Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with an Emphasis in Poetry
The Mills MFA in creative writing provides a strong foundation in poetry and contemporary literature. You will enter a community of writers who inspire and challenge one another to write their best work.
The master of fine arts (MFA) degree in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry will develop your growth as a writer and reader, enhance your awareness of the contemporary field, and highlight opportunities in publishing, teaching, and community work. Alumnae/i of our programs go on to publish books that shift the literary conversation. They teach, facilitate, and organize in their communities. They perform locally and nationally, win awards, and are successful publishers, editors, and academics.
While at Mills, you will study with our faculty of renowned writers and scholars working in diverse aesthetic traditions and critical frameworks. Your professors will encourage you to write a thesis that is risky, investigative, and confident, that pushes your development as a writer, and speaks to your own passions, experiences, and ideas.
Workshops and craft classes form the core of our curriculum and center your writing. Elective credits allow you to take additional literature, craft, cultural studies, and theory classes. You may also choose to pursue a variety of concentrated study options with your elective credits, including those in PhD preparation, education, and literary arts administration. Concentrations hone your degree and help you follow the path of successful alumnae/i.
The department is committed to your professional development, and our curriculum also includes classes focused on pedagogy, publishing, and performance. Our graduate assistantship program in composition and rhetoric is unique for its apprenticeship model and provides classroom experience in an undergraduate setting known for its excellence, along with being among the most diverse student populations in the nation. Students work closely with faculty and are supported by strong curriculum in theory and praxis. They also work in our LAB as tutors (including bilingual opportunities) and in local community college courses, where we have an outstanding placement record for alumnae/i. Graduate assistants with the Place for Writers produce a variety of events on campus and develop skills in marketing, social media, and event production, helpful for later careers in arts administration.
You’ll have opportunities to engage with professors, students, and a vibrant literary arts community on and off campus. Students regularly attend arts events and collaborate with peers across other graduate programs. You can access lectures and research libraries at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and California College of the Arts. Cross-registration is also possible.
Students who enroll full time can expect to complete the MFA in Poetry degree requirements in two years. Part-time study is an easily accessible option, but may extend the total length of your program.
We offer a wide range of part-time graduate assistantships that provide valuable experience in teaching, tutoring, arts administration, editing, and publishing. We also offer a small number of competitive full-tuition fellowships. Learn more about special funding opportunities for applicants entering the MFA and MA programs.
- Students will become familiar with literary works and ideas from an author, period, genre, or specific selection of periods and genres.
- Students will gain in-depth knowledge of a particular literary period, genre, or writer(s).
- Students will develop critical or creative writing skills through experience with a variety of writing assignments.
- Students will formulate and execute a viable advanced project that engages with advanced critical and creative writing skills.
- Students will understand the relationships between history, literature, and culture and the ways literature reflects and effects changes in societies.
- Students will gain skills in teaching writing of various genres, practice as a teacher and fundamentals of writing pedagogy.
Minimum of 44 semester course credits
The basic curricular components of this program consist of
- four graduate writing workshops (12 credits)
- two craft of poetry courses (6 credits)
- elective courses (20 credits)
- thesis course (6 credits)
Note: All courses must be taken for a grade. Courses taken on a pass/no pass basis may not be used to fulfill any degree requirements.
Graduate Writing Workshops (12 credits):
At least three of the four required writing workshops must be ENG 270 Graduate Poetry Workshop. This workshop must be taken in consecutive semesters during the first year. All workshop credits must be taken at the graduate level (200) to fulfill this requirement. The department recommends that students work with several different instructors, as exposure to varied perspectives is crucial to one's development as a writer. Registration for required workshops is facilitated through the department. Students are welcome to take more than one workshop per semester on a space-available basis.
Note: While students may apply to switch creative writing genres while they are in the MFA program, they should keep in mind that if their application is approved by the department, they are still required to take the three required workshops in the new genre of study which may extend their total number of semesters in the program. Students should check the department’s google drive folder for more information and procedures.
Craft of Poetry Courses (6 credits):
Students are required to take ENG 204 The Craft of Poetry consecutively during their first two semesters of study. Other craft courses offered in the department may be taken for elective credit.
Electives (minimum of 20 credits):
The elective credits can be any graduate-level (200) or upper-division undergraduate (100) course offered by the College for academic credit. It is assumed that the majority of electives will be literature or additional craft courses unless a student is pursuing a concentration area (see below). Students are urged to consult their academic advisor about which electives would be most useful for their course of study.
- No more than 6 credits taken at the upper division undergraduate level (100) may be used to satisfy the elective credit requirement (lower-division courses do not satisfy any graduate degree requirements).
- No more than 3 elective credits may be satisfied through Independent Study.
- No more than two graduate workshops (6 credits) may be used to satisfy the elective credit requirement.
- Students who are awarded a graduate assistantship in the Rhetoric and Composition Program must complete ENG 272 Theories and Strategies of Teaching Writing either concurrently or prior to their assistantship.
Students may also gain teaching experience through a Mills classroom TA practicum (ENG 277). Off-campus teaching, publishing internships, or other professional experience can also be taken for practicum credit. Both courses may only be taken on a pass/no pass basis and may not be used to fulfill any degree requirements.
Thesis Course (6 credits):
ENG 250 is the two-semester course that is completed in the final year of study and must be taken consecutively from fall to spring. The course does not have an assigned class period and instead requires regular meetings between the student and the thesis director. Students submit their choices for thesis directors and readers, and the department assigns final thesis committees. Please see the department's google drive folder for full thesis schedule and guidelines.
Students may pursue a variety of concentrated study options with their elective credits. Concentration areas provide access to more focused study of: young adult fiction; preparation for application to PhD programs; education; or literary arts management. These concentration areas reflect the career paths that many alumni pursue. Concentration areas still allow flexibility to take additional elective credit in literature and other craft courses. Concentrations are always completed in addition to the core requirements (ENG 270 Graduate Poetry Workshop and ENG 204 The Craft of Poetry) and cannot be used to replace these courses.
Concentration in Young Adult Fiction
Those interested in studying young adult fiction use their elective credit to take the following courses:
- ENG 209 The Craft of the Young Adult Novel: suggested sequence—first semester
- ENG 255 Advanced Fiction for Children and Young Adults Workshop: suggested sequence—once in the second semester and again in the fourth semester
Concentration in PhD Preparation
MFA students who wish to pursue a PhD use their elective credit to take the following courses:
- ENG 282 Critical Theory: suggested sequence—first semester
- Two literature courses both which must include the graduate-only lab
- ENG 250A MA Research Project suggested sequence—fourth semester
Concentration in Education
Those interested in teaching use their elective credits to take the following courses:
- ENG 272 Theories and Strategies of Teaching Writing: suggested sequence—first semester
- EDUC 210A Research and Inquiry Methods in Education: MEET: suggested sequence—third semester
- EDUC 210B Research and Inquiry Methods in Education: MEET: suggested sequence—fourth semester
Concentration in Literary Arts Administration
Those interested in pursuing a career in literary arts administration, marketing, or related fields use their elective credits to take the following courses:
|MGMT 286||The Business of Being an Artist||3-3|
|Select an additional 6 credits from the following:|
|Persuasive Oral Presentations|
|Funding Social Impact|