportunity to learn the ropes in teaching writing, publishing, and editing. Flexible scheduling – with courses offered evenings and weekends on Northwestern’s Chicago and Evanston campuses as well as online and in hybrid format – gives students the opportunity to balance their professional, personal and writing lives. While earning their degrees, students connect with other writers at readings and other events in an artistic community that extends beyond the University into Chicagoʼs vibrant literary scene.



About the MFA in Prose and Poetry

Juan Martinez

I feel like there's a distinctive Chicago quality to the program, a kind of Midwestern stealth sheen of genuine kindness that nourishes some wild, subversive, tremendously exciting work. It's a unique combination, and one singularly fertile for creativity.”

Juan Martinez, author, faculty member

Students form lasting bonds with each other and with their professors. The years students have spent in the SPS creative writing program, some have told me, are the most creatively rewarding ones they've experienced.”

Christine Sneed, author, faculty director
Christine Sneed
Eugene Cross

Teaching in Northwestern's part-time writing program has been a career highlight for me. The program is enriched by its students who come from various backgrounds and careers. The diversity of passions, insights and life experiences helps to create a truly unique and rewarding learning experience.”

Eugene Cross, author, faculty member


Explore Word Cafe, featuring short essays on literary matters by students, alumni, and faculty of the graduate writing programs of Northwestern University School of Professional Studies!


Prose and Poetry Program Goals

  • To help students determine the strengths and weaknesses of their writing, and learn how to evaluate criticism of their work
  • To teach students how to take their writing apart, re-think and revise it
  • To show students how to experiment with different styles and forms
  • To guide students in creating a publishable manuscript or portion of one
  • To teach students how to read literature as a writer and a critic
  • To train students to teach creative writing, informed by current pedagogy and classroom experience
  • To give students the opportunity to edit an international literary magazine with their peers
  • To provide students with the tools to create strong applications for jobs in teaching, publishing, and editing

Curriculum for MFA in Prose and Poetry

The 15-course curriculum includes workshops in a concentration, electives, and two thesis courses to complete the MFA program experience. Required courses vary by specialization.


Electives are chosen from the graduate course offerings in the Master of Arts in Literature program, creative writing special topics courses (MCW 490) and the seminars and internships (practica) in teaching and publishing. Since good writers also need to be good readers, students must take electives in literary studies. Recent electives have included courses on popular fiction; reading, writing, and publishing the chapbook; inventing memory. Independent studies round out the program and provide an opportunity to strengthen writing portfolios.


The final project of the MFA program is a creative thesis, an original work of high literary merit (judged on the basis of art as well as craft). The creative thesis is structured and revised under the supervision of a faculty member (or faculty mentor) and a second reader. The project may be one long piece or a series of shorter pieces. It may include or be an expansion of work written during the student's course of study as long as it represents a culminating effort to shape stories, prose pieces, a long piece, or a group of poems into a coherent, self-sufficient work. This large-scale project supplements the smaller-scale study of craft with the invaluable experience of creating a larger work. And for students who plan to pursue book-length publication after graduation, the master's creative thesis may be the first version of a work in progress.

MFA in Prose and Poetry Courses

Explore MFA in Prose and Poetry Courses. You can narrow your course search by day, location or instructor.

Prose and Poetry Faculty

Learn from a faculty of esteemed writers in small-group workshops where instructors facilitate discussions that help students examine and address strengths and weaknesses in their writing as well as open up possibilities for re-thinking and revising. Get to know the instructors on our Prose and Poetry  Faculty page.

MFA in Prose and Poetry Admission

Candidates for admission to the MFA program must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or its foreign equivalent and possess a strong academic record, preferably in English, writing or related fields. In evaluating MFA applicants, the admissions committee will look for evidence of the ability to create a more sustained final project, for interest in an interdisciplinary program and for interest in learning how to teach. For a complete list of requirements, see the admission page for SPS graduate programs.

Students interested in the Litowitz Creative Writing Graduate Program should visit the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences website for admission information.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Prose and Poetry

Tuition for the MFA in Prose and Poetry program at Northwestern is comparable to similar US programs. Financial aid opportunities exist for students at Northwestern. Complete details can be found on the Prose and Poetry Tuition and Financial Aid pages.

Registration Information for Prose and Poetry

Already accepted into the MFA in Prose and Poetry program? Get ahead and register for your classes as soon as possible to ensure maximum efficiency in your progress. 


Careers in Prose and Poetry

Northwestern University’s MFA in Prose and Poetry is an arts degree. Students pursue the degrees in order to become better writers, able to create prose and poetry that draw on a full range of the craft. On a more practical level, MFA students become better writers, which prepares them for a variety of careers. For details visit the Prose and Poetry Career Options page.

Find out more about Northwestern's MFA in Prose and Poetry

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