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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.


Get started by contacting Theresa

Theresa Fross, admissions counselorTheresa Fross is this program’s admissions counselor. Theresa will provide you with all the details of becoming a student, including connecting you with program faculty when you have questions.

Theresa Fross, admissions counselor

Contact Theresa >


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
Poetry

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).


All Department faculty

Featured Classes

advanced-creative-process

Advanced Creative Process – Exploring the Leaping Imagination

advanced-creative-process

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.

page-pulse

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

page-pulse

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-petagogy

Writing Pedagogy – The Theory of Teaching Creative Writing

writing-petagogy

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.

socially-conscious-writer

The Socially Conscious Writer – Writing Outreach

socially-conscious-writer

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.


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. In that extended moment, opposites cohere: the mind feels and the heart thinks, and receptivity is a form of fierce activity. Quotidian distinctions between mind and body, self and other, space and time, dissolve.” This class explores the inner world of the imagination and techniques to access the leaping mind. It asks questions such as: How do you break through writer’s block and nourish creativity? Why is it essential to give yourself permission to experiment and make mistakes? Where do you find inspiration and how do you develop the healthy work habits of the professional poet/writer? There will be guest lectures about Bly’s poetics of the deep image and Lorca’s theory and play of duende—not labor, but the fuel of passion pulsing through a work. Guest faculty offer evening readings, teach master classes on various aspects of craft, and lead advanced workshops in three genres. Students also receive an orientation to the writing life—the profession of the poet or writer. (2 credits)
The second residency explores the role of storytelling in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. In seminars, craft classes, panel discussions, and writing exercises, students explore the fundamentals of narrative—including character, plot, point of view, theme, style, and voice—with a special emphasis on transformational storytelling, the quest motif, and approaches to crafting works of lasting value. Master classes may cover the narrative poem; profluence in lyric prose; the fictionalized memoir; outlining, storyboarding, and the story arc; the Hero/Heroine’s Quest; how to develop a longer work (novel, memoir, or graphic novel); writing from life experience; and more. Guest faculty offer evening readings, teach master classes on various aspects of craft, and lead advanced workshops in three genres. (2 credits)
The third residency explores form and the unwrapping of form in the genres of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Seminars and craft classes cover topics such as hybrids; borderlands between genres; fixed form versus open form poetry; graphic memoirs; sources and approaches; and profluence through association and theme. This residency also includes workshops on line break; Japanese minimalism and the image; the contemporary narrative poem; the lyric memoir or novella; and the lyric essay (including prose poem, braided essay, collage, and hermit-crab essay). Panels will be on the topics of experimentation, crossing genre, and breaking form. Guest faculty offer evening readings, teach master classes on various aspects of craft, and lead advanced workshops in three genres. (2 credits)
The fourth residency is named after Annie Dillard’s famous text about the life of the writer, a mandatory addition to every student’s reading list. What do poets and writers have to say about the writing life? In seminars, panel discussions, and workshops, poets and writers talk about their writing routine and creative process, giving students pointers for success. Students learn basics about journal and book publication, conference attendance, and career strategies. This residency includes a panel on cutting-edge developments in the publishing industry and the future of book publishing; a panel with agents and publishers (pending availability); a seminar on the value of corporate versus independent publishing houses; a workshop in book proposal writing; and several seminars and workshops on how to organize book-length manuscripts of poems, short stories, flash pieces, or essays into a cohesive collection. Guest faculty offer evening readings, teach master classes on various aspects of craft, and lead advanced workshops in three genres. (2 credits)
This capstone residency for graduating students discusses the journey of taking ideas from vision to fully realized books. Seminars and panel discussions deal with the questions that lie ahead after graduation: How do you carve out a career as a writer? How do you develop and finish your books? How do you find an agent and publisher? How do you deal with bills or rejections and still keep writing? How do you believe enough in yourself and your voice to birth your books into print? How do you market yourself once you have landed a publishing contract? The fifth and final residency offers a bolstering package of support for the writer embarking on the world. Graduating students teach a master class, give a public reading from their thesis, and celebrate their achievements. (2 credits)
This online course offers students a deep immersion in their own unbounded creative nature. Consciousness and creativity form the perfect foundation for a prolific writing life. Students track the path of transcending through the practice of Transcendental Meditation as well as through writing, reading, and creative process. Every component of the course nudges students to open the faucets of creativity and rediscover the joy and bliss inherent in creative expression. This involves making mistakes, trying, and experimenting without self-censorship or push for perfection. Interactive assignments are designed to inspire a self-reliant, sustainable creative routine as well as a nourishing, authentic relationship between self, Self, and Muse. This course includes basic and refresher knowledge about the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique and the process of transcending geared toward each student’s level of experience. (2 credits)
