The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

April 7, 2023

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

First of all, what is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.

What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.

Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.

Fully Funded MFA Programs

1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).

This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Incoming class size: 8 students
  • Admissions rate: 11.1%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)

A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.

  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  •   Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Incoming class size: 18
  • Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.

  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

6) university of arizona (tucson, az).

This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Incoming class size: 9
  • Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):

Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.

  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam


8) new york university (new york, ny).

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.

  • Incoming class size: 40-60
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University (New York, NY)

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)

Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.

  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: N/A
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado


11 bennington college (bennington, vt).

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.

  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 40
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Incoming class size : 22
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.

  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya


14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).

The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.

  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)

This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.

  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Prepare for your MFA in advance:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Creative Writing Schools
  • Writing Summer Programs

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit

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Best Master's in Creative Writing (MFA) Online

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Updated June 2, 2023

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

Best master's in creative writing online.

Master's in creative writing programs are ideal for students who love writing and aspire to make a living through the craft.Creative writers build worlds, develop stories, and create characters that engage and entertain readers. Writers often choose genres and stories that relate to their own interests. For instance, a traveler may write creative nonfiction pieces about tourist locations, and writers who are interested in the American West often write western novels.

Creative writing graduates can also pursue careers in other fields. For example, they may write marketing advertisements, political speeches, or technical pieces for instructional manuals. Over half of writers and authors are self-employed.

These careers require editing, writing, and research skills. Editors must also have an understanding of genre fundamentals. To gain the necessary knowledge, students can earn a master's in creative writing online.

The following guide provides information about the top online writing programs in the country and what you can do with a creative writing degree after graduation.

Featured MFA Programs

Best master’s in creative writing programs online.

These rankings include is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners. We use publicly available provisional datasets from Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to inform the data for these schools. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

#1 Best Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA) Online

The University of Texas at El Paso

  • El Paso, TX
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas at El Paso hosts a top-ranked creative writing program. The MFA in creative writing builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. After earning a master's degree, candidates can also pursue careers in new industries.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the field. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. Applicants without a background in creative writing may need to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the master's program.

Online enrollees add to their resume by pursuing internship opportunities at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

The University of Texas at El Paso at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 100%

Total Online Master's Programs: 14

Program Name: MFA in creative writing

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,497

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,766

#2 Best Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA) Online

University of Nebraska at Omaha

The University of Nebraska at Omaha offers an online creative writing program. Individuals prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of fine arts in writing program. After completing a master's degree, candidates often advance in their current field or pursue new opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in writing.

Online enrollees gain real-world experience through internships offered in their local area. Experiential learning opportunities and networking events help graduate students expand their professional network.

University of Nebraska at Omaha at a Glance:

Admission Rate: 83%

Total Online Master's Programs: 6

Program Name: Master of fine arts in writing

Graduate Tuition In State: $5,558

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $14,440

#3 Best Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA) Online

Saint Leo University

  • Saint Leo, FL

The online master's in creative writing program, offered by Saint Leo University, ranks as a top program in the field. The creative writing master's program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. Earning a master's degree can also help candidates pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum emphasizes practical and theoretical approaches to creative writing. Learners take electives and other specialized courses to gain career-specific training. The master's program recommends a background in creative writing for applicants.

Online enrollees participate in internship programs at approved locations in their local area. Graduate students also attend networking events to expand their professional connections.

Saint Leo University at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, not-for-profit, four-year

Admission Rate: 72%

Total Online Master's Programs: 27

Program Name: Master's in creative writing

Graduate Tuition In State: $7,296

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $7,296

#4 Best Master’s in Creative Writing (MFA) Online

Central Washington University

  • Ellensburg, WA

Central Washington University, located in Ellensburg, enrolls master's students in its online creative writing program. The MA in professional and creative writing builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. After completing a master's degree, candidates often pursue career advancement in their current field or a new one.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in creative writing. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. The master's program recommends that applicants have a background in creative writing.

