Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing — with specialization in either poetry or fiction—is a fully-funded, full-time two-year program of workshops, literature courses and electives, culminating in a final thesis of literary work worthy of publication. Distinguished by the one-on-one attention students receive from our faculty poets and writers, the MFA program offers a strong, supportive start to a creative life in words.
Our program is small, so we can focus on you. We accept only about a dozen students each year, with six or seven students in fiction, and another six or seven in poetry. We’ll help you pursue your interests in history, linguistics, science, design or other disciplines that might inform and enrich your writing. Ours is a 36-hour program, consisting of four workshops (12 hours) and six classes of graduate-level coursework (18 hours), plus thesis hours (6 hours). We offer full funding in the form of a graduate teaching assistantship to all eligible admitted applicants.
One of a Kind
Ours is the only Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area
First-Rate Faculty Mentors
Our faculty of working poets and writers believe that individual attention is key: that’s what makes our program so strong. We’ll work with you as you wrangle with your words, while you polish your poems, until your manuscript is submission worthy. We want to help you fine tune your skills and launch your career.
Our poetry faculty includes the much-awarded Dorianne Laux (The Book of Men, Facts About the Moon), Joseph Millar (Kingdom, Overtime), and Eduardo C. Corral (Slow Lightning).
Our fiction faculty includes best-selling, award-winning writers: short-story writer and memoirist Belle Boggs (The Art of Waiting, Mattaponi Queen); science-fiction writer John Kessel (The Moon and the Other, Pride and Prometheus, Another Orphan); New York Times bestselling novelist Wilton Barnhardt (Lookaway, Lookaway; Emma Who Saved My Life); and Southern lit favorite Jill McCorkle (Life After Life, The Cheer Leader).
The Many Paths to Making a Family
Drawing from research and her personal experiences, award-winning author and NC State professor Belle Boggs published "The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine and Motherhood," a work that expounds the realities of fertility, choice and the many paths to making a family. The book landed on several must-read lists, and has been featured by The New York Times,
Barnhardt’s Latest: Lookaway, Lookaway
Wilton Barnhardt, professor of creative writing, published his first novel when he was 29. After covering stock car racing for Sports Illustrated, he came to teach in NC State’s MFA program when it enrolled its first students in 2005. Barnhardt models his novels after 19th century classics, in the tradition of Charles Dickens and Henry James. After writing sprawling novels about New York, Hollywood and religion, his fourth novel, Lookaway, Lookaway, covers the South.
Community of Creativity
Writers Receive Recognition
A Talented Bunch
Writers from NC State’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, including a current student and three alumni, were recognized for their work in science fiction and fantasy.
Study your writing craft at NC State, and you’ll become part of a tight-knit cohort. Our students apprentice under master writers, and as such, prepare to become the next generation of master writers themselves. We’ll demand a lot from you: your time, your focus, your commitment to your craft. But trust us. You’ll reap far more than you sow.
NC State’s mantra of Think and Do applies to the MFA program, where you’ll learn by doing. Student work produced here has been published and honored by such prestigious groups such as The American Academy of Poets, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and The American Poetry Review, among others.
The sense of community in our program extends far beyond our campus. You’ll meet — and hang out with — poets laureate, Pulitzer-prize winning novelists and other writers we bring to campus for free public readings and for intimate gatherings with our students. And we encourage creativity across the state of North Carolina by hosting two of the largest free literary competitions in the Southeast.
You learn from the professors, but you learn from other people in the program, too. They’re a thoughtful, positive, critically savvy group. I learned something every day.
Kij Johnson (MFA '12) Hugo Award winner; three-time Nebula Award winner
The NC State Poetry Contest is open to all North Carolina residents, with some exceptions. Our special guest judges — who join us on campus to announce the winners and read from their own works — have included Thomas Lux, Barbara Ras, Li-Young Lee and Yusef Komunyakaa. Contest winners receive cash awards.
Our annual short story and short-short story contest is one of the largest free literary competitions in the Southeast. Guest judges have included Lee Smith, Ron Rash and Wiley Cash. The contest, open to all North Carolina residents (a few exceptions apply) offers cash prizes.
NC State Literary Readings
We host a visiting writers series that brings renowned authors and poets to campus. Our guests have included U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, W.S. Merwin, Maxine Kumin and Charles Simic; Pulitzer Prize winners Alice Walker and Stephen Dunn; and National Book Award winner John Barth, among many others.
Since our MFA program was established in 2005, we’ve helped some outstanding writers find their voices. Among our alumni is Therese Anne Fowler, whose fourth book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, was a 2013 New York Times bestseller and is now a television series starring Christina Ricci (Z: The Beginning of Everything), available through Amazon. There’s science fiction writer Kij Johnson, whose first collection of short stories (At the Mouth of the River of Bees) contained stories that won Nebula and Hugo Awards. Johnson now teaches at the University of Kansas. And MFA alum and poet Noel Crook’s debut collection, Salt Moon, won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press. While she was still an MFA student, Alyssa Wong won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 2016 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. Copper Canyon Press —a terrific and highly respected publisher of poetry — is printing 2017 MFA graduate Tyree Daye’s debut poetry collection, River Hymns. Daye’s manuscript was chosen for the 2017 American Poetry Review’s Honickman First Book Prize over 900+ other entries.
Alumna’s Novel Inspires Streaming Series on Zelda Fitzgerald
Alumna Therese Fowler is headed for the red carpet. The 2005 MFA in creative writing grad is in New York this week for the premiere of Z: The Beginning of Everything, a new TV series adapted from the pages of her 2013 novel about Zelda Fitzgerald.