This online course examines consciousness through a literary lens, making connections between the craft of writing and the self and Self of the poet/writer. Textbook for the course is The Flow of Consciousness, a compilation of talks by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on literature, writing, and consciousness edited by Rhoda Orme-Johnson and Susan Andersen. Seminars, readings, and interactive writing assignments explore literary techniques that poets and writers use to culture expansion of awareness: how sound offers a framework for silence; how rhythm and repetition push the mind to transcend; the function of the gap (white space, pause, cesura); the relationship between name and form, and more. (2 credits)
This online course is designed to deepen creative process, exploring the leaping imagination and the ineffable force at the heart of all great writing. Seminars and writing assignments 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 students how to mine rich and complex material that is “in their veins” and “surges up from the soles of their feet.” It includes exercises to help students write in an authentic voice and seminars covering subjects such as writing about childhood, nature writing, the relationship between memory and time, metaphoric thinking, shifting and expanding point of view, witnessing and point of view, and the I/eye of poem or story. It also touches on the transformational power of myth. (2 credits)
This online course explores the ways that literary theory and analysis are intrinsically relevant to the field of creative writing, enriching discussion, the workshop experience, and creative work. The class covers interpretation, authorial intention vs. reception and reader response, textuality and intertextuality, as well as assumptions about language and the manifold aspects of self and identity. Aim is to give insight into the history of literary traditions and help students examine through different lenses the genre(s) in which they themselves write, offering wider context. An in-depth examination of identity in poetry and prose questions social conditioning and assumptions. The course also looks at teaching methodologies of writing influenced by literary theory. (2 credits)
This online course explores the theory, practice, and art of teaching creative writing, offering 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. Central is creative process and the idea of writing and language as a means of personal expression. Students learn how to integrate the six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy in sample assessments and rubrics of learning objectives and outcomes. They create lesson plans and a syllabus, study methods of grading, plus structure a master class on a craft-related subject, which they will teach during the final (5th) residency of the program. Students are also required to write a statement of teaching philosophy. All of these materials are submitted in a Writing Pedagogy Portfolio. (2 credits)
Poets and writers are the voice of the future. They have the power to transform and create community through empathy and inclusivity; they can bring about positive change in the world. However, perspective narrows if a writer views life through a singular, limited point of view (“the danger of the single story,” as novelist Chimamanda Adichie calls it). This online course explores ethical dilemmas and social values in the literary arts, stimulating social awareness and engagement. Themes include loss of voice and identity, erasure of memory, and exile from community. The class also teaches the value of listening to and celebrating marginalized voices; the empowerment of finding back voice and community; being an eye-witness, bearing witness, and developing witnessing by being rooted in the Self; the importance of adopting diverse perspectives as a poet/writer; and writing as a means to bring about healing and transformation. Culminating project is a writing outreach, where students have the opportunity to use their skills in service of a cause they believe in in their home communities. This outreach can serve as an internship or teaching practicum. (2 credits)
This online course orients students to the profession of the poet/writer, covering such issues as work habits; the art of organizing and assembling a book; journal and book publication; job hunting; interviewing; the art of networking; and professional presentation through CVs, query letters, cover letters, pitching, and/or book proposals. How can you finish your books while paying your bills? What smart strategies do professional poets/writers recommend in creating fulfilling careers in writing? In this class, students write a marketing plan for their thesis as a finished book. (2 credits)
In today’s global world, writers have to know how to create a strong online platform so they can market themselves and their work effectively. This course teaches in-demand and innovative social media marketing skills and strategies that will promote career growth. The course gives an overview of habits, trends, and evolution in social media communications. Students are stimulated to think strategically so that they can mine creative opportunities. Lectures, discussions, and exercises focus on authentic communication, creating content, digital storytelling techniques, blogging, and branding. Students also learn technical skills such as website building, how to write content that performs well in social media, social analytics, viral campaigns, and how to elicit social media engagement. Final project is an Online Portfolio that includes a website, online CV, various social media pages, and samples of (published) work. (2 credits)
This intimate Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship offers full immersion in the craft and technique of poetry. Students write original poems and receive intensive feedback in one-on-one mentorship and online workshops with the aim of revising their work in-depth. The course is tailored to each student’s specific needs and may emphasize closed and/or open form poetry, cross genre hybrids, experimental and/or long form poetry, or whatever a student wishes to explore. Students submit four packets of work (new writing and revisions) per semester. Weekly or biweekly online craft classes cover subjects such as the deep image; metaphoric thinking; the art of line break; rhythm, repetition and/or metrics; unwrapping form; and more. Students work on their thesis project unless the mentorship is an elective. Poetry students can repeat this course. (4 credits) Co-requisite: LIT 560, a complimentary Advanced Process Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This intimate Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship offers full immersion in the craft and technique of fiction. Students write original fiction and receive intensive feedback in one-on-one mentorship and online workshops with the aim of revising their work in-depth. The course is tailored to each student’s specific needs and may emphasize short story, flash fiction, novel, novella, and/or speculative fiction. Students submit four packets of work (new writing and revisions) per semester. Weekly or biweekly online craft classes cover subjects such as voice, setting, character, flashbacks, the