The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at OSU-Cascades is a 2-year program divided between intensive ten-day residencies held at the OSU-Cascades campus in Bend, Oregon, and term-length individual mentorships you complete at home. OSU-Cascades runs on a quarter system, with mentorships in the winter and summer quarters and residencies in the spring (early June) and fall quarters (early November).
This rigorous yet flexible course of study enables our students to pursue a graduate degree while weathering the responsibilities of everyday life.
The teacher student ratio is approximately 1:4. Professors are devoted to students’ work and create an individualized program of study for each student mentee.
Our graduate students come to us from top-ranked universities all over the country and from a wide variety of academic majors and post-collegiate careers. We accept students of all ages and backgrounds and welcome diversity.
We do not enroll to meet certain quota; accepted applicants must meet our very high standards and demonstrate the ambition, talent, self-reliance and collegiality to thrive in our low-residency MFA Program.
The basis for admission is your work, your background and goals as a writer, our sense that we are a best fit for your writing career, and your demonstration of the self-reliance and collegiality needed to thrive in a low-residency MFA Program.
MFA students are admitted in a single, self-selected genre but have the opportunity to write and study across genre—and even to challenge the notion of genre itself. We work across disciplines and styles to find the most true, most meaningful, most nourishing ways to make art and support one another’s art-making. There is an emphasis on hybrid- and cross- genre work (through common texts and assignments), mixed-genre seminars, and faculty and visiting artists who work and teach in multiple mediums.
There are two phases to your study in our Low-Residency MFA: Pre-residency Coursework and Residency, followed by a Mentorship.
We have six core faculty who actively teach in our program; these mentors are familiar with the program formats and standards and actively involved in curriculum design.
It’s important to the program that students work with faculty mentors who are passionate about their work and feel able to contribute toward individual goals and to grow individual talents. In advance of your first residency, the program director and the core faculty work together to read student work samples to determine mentorship pairs. Assignments are pedagogical and seek to match the particular strengths, experience and enthusiasms of faculty and students. Each mentorship pairing starts during the residency and continues into the subsequent mentorship term. It’s approximately a ten-week relationship. Students will work with up to four different mentors; it is expected that they will work with at least two.
Philosophy & Logistics
Mentorship of individual students happens in winter and summer quarters and involves regular exchanges of packets of work and responses to student work. Packets include original creative work by students, revisions of original creative work by students, and responses to reading assignments. Faculty responses may be written and/or oral and should include suggestions for revision, guided writing exercises, reading suggestions, publishing advice, etc., as well as evaluation of student progress.
You will begin your program with a residency term. Residency terms begin in September and April and consist of pre-residency coursework followed by the ten day residency (early November and June).
Residencies consist of three major components: scheduled academics, writing time, and creative exploration. During these biannual residency periods, students meet with their cohort of students, core faculty mentors, and distinguished visiting writers. Students should expect to sharpen writing skills, diversify portfolios, establish a community of colleagues and peers, deepen understanding of the writing life, and explore the craft of creative writing from a variety of perspectives. These writing retreats seed conversations between students and their faculty mentors and also, significantly, between students across all genres of study. Students complete approximately 8 hours of coursework per day with scheduled time for writing, events, and recreation. Students are required to participate fully in the entire 10-day residency to earn credit for the term and the MFA in Creative Writing degree.
A Typical Day At The Residency
Morning: Workshop/Project Planning or Elective
Lunch: Faculty panel on a professionalization topic
Afternoon: Seminar or Foundational Course
3:30-5 p.m.: Writing Time
5-6 p.m.: Free Time
6 p.m.: Dinner
7 p.m. Homework or Informal Community-Building Event