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Master’s Degree in

Creative Writing

For more than 30 years, writers have come to American University to develop their work and exchange ideas in the District’s only creative writing MFA program. Our graduate workshops provide a rigorous yet supportive environment where students explore a range of approaches to the art and craft of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

As an MFA student at American, you are free to pursue a single genre or explore several. You will acquire a deeper understanding of your own work and hone your skills in a collaborative setting.

Start your application or keep reading for more information about the MFA program in creative writing.

In the Classroom

This three-year, 48-credit-hour MFA program integrates writing, literary journalism, translation, and the study of literature to prepare students for a range of career possibilities. Write, give feedback, and receive guidance from a close-knit community of respectful peers and faculty. In the MFA program, you’ll find lawyers, military veterans, musicians, teachers, and business executives who are passionate about the written word.

Connect with accomplished professors and the resources you need to reach your goal. Our faculty members have been featured in a variety of media and publications including the New Yorker, the New York Times, National Public Radio, Bill Moyers & Co., and the Washington Post.

Our MFA alumni receive accolades for their award-winning publications.

  • Next Stop Glen Finland, MFA '06
  • I Was The Jukebox Sandra Beasley, MFA '05
  • Trouble Sleeping Abdul Ali, MFA '13
  • The Fateful Apple Venus Thrash, MFA '04

In the Community

Living and learning in the nation’s capital provides numerous benefits for MFA students. We partner with organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, Library of Congress, 826DC, Writopia Labs, and Folger Shakespeare Library to facilitate opportunities for our students.

Our students have recently published books with WW Norton, Copper Canyon, University of Wisconsin Press, and MIT Press.They have been featured on This American Life, Poets & Writers, in Creative Nonfiction, Psychology Today, and more.

Latest News

4 Tips for Writing a Successful Personal Statement

February 1, 2016

Read about how best to tackle writing a personal statement. Kyle Dargan, director of the MFA program in creative writing at AU, offers his advice.

Alexander Chee to Visit AU

February 8, 2016

Award-winning author speaks on Wednesday, February 10

AU Writing Professor’s Groundbreaking Research on Domestic Violence

February 8, 2016

Rachel Louise Snyder on an unrecognized consequence of brain injury.


The application deadline is January 15. All applications are automatically considered for merit awards. After January 15, the program continues to consider applications, but cannot guarantee those applicants will be considered for merit awards.

The required MFA thesis consists of an original, book-length manuscript. It may be a novel, a novella, a memoir or collection of stories, creative nonfiction, or poems. The thesis is due approximately a month before the end of the student's final semester.

If you take 12 credit hours a semester, or if you take courses during the summer, it's possible to complete our 48-credit-hour program in two years. Most graduate students, however, find this load to be unnecessarily heavy and choose instead to complete their degrees in five to six semesters so they can work more fully and more deeply on their MFA theses.

The committee regards the writing sample as the most important part of the application. It's therefore important that you pay close attention to the manuscript guidelines (see below). Send what you feel is your strongest work that shows your demonstrated talent. It is not important to the committee whether or not work has been previously published.

Those submitting applications in poetry should send no more than 12 poems or 15 pages (with no more than one new or continuing poem per page). If submitting fiction/nonfiction, please submit 15-25 pages. While the catalog calls for a 25-page writing sample, we value quality over quantity. We are interested in seeing only your very best work, which can consist of one or more stories or works of creative nonfiction or an excerpt from a novel. If you send an excerpt from a novel, please include a brief description of the work as a whole.