Three years, infinite possibilities

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The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is for students with advanced abilities in the writing of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Our three-year program offers a balance of intimate and intensive writing workshops with courses in literature, form and technique, and related electives both in and out of the English Department. Writers work closely with a distinguished faculty of publishing writers that includes winners of prestigious national awards and fellowships. Coursework culminates in a thesis—a collection of poetry, short stories, or essays; or a novel or memoir—and the completion of a comprehensive portfolio. A dual-genre thesis option is available to students with exceptional promise in a second genre of writing.

Applicants should familiarize themselves with the program and the department, including course offerings and degree requirements. A complete application includes a one-page statement of purpose; a writing sample (12-20 pages of poems; two short stories or a chapter or two of a novel; two short essays or a chapter or two of a memoir); three letters of reference; and transcripts. Those applying for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship must also complete a separate GTA application.

The application deadline is January 1.

The MFA Program at CSU is a WICHE Western Regional Graduate Program. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible for in-state tuition.

For information about the application process click here.

To apply now, click here.

Learn More About Fort Collins

The Creative Writing Program at CSU recognizes and affirms the value of, and the need for, stories from people of all backgrounds. We believe that a healthy literary culture must seek out and support work from communities whose voices have historically been marginalized. Our pedagogy, including close mentoring in a supportive community and an embrace of wide-ranging approaches, strives to hear these stories, to respect them, and to bring them into the world.

MFA Program Information

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  • Completion of forty-eight (48) semester credits
  • Completion of the following courses:
    • E640—Graduate Writing Workshop: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Poetry (12 credits)
    • E513—Form & Technique in Modern Literature: Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Poetry (3 credits)
    • One pre-20th Century literature course at the 500-level or above (3 credits)
    • One course (300-level or above) outside the English Department (waived if your undergraduate degree is not in English or Creative Writing—3 credits)
    • E699—Thesis (12 credits)
  • Completion of portfolio
  • Additional requirements for dual-genre thesis option
  • For more details, consult the Guide to CSU’s MFA Program.
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Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA) are available on a competitive basis. A required orientation and pedagogy seminar provide GTAs with extensive training in teaching college composition. The GTA application is separate from the application to the program, and includes a written statement that should speak to your qualifications and enthusiasm for college teaching. Emphasize any formal or informal teaching experience, such as tutoring, writing-center counseling, or even coaching. In addition, remind your references to speak to your potential for college teaching in their letters.

All applicants who are not awarded a GTA will be automatically considered for a number of other available fellowships. Other options for financial support are detailed in the Guide to CSU’s MFA Program, below.

Most MFA students, regardless of whether they hold a GTA, are given the opportunity to teach a (paid) section of Beginning Creative Writing during their third year in the program.

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We offer a variety of for-credit internships (some paid) in such areas as college teaching, public education, arts administration in literature, and literary editing – including the Center for Literary Publishing and the Colorado Review. A paid internship as editor of Greyrock Review, a literary magazine staffed by CSU undergraduates, is also available to a first-year student selected by the faculty.

Click here for Colorado Review internship information.

“My MFA has helped me realize the value of my voice and the importance of giving myself permission to create art.”

– Colin Raunig, 2018

“My teachers taught me invaluable lessons in craft that I carry with me in my writing to this day.”

– Andrew Mangan, 2016

“My MFA degree taught me different ways of thinking, of approaching, of making… A large part of the reason why I loved the MFA program at CSU was because of the people I got to work with.”

– Melissa Hohl, 2016

“Not only did I learn an incredible amount about writing and poetry from my classes, professors, and the reading I did because of these, but I learned about the necessity of community building and literary citizenship that comes with being a poet.”

– CL Young, 2018

“The M.F.A. degree was essential to my artistic and professional life… My craft deepened and focused during my time at CSU, and the professors and the work helped me refine my voice and develop an artistic aesthetic.”

– Claire Boyles, 2018

“My MFA connected me to a group of writers who continue to nurture me and my work, who push me and my work in ways that make us both smarter and better.”

– Aliceanna Stopher, 2019

“Great training for my life as a teacher, writer, and person. Three years to concentrate on study was a gift that allowed me to grow and challenge myself to see if I could be a writer.”

– Devin Murphy, 2009

“I teach writing now and think often of my CSU professors… I learned plenty about craft at CSU, but more importantly I learned about practice and process.”

– Cornelius FitzPatrick, 2015

Creative Writing MFA Faculty


Creative Writing Reading Series

Each semester at Colorado State University, the Department of English welcomes major literary voices to the Lory Student Center to share their work live and to engage with the local community. Visiting writers hold audience question and answer sessions, book signings, class visits and other outreach activities.

