How we're responding to COVID-19 >
Request Info > Apply > Virtual Visit >

Imagine the Unimaginable, Say the Unsayable

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." – Anaïs Nin

Student writing

  • Thrive creatively, professionally, and personally in our close-knit, inclusive literary community.
  • Learn to use meditation and self-care as tools to access your creative imagination.
  • Choose from emphasis options in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or dual genre.
  • Discover new frontiers by unguardedly experimenting with language and craft.
  • Complete a book-length manuscript of publishable quality with professional support.
  • Build the necessary professional skill set to succeed as a working poet/writer.

Nathan Campbell

“What a wonderful rarity, an MFA that puts creative process before product, focusing on the writer before the creative work. I’m excited about MIU’s new program!”

– N.J. Campbell, author of Found Audio, No. 1 on the Chicago Tribune’s Ultimate Summer Reading List, 2017, named a Writer to Watch by Publisher’s Weekly.

Writing as a process of discovery

student writing outdoorsPoets and writers point to new ways of seeing and, as Ursula Le Guin put it, “other ways of being.” Our program starts with you – your vision and creative process as a poet/writer. We, as faculty, offer stimulus, sustenance, and encouragement as you journey into the wilderness of your creative imagination where writing finds its pulse. Our workshops and mentorships nurture the unimaginable so you can say the unsayable. We support you to birth images, metaphors, and stories with power to move, transform, and bring change.

Meditate & create

“Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

student meditating outdoorsWhat sets our program apart is that we use meditation and self-care as tools to access the creative imagination. At the start of our program, you learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, which settles your mind and body as you experience the dynamic silence of your own consciousness. From this deep connection with yourself, creativity flows like a river. Writing becomes play. It’s easier to problem-solve, leap to surprising, fresh associations, stay in the flow, and adopt a sustainable writing routine. Accessing the most profound layers of yourself fuels your creative process.

Hertha Sweet Wong“When I started the TM technique, it felt like the most natural thing ever, so deeply right. It rang true. It makes a huge difference in my personal life and in my writing. Sometimes when you’re writing you hit the stuck spots and you just don’t know which path to take. And after meditation, an idea will come up and it’s resolved. Or it doesn’t come up as a conscious thought – but when I sit down to write, something has cleared and I’m ready to move on. It’s not even an issue anymore, it gets sorted out. I see this happening more when I keep a good writing routine as well as a good meditation routine. In my dreams sometimes I can see whole paragraphs and pages shifting around. Sometimes I get the syntax down, and it’s a perfect sentence. And other times, I see conceptual structures. I wake up and what has come to me in my dreams is good. It has never been wrong when it comes to me like that. It feels magical, like a gift. When this happens, writing becomes a real joy.”

– Hertha D. Sweet Wong, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities at UC Berkeley, author of Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography (Oxford University Press), co-editor of Family of Earth and Sky: Indigenous Tales of Nature from around the World (Beacon Press). Read more of this interview with author Linda Egenes.

Transform & thrive in our creative community

two studentsOur program revolves around human connection. We foster an inclusive, nourishing family feeling among faculty and students and emphasize writing that is emotionally connected and authentic. Our faculty are highly credentialed, accomplished working poets and writers who offer nourishment, challenge, and inspiration while holding a safe space for your process. Our mentorships spur unguarded experimentation with language and craft, pushing you into new approaches that will make your work stand out. We want your education to be a transformational experience – creatively, professionally, and personally.

How the low-residency model works

field with tall grass under clouds

Unable to relocate? No problem. Our 2-year, 48 credit program is low-residency, which means that we pair stimulating on-campus retreats and intimate one-on-one mentorships with distance learning, providing both the nurturing literary community and the solitary discipline of writing that working poets and writers require. In this way, you can complete the requirements of a high-quality MFA while balancing life and work commitments in your home community. Our 10-day residencies are held in quietly beautiful rural Iowa.

“If you or anyone you know wants to dive into creative writing and periodically drop in on a fascinating, artsy little meditation town in Iowa, check out this unique low-residency MFA in Creative Writing!”

– Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, Senior Editor at Smithsonian Magazine

Write a book with professional support

student taking notesIn this MFA, you will complete a book-length manuscript of publishable quality with professional support, a unique opportunity to launch your writing career. Though our program centers on literary writing, we welcome students interested in speculative fiction. We stimulate cross-genre work, experimentation, and the stretching of boundaries, tailoring mentorships to your particular interests and needs. We’re here to help you fulfill your unique vision as a poet/writer.

Reading & literature

students in classroomThe best way to learn about the craft of writing is to read widely and analyze the works of great poets and writers as examples. The study of literature is an essential part of our MFA. Our mentors introduce you to relevant readings from the contemporary literary canon to stimulate you to explore your own creative possibilities. In mentorships and classes, you examine through different literary lenses the genre(s) in which you yourself write. You also reflect upon your creative process in craft analysis essays, contextualizing your creative work.

“Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.”

– Virginia Woolf

We’ll guide you from writer to author

writing class on stairsWe take a pragmatic approach to the writing life, strongly emphasizing professional skills that help you prepare for a career as a working poet/writer. Our curriculum includes courses in writing pedagogy, editing and publishing, social media marketing, plus a writing outreach that cultures social awareness. You will not only graduate with a book-length manuscript of publishable quality, but also with a teaching portfolio, an online social media platform, and a solid marketing plan for your book.

What can you do with your MFA?

MIU graduate N. J. Campbell signing a copy of his bookThe MFA is a terminal degree in the field that not only prepares you for the writing life, but also for a variety of possible supporting careers, including college and university teaching, freelance writing, magazine or book editing, publishing, coaching, advertising, public affairs, and more. Your MFA can also serve as a stepping stone for a PhD in creative writing, literature, or a related field.

Meet our featured MFA faculty

Nynke Passi

Nynke Passi
Program director

Nynke Passi

Nynke Passi holds a graduate degree from SF State University and has been published in CALYX, Gulf Coast, Red River Review, Poetry Breakfast, The Anthology of New England Writers, River of Earth & Sky (Blue Light Press), Carrying the Branch (Glass Lyre Press), and more. A Pushcart nominee, she was a finalist in the 2014 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize of The Missouri Review. She is Associate Professor and founding faculty of MIU’s creative writing programs.

ben mcclendon

Ben McClendon
Program director

ben mcclendon

Ben McClendon earned his PhD in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, specializing in Creative Writing (Poetry) and Rhetoric / Composition. He also studied Creative Writing and English Education at Northern Arizona University. Ben’s poetry can be found in literary journals such as Rattle, Indiana Review, The Chariton Review, Stirring, Zone 3, and Redivider.

Sasha Kamini Parmasad

Sasha Kamini Parmasad
Fiction & Poetry

Sasha Kamini Parmasad

Sasha Kamini Parmasad (MFA in Creative Writing, Columbia University) was awarded first place in the annual Poetry International Competition. Author of the poetry collection No Poem (Yuganta Press), she has designed and taught academic and creative writing courses in programs at Columbia University. Her work is included in Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Sahithya Akademi).

Susan Daniels

Susan Smith Daniels
Fiction & Creative Nonfiction

Susan Daniels

Susan Smith Daniels earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University and is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her novel, The Genuine Stories, published by New Rivers Press, was the winner of the Fairfield University Book Prize. Her memoir, The Horse Show Mom’s Survival Guide: For Every Discipline, was published by The Lyons Press.

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz
Creative Nonfiction

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz (Masters in Journalism, U. C. Berkeley) was a senior editor at The Atlantic before becoming senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine, where she edits features about science, history, and culture. Her writing has been published in The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and more. Her essay “Arab Music” appeared in The Lonely Planet travel series.

joshua jennifer espinoza

Jennifer Espinoza

joshua jennifer espinoza

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is a trans woman poet living in California. She is the author of THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016) and I’m Alive / It Hurts / I Love It (Big Lucks 2019). She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of California at Riverside.

linda egenes

Linda Egenes

linda egenes

Linda Egenes is the author of over 500 articles and six books, including Visits with the Amish: Impressions of the Plain Life (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic (TarcherPerigee, division of Penguin Random House, 2016) co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

Rustin Larson

Rustin Larson

Rustin Larson

Rustin Larson (MFA in Creative Writing, Vermont College) is a seven-time Pushcart nominee whose fiction has appeared in Delmarva Review, Wapsipinicon Almanac, and The MacGuffin. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Poetry East. He is author of Bum Cantos (Blue Light Press), The Philosopher Savant (Glass Lyre Press), and Crazy Star (Loess Hills Press).