art of dialogue, the narrative arc, multiple points of view, outlining, and more. Students work on their thesis project unless the mentorship is an elective. Fiction students can repeat this course. (4 credits) Co-requisite: LIT 561, a complimentary Advanced Process Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This intimate Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship offers full immersion in the craft and technique of creative nonfiction. Students write original creative nonfiction and receive intensive feedback in one-on-one mentorship and online workshops with the aim of revising their work in-depth. The course is tailored to each student’s specific needs and may emphasize flash nonfiction, personal essay, and/or memoir. Students submit four packets of work (new writing and revisions) per semester. Weekly or biweekly online craft classes cover subjects such as hybrids, the lyric essay, drawing upon life experience, fictionalizing personal stories, setting, character, the art of dialogue, the narrative arc, profluence, flashbacks, framed stories, and more. Students work on their thesis project unless the mentorship is an elective. Creative nonfiction students can repeat this course. (4 credits) Co-requisite: LIT 562, a complimentary Advanced Process Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This intimate Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship offers full immersion in the craft and technique of multiple genres. Students create original cross genre or multi genre work and receive intensive feedback in one-on-one mentorship and online workshops with the aim of revising their work in-depth. Students submit four packets of work (new writing and revisions) per semester. Weekly or biweekly online craft classes are tailored to each student’s specific needs with the aim of stimulating the student’s creative work. The purpose of the Multi Genre Mentorship is to give students room to explore unfamiliar and/or complimentary genres. Students develop an appreciation of the three core genres and an understanding of how these genres can cross-fertilize and intersect. Dual genre students can take this mentorship multiple times in order to work on their thesis project. For other students, the Multi Genre Mentorship presents an opportunity to stretch boundaries and explore new possibilities as an elective. (4 credits) Co-requisite: LIT 563, a complimentary Advanced Process Mentorship in Multiple Genres. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
In the fourth semester of study, all students enroll in the MFA Thesis, a semester of advanced mentorship designed to complete the MFA thesis, a book-length manuscript of publishable quality. Students work one-on-one with their mentors, participate in intensive workshops, and engage in in-depth revision to finalize their drafts. Students are required to submit four packets of work during the semester. The MFA Thesis is always in the student’s genre of emphasis (dual genre for approved students only). This course can be repeated as “Extended MFA Thesis” in a fifth semester of study. (4 credits) Co-requisite: LIT 593: Writing a Critical Introduction to the MFA Thesis
This course focuses on reading and craft analysis in the genre of poetry in support of a student’s creative work. In each monthly packet submitted to the mentor, students are required to include a bibliography, annotations in response to about half to a third of the readings, and an analysis essay exploring craft in a literary work. By the end of a semester, students will have compiled a reading list of 10 – 20 titles relevant to their own writing process. There are four packet exchanges with the mentor per semester. Poetry students can repeat this course. (2 credits) Co-requisite: CW 560, a complimentary Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This course focuses on reading and craft analysis in the genre of fiction in support of a student’s creative work. In each monthly packet submitted to the mentor, students are required to include a bibliography, annotations in response to about half to a third of the readings, and an analysis essay exploring craft in a literary work. By the end of the semester, students will have compiled a reading list of 10 – 20 titles relevant to their own writing process. There are four packet exchanges with the mentor per semester. Fiction students can repeat this course. (2 credits) Co-requisite: CW 561, a complimentary Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This course focuses on reading and craft analysis in the genre of creative nonfiction in support of a student’s creative work. In each monthly packet submitted to the mentor, students are required to include a bibliography, annotations in response to about half to a third of the readings, and an analysis essay exploring craft in a literary work. By the end of the semester, students will have compiled a reading list of 10 – 20 titles relevant to their own writing process. There are four packet exchanges with the mentor per semester. Creative nonfiction students can repeat this course. (2 credits) Co-requisite: CW 562, a complimentary Advanced Creative Writing Mentorship in the same genre. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
This course focuses on reading and craft analysis in multiple genres in support of a student’s creative work with particular emphasis on the borderlands between genres, including cross genre and hybrid work. This course stretches boundaries, inspires new ideas, encourages experimentation, and gives students the opportunity to explore genres that are unfamiliar. In each monthly packet submitted to the mentor, students are required to include a bibliography, annotations in response to about half to a third of the readings, and an analysis essay exploring craft in a literary work. By the end of the semester, students will have compiled a reading list of 10 – 20 titles relevant to their own writing process. There are four packet exchanges with the mentor per semester. Dual genre students can repeat this course. (2 credits) Co-requisite: CW 563, a complimentary Advanced Multi Genre Mentorship. Prerequisite: Students take mentorships in their chosen genre(s) of emphasis and are only allowed to enroll in elective mentorships with permission of the MFA Program Director
In the fourth semester of study, the Advanced Process Mentorship fully supports the completion of the MFA thesis. Instead of craft analysis and critical essays, students write a critical introduction to their thesis, giving their creative process and craft choices a literary and scholarly context. Students are expected to refer to ideas and techniques discussed in The Flow of Consciousness to enrich their explications. In each monthly packet, students include a draft of their introductions, then use mentor feedback for revision. The final draft should include MLA citations and a Works Cited page. (2 credits) Co-requisite: CW 593: MFA Thesis

