Career Options

Northwestern University’s Master of Arts in Writing is an arts degree. Students pursue the degree 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, MA/MFA students become better writers, which prepares them for a variety of careers: an array of jobs in technical and digital fields, marketing, public relations, journalism, arts administration, and editing. The MA/MFA also offers courses that prepare students to teach writing or work in publishing. Students who take a seminar and practicum in teaching learn how to design courses, prepare class plans, and lead workshops. An MA is the standard credential for teaching in community colleges—the fastest-growing segment of  higher education—and undergraduate English courses. An MFA and significant publications are usually required for tenure-track appointments in undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs. Students who take a seminar and practicum in publishing acquire a comprehensive understanding of the various interconnected sectors of book publishing: agenting, marketing, distribution, social media, bookselling, reviewing.  

Recent MFA Publications

  • Nonfiction MFA student Kevin Davis published his nonfiction book, The Brain Defense: The clash of neuroscience, law and criminal responsibility, for Penguin.
  • Punctum Books has accepted poetry alumnus Anthony Opal’s poetry manuscript for publication.
  • Alumna Virginia Smith Rice has published her first poetry collection, When I Wake It Will Be Forever, with Sundress Publications.
  • Alumna Claire Zulkey published a young adult novel, An Off Year with Dutton/Penguin
  • Alumnus L.C. Fiore published a novel, Green Gospel with Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama.
  • Alumnus Richard Baer’s nonfiction book Switching Time: A Doctor's Harrowing Story of Treating a Woman with 17 was published by Crown/Random House.
  • Alumnus Michael Moreci's graphic novel Quarantined was released by Insomnia Publications.
  • Students and alumni have published in Poetry, Ploughshares, One Story, McSweeney's, MAKE, Folio, Michigan Quarterly Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Printers Row, and anthologies as diverse as The Best Creative Nonfiction and Vampyr Verse. They have been AWP Intro Journals Project winners, and have won contests, such as the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition/Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, and the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Creative Writing Competition, as well as the Nelson Algren Award for a short story.
  • Students find the Chicago area amenable to new projects. Alumna Dana Norris created Story Club, which has grown from a local reading series to a multi-city series and a magazine. Poetry alumnus Anthony Opal has launched the online literary journals Economy and TAG.
  • Students and alumni have taught at Columbia College-Chicago, City Colleges of Chicago, Harper College, University of Chicago Graham School, Loyola University, the Newberry Library, Northwestern School of Professional Studies, Foothill College (Los Altos Hills, CA), San Jose (CA) City College, Taylor Business Institute, Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, StoryStudio Chicago and other institutions.
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