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Columbia creative writing graduate

Columbia University School of the Arts

Fiction: Paul Beatty, Anelise Chen, Nicholas Christopher, Deborah Eisenberg, Richard Ford, Rivka Galchen, Heidi Julavits, Binnie Kirshenbaum, Victor LaValle, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Marcus, Orhan Pamuk, Gary Shteyngart, Alan Ziegler

Nonfiction: Hilton Als, Lis Harris, Leslie Jamison, Margo Jefferson, Richard Locke, Phillip Lopate, Wendy S. Walters

Translation: Susan Bernofsky

Recent Adjunct Faculty: Gila Ashtor, Hannah Assadi, Corinna Barsan, Diksha Basu, Keri Bertino, Matthew Burgess, James Cañón, Joshua Cohen, CAConrad, Jay Deshpande, Katrina Dodson, Thom Donovan, Monica Ferrell, BK Fischer, Ruth Franklin, Ru Freeman, Josh Furst, Alan Gilbert, Rebecca Godfrey, Jason Gots, Benjamin Hale, Gabe Hudson, Morgan Jerkins, Nailini Jones, Madhu Kaza, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Tan Lin, Daniel Magariel, Erroll McDonald, Lynn Melnick, Jennifer Percy, Alice Quinn, Camille Rankine, Sarah Rothenberg, Elissa Schappell, Bela Shayevich, Ira Silverberg, Ross Simonini, Lynn Steger Strong, Benjamin Taylor, Lara Vapnyar, Maria Venegas, Bill Wadsworth, Brenda Wineapple, Kate Zambreno

The program offers partial funding, including administrative and teaching fellowships, research assistantships, scholarships, and internships.

Columbia creative writing graduate

The Columbia University MFA Writing Program is highly regarded for its rigorous approach to literary instruction and for its faculty of acclaimed writers and editors who are devoted and dedicated teachers. The faculty, the students, and the curriculum represent and foster a full range of artistic and literary diversity. Students are encouraged to make the most of their own artistic instincts and to realize as fully as possible, beyond any perceived limitations, their potential as writers.

At the core of the curriculum is the writing workshop. All workshops are small (7 to 12 students), ensuring that all students present work at least three times per semester. Students receive substantial written responses to their work from their professors and classmates; they also have regularly scheduled one-on-one conferences with faculty. The second-year thesis workshops (6 to 10 students) are dedicated to shaping each student’s work into book form.

The Columbia MFA is a two-year program requiring 60 credits of coursework to complete the degree and can take up to three years to complete the thesis. Students concentrate in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, and also have the option of pursuing a joint course of study in writing and literary translation. Most MFA programs require 48 credits or as few as 36 credits, but the Columbia Writing Program considers the study of literature from the practitioner’s point of view—reading as a writer—essential to a writer’s education. Every semester, students take a workshop and, on average, three craft-oriented seminars and/or lectures designed to illuminate, inform, clarify, augment and inspire each student’s experience and practice as a writer. New seminars, lectures and master classes are created every year.


A graduate admissions representative is ready to answer your questions about this program. Email David Marts today.

Fiction (MFA)

Time to degree: Three years (38 credits)
Part-time options are available

Think of this as an open invitation to experiment. Columbia College Chicago’s Master of Fine Arts in Fiction program not only accepts different aesthetic styles, it demands them. You’ll push your boundaries and grow as a writer with the help of faculty members and peers.

You’ll build an awareness of the overall traditional literary conversation, and you’ll be encouraged to forge your own path as a writer. If you choose, you’ll work as a graduate school instructor or teaching assistant and take advantage of publishing and portfolio opportunities.

Quick Links
In the Classroom

During your first year in the MFA program, you’ll immerse yourself in writing workshops with fellow students and have professional publishing and teaching opportunities. You’ll take a hard look at writers who inspire you, studying their creative processes as you work on your craft in a structured environment.

As you study the form and theory of fiction, you’ll work with students and faculty members in both Nonfiction and Poetry.

As you finish your MFA program, you’ll build on your work from previous classes to create a substantial thesis with the help of a faculty member.

But there’s so much more:

  • Take advantage of opportunities in teaching as a graduate student instructor or teaching assistant.
  • Increase your exposure to professional opportunities through an internship.
  • Participate in the student-run 33 Reading Series, which features readings by MFA students in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.
  • Create reading series, journals, or presses of your own.

English and Creative Writing Professor Joe Meno

As a student in Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction MFA program, you’ll foster close working relationships with our award-winning faculty members in a small, intimate community of writers.

You’ll find a home at Columbia if you’re looking for a program that emphasizes discipline and process, exposure to a broad literary conversation, and guidance in publishing. Our faculty members will support you as you stretch yourself. As artistic role models, they’ll encourage and inspire you to take risks—because they’ve been taking risks for years.

Our faculty includes award-winning fiction writers:

  • Don De Grazia
  • Garnett Kilberg Cohen
  • Patricia Ann McNair
  • Joe Meno
  • Alexis Pride
  • Sam Weller
Opportunities for Graduate Students

Columbia College Chicago offers several opportunities for graduate students, including scholarships, assistantships, and instructing opportunities.

Alumni Success

Columbia College Chicago’s Fiction MFA alumni write their own success stories. Many of our alumni publish their own books, move on to teaching positions at prominent institutions, or get PhDs. Others put their writing skills to work for major corporations and industries around the country.

Here are just a few of our alumni who have created names for themselves in the writing world:

Jessie Ann Foley MFA ’12

Jessie Ann Foley’s first novel, “The Carnival at Bray,” launched her career as an award-winning writer.

Chris Terry MFA ’12

Chris Terry learned the benefits of producing as much work as possible while studying at Columbia.

Chicago: A Literary City

Living and studying in Chicago means you’ll have opportunities to participate in the literary community here. The city has one of the country’s best live literary scenes, with a diverse range of styles and genres and a welcoming environment for new writers.

Creative Writing Reading Series

The Creative Writing Reading Series at Columbia College Chicago is one of the most dynamic, aesthetically diverse events of its kind in the city. Hosted by the English and Creative Writing Department, the series attracts prestigious, award-winning writers.

As a graduate student in the Fiction MFA program, you’ll have a front row seat to these shows and may even have an opportunity to read your own work.