The MFA curriculum investigates storytelling forms and technique, stresses individual development, and explores the relationship between excellent writing and compassionate living. Candidates spend their first semester together reading and writing across genres. Concentrated training in Fiction or Creative Non-Fiction begins in the second semester.

The two-year, 36-credit CNR MFA consists of the following courses:

Storytelling Craft and Calling

This course, required of all incoming students, investigates the art of storytelling. Through close readings of fiction and nonfiction, we will discuss and put into practice the various methods writers have used throughout the ages to tell their stories. We will approach these texts as writers, looking for ways to better sharpen our own skills.


Essential to the MFA experience, the writing workshops focus on prolific writing, the process of revision, the skills of self and peer critique, and the importance of being well read.

Literature Seminars

Electives in literature are designed to emphasize the program's philosophical belief that self and other are mutually constituted. Seminars stress themes of social integration (of classes, races, religions, lifestyles) and exploration of the shared work of author and audience.  

Current Seminars:

  • Literature and Disability
  • The Heroine
  • Unforgettable Characters
  • Religious Themes in Contemporary American Short Fiction

The Writer at Work

Each semester, the Writer at Work provides immersive experience in two topics of either craft or professional development (e.g. Dialogue, The Art of Revision, Queries and Pitches, Writing Reviews, The Art of the Monologue). The course is managed by a member of the MFA faculty, with expert instruction delivered by distinguished writers, scholars, or publishing industry specialists.

Literary Citizenship – Capstone Experience

CNR MFA's final classroom experience asks writers to seek opportunities to serve local communities through their skills as artists and educators. Youth and senior programs, workshops, reading series, and literacy assistance are examples of encouraged capstone projects.

Students will apply their skills as artists and educators to the writing service projects devised over the previous three semesters.  While principally a practicum, this Capstone includes full-group sessions for discussion of relevant texts, progress reports, and final presentations to which the college community will be invited.

MFA Thesis

The MFA thesis is a 75-page manuscript demonstrating the culmination of a student’s refinement of craft and storytelling purpose. Thesis advisers and writers meet weekly to discuss progress and plan for presenting the work and seeking its publication.