Featured Classes


Advanced Creative Process – Exploring the Leaping Imagination


The first residency starts with the heart of writing – the creative process itself. Poet Alan Shapiro said that writing allows us to focus on the "right here, right now, the deep joy of bringing the entire soul to bear upon a single act of concentration." Panel discussions, seminars, and workshops explore the inner world of the imagination and techniques to access the leaping mind.


Every Page a Pulse – Imagine the Unimaginable, Say the Unsayable


This online course explores the ineffable force at the heart of great writing. Seminars examine Bly's poetics of the deep image, Rilke's idea of the combinatorial nature of creativity, and Lorca's "Theory and Play of the Duende," teaching you how to mine rich and complex material that is "in [your] veins" and "surges up from the soles of [your] feet."


Writing Pedagogy – The Theory of Teaching Creative Writing


This online course offers a theoretical and historical background to different conventional and cutting-edge pedagogies from the fields of creative writing and composition studies, examining innovative models of teaching creative writing not limited to the workshop model.


The Socially Conscious Writer – Writing Outreach


Poets and writers are the voice of the future and can bring about positive change in the world. This online course explores social values and ethical dilemmas in the literary arts, stimulating social awareness and engagement.

Cost & Aid, 2022-23

US MFA in Creative Writing

This two-year low residency online program features two 10-day onsite residencies each year. The tuition listed here is for one year (two semesters) and includes the cost of housing and meals for the residencies at no extra charge.

Annual Cost and Typical Financial Aid
Federal student loans–$17,874
Your payment$0
Optional: additional low-interest federal loans?-$14,000

Additional Information

$14,000 in optional federal student loans may be available to those who qualify for personal living expenses and travel to the residencies. This type of loan requires an endorser if there is adverse credit.
Two residencies per year onsite at our Fairfield campus are required. Students are responsible for travel but the cost of housing and meals is covered by the tuition.

There are a variety of money-saving tax benefits to assist in reducing the cost of education expenses. More about education tax benefits.
Veterans should contact the VA for information on Veterans Education Benefits. MIU is a Yellow Ribbon school. Our Veterans Certifying Official is our Director of Financial Aid.

Loan Repayment Options

Payments are a fixed amount that ensures your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
Payments may be fixed or graduated and will ensure that your loans are paid off within 25 years.
Payments are lower at first and then increase, usually every two years, and are for an amount that will ensure your loans are paid off within 10 years (within 10 to 30 years for Consolidation Loans).
Your monthly payments will be either 10 or 15 percent of discretionary income (depending on when you received your first loans), but never more than you would have paid under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.
Payments are recalculated each year and are based on your updated income, family size, and the total amount of your Direct Loans. Any outstanding balance will be forgiven if you haven’t repaid your loan in full after 25 years.
Your monthly payment is based on annual income, but your loan will be paid in full within 15 years.

Tuition, other fees, scholarships, and financial policies are subject to change prior to the entry date. For more information, contact us at finaid@miu.edu for a quick reply — normally one business day — or see more about financial aid.

Featured event: faculty reading at Café ParadisoOur English department offers quarterly readings at local venues. Our winter reading was held at café Paradiso here in Fairfield, Iowa. Participating faculty were Dylene Cymraes, Terry Fairchild, Rustin Larson, Ben McClendon, Sasha Parmasad, Nynke Passi, Stuart Tanner, and Leah Waller.

Next Steps

request info

Get your questions answered
and download our free booklet.

Request info >
visit us

Sign up for interactive webinars
and one-on-one virtual visits.

Learn more >
apply to mum

Our next entries:
Aug 2022 and Feb 2023

Apply >

Follow MIU