The UNM Master of Fine Arts degree is designed for students committed to pursuing the writing life. This three-year degree combines studio-based workshops in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction with craft seminars and coursework in literature, teaching pedagogy, and professional writing.
Students undertake a community service project during their final year and work with teens at local high schools, at the juvenile detention center, and sponsor literary events to raise money for local food banks and social service agencies. During their final three semesters students work individually with a faculty mentor towards the development of a book-length manuscript suitable for publication.
Our widely published creative writing faculty, along with a distinguished visiting writers series, a faculty and student reading series, the acclaimed Taos Summer Writing Conference, and a national literary magazine, all make for an exciting atmosphere for the study of writing.
Edward Abbey, Paula Gunn Allen, Rudolfo Anaya, Denise Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, Robert Creeley, Gene Frumkin, Joy Harjo, Tony Hillerman, Antonio Mares, N. Scott Momaday, Simon Orti z, Louis Owens, Leslie Marmon Silko, Patricia Clark Smith, and Luci Tapahonso – a partial list offered in alphabetical order—of celebrated authors who’ve been either student or instructors (or both) in the English Department at UNM.
Among these writers: a Pulitzer Prize, a National Medal for the Arts, the Before Columbus Book Award, the Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, the William Carlos Williams Award, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and the Academy of American Poets Prize, to cite only some of the more noteworthy awards.
No other university in the Southwest and no more than a handful of institutions in the nation have such an illustrious gathering of artists associated with their program in creative writing. Our current Creative Writing faculty includes award winning writers of all genres.
The MFA in Creative Writing is comprised of 49 hours of coursework, distributed as follows, plus 6 hours of dissertation work:
ENGL 521: Graduate Workshop in Fiction;
ENGL 522:Graduate Workshop in Poetry;
ENGL 523: Graduate Workshop in Creative Nonfiction
--at least 9 hours must be taken in a primary genre
--at least three hours must be in a secondary genre.
3 credits ENGL 501: Introduction to the Profession for Writers
6 credits ENGL 587: Genre Studies
4 credits ENGL 670: Literature/Theory Seminar (or 610, 640, 650, 660)
9 credits Literature Courses at the graduate level from at least two of the designated
distribution groups, A-E (see UNM Catalog English Dept. Distribution
6 credits Professional preparation electives from the list of courses:
ENGL 513-20 (Writing Courses in Science, Environmental, Medical Writing, Documentation, Publishing, Editing, Biography/Autobiography, Proposal and Grant Writing, Visual Rhetoric, and Other Topics);
ENGL 535: Creative Writing Pedagogy;
ENGL 536: Teaching Adult ESL Writing;
ENGL 537: Teaching Composition;
ENGL 538: Writing Theory for Teachers;
ENGL 539: Teaching Professional Writing;
ENGL 540: Topics in Language or Rhetoric;
ENGL 592: Teaching Literature and Literature Studies
9 credits Electives (6 of these credits may be taken outside the English department)
49 credits + 6 credits ENGL 699: Creative Dissertation
55 CREDIT TOTAL
As a required component of the MFA degree, second-year students must pass a written comprehensive exam in order to be eligible to pursue work on the body of work known by the University as the MFA dissertation. This comprehensive exam is NOT a series of “comps,” like the ones required for a doctoral program in literature. The MFA comprehensive exam takes the form of a craft essay, which the student then revises to serve as the Preface to the student’s dissertation. In this body of work, the MFA student
* Examines the form (a book-length work of nonfiction, a collection of poems or stories, a novel) of the planned dissertation; * Discusses the work produced in the program so far which will likely be included in the dissertation and “forecasts” the direction of future work; and * Discusses particular influences and the larger tradition in which they hope to participate.
Students should be aware that the subject matter discussed in the comprehensive exam is expected to change and evolve substantially as the student writes, revises, and finally complete work on the dissertation.
Typically, full-time students in the MFA program form their Committee on Studies early in their third semester. The Chair of this committee mentors and guides the student in the writing and revising of their comprehensive exam. (This includes filing an “Announcement of Examination” form with the Office of Graduate Studies). The comprehensive exam is evaluated by the student’s Committee on Studies. Upon the successful passing of comps, the student may begin dissertation hours (ENGL 699). While students may be enrolled in ENG 699 prior to passing the comprehensive exam, the student must pass their comprehensive exam in the same semester in order for those credits to count toward the degree.
In most cases, the Committee on Studies becomes the Dissertation Committee, and the Chair of the Committee on Studies becomes the Chair of the Dissertation Committee.