Masters in Fine Arts (MFA)

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About the Program

Manhattanville’s 36-credit Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program is open to graduates of accredited colleges and universities who demonstrate a strong potential in writing and critical thinking. Students are admitted to the program primarily on the strength of the writing they submit as part of the application process. Writing will be judged according to its literary merit and its indication of the applicant’s readiness to study writing and literature at the graduate level. Courses are scheduled in the evenings in order to meet the needs of working adults. The program can be completed in two years, though students may work at their own pace, beginning in either the fall or spring semester—or with Summer Writers’ Week, a comprehensive week-long program that consists of writing workshops in the mornings and special events in the afternoons. Writers’ Week is offered annually at the end of June.

Whether you want to earn an MFA or simply attend public readings, open mic nights, or other special events, Manhattanville welcomes writers and aspiring writers to join its dynamic literary community. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, too! @MvilleMFA

News & Events

Writing the Uncanny
Jeffrey Rotter

Jeffrey Rotter is the author of The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering (Metropolitan/Holt) and The Unknown Knowns (Scribner), which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He has written for television and worked as a journalist and editor. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Oxford AmericanGlimmer TrainThe New York Times, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere.

“Sequential Visual Storytelling” (still media) and Film/TV/Animation
Carl Potts

During his 13 years at Marvel, Carl was Executive Editor, overseeing one-third of Marvel’s publications. He mentored many comics creators, including Jim Lee, June Brigman, Larry Stroman, Art Adams, Whilce Portacio, and Mike Mignola.

His creative work at Marvel and Epic included Alien Legion, Punisher War Journal, Shadowmasters, Venom, and Last of the Dragons.

Carl’s Alien Legion screenplay was purchased by Bruckheimer/Disney.

Currently, Carl writes screenplays and graphic novels while teaching at School of Visual Arts and Academy of Art University.  

His book, The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling was published in 2013.


Manhattanville’s MFA program is among the most flexible creative writing programs in the country. We accept theses in Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Screenwriting; writers may also study graphic narrative to produce a thesis project in that form.

Students in our unique non-tracking curriculum will have the opportunity to work in a single genre, a variety of genres or in cross-genre workshops with gifted teachers and mentors who are also award-winning authors. The Manhattanville MFA Program’s required courses give students a solid understanding of craft:


This course could be called "Great Attention to detail in Poetry, Fiction and Drama". In it, students explore the many aspects of writing, focusing attention on particular tasks, and discovering answers to questions such as: How do we build our work from notes to drafts to completed pieces of work? How do we write believable characters? How do we bring the language of color, climate, or the intimacies of mood to our work? What images, objects or symbols help support the ideas of our writing? How do we find the source in ourselves from which to write poetry? How do we know when a piece of work is finished? Copies of the readings will be provided by the instructor.

ENW-5900 THESIS PROJECT (3 Credits)

Students who have completed all program requirements register to work with the Seminar Director/Mentor to plan and execute a final piece of work. The final project consists of an original piece of writing in either poetry or prose with at least a part of the project being new work. The Final Project shall be of a length determined by the Director. The Final Project Seminar is offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters and is graded on a pass/fail basis. No grade will be given until the Final Project is evaluated. Students may be given an additional semester to complete their work if their project can not be completed in one semester.


Students study language, tone, structure, dialogue and point of view in order to get at how to create compelling, empathetic characters on the page. We examine extensively the ways exemplary stories connect with readers. The semester's work consists largely of reading and exercises, with some workshopping of student writing. Students are to be thoroughly familiar with the assigned readings and are expected to have useful and insightful responses to relevant issues of craft. The final requirement for the class is a short story (most likely between 8 and 30 pages in length) or a chapter or two of a novel (same page requirements) that has been workshopped at least once.

Thesis Project

Beyond these required courses, MFA students are encouraged to build an individualized program that best fits their immediate interests and long-term goals through Topics courses and other electives that change each semester. For a sampling of the courses offered in the program, check our current course schedule.

Additionally, Summer Writers’ Weekend and Fall Writers’ Weekend provide students with the opportunity to participative in “writing intensives” with some of the country’s most celebrated literary figures. In past years, visiting professors for Summer Writers’ Week and Fall Writers’ Weekend workshops have been led by authors Mitchell Jackson, Dani Shapiro, Sigrid Nunez, and Meghan Daum; other guests include National Book Award-winning YA author Thanhha Lai, fiction phenom Justin Torres, Wole Soyinka Award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor, National Book Award fiction finalist Karen Yamashita, and renowned poet Kazim Ali.

Whether you are a recent undergraduate with a passion for the literary arts or a practicing writer seeking a terminal graduate degree in the field, Manhattanville’s MFA program curriculum is flexible enough to meet your needs. Complete program details can be found in the Manhattanville Graduate catalog.