Jul 23, 2024  
2019-20 Graduate Catalog 
2019-20 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Creative Writing, M.F.A

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Arcadia’s low residency MFA Program in Creative Writing utilizes online technology to allow each student an experience that fits into his or her lifestyle. While many low-residency programs are still correspondence courses through the mail, we bring as much of the workshop environment online as possible. Additionally, the programs we use are tablet and smart-phone friendly, so the course goes anywhere you want it to.

We offer programs in fiction and poetry, and each runs for two academic years.

Program Highlights

  • Personal attention in small workshops.

  • Low-residency, using technology to build a dynamic online writing community.

  • Weeklong residency spent abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Manuscript requirement and publication plan.

Arcadia University’s low-residency M.F.A. program in Creative Writing, the only one of its kind in the Philadelphia area, is distinctive in that it incorporates both a dynamic online environment and a study abroad experience. The course emphasizes online workshops; personal attention from faculty; studying abroad, with a residency in Edinburgh, Scotland; and the preparation of both a book-length manuscript and a plan to publish it.

Arcadia’s experienced and award-winning faculty helps to prepare each student for a career in writing and in teaching the craft at the college level.

Because this is a low-residency program and students take between six and nine credits each term, each participant is able to develop much of his or her own schedule and maintain a full-time professional life outside school.

Online Workshops

In Arcadia’s program, students participate in weekly workshops conducted online and led by the faculty, as opposed to many low-residency creative writing programs in which students have infrequent contact with their peers and instructors. Arcadia requires only that students have a consistent Internet connection. There are no extra apps to buy or download.

Personal Attention

In addition to the online workshops, Arcadia’s program allows consistent one-on-one contact between the students and the faculty. Through the use of e-mail, instant messaging, and video chat programs such as Skype, students are never out of touch with their faculty advisers.

Study Abroad

A global perspective is an important facet of writing. Therefore, each student spends a residency abroad at the start of the second year of the program. That residency is in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Manuscript and Publishing

At the end of the program, each student submits a book-length manuscript in his or her genre and works with his or her faculty adviser to develop a plan for publication.


Arcadia’s MFA program is one of the few low residency programs with a large online content. We conduct workshops through online forums, and students can connect with their instructors for one-on-one appointments via programs like Face Time and Skype. This means that a student can complete most of the work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection—the three residencies are the only times when students must meet in-person.

The program is also completely mobile accessible. Discussion boards, document sharing, and appointments can be completed on any iOS or Android device. While no mobile device is required for the program, we do recommend that incoming students consider investing in a tablet or smartphone in order to have access to their courses’ content as much as possible.

All students must have consistent internet access once they are enrolled in the program, regardless of the type of computer they use.

Degree Requirements

39 credit minimum

Students must complete all of the requirements before being awarded a degree. It is important that students make all possible efforts to complete the classes in order, so as to maintain a community within the program. If a student must take a leave of absence, it is best that he or she take a full year of absence so that it is easiest to rejoin the program at a natural point. Extenuating circumstances will be evaluated at the faculty’s discretion.

Literature Courses (6 credits)

The Residencies

During the two-year duration of the MFA Program, the students meet in-person three times: the first at the beginning of the program in August, on our campus; the second during the following summer for the residency abroad, in Scotland; and the final time in January of the second year, again on Arcadia’s campus.

Each residency is a week long, and includes workshops, writing exercises, discussions with a visiting writer, and a building of community within the group.

Total 9 credits (choose fiction or poetry)

The Workshops

Workshops are conducted during each fall and spring semester, and consist of online discussion boards. These discussions are asynchronous, meaning that while there are weekly deadlines there is no one time that students need to be online, and each student can fit the workshops into his or her specific schedule.

Additionally, the software we use for the discussions themselves and for file sharing are accessible via apps on tablet computers and smartphones, as well as laptops and desktops, meaning the classroom truly is portable.

Students each get to submit work for peer review three or four times per semester, and review their peers’ work every week.

Total 12 credits (choose fiction or poetry)

The Practicums

Students take a practicum each fall and spring semester while they’re also taking a workshop, meaning that they take six credits each semester.

