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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

The Writer and the World

Hofstra University’s MFA in Creative Writing program is home to a vibrant community of writers from as far away as Nigeria and Luanda and as close to home as Locust Valley, Long Island. At the heart of our program are workshops, craft courses, and literature seminars led by a distinguished faculty of actively publishing writers of international reputation. We believe in the power of language to embody everything human and that an empathic imagination can and must go where it pleases. With close mentorship students discover their authentic voice and come to understand their place in the world as literary artists. Hofstra’s campus is in a nationally registered arboretum just 25 miles from New York City, the literary and publishing capital of the world.

Our faculty includes the novelist Martha McPhee, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a nominee for a National Book Award; Julia Markus, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, received acclaim from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Book Review for her fall 2015 biography Lady Byron and Her Daughters; nonfiction writer, Kelly McMasters, author of Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town, has been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and an Orion Book Award; and the poet, Phillis Levin, recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, a Fulbright Scholar Award, the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her fifth collection, Mr. Memory & Other Poems, was published by Penguin in March 2016.
We strive to offer modest financial support to every student, either scholarship awards for entering students or fellowship awards for strong continuing students.


    The Hofstra MFA Program is perhaps the largest single investment of time and resources you will ever make in your writing career. We are committed to making that investment a good one and to working with you individually as well as in small group seminars to make sure you get as much out of our program as possible. Our approach is to allow you the flexibility you need to grow as a writer.

    Our program offers concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting. But you are welcome to take classes in more than one genre, depending on your interests.  We accept approximately a dozen students per year to work closely with an award-winning, nationally recognized faculty.  Our mission is to create an intimate atmosphere of mentorship and community that allows you to develop your voice while preparing for the life of the writer.  You will meet other graduate students who arrive from as far away as Nigeria and as close as Long Island itself. Be prepared to begin the rigorous, fascinating journey of articulating your imagination.

    While at Hofstra our students apprentice themselves to their craft in an environment of artistic exploration. The workshop, which serves as the organizing principle and an ongoing source of development, is complimented by a curriculum of craft seminars and literature courses designed to enrich, challenge, and enlighten. We place a strong emphasis on creating, in close collaboration with our faculty, an individualized course of study suited to each student.

    To help students establish a solid foundation for their careers, we demystify the writer’s life: as you work actively with a writing faculty who practice what they teach, you will also be exposed to visiting writers and publishing professionals and have opportunities to gain teaching and editorial experience. Throughout your time at Hofstra you will participate in a curriculum of studies and activities that offer a clear view of what it means to live a literary life—and how to cultivate that life in whatever community you choose to belong.

    Nested within an English Department with a strong Publishing Studies concentration, (offered by only a few programs in the US), Hofstra’s MFA Program offers students the essential advantage of providing renowned scholars of literature and longstanding, old-fashioned connections with agents and editors from the New York City publishing world. By the time our students graduate, they understand how the study of literature and the engagement with the larger literary community has expanded their sense of craft and enhanced their careers as writers.

    Degree work may be completed in a two- or three-year timeframe. Most of our classes, workshops, and readings are scheduled from 4:30-8:20 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

    Community is essential for the aspiring writer, and so Mondays at 6:30 p.m. are reserved for events such as installments of our Great Writers, Great Readings series, town halls, open houses, student book groups and readings, publishing forums, social media platform seminars, and dinners with faculty and fellow students.

    Hempstead is located just 25 miles from New York City, in close proximity to some of the world’s greatest museums, libraries, theaters, cultural centers, and concert halls. The location of the University allows students to take advantage of the extraordinary vitality of the literary and publishing world – readings and talks galore in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as those taking place at Hofstra – while living and writing in a peaceful bucolic campus.


    This is what you can expect from the next two or three years:

    First Year

    1. Workshop
      Fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting workshops normally consist of six students and a distinguished writing teacher who guides the critiques of student work. Students are encouraged to take workshops and/or literature courses outside their primary genre. We believe that exploring other genres increases one’s range and strengthens the understanding of one’s primary genre.  Workshops are held once a week during the semester.
    2. Craft
      Interdisciplinary craft courses allow writers to immerse themselves in particular aspects of craft, focusing on how a work is made particularly in matters of technique, structure, and style.
    3. Literature
      In the first year, students take one literature class each semester. Students are free to choose from a selection of courses offered by Hofstra’s English Department. This is a time to enrich your own work by filling in gaps in your education; if you missed a course in Shakespeare or George Eliot or have always wanted to read Paradise Lost, UlyssesWaiting for Godot or Beloved with the guidance of a scholar, this is your chance! Selections are made in consultation with the MFA faculty.
    4. Teaching fellowships and teaching opportunities
      At the end of the first semester, students are invited to apply to be teaching fellows in advanced-level undergraduate creative writing classes, working with faculty.  At the end of the first year, students are eligible to apply for the opportunity to teach on their own the undergraduate course, “Introduction to Creative Writing.”