Online enrollees complete internship requirements at approved sites in their own community. Graduate students expand their professional networks through internships and online events.

Central Washington University at a Glance:

Admission Rate: 85%

Total Online Master's Programs: 17

Program Name: MA in professional and creative writing

Graduate Tuition In State: $9,582

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $22,449

What Is an Online Master's in Creative Writing Degree?

A master's in writing develops research, writing, and editing skills and explores story elements in different genres. For example, poetry learners study rhyme and meter, while children's writers explore child psychology and common writing techniques. Required courses often cover character development, setting research, and publishing.

Creative writing programs often include literature courses in which learners analyze famous works for writing insights. Students also create new pieces and critique classmates' work in writing workshops. These workshops hone writing, editing, and proofreading skills and increase students' professional networks. Additional requirements may include a thesis, portfolio, or internship.

Admission requirements often include writing samples and personal statements. Ideal applicants have previous writing experience.

Choosing an Online Program

Prospective students should consider program quality and flexibility when choosing a master's in writing. Learners may prefer departments with published authors as faculty, or they may prefer a program that offers the flexibility of asynchronous courses. They should also consider concentration options, completion times, and tuition costs.

The following guide provides more tips on finding the right program.

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Creative Writing Program?

Online MFA in creative writing programs usually offer concentrations in poetry, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction. Most programs include workshops and lectures on writing concepts like character building and plot development. These programs also introduce learners to different genres and often require a thesis.

Below are three common courses in online writing programs.

Master's in Creative Writing Curriculum

Literary genres for writers.

This course covers fiction and related subgenres, such as fantasy, romance, and historical fiction. Students explore the structures and general expectations of these genres. The course may also focus on a single type of writing, such as poetry, memoir, or nonfiction.

Character Development

This course trains students to create effective, believable characters. Coursework may prioritize character realism, consistency, and psychology within the story's context. Students examine the necessary traits of major and minor characters and build a portfolio of several character outlines.

Writing a Short Story

Learners in this course study short stories and analyze elements of writing styles. Additional topics may include syntax and short story structures. Students create a short story and undergo peer review to receive feedback. Programs may offer similar classes focused on other forms of writing, like nonfiction, poetry, or television writing.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs

AWP provides an online tool that allows users to search for writing programs by location, genre, and degree. The association connects website visitors with writing contests, funding, job opportunities, and avenues to publication. Professionals can also attend the annual AWP book fair and conference or browse the online database to find other meetings.

The Authors Guild

The Authors Guild supports writers by offering panels, book launches, and book expos. Website visitors can browse contests in fiction, poetry, and translations, or they can seek out fellowships and workshops. Members receive legal assistance for book contracts, access to writing resources, and insurance against copyright disputes.

The Writer's Center

The Writer's Center offers writing workshops for specific age groups, including adults, teenagers, and children. Members can also attend book launches and an annual poetry reading. This organization offers editing and project advising and maintains a blog that covers industry topics like publication practices, genre word counts, beta readers, and author experiences.

Careers in Creative Writing

Earning a master's in creative writing online prepares students to craft creative messages for books, articles, advertisements, speeches, scripts, and social media posts. Graduates can pursue any field that involves message creation and delivery.

The best candidates for writing careers are creative and have a strong grasp on writing structure and effective communication. Creative writers should also understand research methods, work well within deadlines, and be able to accept constructive criticism from editors. Below are a few creative writing jobs that graduates can pursue.

  • Collapse All

Writers and Authors

Writers and Authors research and write pieces for magazines, websites, publishing houses, and blogs, and may also create scripts for television, movies, or plays. They may write books for traditional or self-publishing in genres like fantasy, romance, mystery, and nonfiction.

Authors often polish their works based on editor critiques and may need to market their work as well. Companies usually expect writers to have a college degree and writing experience.

