Creative Writing (MFACW)
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Creative Writing (MFACW) Overview
The application deadline is July 1st, but we will continue to accept applications after the deadline as long as there is space available in the program.
Chatham offers an MFA (42 credit hours) in Creative Writing and an MA (36 credit hours) in Creative Writing. The majority of our students who choose a full-time academic schedule are completing either program in under two years.
Cost consists of program tuition (cost per credit times number of credits) as well as any applicable University and degree-specific fees.
In 2007, the Atlantic Monthly named the program one of the top five innovative MFA programs in the U.S,. and in 2016 Publisher's Weekly named the program one of five distinctive MFA programs in the nation.
Explore the Creative Writing Degree:
The MFACW/MACW is a broad program of study designed to prepare students for careers as writers or positions requiring similar skills, such as editing, publishing, and content development for the web; to enable students to improve their writing through interaction with our faculty and other writing students; and to become experienced critics of literary works.
- Have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
If a Student has below a 3.0 GPA, please feel free to apply if you show extreme promise through other achievements. Additional Admissions documents may be requested.
- Six credits of undergraduate courses in writing are recommended, but not required.
Completed application for admission by the posted deadline, including:
- Online application
- Admissions Essay (current prompt found in application portal)
- Curriculum vita or Resume
- Two official letters of recommendation, preferably written by former writing teachers or professors who can speak to your writing
- Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
- Creative writing sample in your primary genre ranging from 10-20 pages (maximum). It can be one creative work or several pieces combined.
Admissions Materials can be uploaded in the application or submitted to:
Office of Graduate Admission-Berry Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Integrated Degree Program
Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all requirements according to their IDP course of study.
Chatham offers an MFA (42 credit hours) in Creative Writing.
Additionally, Chatham offers an MA (36 credit hours) in Creative Writing. This program is distinct from the MFA in Creative Writing in that no thesis is required; therefore removing ENG698 and the genre-specific thesis seminar course.
ENG523: The Craft of Creative Writing: Multiple Genres
This course may substitute for any other craft course for students specializing in any genre. Students will be introduced to the craft of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and will also be introduced to the workshop method and given instruction on sending out work for publication.
ENG568: Practicum: Fourth River
This course is a practicum in which graduate students publish the print edition of Chatham's national literary journal, The Fourth River. All phases of the publishing process are addressed, with a special emphasis on editorial acquisitions and copy-editing.
ENG585: Travel Writing
This course focuses on the art and craft of travel writing. Students will read and study contemporary travel writing and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.
The Summer Community of Writers is by far my best memory of graduate school so far, and it has blown pretty much every other workshop I've taken in the past out of the water. I hope I can experience it again in the future.
Faculty members are accomplished teachers, practitioners, and active leaders in the field.
A number of research, special project, and teaching assistantships are available to full-residency students that help defray the cost of the tuition while also earning valuable, hands-on experience. These assistantships include a full tuition award, as well as fellowships working with Words Without Walls and The Fourth River literary magazine.View Funding Opportunities : Checkerboard 1 - Funding Opportunities
Summer Community of Writers
We have a vibrant, supportive community of students and faculty. A hallmark of Chatham's program is its Summer Community of Writers (SCW), a ten-day, six-credit course that brings together low- and full-residency MFA students, community members, and acclaimed national writers for an intense and exciting learning experience. SCW takes place on our beautiful Eden Hall Campus with daily workshops, dynamic craft lectures, faculty and student readings, and ample time to write that many mention as one of the highlights of their Chatham MFA degree. See you at The Summer Community of Writers 2022!Explore the SCW : Checkerboard 2 - Summer Community of Writers
Words Without Walls
The Words Without Walls program, in which full-residency students have the opportunity to teach creative writing at the Allegheny County Jail and Sojourner House, is a social outreach program developed and run by Chatham MFACW students that offers transformative experiences for both students and underserved populations.Explore Words Without Walls : Checkerboard 3 - Words Without Walls
Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence Program
The MFACW program hosts the Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence program, which aims to support and feature the art and teaching of young Black writers. Pittsburgh writer and teacher, Cameron Barnett, will be the next Emerging Black Writer-in-Residence for the 2022-2023 academic year.Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence : Checkerboard 4 - Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence Program
The Fourth River
The Fourth River is a journal of nature- and place-based writing published by the Chatham MFA program. The journal takes its name from a subterranean river beneath Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city famously sited at the confluence of three rivers: Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio. The Fourth River literary journal grew up from the idea that between and beneath the visible framework of the human world and the built environment, there exist deeper currents of force and meaning supporting the very structure of that world.Explore The Fourth River : Checkerboard 5 - The Fourth River
Best Writing Conference in Pennsylvania
Recently named by The Writer magazine as the best conference in Pennsylvania, Conversations and Connections is a one-day writer's conference at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA that brings together writers, editors, and publishers in a friendly, supportive environment.Learn About Conversations and Connections : Checkerboard 6 - Best Writing Conference in Pennsylvania
As part of our innovative creative writing field seminars, MFA students travel with faculty abroad. Recent trips have included Indonesia, Ireland, Chile, and South Africa, as well as continental trips to New Orleans and Canada. Program tuition goes toward these trips, making them affordable for most students. More importantly, the trips are transformative for our students, whose writing becomes sharper and more nuanced when in an unfamiliar environment.
