MFA students read a book on the Court of North Carolina

MFA in Creative Writing

Specialize in poetry or fiction through our Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Work with our award-winning poets and writers to hone your craft. 

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The MFA is a two-year, fully-funded program, consisting of workshops, interdisciplinary coursework and a final thesis of literary work. Distinguished by the one-on-one attention students receive from our faculty poets and writers, the program offers a strong, supportive start to a creative life in words.


MFA students pose with Margaret Atwood

Admission Info

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 offer full funding in the form of a graduate teaching assistantship to all eligible admitted applicants. Deadline to apply: Feb. 1. 

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One of a Kind

Ours is the only Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area.

Degree Requirements

The MFA is a 36-hour program, consisting of four workshops, six graduate-level courses and a thesis of literary work. 

Our students apprentice under master writers, and as such, prepare to become the next generation of master writers themselves. Student work produced here has been published and honored by prestigious groups such as The American Academy of Poets, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and The American Poetry Review, among others.

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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:

  • Sumita Chakraborty (Arrow)
  • Eduardo C. Corral (Slow Lightning; Guillotine)
  • Meg Day (Last Psalm at Sea Level)

Our fiction faculty:

  • Belle Boggs (The GulfThe Art of Waiting)
  • Carter Sickels (The Prettiest Star, The Evening Hour)
  • LaTanya McQueen (When the Reckoning Comes, And it Begins Like This)

Retired faculty: 

  • John Balaban (Locusts at the Edge of Summer; Empires; Passing Through a Gate; etc.)
  • Wilton Barnhardt (Western Alliances, Lookaway, LookawayEmma Who Saved My Life; etc.) 
  • John Kessel (The Moon and The OtherPride and Prometheus; etc.)
  • Dorianne Laux (The Book of Men; Only As the Day is Long; Facts About the Moon; etc.)
  • Jill McCorkle (Old Crimes, Life After LifeThe Cheer Leader, etc.)

Meet the Faculty

"They’re a thoughtful, positive, critically savvy group."

Kij Johnson (MFA '12)

Outstanding Alumni

Alumni Spotlight

Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Meet 2018 MFA alumna Sarah Grunder Ruiz — and learn more about her debut novel, Love, Lists and Fancy Ships

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Since our MFA program was established in 2005, we’ve helped some outstanding writers find their voices. Among our alumni are:

  • Therese Anne Fowler, whose fourth book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, was a 2013 New York Times bestseller and was the inspiration for a TV show, Z: The Beginning of Everything.
  • Tyree Daye, whose debut poetry collection, River Hymns, earned The American Poetry Review's Honickman First Book Prize. Daye was also a 2019 recipient of the prestigious Whiting Award in poetry. 
  • 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.
  • Noel Crook, whose debut collection, Salt Moon, won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press. 
  • Alyssa Wong, who as a student in the program won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and the 2016 World Fantasy Award for Short Fiction.