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General Information

The MFA degree offers an intensive program of writing in core workshops and seminars taught by established writers. Prospective students should apply to the genre in which they want to focus: fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.  

Core workshops are restricted to students in the strand, where they engage in close readings and critiques of their peer’s work. Seminars are generally open to all MFA students; recent topics include “The Fragment,” “Constraints in Poetry and Fiction,” and “In Translation.” The degree requirements also include eight credits in literature, critical theory, or rhetoric and composition, and eight credits of electives, which can be used to explore another genre. The MFA emphasizes faculty mentorship throughout each student's coursework and thesis completion. Engagement in Portland's vibrant community of writers is also central to our students’ experience

Many students come to the MFA with a background in English literature, writing, or journalism, but others have backgrounds in the social sciences, sciences, and fine arts. Our program is further distinguished by the diversity of its student body, including a range of ages and life experience, as well as by its flexibility. The program can be completed in two years of full-time coursework, but students have up to four years to complete the degree.

Course of Study

MFA students are required to take 48 credit hours of coursework as listed below. They must also complete a creative thesis of high literary merit, pass a written examination based on the thesis and an advisor-approved list of 30-40 texts, and pass an oral examination in defense of the written examination and creative thesis.  

The MFA curriculum consists of four core workshops: WR 521 (Fiction), 522 (Poetry), and 523 (Nonfiction); two writing seminars; two writing electives; two classes in literature (one of which may be in critical theory or rhetoric and composition); and eight credits of thesis work. The MFA core workshops are restricted to MFA students in the strand.

All students are required to take the core workshop in their first two terms.

Four MFA core workshops (WR 521, 522, or 523) 16 credits
Two writing seminars 8 credits
Two writing electives (one of these courses must be a workshop or seminar in the program) 8 credits
Two courses in literature, one of which may be in critical theory or rhetoric and composition 8 credits
Thesis 8 credits
Total 48 credits

Core Workshops: 16 credits

 Students are required to take the Core Workshop a minimum of four and maximum of six times in their genre.

  • WR 521 MFA Fiction Core Workshop
  • WR 522 MFA Poetry Core Workshop
  • WR 523 MFA Nonfiction Core Workshop

Writing Seminars: 8 credits

Students can choose from the following or other similar discrete-numbered courses in their genre as approved by their adviser.

  • WR 507 MFA Seminar 
  • WR 516 Screenwriting
  • WR 528 Advanced News Writing
  • WR 556 Forms of Nonfiction
  • WR 557 Personal Essay Writing
  • WR 558 Magazine Writing
  • WR 559 Writing the Memoir

Writing Electives: 8 credits

At least 8 credits from WR courses, one of which must be a workshop or seminar in the MFA program.

Electives in Literature, Critical Theory, and Rhetoric and Composition: 8 credits                        

Two courses chosen from any of the courses in graduate courses in literature, either ENG or WLL, at the 500 level (one may be in critical theory, or rhetoric and composition).

Thesis: 8 credits

  • WR 503 Thesis

All courses listed, aside from Thesis, are 4 credit hours per term.


Applicants to the MFA in Creative Writing must provide satisfactory evidence of preparedness to undertake advanced work, which would include a B.A. or B.S. degree from an accredited college or university. The application deadline is January 15. Apply to the MFA Program.