Median Annual Salary

Projected Growth Rate

make publication decisions for companies and help writers develop stories into polished products. These professionals may review small writing issues, like spelling and grammar, or larger issues, like structure, factual accuracy, continuity, and clarity.

Specific job titles include copy editor, publication assistant, and executive editor. Editors often work at newspaper and book publishing companies, or they work freelance.

Earning a master's in creative writing online gives prospective editors an advantage when competing for jobs.

Public Relations Specialists

help organizations create and uphold a positive image for the public, affecting their relationship with customers and investors. These professionals create press releases, write speeches, and research consumer preferences through social media. Public relations specialists may also review advertisements and communicate with media outlets about publicity opportunities.

These professionals can find work at advertising, educational, business, and government organizations. They need a bachelor's in a field like English, journalism, or communication. Employers may also require a portfolio and field experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to complete a master's in creative writing program.

Most students can earn a master's in writing in around two years.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Creative Writing?

This degree prepares students for careers as authors, editors, reporters, and public relations specialists. Graduates can also teach creative writing at colleges.

Is a Master's in Creative Writing Worth It?

Many writing careers do not require a master's degree. However, online writing programs help students polish writing skills, which can improve their salary and career prospects.

Can I Teach English With a Creative Writing Degree?

Earning a master's in writing online qualifies graduates to teach English courses at many colleges, as an MFA is often the minimum qualification for these roles. However, some schools require a doctorate for teaching positions.

What Is a Master's in Creative Writing?

Online MFA in creative writing programs explore brainstorming, writing, and editing practices for different genres. These programs often culminate in a thesis or portfolio.

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Award-Winning Creative Writing MFA Student Reflects on His Success

Close-up portrait of Tochukwu Okafor, a current Creative Writing MFA student, wearing a blue and white striped button-down

Tochukwu Okafor, current Creative Writing MFA candidate. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Thinking about going to graduate school for creative writing? Wondering if a Creative Writing MFA is worth the investment? Today we’re featuring Tochukwu Okafor , a current student in Emerson College’s Creative Writing MFA . We’ll hear about his writing journey, why he chose to pursue an MFA, and his suggestions for prospective students.

What led you to pursue an MFA?

“I have always written. I applied for an MFA out of curiosity,” Tochukwu says.

Trained as an electrical engineer, Tochukwu never had creative writing as a main career focus. He recalls being devoted to reading growing up, as well as writing letters and stories. Not until college, however, did he begin submitting his work to literary prizes and journals. “I was bored with my engineering classes and needed more,” he says. “So I would go to the library, finish my coursework, then read and write until the library closed.” 

In college, he found community in his school’s creative writing association, where undergraduates met in lecture theaters to write and workshop each other’s stories and poems. During one of the association’s annual writing awards seasons, Tochukwu remembers being shocked to find himself a winner in both the fiction and playwriting categories. This early success encouraged Tochukwu and motivated him to continue sharing his work with others.

After gaining a master’s degree in engineering, working for a few years, and having some of his fiction published, Tochukwu decided to go back to school. He applied to electrical engineering PhD programs as well as creative writing MFAs. Tochukwu was accepted into several engineering and creative writing programs and ultimately decided to accept Emerson College’s Creative Writing MFA offer. He explains, “I chose to do something different I’m also very passionate about. And I wanted to have fun doing so.” 

Why Emerson?

“I first applied to Emerson College because of the school’s prestige.” Another major reason Tochukwu decided to enroll in Emerson’s MFA was the program’s flexible schedule. He wanted to retain his full-time electrical engineering position while pursuing his degree, and Emerson’s evening MFA classes allowed him this option. 

Tochukwu received a full fellowship for the program, which was another reason he chose Emerson. Emerson College automatically considers graduate applicants for fellowships and scholarships and offers scholarships to about 80% of graduate students, making it attainable for Tochukwu to finance his MFA journey.