The series features Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. poets laureate, National Book Critics Circle Award winners, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award winners, NAACP Image Award nominees, Oprah’s Book Club selections, National Book Award finalists and recognized voices in young adult literature among others.

Recent visitors include: Dorothy Allison, Julie Carr, Ross Gay, Eduardo C. Corral, Jennifer Egan, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Pam Houston, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dinty W. Moore, Gregory Pardlo, Khadijah Queen, Susan Steinberg, Cheryl Strayed, Ira Sukrungruang, Mary Szybist, and Brian Turner.

Click in the events calendar for author information and details about upcoming readings.

Recent Books

Below is a selection of recent books by Creative Writing MFA Faculty in the Department of English at Colorado State University. Click on the book cover for more information about each selection.

Gatherest by Sasha Steensen
Awayland by Ramona Ausubel
Variations on Dawn and Dusk by Dan Beachy-Quick
The Sincere Cafe: Stories by Leslee Becker
Trophic Cascade by Camille T. Dungy
NOS (disorder, not otherwise specified) by Aby Kaupang and Matthew Cooperman
Presentimiento by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
Last Panther by Todd Mitchell
The Gringa by Andrew Altschul
Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy
Love, in Theory by E.J. Levy

What do CSU Writers Do?

Our graduates have appeared in a vast array of prestigious publications including The Atlantic, McSweeny's, Cincinnati Review and many others. They have found success in equally many exciting fields including communications consultant, college dean, professor, research administrator, journal editor, and many others. And their accolades include awards like the Pulitzer Prize, Colorado Book Award in Poetry, Chicago Writers Association book of the year, and more!

"If there's a book that you want to read but it hasn't been written yet then you must write it"

- Toni Morrison

Creative Writing MFA Blog

The Creative Writing MFA blog is written by graduate students at various stages of degree completion and features posts by writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction about their lives as writers and members of the CSU community. Scroll through the carousel of entries below or click the button for a full listing of blog submissions.

My Pandemic Performance

September 29, 2021

It’s been a long past 18-months, and a fast last three weeks. I spent the last year and a half living with my parents (although I don’t lead with that). And I’ve come to realize that, even in the middle […]

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Thoughts and Opinions Flourish in This Intelligent and Welcoming Community

May 20, 2021

As a college education becomes more and more expensive and careers become grounded in traditional educations I continually come up against the question: why apply to and pursue an MFA in writing? Why not rely on self-education and self-advocacy to […]

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All that is being done

April 16, 2021

As our country moves clunkily, inequitably—how else?—toward an approximate end to this acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, our work will by all accounts just be getting started. While our whole society confronts the lasting physical and psychological effects of […]

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Connected, but Closer.

April 3, 2021

Friday, March 13, 2020, I got on a plane from Madrid, Spain to Washington, D.C.  This was somewhat coincidental. A month earlier, I’d spent Valentine’s Day in Florence with a friend from high school, a costume designer who’d just finished […]

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The Right Choice

March 14, 2021

  Starting my MFA as a 44-year-old mother and teacher during a global pandemic has been a trip. Is there ever a right time to do anything? Or a wrong time? I suppose you never really know until you throw […]

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A Little Encouraging Reminder to Myself 

February 25, 2021

I’m currently struggling with a story. It’s the same problem that every writer has…eventually. How to make this story work? How to reshape the character/s? How to finish the story when you’ve already invested hours into its creation? You’re presented […]

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Writing in Fractures

February 8, 2021

Andrew Altschul called me last March offering a spot in this coveted MFA program and, in between frantic packing and nervous drinking, I could not allow myself to be excited about this opportunity. Hours before Andrew’s call, my undergraduate institution […]

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How To Write Following an Insurrection in the United States of America

January 21, 2021

I think the short answer is, “we don’t.” As an MFA student here at CSU, I’m meant to contribute something to the MFA blog on the subject of writing. Which is what I start doing. Writing on writing. And then […]

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Ineffable Poetics; Toward Recovery and a Life in Writing

January 11, 2021

Nearly a decade has passed since my first college writing teacher encouraged me to write beyond his class. In the interim between then and now I have filled up notebooks and read at open mics trying to explain my experience […]

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Introducing the Embodied Experience of Playing Music To My Work on the Page, by Bryce M O’Tierney

November 24, 2020

Making the decision to move cross-country and start an MFA program in the midst of a pandemic called me to consider my relationship with uncertainty. For four years in Chicago, I cultivated a career as a performing artist with my […]

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