Send Me Info Apply Now

The MFA in Creative Writing is a two-year program combining writing with studies in craft, literature and vocation. Seeking a balance between the craft of writing and the writing life, the course of study emphasizes the importance of getting out to the development of the apprentice writer. In addition to writing workshops, the faculty offers courses such as fieldwork, graphic design, children’s literature, visual design theory, transmedia, literary publishing and the book arts.

MFA the Oregon Way
Degree Criteria

Degree Requirements
Academic Calendar
Assessment
Graduation Criteria
Fees

MFA the Oregon Way

What will it look like?
How will it speak to others?
Why are you making it?

1) Peter Streckfus encourages his students to ask their poems these three questions; our MFA is designed to encourage you to do the same with your graduate degree. This way you, the student, take responsibility for and ownership of your education, your writerly ambitions, and the consequences of your work in the larger world.

2) Learning to write, Joshua Marie Wilkinson coaxes us, is like learning to swim: you have to learn to trust your body in the water, so to speak. You’ve got to be willing to take yourself to a place that’s strange and unfamiliar and even a bit uncomfortable, to destabilize yourself, to see what makes you sweat. Coursework at OSU-Cascades aims to do just that: to create an environment of mutual respect, to foster a spirit of invention, and to cultivate an atmosphere of entrepreneurial innovation in which all students can exercise their creative muscles.

3) In addition to the craft of writing, we teach our students the artistic discipline, self reliance, networking skills, courage and commitment needed to sustain creative livelihoods after they graduate—whether they teach, use their love of writing to inform or enrich a corresponding career, or continue, like Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and T.S. Eliot and more recently Ted Kooser and Michael Cunningham, to write outside their “day” jobs.

Degree Criteria

In general, students who graduate with the MFA degree will:

1) Demonstrate a rich and articulate understanding of the elements of the genre(s) in which they write, as evidenced by original work.
2) Develop and employ techniques of intensive revision.
3) Demonstrate an understanding of the contemporary creative writing profession.
4) Demonstrate mastery of various literary theories and techniques, with an attention to period, gender, genre and multiculturalism.
5) Create polished creative work of publishable quality.

Degree Requirements

To complete the course of study for the Low-Residency MFA degree in Creative Writing, the student’s record must indicate the following:

  • Full participation in 4 residency sessions
  • Successful completion of 4 mentorship quarters
  • Broad reading in literature and contemporary letters
  • A thesis manuscript of high quality (a minimum of 70 pages for a prose thesis and 48 pages for a poetry thesis)
  • An oral examination
  • Participation in the Graduating Student Collaborative Capstone

Academic Calendar

Year One

Fall Term

August: Welcome to our Brave New World!

September: Self-Directed Study

October: Pre-Residency Homework

November: Residency #1, 12 credits WR 500: Residency

December: Self-Directed Study

Winter Term
January-March: Mentorship #1, 12 credits WR 513: Mentorship

Spring Term

April: Self-Directed Study

May: Pre-Residency Homework

June: Residency #2, 12 credits WR 500: Residency

Summer Term

July-August: Mentorship #2, 5 credits WR 513: Mentorship

Year Two

Fall Term

September: Self-Directed Study

October: Pre-Residency Homework

November: Residency #3, 12 credits WR 500: Residency

December: Self-Directed Study

Winter Term

January-March: Mentorship #3, 12 credits WR 513: Mentorship

Spring Term

April: Self-Directed Study

May: Pre-Residency Homework

June: Residency #4, 12 credits WR 500: Residency

Summer Term

July-August: Mentorship #4, 7 credits WR 503: Thesis

September: Matriculation!

More program details

Assessment

Evaluation methods are designed to accommodate the varied and unpredictable nature of the creative process and to foster the growth of the individual artist.

Graduation Requirements

In addition to the 4 residency quarters and 4 mentorship quarters, all MFA candidates are required to complete a thesis, to participate in the Graduating Student Collaborative Capstone, to deliver a Graduating Student Experience, and to complete an oral examination following graduate school guidelines.

We encourage non-traditional approaches to the thesis and collaborative capstone, including transgenre, collaborative and multi-media work.