How would you describe the Emerson experience? 

“It’s been a joy to be in classes with other people who want to write professionally, and the professors are just wonderful,” Tochukwu says. 

MFA workshop students sitting in an Emerson classroom

He describes the program’s professors as dedicated, experienced, and generous with their time. Since starting the MFA, Tochukwu has developed positive relationships with faculty and believes they have supported his growth as a writer.

In addition to the people he has met in the program, Tochukwu has enjoyed the MFA curriculum . He particularly likes the program’s literature courses, adding, “They give structure to the way I approach my reading; I appreciate the chance for organized learning.” These literature courses have inspired some of Tochukwu’s recent writing. For example, he shares that his Latin American Literature course influenced his new critical essay that was accepted and published in the 2023 print issue of the Latino Book Review . 

The cover of Redivider magazine's Fall 2022 issue. Illustration of a pink face with red eyes smoking a joint

Redivider’s Fall 2022 issue . Cover art by Vera Primavera

Does Emerson have opportunities outside of the classroom?

Emerson has a number of literary journals with which graduate students can gather work experience. Tochukwu currently reads for Ploughshares , Emerson’s award-winning quarterly literary journal. Graduate students can work for the magazine, as Tochukwu does, and gain insight into the literary field. 

Tochukwu also works as a copy editor for Redivider , another of Emerson’s publications. Redivider is run by Emerson graduate students and publishes an online magazine three times per year. 

Through these magazines, graduate students at Emerson can achieve skills in editing and publishing in addition to refining their craft in MFA workshops.

What do you hope for your writing?

“Before I started the MFA at Emerson, I intended to produce four manuscripts in the program, whether rough or polished: two short story collections and two novels. I think I’m on track to meet the goal.” Presently about halfway through the program, Tochukwu has completed one short story collection and one novel. He hopes to send them to his literary agent in a few months.

In addition to finishing these manuscripts, Tochukwu has won an extensive list of awards and fellowships for his writing. He has been named a 2023 Fiction Fellow at Kimbilio , an organization dedicated to supporting and connecting writers from the African diaspora. Additionally, he was awarded a major grant in January 2023 by the Elizabeth George Foundation and is a 2023 recipient of the fully funded Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award . 

While he has won many awards for his literary work, Tochukwu says, “I don’t define success by what I’ve won. My biggest prize is the writing itself, and it’s always exciting to learn that someone has engaged with my work and thinks it deserves recognition.”

What advice would you give people considering a creative writing MFA?

“Discover, or attempt to find, what your writing is and represents before pursuing an MFA. Sometimes, it’s fine permitting the MFA to help you realize your voice.” He adds that it is important to listen to your inner self while in the Creative Writing MFA, making time to be by yourself with your work after others have offered their opinions.

“Remember that art is not a competition. It’s about bringing yourself to the page and trusting yourself. Every person is unique, writer or not, and you need to be kind and positive enough to trust what makes you different. What you bring to the table is valid. Maybe not all of it needs to be out there, but at least you would have confided enough in yourself to have created it.”

Tochukwu is excited to continue writing and sharing his work, hoping to someday publish his novel and short story collection. To find out more about his work, be sure to follow him on Instagram . 

For more information about Emerson College’s Creative Writing MFA , be sure to schedule a call with an admissions counselor. Or, to get a sense of what it’s like to be in the program, check out our blog about a day in the life of a creative writing graduate student .

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Olivia Wachtel

Writing Assistant

Olivia is a graduate student in Emerson's Communication Disorders program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog or studying, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

Latest posts from Olivia Wachtel

  • Award-Winning Creative Writing MFA Student Reflects on His Success - August 30, 2023
  • Creative Writing Thesis Spotlight: MFA Candidate Explores Monsters and Deep Sea with Their Novel - August 23, 2023
  • Communication Disorders Student Finds Cultural Connections Through Her Graduate Thesis - August 18, 2023

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