Our MFA graduate curriculum provides an intensive, two-year, pre-professional course of study with an emphasis on the practice of literature as a fine art. While it follows a studio-based model, the program is also intellectually rigorous, and includes course work in the study of literature from the vantage point of its composition and history. The student’s principal work is done in advanced workshops and in the writing of a book-length thesis of publishable quality in fiction or poetry. Professional practicum programs include Writers In The Community, in which students teach creative writing in schools, retirement communities, children’s hospitals, homeless centers, correctional facilities, etc.; Willow Springs, in which students edit and publish our nationally-acclaimed literary journal; Willow Springs Books, in which students work for our literary press to publish the winning volume of a national fiction competition; and Get Lit!, in which students learn arts administration through work on Eastern Washington University’s annual literary festival. Past festival authors have included Joyce Carol Oates, David Sedaris, and Yusef Komunyakaa.
As of Fall 2021, we are no longer admitting students wishing to pursue an MFA degree with a focus in creative nonfiction. We will, however, continue offering graduate workshops and form and theory classes in creative nonfiction.
MFA workshops in each genre are small (generally between ten and fifteen students) and are offered every term. The literature requirement consists of three Form & Theory courses (per genre) focusing on historical and contemporary works. These graduate courses are taught by Creative Writing faculty and are designed to make the study of literature of maximum value to the aspiring writer (rather than scholar or critic).
In order for MFA students to broaden their skills and benefit from exposure to a wider variety of perspectives, all are required to take one workshop and one literature class outside their genre. Additional Creative Writing elective courses are offered each year and have recently included Literature of the Northwest, Surrealism in Poetry, Beyond Realism in Fiction, Imagination and Wilderness, and Studies in the Novella. Typically, students complete the MFA degree in two years, working one-on-one with a faculty member in their second year to produce a thesis of publishable quality work.