Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing at OSU-Cascades is a two-year program divided equally between intensive ten-day residencies and term-length individual mentorships. OSU-Cascades runs on a quarter system, with mentorships in the winter and summer quarters and residencies in the fall and spring quarters. Four residency quarters and four mentorship quarters are required to graduate.

Online versus Long-Distance Instruction

The OSU-Cascades MFA in Creative Writing follows a mentor-based studio-research model. There are no online classes or workshops in our program. There are, however, online components and students must be available for online communications via email, Canvas course sites and the MFA blog. During mentorships, instruction occurs directly between the faculty mentor and the student and amongst the group of peer editors. The work during mentorships is termed “independent study,” which means that students are closely supervised and maintain constant dialogue with faculty and peers. Our mentorship model is meant to provide students with the crucial combination of solitude and community artists need. After the excitement and intensity of residency, the semester provides a welcome change: concentrated periods of reading and reflection; focused, on-going dialogue with a mentor; and hours and hours of writing. There is something fundamentally different about being in graduate school as a writer; in short, the writing life is inherently self-directed and unpredictable. Writing takes time, and dedication, and perseverance, and the drive to return to the writing desk because you have a passion for this art and not because you are merely completing course requirements.

Statement of Community Principles

We create a safe and nurturing space in which students from a diversity of backgrounds can realize their full potential as writers.

We work together as a community to enable individual success, and to create interpersonal interactions that support the dignity and differences of individuals and their work.

We create a climate that values the diversity of ethnicity, race, gender and gender identity, nationality, age, language, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, disability, political affiliation, and other unseen differences.

We work together to conduct creative, scholarly and professional research in an ethical manner.

Cross Genre Philosophy

We encourage our student to explore other genres, with this caveat: it is important to get foundational instruction in a core genre first. We want our students to have a genuine grasp on the techniques, history and social conventions of this genre before undertaking extensive instruction in another genre. Faculty lunches are a good way to test the waters, so to speak, and start to think about signing up for a workshop in another genre, or to pursue a mentorship in another genre in the future. During our residencies, students have the opportunity to self-select special topics workshops; they will not be assigned. Second-year students and students working in genre have first priority; after that, we will consider students who would like to cross from prose to poetry or vice versa. In the summer, students have the opportunity to choose their advisors, and once again second-year students and students working in genre have first priority; after that, and also giving consideration to faculty workload, we will consider students who would like to cross from prose to poetry or vice versa. We encourage students to consult Core Faculty and the Program Director when making this choice. Finally, the optional fifth and sixth mentorships can be an excellent opportunity to explore cross-genre work after mastering a core genre.

Learn more about how our innovative, holistic philosophy translates into actual curriculum by reading the MFA in Creative Writing Handbook.