Creative Writing (MFA)

The Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon is a two-year residency in which Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students concentrate in either poetry or fiction. The Program emphasizes the workshop, integrating concentrated time for writing with craft seminars and individualized reading tutorials.

You’ll hear our program is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t—and we’re proud of that. We hope to offer our students the rigorous apprenticeship we undertook with our own teachers.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Proficiency in close reading. We expect our MFA candidates to read widely and meticulously while pursuing their studies. Our aim is for each student to encounter a variety of historical periods, aesthetic styles, and critical approaches. Any student graduating from our program should be capable of examining a single text for its many formal conventions and the style or styles with which it is conversant.
  • Development of vocabularies for assessing literature, with an emphasis on craft. Our graduate students are expected to acquire the clear and sophisticated language that enables them to speak at length about a range of craft considerations for any single piece of literature. This applies to the published works they encounter in our craft seminars, but it is equally essential in the Creative Writing Workshop, when they comprehensively critique the works of their peers.
  • Application of the formal elements of craft in either genre. We expect our apprentice poets and fiction writers to be able to identify, assess, and deploy many of the formal conventions they encounter in the Creative Writing workshop and craft seminar. We believe that the practice of exploring formal challenges is necessary for the MFA student in order to build on his or her own resources as an artist. We especially believe that a knowledge of such conventions is a responsibility of any writer in our MFA program.
  • Familiarity with fundamental concepts, forms, modes, and traditions in literary fiction and/or poetry. At the graduate level, this outcome is particularly geared toward and measured by the MFA exam that all of our graduating students take at the end of their second year. Our expectation is that our students will demonstrate a command of the texts they have encountered while earning their degrees, along with the multitude of aesthetic concepts, compositional possibilities, and artistic concerns to which they have been exposed.

NOTE: The list of outcomes above builds on the basic expectations we also hold for 
our undergraduate students in the Creative Writing Program. Because our pedagogical 
goals are continuously fundamental in nature, both at the undergraduate and graduate 
level of study, we view our curriculum and the varietal redundancies below as a 
cumulative process, one through which our poets and fiction writers build a portfolio of 
knowledge whose components are interactive. This is to say we view historical periods, 
critical modalities, and aesthetic movements to be in constant conversation with one 

Additionally, what distinguishes the outcomes below from their undergraduate 
counterparts is that we expect all our MFA candidates to wear two hats simultaneously: 
that of the apprentice writer and that of the apprentice teacher, given that all of the 
people enrolled in our program teach Creative Writing classes in their first year and 
Composition in their second. The following outcomes should be considered very much 
in this context, in that our graduate students are expected to both pursue these goals as 
scholars then contemplate the many ways these skills translate to their own pedagogical 

The entirety of our curriculum is structured with the expectation that we enable our 
MFA graduates to continue to grow intellectually and develop as writers and masters of 
the craft once they have received their degrees, long after they have left the University 
of Oregon.

Master of Fine Arts Degree Requirements

The candidate must complete the graduate work during six consecutive terms in residence at the university. The candidate must pass a written examination on a reading list of works of fiction or poetry.

CRWR 605Writing and Conference: [Topic]9
CRWR 607Seminar: [Topic] (MFA Seminar)18
CRWR 609Terminal Project9
CRWR 635MFA Poetry Workshop36
or CRWR 645 MFA Fiction Workshop
Total Credits72