Travel Writing Certificate
Immerse yourself in a community of creative writers with Chatham’s new post-baccalaureate Certificate of Completion in Travel Writing. This certificate requires 12 credit hours and can be completed in two semesters plus one summer, in full- or low-residency format.Explore the Travel Writing Certificate : Checkerboard 8 - Travel Writing Certificate
Nature and Environment
Rachel Carson ’29 is Chatham's most distinguished alumna, and in her honor we have built a concentration in Nature Writing. Students may choose from a variety of literature courses focusing on the natural world, including Ecofeminism, Wildness and Literature, Nature and Culture, and Writing about Food, as well as a course in Environmental Imagination. The Fourth River, our national literary journal, focuses on nature and place-based writing.Learn About Rachel Carson : Checkerboard 9 - Nature and Environment
Students interested in a concentration in publishing can take The Fourth River practicum, where they have the opportunity to work as an assistant editor for our national literary journal, or our Independent Literary Publishing course, where students create and run their own literary press. There are also many opportunities for publishing internships in the Pittsburgh area, with a number of our students earning internships for Autumn House Press, Creative Nonfiction, and Pittsburgh Quarterly.
Our low-residency students work closely during their distance terms with faculty mentors who are seasoned educators and award-winning writers from all over the country. Chatham low-residency mentors have included Dilruba Ahmed, Derek Green, Paul Hertneky, Kathy Ayres, Karen Bender, Rachel Mennies, Abby Mendelsohn, Robert Yune, Melanie Fox, Sherrie Flick, Katherine Miles, and BK Loren.
Annual Reading Series
Our MFA program offers the opportunity to meet and learn from established authors of all genres. The Melanie Brown Lecturer Series is presented each year through the generosity of The Melanie and Fred R. Brown Endowed Fund, and the selection of each year's Lecturer is guided by the desire to highlight fiction writers with a strong sense of place in her or his writing. Similarly, our annual Dialogues Reading Series invites authors of international renown to visit our campus and host readings and lectures on craft.
- Past lecturers have included: Cristina Garcia, Shaka Senghor, Renée Watson, Kaveh Akbar, Jaquira Diaz, Martha Southgate, Safia Elhillo, M. Evelina Galang, Margot Livesey, Amy Bloom, Karen Bender, Sam Chang, Stewart O’Nan, Alix Ohlin, Wiley Cash, Brad Kessler, Ann Pancake, Michael Byers, and Debra Marquart.
Stuart H. Hunt Memorial Award & Into the Light Writing Contest
Judged by members of The Fourth River editorial team, the Chatham University MFA in Creative Writing is pleased to announce the winners of the Into the Light Writing Contest/Stuart H. Hunt Memorial Award. You can read their work by downloading the PDF below.
- 1st Place: Janette Schafer, for "Bubblegum Ice Cream"
- 2nd Place: Dmitra Gideon, for "Murder/Suicide"
- 3rd Place: Lake Angela, for "Ghetto"
For basic inquiries, please email Joseph Bisciotti, Humanities Program Assistant.
Fiction is Still True: A Conversation with Brittany Hailer, MFACW ‘15
Brittany Hailer, MFACW ‘15, is an author and a journalist at Public Source and other outlets. Her new book Animal You’ll Surely Become is a genre-blending work of poetry and creative nonfiction that explores issues of addiction, sexual assault, and fractured families. Sarah Cadence Hamm, MFACW ’13, Associate Director, Brand and Content Strategy, an alumna herself, sat down with Hailer for a chat about journalism, authorship, and the Chatham community.
Here is an overview of what some recent graduates have gone on to do, and some of the places where they’re doing it: Editor-in-Chief at Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh, PA; Award-winning journalist for Public Source, Pittsburgh, PA; Acquisition Reader at Upstart Crow Literary Agency, Pittsburgh, PA; Writer and Community Specialist at ModCloth, Pittsburgh, PA; Information Specialist at USO, Frankfurt, Germany; Teaching Fellow at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA; Associate Professor at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH; and Official Speech Writer for Tibetan President in Exile.