To graduate, students must also satisfy the general requirements for a master’s degree.

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
Tuition$17,874
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.

Entrance requirements

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in any field.
  • Apply for admission.
  • Completion of the MIU admissions process, including the submission of official transcripts, a recommendation, all materials listed above, and an admissions interview.

  • Portfolio of Original Creative Work in a genre of emphasis (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or dual genre) – Required length is 20–25 pages for a prose submission (double-spaced) and 10 – 15 pages for a poetry submission (single-spaced, one poem to a page). For a dual genre submission, please submit 20–30 pages and include work in two genres. In this portfolio, please showcase the potential of the type of project(s) you want to work on in the MFA.
  • Statement of Purpose – Required length is 500–1000-words, typed, double-spaced. In your statement of purpose, please outline your relationship to your genre of choice and your creative process, as well as the goals you’d like to accomplish while in our program.
  • Sample Academic Essay or Craft Analysis Essay – Required length is 750–1500-words, typed, double-spaced. You can submit any academic essay that showcases your ability to engage in critical thinking and analysis. The essay can have a personal slant as long as it demonstrates original thought presented in an intelligent, professional manner. You can also write a craft analysis essay exploring how an author approaches one or more aspects of craft in a particular literary work of your choice. Please use MLA or APA citations.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation by individuals who know you in a professional and/or academic setting.
  • Interview with MFA Program Director and department faculty – The online interview with the MFA Program Director and English department faculty will be scheduled at the end of your application process once all of your other materials have been submitted.
  • Résumé (optional) – If you want, you have the opportunity to provide additional information in an up-to-date résumé. Here you can include your degrees, relevant coursework, attendance of summer writing programs or conferences, TA experience, professional work experience, publications, and other awards and accomplishments.

Before your first class

Before your first class

All MIU students practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique. If you have not learned it yet:

  • Once accepted as a US student, the cost of TM instruction is covered through a grant offered by MIU
  • Students are required to learn the TM technique before starting the first class
  • Contact your admissions counselor for details
  • Find information on the TM technique or search for a TM teacher at TM.org

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.

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