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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :01 Feb
International :01 Feb

MFA Writing Program (Part-Time)

 Course Level
Masters / PG
 Type
Part Time

 Duration
4 Years
 Start month
October

 Tuition fee

International
11460 USD
National
11460 USD

Application fee

International 110 USD
National 110 USD
Department
School of Arts
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
GRE (avg)315
15

World University Ranking

About this course

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 9 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.

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Eligibility Criteria

International applicants should have the equivalent of a U.S. baccalaureate degree, and should understand idiomatic English and speak, write, and read English with a high degree of facility.

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Course Modules

Requirements for Graduation

  • The required 60 points for the MFA degree must include:
  • Three 6-point workshops and one 9-point thesis workshop.
  • At least three lecture courses (totaling 9 points). Courses taken outside the Program may be counted toward the 3-lecture requirement.
  • At least 12 points total of seminars and/or master classes. Nonfiction students are required to take the Research Seminar unless waived by the concentration director, and Poetry students are encouraged to take the Practice of Poetry seminar.
  • Enough points in additional classes within or outside the Writing Program (which can include internships or independent study credits), to complete the minimum of 60 points.
  • In addition, a thesis of minimum 90 pages of prose or 35 pages of poetry composed (or substantially revised) since entering the program, is required for the degree. Prose theses must not exceed 300 pages. If your thesis is longer, you must make a selection and include a synopsis. A thesis conference with your two faculty thesis evaluators is optional. This is not a thesis defense—your evaluators make the decision to pass or fail the thesis before the conference takes place. Unless a student is pursuing the Literary Translation joint course of study (see below), a thesis may not consist of work in more than one genre except in extraordinary circumstances and with the approval of both concentration directors.

In general, students should not take the Thesis Workshop in the term in which they intend to turn in their thesis. If you wish to do so, you must receive permission from the concentration director.

Seminars and lectures are open to all students, with the following exceptions and provisos: only Poetry students may take the Practice of Poetry seminar and preference is given to Nonfiction students for the Research Seminar.

Independent Study and Internships

Independent study courses and internships for credit count as electives; they may not be used to satisfy other graduation requirements. No more than 6 credits of independent study and/or 3 credits earned by an internship may count towards the 60 points required for graduation. Internships for credit are offered by a number of magazines, publishers, and New York City literary organizations.

An internship (course number R6401) requires the approval of the chair or the administrative director following submission of a written proposal (including the name of the supervisor); students must demonstrate that the internship will provide substantial literary experience (i.e., an internship with a literary magazine in which the student evaluates and edits manuscripts would count, while one where the student primarily answers the phone and does clerical work would not). Each internship requires a written evaluation by the supervisor, to be submitted to the administrative director.

Internships usually require 15-20 hours of work per week. For a one-semester internship, students are therefore expected to work a total of 195-260 hours. From one to three points may be earned for one semester's internship, depending on the hours worked, the student's needs, and the Chairman's discretion. An internship may extend over two semesters, provided the student works a minimum of 110 hours per semester.

An independent study (course number R6400) requires that the student find a faculty member to work with. Please note that faculty availability for independent studies is very limited, and approvals are highly selective. It is strongly suggested that you approach an instructor with a clear plan - in writing - for what you wish to do and what you would expect from him or her. Each independent study requires a minimum of three meetings and written work as mutually agreed upon. The number of credits earned (between one and six) depends upon the amount work, the student's needs, and the Chairman's discretion.

Course Requirements

The following regulations apply unless otherwise stated in writing:

  • Under no circumstances are students allowed to audit a Writing Program course.
  • Attendance is mandatory. Unexcused absences may result in failure.
  • No work can be submitted for credit to more than one course, although a workshop may review earlier work (which has been substantially revised) with the permission of the workshop instructor.
  • Collaborative work with authors not enrolled in the class is not permitted.
  • Prose workshops meet for three hours and each student is required to produce at least three submissions for class discussion according to a schedule determined at the start of the semester. Typically, at least 35 pages of prose must be submitted for each workshop course; thesis workshops require about twice that amount. After each submission the student must meet with the instructor for an editorial conference. Students in workshops are required to discuss each other's submissions in class and to supply written editorial comments on each submission at the end of the class.
  • Poetry workshops meet for 3 hours weekly and each student must produce at least 8-10 new poems per semester. Thesis workshops generally require final portfolios of a minimum of 20 pages of poetry. Students in workshops are required to discuss each other's submissions in class and to supply written editorial comments on each submission at the end of the class.
  • Seminars, lectures, and master classes require class participation and written work as assigned by the instructor. Since these are reading and discussion courses, the written assignments will normally run to no more than a total of 15 pages during the semester. Instructors are available for individual conferences.

Failure to comply with any of the above may result in failure for the course.

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How to Apply

Writing applicants must specify a concentration in Fiction, Nonfiction, or Poetry.

All manuscripts (except in poetry) must be double-spaced. Creative materials should be in a 12-point font.
ALL applicants MUST submit the following:

1. Essay: No more than 1,000 words, applicants should provide a response to a work of literature in their concentration written and published within the past ten years.

2. Personal Statement: No more than two double-spaced pages. (Tell us, briefly, what you hope to get from the Writing Program; what you have read lately that has been especially illuminating to you as a writer; and what you are currently working on.)


Applicants must ALSO submit materials for the concentration they specify, as outlined below:

Fiction: No more than 25 double-spaced pages--one or several stories, a portion of a novel, or a combination. If submitting a novel excerpt, please attach a brief plot synopsis.

Nonfiction: No more than thirty double-spaced pages of nonfiction of literary quality--one or a combination of works of memoir, personal essay, opinion, reportage, biography, and/or criticism. Academic papers are acceptable though not encouraged; the faculty committee will evaluate them on the basis of literary skill rather than scholarly excellence per se.

Poetry: No more than ten single-spaced pages of poetry, with no more than one poem per page.

Literary Translation at Columbia, a part of the MFA in Writing Program, offers students the chance to pursue a joint course of study in writing and translation. Students may mention their interest in the joint course of study in their admissions statement but they don't have to formally declare their commitment to completing it until the end of their first semester in the MFA program.

The above is only a list of Creative Material requirements. You must also submit your Application, Undergraduate Transcript, three Letters of Recommendation and Application Fee. Please see the Apply page for all information.

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