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Faculty Spotlight

Mark Irwin
Mark Irwin, poetry, was born in Faribault, Minnesota, and has lived throughout the United States and abroad in France and Italy. His poetry and essays... Read more

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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Note from the Director

Stephen Haven, DirectorThe Ashland MFA program offers degree tracks in poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction, with a cross-genre option available to students interested in more than one genre. The program is characterized both by an insistence on high aesthetic standards for the creation of new literature and by an emphasis on a supportive community of writers. Read More...

Low-Residency MFA Program in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction:

  • Degree tracks in one primary genre, poetry or creative nonfiction
  • Cross-genre option for students interested in both genres
  • Single, annual-residency model: 14 days each summer for three summers
  • Six total weeks of intensive residencies on campus during entire program
  • Four non-residential semesters of study via the internet
  • Maximum of five students per faculty mentor
  • Writing packets exchanged four times per semester
  • On-going, intensive online discussion of assigned books

The low-residency format is based on the sort of mentorship relationships that informed the development of many accomplished writers prior to the establishment of traditional, residential MFA Programs. Throughout all aspects of the Ashland MFA Program, students will:

  • Connect with and learn from distinguished writers
  • Develop writing relationships to last a lifetime
  • Build a basis in reading for a life of writing
  • Create and revise poetry and/or creative nonfiction
  • Complete a book-length manuscript
  • Deepen an ability to assess literature critically
  • Re-energize a commitment to the literary arts

From the Ashland MFA Blog...

Calls for Submissions - September 2014

Each month, the Ashland MFA Program receives calls for submissions and contest deadlines, which it publicizes in its monthly newsletter . Listed below are this... Read more

Ashland MFA Recognized in BAE Notables List

Congratulations are in order for MFA nonfiction faculty members whose essays have been recognized as Notable Essays in the 2014 Best American Essays anthology. Jill... Read more

Call for Submissions - August 2014

Each month, the Ashland MFA Program receives calls for submissions and contest deadlines, which it publicizes in its monthly newsletter . We've been busy with... Read more

Student Opinions

See what people are saying about our programs.
  • Grace Curtis
    Grace Curtis '10
    I feel as though I have made life-long friends in the arts that are almost as meaningful to me as the formal learning.
  • Jon Kerstetter
    Jon Kerstetter '11
    The distance education model attracted me to Ashland because it is a model that reflects writing in real life, among the time constraints and busy schedules that plague us all. The faculty was also a huge factor in selecting Ashland. Bar none, the faculty rocks…in a literary sense.
  • Valerie Due
    Valerie Due '09
    ...the greatest value, by far, was the network I gained -- the peer writers and faculty I still rely upon for feedback, encouragement, and those long email discussions about structure and ethics and how best to handle a tetchy real-life character on the page. I've tried local writing groups and... more
  • David MacWilliams
    David MacWilliams '11
    I learned to read all over again, and learned to write with a keenness and honesty that I would not have gained on my own. I learned also that writing in itself is a goal, a valuable end in itself. I value this MFA more than my Ph.D., for sure.
  • Nancy Leinbach
    Nancy Leinbach '11
    [The program] gave me a place to start in getting down “to it.” The “it” being serious about writing. For me, the program was an organized way to begin taking myself seriously and finally calling myself a writer--with no apologies.
  • Detrick Hughes
    Detrick Hughes '11
    ...my poetry seems richer. I tend to take more risks with my work without worrying (as much) about how it will be received.
  • Joan Hanna
    Joan Hanna '11
    I appreciated the combined creative nonfiction and poetry craft sessions and readings. I found that the two genres began to speak into one another in a way that impacted my writing unlike other programs where I would be limited to my genre alone.
  • Ashley Bethard
    Ashley Bethard '10
    The (MFA) program taught me what it’s like to balance real life (as in, the work life) and writing. I feel like the low-res track is more realistic, in some ways. The program taught me to balance reading, writing and the day job. When I finished the MFA, I didn’t stop writing. I just kept doing... more
  • David Wright
    David Wright '11
    I took away from the program a sense of willingness to risk, creatively and personally, and a sense of connection to others who are eager to expand their creative repertoire as writers. I also regained my sense that writing lives most vitally when it grows into and out of rich relationships with... more
  • Ashley Bethard
    Ashley Bethard '10
    The (MFA) program taught me what it’s like to balance real life (as in, the work life) and writing. I feel like the low-res track is more realistic, in some ways. The program taught me to balance reading, writing and the day job. When I finished the MFA, I didn’t stop writing. I just kept doing... more