    Second Year

    1. Workshop
      Workshop again remains the heart of the program and students enroll in one each semester.
    2. Craft
      Same as the first year, but the topic or focus will be new.
    3. Literature
      Same as first year, but with new selections.
    4. Thesis
      For both semesters students are paired with a faculty member who will guide them through the process of developing and completing the thesis.
    5. Graduate and celebrate!


    Third Year

    Students who wish to stay for a third year to complete the thesis work can do so with advisement. This option works particularly well in conjunction with certain available third year teaching opportunities.

    Throughout All Semesters

    1. Great Writers, Great Readings series: 
      Some of the world-class writers who have come to read and talk to our students include W. S. Merwin, Louise Gluck, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jean Valentine, John McPhee, Jonathan Franzen, Anne Beattie, Philip Levine, Lori Moore, Karen Russell, Gerald Stern, Frank Bidart, Emily St. John Mandel, Terrance Hayes, Mark Strand, Tom Sleigh, Annie Baker, and many more. The series is designed to give students exposure to a variety of voices and processes and career trajectories in order to demystify the writer’s life as well as the publication process. Attendance at all readings and events organized by the program is considered a degree requirement.
    2. Overview of the Publishing World
      Through Monday evening presentations and seminars, our MFA students learn about the art and business of getting published, from how to submit stories and poems and essays to literary reviews from faculty and visiting editors and agents.  There are also symposiums and panels to deepen the understanding of the New York City publishing world.
    3. Readings in New York City
      Students are encouraged to take advantage of the vibrant literary world of New York City.
    4. Creating Your Social Media Platform
      Today, having a digital platform is essential to the writer’s experience. Some of our Monday evenings are devoted to seminars designed to help students navigate this aspect of the writer’s life?

    Your faculty is made up of a core group of full-time professors and a mix of adjunct faculty and visiting writers, all of whom are published practitioners of their crafts.

    Award Winning Core Faculty


    Adjunct Faculty


    For Spring, our priority deadline for scholarship consideration is January 1.

    For Fall, our priority deadline is February 15. Applications received after this date will be considered on a space available basis. If you wish to be considered for any of our grants and fellowships, preference is given to applicants who apply before February 1


    The most important parts of your application are your personal statement and your writing sample.

    The writing sample, whatever the genre, should pull us in, hook us, and hold us tight until the last words of the last page. Less is more: 8-10 poems, no more than 15 pages, up to 20 pages of fiction or non-fiction, or a short play.  Above all else, we are looking for talent.

    The personal statement should tell us about you and your literary interests, why you want to come to our program, what you have done before coming to us, and where you hope to go from here.  We appreciate statements that are honest and revealing of the unique qualities of a particular candidate. You have 500 words to tell us about yourself, why you write, and why you wish to come to Hofstra.


    Along with a limited set of partial graduate scholarships, we offer The Jeffrey Weinpur Award, the Judith Jedlicka Award, and the Provost Scholarship.


    Our generous, yet competitive fellowships are awarded on the basis of talent. We also offer teaching fellowships, internships, opportunities to judge poetry and prose contests, editorial assistantships working on AMP (Hofstra’ literary magazine), and a social media fellowship, along with other work/study possibilities on campus.

    Our coursework schedule is designed for students who work during the day, and our three-year program allows for a more graduated schedule should you need it.

    We have a dedicated staff ready to help with questions about federal loans and alternatives. For more information on financial aid, visit this page.


    If you are interested in the Hofstra MFA we invite you to attend one of our program events – an open house, an installment of Great Writers, Great Readings, or another social gathering. These provide opportunities to meet faculty and current students and ask questions that will help you understand what we’re all about. What are the workshops like? Which guest writers are on the schedule to visit and who has been to campus previously? Who are the current students? Can I take more time to complete my degree if I need it? These questions and more will be generously considered and answered by faculty and students alike.

    If you cannot come to one of our events, visiting our website and communicating with our faculty are also good resources. If you are accepted to the program and want to learn more, don’t hesitate to be in touch. We will speak with you and be sure to get your questions answered and also connect you with current students.

    For a full list of Graduate Admission events and open houses, please visit hofstra.edu/gradevent. To browse our program-specific events, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and visit our Great Writers, Great Readings page.

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If you have questions, we'd love to hear from you: English[at]hofstra.edu


MFA in Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship