3 Years | 3 Genres | Infinite Possibilities

Full funding opportunities available

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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 two-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 Our Program

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 and are the primary funding opportunity for our graduate students. To be eligible you must complete the separate application. These positions are fully funded and come with a tuition waiver and monthly stipend for the 9-month academic year.

A required orientation and pedagogy seminar provide GTAs with extensive training in teaching college composition. The GTA application 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.

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.

No events now.

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.

Well by Sasha Steensen
Wonder About The by Matthew Cooperman
Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden by Camille Dungy
The Last Animal by Ramona Ausubel
Finding Querencia by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
Cowboys and East Indians by Nina McConigley
Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear and Resistance to Be Your Ultimate Creative Self by Todd Mitchell
Everything Awake by Sasha Steensen
Awayland by Ramona Ausubel
Variations on Dawn and Dusk by Dan Beachy-Quick
Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy
The Gringa by Andrew Altschul
Gatherest by Sasha Steensen
Last Panther by Todd Mitchell
Presentimiento by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
Trophic Cascade by Camille T. Dungy
NOS (disorder, not otherwise specified) by Aby Kaupang and Matthew Cooperman
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

Organization of Graduate Student Writers

The OGSW consists of representatives from the Creative Writing MFA and is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to practice, enjoy, and participate in the creative writing community. We do this by organizing readings, workshops, visiting speakers, and other free events and services for the MFA/CSU community.

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.

Beginning to Remember

January 27, 2023

By Jake Friedman It’s been over ten years since I was in the academy. Though I’m beginning to remember now. The last couple of days I’ve been sick. I’d forgotten how hard the end of semester is—the Sisyphean incline of […]

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On Not Writing About My Father by Dorothy Angle

October 27, 2022

I promised myself I was done writing about my father. What feels like a lifetime ago, I took my first Creative Writing class to satisfy an elective for a Masters in education. Nearly all my stories were about a young […]

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On Ambition, Vision, and Voice by Henry Dykstal

October 11, 2022

One of the things that most separates my MFA experience from the workshops I’ve taken before, from undergraduate to conferences to private classes at literary centers or what have you, is voice. At all of the places but the MFA, […]

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Writing as Letting Go

May 12, 2022

I knew getting an MFA would entail, well, writing a lot — and that this would hopefully make me a better fiction writer. (I mean, duh.) Maybe it’s because I don’t come from an English background, but what I didn’t […]

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April 29, 2022

Somehow, it is spring. The branches wear shriveled green promises. The undergrads have, for the most part, abandoned pants. The birdcalls along the Spring Creek trail have swelled to cacophony. Somehow, in a few short weeks, the first year of […]

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On Friendship

April 13, 2022

To 2021 recently graduated me (one year ago): You get a phone call from Harrison letting you know that you got into this program. It is wild, I know: you get the opportunity to focus on your writing, your craft, […]

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The Ice Persists

March 21, 2022

It’s been winter for a long time now. It’s been winter in the insistent way of Colorado, snow weighing over the earth like the X-ray apron at the dentist. I crunch to the bus stop over thick, complicated patterns of […]

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An Exceptional Day in the Life

March 1, 2022

You’re living with a poet who is also in the MFA program. She taught you how to make ice cream out of peanut butter, frozen bananas, cocoa powder, and honey when you’re craving something sweet late at night. You’re making […]

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And to the West, Mountains

February 15, 2022

In Fort Collins, the mountains usually mean west. As I walk to campus, I walk north, west, then north again. True north is usually Eddy Hall – home of the English department. I suppose I will not yet stop having […]

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When You Know, You Know

November 18, 2021

“The biggest mistake you can make is going before you’re ready.” I remember feeling absolutely crushed when someone who I looked up to, someone who I admired, said those words to me. We were on the phone, I was asking […]

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