A practicum is a series of one-on-one meetings with an instructor through the semester, and students have at least four meetings, but usually no more than six or seven. Students schedule these meetings at their convenience, often in the evenings, to accommodate their work schedules. Additionally, these meetings can be held via Skype or Face Time, allowing for those outside the Philadelphia area to complete the MFA without any problems.

Each meeting focuses on a piece of writing which the student submits to the instructor a few days before the appointment. This can be a revision of a piece the student has submitted to workshop, or a new piece of writing. Each practicum appointment is about an hour long and consists of an in-depth discussion about the work in question and the specific methods or techniques the student might adopt to improve his or her work.

Total 12 credits (choose fiction or poetry)

The Thesis

Each MFA student turns in a thesis at the end of their second year in the program. For fiction students this is a manuscript of roughly 60,000 words, and can be either a novel or a collection of short fiction. For poets this is a manuscript of about 48 pages of verse.

The guidelines can be discussed with the faculty and changed based on the goals of each student. Most importantly, in producing the thesis each student develops the habits necessary to lead the life of a writer, including a plan for publication after the program ends.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

  1. A graduate application, including personal statements, to be completed online at www.arcadia.edu/gradapp.
  2. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a recommended GPA of 3.0 or better. Applicants who studied in all fields as undergraduates are welcome so long as they can show, in their writing sample, strong skills as a creative writer.
  3. One official transcript from each college, university or professional school attended. Transfer credits included on a transcript must include grades earned; if not, an official transcript from the original school must be submitted. Transcripts must be sent from the issuing school in a sealed envelope and contain the appropriate signatures and seals to be considered official.
  4. Two letters of recommendation. The letters must be of a professional not personal nature. If the student has been out of school five years or less, at least one letter must come from a professor.
  5. An interview with the program Coordinator, either in-person or over the phone, if deemed necessary.
  6. A writing sample. For poetry students, this should be 10 to 15 pages of verse. For fiction students, it should be 15 to 20 pages of prose. Please do not exceed the page limit.
  7. International applicants should visit www.arcadia.edu/international for detailed information on admission requirements and application procedures. Official results from the TOEFL or IELTS are required for all students for whom English is a second language or who have not earned degrees or diplomas from post-secondary institutions in Englishspeaking countries (e.g. the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand). A course-by-course evaluation of all transcripts by an independent evaluation service based in the United States also is required.

All application materials must be sent to the Office of Enrollment Management.

Please note, as an international student in the MFA program:

  • You are only eligible to be on campus during the required residencies.
  • You will be given an I-20 for the two on campus required residences, not the full 2 years.
  • You will be responsible for obtaining a UK standard visitor Visa (if necessary) for the Scotland residency.

Admission Deadlines

In order to encourage community and continuity among the cohorts, each student must start in August with the first residency. The priority application deadline is March 1. Applications received after March 1 may be reviewed if space in the cohort is available.

Tuition and Expenses

2019-20 Tuition: $765 per credit


  • Registration: $50 per semester
  • Technology: $100 per semester
  • Parking: $55 per semester or $100 per year (Fall and Spring) before 4 p.m. No charge after 4 p.m.

Financial Aid

Funding packages of between $1,000 and $3,000 are available.  Every student accepted to the program will be considered for these funding packages. Also, one TA position will be offered per cohort. This is separate from the financial aid opportunities outlined below. Graduate students who have been accepted into a degree program and are enrolled for at least 6 credits per semester are eligible to apply for financial aid. Please visit www.arcadia.edu/finaid for information regarding available aid options and visit www.aracdia.edu/gradfinaidapply to complete required forms online.

Graduate Assistantships/Graduate Student Employment

Graduate Assistantships/Graduate Student Employment may be available to graduate students registered for at least 9 credits per semester. Students may apply for assistantships upon acceptance and registration. Questions regarding graduate assistantships should be directed to the Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at 215-572-2925.

Federal Loans

Graduate students are eligible to borrow through the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan programs provided they are taking at least 6 credits per semester (in the summer, 6 credits over all summer sessions combined satisfies this requirement).  For more information, visit www.arcadia.edu/finaid.

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