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Program Information

Important information about the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing.


Students must complete the following degree requirements:

  • 4 intensive, 10-day residencies alternating at DeSales and in Europe or Canada
  • 4 practicum semesters with a writing mentor
  • An additional semester to produce, complete and refine an original creative manuscript of poetry or fiction
  • A defense of the creative manuscript, including a meeting with the review committee as well as a public reading and Q&A defense

MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Program Information

  • Residency Requirements

    • Students must attend four residencies: 2 on campus, 2 in Europe/Canada
    • Students must attend all events of each residency. Mornings are given to meetings with mentors and workshops; afternoons and evenings are devoted to visiting writers and guest speakers.
    • At the conclusion of the residency, the student and mentor will have produced a reading, research writing and creative writing schedule.
    • Each student will also produce a guided textual analysis reflection essay using sources from the residency book list.
  • Practicum Information

    • Practicum follows the residency. In consultation with their mentor and in group work with their cohort, students must complete the work for which they contracted during the residency.
    • A minimum of four individual meetings with mentors are required during the practicum.
    • Students will also attend a minimum of three online sessions with their cohort during the semester.
    • At the end of each practicum, mentors will submit a précis of the student’s progress and an evaluation of that student’s completion of the contract, as designed in Residency. The student’s portfolio is then submitted to the MFA office. These portfolios and evaluations are part of the student’s permanent MFA record.
      • A mentor may give a grade of
        • PO+: Pass with Excellence,
        • PO: Pass,
        • PO-: Pass with Improvement Required. (Students may earn only one PO- grade.
        • F: Fail.
      • An I, Incomplete, will require students to complete the work before signing up for their next residency.I is issued only in documented situations of serious student or family health issues.
    • If a student does not complete the Practicum requirements, s/he fails that semester, must repeat the semester and may not register for the next residency.
  • Manuscript and Defense

    • In the final semester of the program, students must produce a book-length collection of poetry or prose. All manuscripts must be bound.
    • Poetry manuscripts must be 64 pages.
    • Prose manuscripts should be between 150-400 pages, depending on format (short stories, novella, novel, memoir, essays).
    • Tables of contents are necessary for poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction essays. Title page is necessary. All manuscripts must contain a cover page with name, date, student’s previous academic degrees and the statement, “This manuscript is submitted as the thesis in partial fulfillment for the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at DeSales University” followed by the date.

    Students will confer with their mentor on the thesis manuscript; these conferences may begin as early as the first semester and will continue throughout the program. By the fifth semester, students should already have produced significant material that will inform the thesis. When the thesis is complete, the following protocol will occur:

    • The mentor will inform the Director in writing that the thesis is ready for review and defense.
    • The student will submit four copies of the manuscript to the Director at least four weeks before the defense.
    • The director will assemble an academic committee to review the manuscript over a ten day period.If it is not accepted by all committee members, it is returned to the student for revision.
    • Once the manuscript has been accepted, the defense is scheduled.All members of the committee and the student’s mentor will attend the defense, during which the student will present the work, its intent, its appropriateness within the student’s chosen literary tradition and the process that went into the work.
    • The student then presents a public reading to an invited audience, followed by a question and answer session. This public reading should be scheduled soon after the defense.
  • Courses

    Each residency semester consists of 8 credits, as follows:

    • EN 501 MFA Residency 4 credits
    • EN 510 Practicum 4 credits
    • EN 502 MFA Residency 4 credits
    • EN 520 Practicum 4 credits 
    • EN 503 MFA Residency 4 credits
    • EN 530 Practicum 4 credits
    • EN 504 MFA Residency 4 credits
    • EN 540 Practicum 4 credits
    • EN 505Thesis Semester 4 credits
  • Final Thesis Exemption Option

    Previously published authors who enter the MFA may earn an exemption from the final thesis semester, provided they meet the following criteria: 

    • Prior to entering the program, they will have published a book-length manuscript of one of the following from an established publisher: 
      • A novel 
      • Collection of short stories 
      • Collection of poetry 
      • Collection of essays or memoir
    • Self-published collections or vanity publishers will not be accepted for this exemption. 
    • The student must petition in writing for the exemption on or before the completion of the second practicum. 
    • The student will produce, during the course of the MFA, a completely new book-length manuscript of one of the above genres. 
    • The student will have worked with his/her mentor to edit and revise this final manuscript prior to their fourth residency. 
    • The mentor will have certified that the manuscript is indeed complete and that the student is ready for defense of manuscript and public reading. 

    If the student meets all of the above criteria, s/he may defend and do the public reading at a scheduled time during the final month of the fourth practicum. Defense and reading will be on campus and will include the mentors, fellow MFA students and invited guests. Following successful defense and public reading, the student will be granted credit for the thesis semester and will graduate from the MFA. 


Online Learning at DeSales

Attending classes from an off-campus location can be an excellent option for many busy students. Distance education at DeSales encompasses everything from video conference courses to hybrid (a combination of in-class and online) to online courses. 

Brightspace by D2LTM is our online learning system.

Learn About Online Learning at DeSales

Contact Us

MFA in Creative Writing
Dooling Hall 255