Thesis

The thesis is a sustained piece of imaginative writing of literary merit and publishable quality. The thesis demonstrates the students’ best work and their understanding of their own place in the contemporary literary landscape. Generally, length, form and content are mutually agreed upon by the student and the thesis mentor, depending on the student’s needs and goals, with final approval resting with the mentor. No one is held or limited to a single mode or genre. We are open to a variety of styles and forms, and encourage students to imagine a thesis that best represents their mastery of the craft of creative writing, as well as their ambitions for their writing life after graduation.

All Theses

All theses include a 5-7 page letter of introduction in which students demonstrate an understanding of their own place in the contemporary literary landscape of their chosen aesthetic. Students discuss the works/authors that have influenced their thinking and writing and discuss craft techniques, critical theories, pedagogical philosophies and themes (such as gender/sexuality, race, class, trauma, and so forth) pertinent to their work. 

Poetry

As a guideline, most poetry theses are 48-80 pages.

Prose

As a guideline, most poetry theses are 70-120 pages.

Transgenre

As a guideline, most transgenre theses are 48-120 pages.

Graduating Student Collaborative Capstone

This capstone collaborative presentation is devised by the entire graduating class, and, in addition to demonstrating students’ mastery of all aspects of the MFA curriculum, it should demonstrate creativity, vision, risk, collaboration and place-based art-making. It should also make clear the creative livelihoods students plan to embark upon after graduation. We encourage students to incorporate expertise that extends beyond the strict purview of creative writing to other artistic disciplines, other methods of knowledge-making and community-building, and other strategies for stimulating the imagination.

Collaborative Capstones can and should vary according to the enthusiasms, expertise and ambitions of each graduating cohort. In general, like our curriculum, the capstones incorporate a craft component, and experiential component, and a community outreach, social justice or ecological component. The form and style are open; capstones might involve multi-media happenings, site-specific performances, the creation of a handmade book or other art object, a video essay or film, or a reading. Readings, however, should go beyond the typical confines and expectations of a literary reading, and involve some kind of discussion, costuming, sound, site-specific setting, props and so forth.

Each student will turn in a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the process.

Oral Examination

A final oral examination is required for all MS and MA degree programs, and all other graduate degree programs that involve completion of a thesis or research-in-lieu-of-thesis. The final oral examination for master's candidates may, at the discretion of the graduate program, consist of a public thesis defense followed by a closed session of the examining committee with the candidate. Under normal circumstances, the final oral examination should be scheduled for two hours.

For master's candidates whose programs require an integrative capstone, not more than half of the examination period should be devoted to the presentation and defense of the integrative capstone and thesis; the remaining time can be spent on questions relating to the student's knowledge of the major field. Graduate faculty serving on thesis-oriented master's degree programs may contribute to the direction of the student's integrative capstone and thesis, will assess the student's integrative capstone and thesis and his or her defense of both in the final oral examination, will vote to pass or fail the student, and may sign the thesis when it is in acceptable final form. The examining committee consists of at least four members of the graduate faculty—two in the major field, one in the minor field if a minor is included, and a graduate council representative. When a minor is not included, the fourth member may be from the graduate faculty at large. All members of the student's graduate committee must approve the scheduling of the final examination.

Students writing a thesis must have a graduate council representative on their committee. It is the student's responsibility to obtain his or her own graduate council representative from a list provided by the graduate school. This must be done prior to scheduling the final exam.

Fees

Students pay per credit, as described by the Office of Business Affairs.

For students enrolling in 2018, the approximate cost of the two-year degree is $45,500 for in-state students and out-of-state students.

Please note that tuition and fees increase on a yearly basis and are set by the state; the numbers here are estimates based on the current year's tuition and fees.

Please also note that data in the Tuition Table represents Tuition Costs only and does not include Mandatory Fees nor the Residency Fee. The Mandatory Fee information can be found in the Mandatory Fee Tables; instructions for calculating total tuition and fees can be found here


Residency Fees

Meal and Lodging fees of $1250 are due 1 month in advance of each residency session, and are payable via check, cash or credit card. See Residency Dates & Logistics for more information.