Portland-State-University 2022-2023 Bulletin

Creative Writing M.F.A.

The M.F.A. degree offers an intensive program of writing in small, core workshops and seminars taught by established writers. In workshop, students engage in close readings and critiques of their peer’s work, while recent seminars have included Forms, Defamiliarization, Constraint-based Writing, Fragments, and Aspects of Translation. 

Prospective students must apply to the strand in which they want to focus: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Seminars and Core workshops and eight credits of seminar are taken in the student’s primary strand, while electives allow students to explore other strands, as well as classes in the larger English Dept and outside of the department. The M.F.A. emphasizes faculty mentorship throughout each student's coursework and thesis completion. Engagement in Portland's vibrant community of writers is also central to the development of our students' work.

Many students come to the M.F.A. with a background in English literature, writing or journalism, but others have backgrounds in the social sciences, sciences, and fine arts. Our program is further distinguished for the diversity of its student body, including a range of ages and life experience, as well as for its flexibility. The program can be completed in two years of full-time coursework, but students have up to four years to complete the degree in order to accommodate those who choose to attend part-time or want to take additional courses.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to the M.F.A program must provide satisfactory evidence of preparedness to undertake advanced work, which would include a B.A., B.F.A., or B.S. degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a 3.25 GPA in undergraduate work. The application deadline is January 15. Applicants must submit the following:

Applicants must submit the following, using the online application process:

  • A Departmental application form indicating the strand they will focus on: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your creative and intellectual work, and your ability to successfully undertake graduate work.
  • A 500-700 word statement describing the applicant’s background as a writer, goals, and interest in this particular program.
  • A transcript from every post‐secondary institution you have attended. Unofficial transcripts or photocopies are acceptable for the Department application. 
  • A manuscript in the applicant’s primary strand. Manuscript form is defined as having one inch margins, double-spaced text, a single, clear, 12‐point typeface, no extra space between paragraphs, indented first line for each paragraph, information identifying the author and title of the manuscript on every page, and page numbers. Poetry manuscripts may be single‐spaced; each poem should begin on a new page. Only single‐authored work will be accepted. Manuscripts should demonstrate mastery of basic craft and literary promise, and should represent your best work regardless of whether or not it has been published. Writing samples can be comprised of one or multiple bodies of work equal the page requirements listed below.
-In poetry: 12‐15 pages
-In fiction: 20‐30 pages
-In nonfiction: 20‐30 pages of magazine articles or creative nonfiction

Writing Samples and optional additional material in the form of a CV or resumé may be uploaded in one of the following supported file types: PDF, DOC, DOCX, RTF, or TXT.

Note: Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program.



MFA Core Workshops


Wr seminars in Strand




Wr 503Thesis


Total Credit Hours:48

Core Workshops (4 classes): WR 521, WR 522, and WR 523 are restricted to students admitted to the M.F.A. in the strand. Students will take the Workshop in their strand no fewer than four times and no more than six times, to earn a minimum of 16 credits. First-year students are required to take core workshops in their first two terms. 

WR Seminars in Strand (2 classes): Seminars must focus on the student’s strand (i.e. fiction, nonfiction, or poetry) or be a cross-genre course which includes the student’s strand. Fiction seminars are all listed as WR 507: Fiction; poetry seminars are all listed as WR 507: Poetry, and nonfiction seminars include WR 507: Nonfiction. Other MFA seminars may be included by advisor approval. 

Electives (4 classes): Graduate ENG and/or WR courses chosen from within the department. Of these, students are encouraged to take at least one WR 507 seminar outside of their genre. Up to 8 credits may be taken in LING 590, TA 574, or TA 575 or, with advisor approval, in graduate courses outside the department in an area related to the student’s thesis.

Wr 503 Thesis: (8 credit hours to be arranged)

M.F.A. students also complete a creative thesis of high literary merit, pass a written examination based on the thesis, and pass an oral examination based on the written examination and creative thesis.