MFA Degree Requirements

These are the requirements for earning an MFA at NC State:

  • 12 hours of graduate level writing workshops
  • 6 hours of graduate level literature
  • 12 hours of free electives (advisor-approved)
  • 6 hours of thesis work (ENG 695)

There is no foreign language requirement.

The electives may be selected both from within or without the English Department so as to support an area of interest such as linguistics and translation, historical fiction, etc. The faculty is amenable to directed readings — independent studies of a particular poet or author — for credit as well.

For course load expectations, see the Graduate School's policies and regulations.

Thesis and Grad Timeline

  1. Sign the Patent Agreement in your Graduate Plan of Work (GPOW)
  2. Start filling in your GPOW using the courses you are taking/have taken to fulfill your degree requirements. Make sure to save your GPOW only. You will not submit your GPOW until your final semester.
  3. Read the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Guide and all information on the ETD website.
  4. Write your thesis (starting out in the Graduate School required format).
    • Thesis for Fiction: a book-length manuscript of approximately 200 pages or more, preferably finished
    • Thesis for Poetry: a collection of 50 pages
  5. Choose 1 of 2 ETD Review Deadlines and plan accordingly:
    • No registration required: You must unconditionally pass the final exam and have an ETD Review by this deadline in order to avoid registering for the semester.
    • Registration Required: You must unconditionally pass the final exam and have an ETD Review by this deadline. (This usually falls several months into the semester.)
  6. No later than the fall of your last year: Identify a thesis committee and a thesis advisor. Add your thesis advisor (chair) and two committee members to your GPOW via the Committee tab. Save your GPOW.
  7. In the fall of your last year: Prepare a list of 10 books that you will be examined upon in your final semester in addition to the MFA program’s list of 25 books. Make sure your thesis advisor approves your list no later than November 1 of your second year, and then submit the list to the MFA program assistant director.
  8. In your final semester: Complete your Graduate Plan of Work (GPOW) and submit for approval.
  9. Apply to Graduate via MyPack at least two weeks in advance of the Graduate School’s deadline (review the Graduate School’s Academic Calendar) so that your application can be reviewed and approved by the DGP before the deadline.
    • Students must apply to graduate by the deadline in order to participate in graduation exercises.
    • ETD Review must be completed by this deadline.
    • Graduation is contingent upon approval of the final ETD.
  10. Schedule your final oral exam (defense) with your committee by following all steps and notes below:
    • Complete the Request to Schedule Master’s Oral Examination form and submit to the graduate services coordinator at least ten working days prior to your exam. (This form can be signed by either the MFA Director or the Director of Graduate Studies.) Please make sure your GPOW has been approved before you submit your form.
    • Complete a Room Reservation Request and submit to Megan Painter with Room for Thesis Defense in the subject line of your email.  
    • Review your To Do List in the Student Service Center in the MyPack Portal. The only items left on your list should be MR Request to Schedule Final Oral and Report on Final Oral Exam. If you have additional items, those must be completed before submitting the form.
    • You must unconditionally pass the final oral exam (thesis defense) before the ETD Review Deadline. The final oral exam is typically taken within the first two months of the semester and should be scheduled at least two weeks before the ETD review deadline. In addition, you should ensure that committee members receive the entire ETD to review at least two weeks prior to the final oral exam (thesis defense).
    • Students are encouraged to apply to graduate once the final oral exam (thesis defense) is scheduled, but the application can be submitted at any time up until 5:00 p.m. on the apply to graduate deadline.
  11. Schedule your comprehensive written exam/degree essay (take-home) with your advisor.
    • 15-20 pages; a close reading and explication of selected writers you studied during your two years
  12. Defend Final Oral Exam (thesis defense). There are three possible outcomes:
    • Unconditional pass (24-hours begins);
    • Conditional pass (ETD review cannot take place until the defense is an unconditional pass. 24-hours has not begun yet); or
    • Failed.
  13. Submit draft ETD in ETD system for ETD review by ETD editor
    • within 24 hours of unconditional pass
    • submit request for embargo of ETD along with draft submission
  14. ETD review conducted by ETD editor.
  15. Make corrections to ETD (committee, ETD review, hired editor, and other).
  16. Submit final error-free file to ETD editor for final ETD deadline approval.
    • ETD editor reviews final file — only to make sure ETD review corrections have been made (The file will not be accepted if corrections are not made: This should not happen.)
    • If all ETD review corrections were made, the file will be accepted by the ETD editor.
  17. Error-free ETD file sent to committee for final committee approval.
  18. Committee reviews final ETD file.
  19. Graduate!