Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Refine your writing skills and get your work published.

Become the writer you’ve always wanted to be.

No one else can write the stories you have inside your mind. Earning your MFA in Creative Writing is all about unlocking those stories, refining your skills and getting the industry contacts you need to share your writing with the world. When you graduate from Ashland University’s MFA program, you’ll have the tools and connections you need to reach your goal of becoming a published author. 

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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Develop Your Unique and Authentic Voice

Now more than ever, readers crave sharp and authentic writing that cuts through the noise of everyday life. This program is all about meeting your writing on its own terms and developing your writing skills to attract readership. We want to help you become the writer you are meant to be.

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a diverse and representative program that offers you the structure you need to meet your writing goals and connect with influential players in the industry. Our low-residency, online program is designed with an incredible amount of flexibility and can be completed on your own terms while balancing your work and family life.

Our goal isn’t to change your writing style, but rather to support you as you discover and refine your unique voice. If you’re looking for an MFA program with a supportive, community-based approach, an accomplished and representative faculty and a proven structure to complete your manuscript, our program is ideal for you. 

About the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program

Earning your MFA isn’t just about getting a degree or landing a job, it’s about allowing others to encounter your writing, from peers to publishers. We understand your need to express yourself through creative writing, and we provide the structure and support needed to accomplish your goals as an author. This program is designed to provide the structure, skills and supportive community you need to complete and publish your written work.

We offer opportunities to pursue degree tracks in the following genres:

  • Poetry
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Fiction
  • Science-Fiction/Fantasy
  • Cross-Genre Opportunities

Ashland University’s MFA program is designed to position you to become a published author with all of the personalized attention you deserve from our award-winning faculty. When you complete the program, you’ll have completed a book-length manuscript and built a network of literary connections to help you as you become the author you were meant to be.

Information about upcoming MFA Open Houses

Learn from an Accomplished Faculty

As a writer, networking is crucial to success. In our MFA program, we offer exclusive opportunities to form working relationships with our accomplished faculty. Here are just a few of the awards our faculty have received:

Kirkus – Best of the Year

Our director Christian Kiefer’s novels have appeared on best of the year lists from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist and have received rave reviews in The Washington Post, Oprah.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, Brooklyn Rain, Library Journal, Huffington Post, and more.

People Magazine’s Best Books of Summer 2022

Kirstin Chen’s new book, Counterfeit, is getting an enormous amount of press. Along with being chosen as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, People Magazine also listed it among their Best Books of Summer 2022.  

Iowa Poetry Prize

Cass Donish is the author of the poetry collections The Year of the Femme (University of Iowa Press, 2019), chosen by Brenda Shaughnessy as winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Award, and Beautyberry (Slope Editions, 2018). 

Appeared on PBS NewsHour Live

Faculty member Tess Taylor appeared on PBS NewsHour Live where she shares an essay in promotion of her latest book. You can view it here.

A. Poulin, Jr. Prize

Faculty member Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist and translator born in Zacatecas, Mexico. He is the author of Cenzontle, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Prize (BOA Editions, 2018)

Pushcart Prize

Faculty member Naomi J. Williams and Director Christian Kiefer have been recipients of a Pushcart Prize.

New York Times Critics’ Pick

Faculty member Lauren Markham is the author of The Far Away Brothers, which won the 2018 Ridenhour Prize and the California Book Award Silver Medal, was shortlisted for the LA Times Book Prize and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Selection and a New York Times Critics’ pick for 2017.

Bard Fiction Prize

Faculty member Brian Conn is the author of The Fixed Stars: Thirty-Seven Emblems for the Perilous Season, which won the Bard Fiction Prize and appeared on Amazon.com’s list of the top ten science fiction and fantasy books of the year.

New York Times Best Seller

Edan Lepucki is The New York Times bestselling author of the novels California and Woman No. 17.

Bestselling Memoir

Terese Marie Mailhot is the author of “Heart Berries: A Memoir,” a New York Times bestseller.

Benefits of Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts Program

Benefits of Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts Program

What to Expect from the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

  • Four online semesters: three online semesters of creative writing and critical reading, one online semester of thesis preparation
  • Annual residency: 12 consecutive days each summer for three summers
  • Classes taught on a mentorship basis with no more than five students per class
  • Diverse and representative faculty who are both experienced and accomplished
  • Ongoing, intensive online literary discussions
  • Editorial experience with the Black Fork Review
  • Summer start date with option to start in spring


Nurture a new passion for educating others and sharpen your own skills as a writer, all while earning crucial university-level teaching experience in your chosen field. Ashland’s MFA Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) opportunities are a great way to develop practical teaching experience within a rewarding, supportive environment. Connect with engaged students who are invested in their education as you hone your pedagogical craft. Many Ashland MFA students discover a love of teaching and use their classroom experience to launch a career in education.

Currently, qualified MFA students earn $2,494 for each course they teach. You may be able to teach five classes during your time in the MFA program, which helps to offset the cost of your education.

Outside the classroom, a limited number of graduate publishing assistantships are also available for poetry students in the Master of Fine Arts program who work with the Ashland Poetry Press.

About Ashland University

Founded in 1878, Ashland University continues to have a rich tradition as a private, comprehensive institution preparing students for exciting, impactful professions and careers. Your success is our goal, not just while you are a student but for the rest of your life as a member of the Eagle family.

We place a great emphasis on the importance of each member of our community. The phrase “Accent on the Individual ” has been our motto for many years and characterizes well the nature and content of both the online and campus environment.

We promise to teach you how to think, not what to think. We promise to work with you to create an individualized plan for your future, and we promise you an affordable education. We promise you will be guided by mentors invested in you as an individual. They will, within a diverse community of respect, design personalized transformative experiences to develop you as a person who works, serves and leads with integrity. And we promise you a lifelong commitment as we continue to help you discern your life calling and make a positive impact on your family, community and the world at large.

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