University of Pittsburgh

graduate

Requirements

The MFA in Writing will be awarded for the completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.0, plus the completion of an acceptable final manuscript.

**The requirements below are a general guideline for prospective MFA students.  Current MFA students in the Department of English should refer to the MFA section of the graduate handbook for official guidelines.

Fiction

12 credits (4 classes) in graduate writing courses, 3 fiction workshops and 1 Readings in Contemporary Fiction course

12 credits (4 classes) in graduate Literature, Composition, or Film seminars

12 credits (4 classes) in elective courses

  • A maximum of 6 credits at the 1000 level or above may be taken outside the English department if they are relevant to the student’s program and approved by the student’s advisor. Credits in excess of 6 must be approved by the Graduate Procedures Committee.
  • A maximum of 3 credits may be taken in writing courses at the 1000 level.
  • Presently, students who change their area of major interest while in the program must take a graduate readings course in the new area. However, no more than 6 credits in graduate readings courses in writing may count toward the minimum of 36 credits. Students who change their area of major interest must also take the required number of workshop credits in their new area.

The final manuscript consists of a book-length manuscript of the student’s best work in fiction. This can be a collection of short stories, an inter-related collection of stories, or a novel. The final manuscript committee must accept the student’s manuscript as a work of professional quality. “Professional” does not necessarily mean “commercial”; it does mean that the manuscript should be of sufficient excellence to deserve an intelligent and literate audience. The student’s manuscript committee shall decide what constitutes a “book-length” manuscript, but the suggested minimum page count is 150 (typed, double-spaced, standard format) for fiction. All MFA manuscripts must have single-sided printing (printed on one side only), must have numbered pages, and must be hard-bound or spiral-bound. The final manuscript, including a cover page signed by the members of the manuscript committee, is due to the Graduate Administrator by the last day of undergraduate classes in the semester in which you intend to graduate.

Poetry

12 credits (4 classes) in graduate writing courses, 3 poetry workshops and 1 Readings in Contemporary Poetry course

12 credits (4 classes) in graduate Literature, Composition, or Film seminars

12 credits (4 classes) in elective courses

  • A maximum of 6 credits at the 1000 level or above may be taken outside the English department if they are relevant to the student’s program and approved by the student’s advisor. Credits in excess of 6 must be approved by the Graduate Procedures Committee.
  • A maximum of 3 credits may be taken in writing courses at the 1000 level.
  • Presently, students who change their area of major interest while in the program must take a graduate readings course in the new area. However, no more than 6 credits in graduate readings courses in writing may count toward the minimum of 36 credits. Students who change their area of major interest must also take the required number of workshop credits in their new area.

The final manuscript consists of a book-length manuscript of the student’s best work in poetry. The final manuscript committee must accept the student’s manuscript as a work of professional quality. The manuscript should be of sufficient excellence to deserve an intelligent and literate audience. The student’s manuscript committee shall decide what constitutes a “book-length” manuscript, but the suggested minimum page count is 50 (typed, single-spaced, standard format) for poetry. All MFA manuscripts must have single-sided printing (printed on one side only), must have numbered pages, and must be hard-bound or spiral-bound. The final manuscript, including a cover page signed by the members of the manuscript committee, is due to the Graduate Administrator by the last day of undergraduate classes in the semester in which you intend to graduate.

Nonfiction

18 credits (6 classes) in graduate writing courses, 1 Structures and Techniques, 3 Nonfiction workshops, and 2 Readings in Contemporary Nonfiction courses

18 credits (6 classes) in additional graduate courses

  • Can include Seminar in Pedagogy.
  • Only 3 credits may be earned in ENGLIT courses at the 1000 level.
  • All of these electives can be taken within the English Department. 9 credits can be taken outside the department, at the 1000 level or above, if they are in classes particularly appropriate for a major writing project of the student and are approved by his or her advisor. These electives might be in such disciplines as anthropology, economics, foreign languages, history, rhetoric, political science, or sociology. 

The final manuscript consists of a book-length manuscript of the student’s best work in creative nonfiction. The final manuscript committee must accept the student’s manuscript as a work of professional quality. “Professional” does not necessarily mean “commercial;” it does mean that the manuscript should be of sufficient excellence to deserve an intelligent and literate audience. The student’s manuscript committee shall decide what constitutes a “book-length” manuscript, but the suggested minimum page count is 200 (typed, double-spaced, standard format) pages. Realizing that nonfiction books sometimes run longer than this minimum, the faculty advises students that a committee may, in exceptional circumstances, allow the 200 pages to be part of a longer book. In such cases the manuscript must be accompanied by a comprehensive outline or synopsis for the entire book project. The final manuscript, including a cover page signed by the members of the manuscript committee, is due to the Graduate Administrator by the last day of undergraduate classes in the semester in which you intend to graduate.

The terms “nonfiction” and “literary journalism” should serve as indicators of the intent of our program. We expect students to work in any of a wide variety of styles and subgenres, such as autobiography, biography, history, speculative or personal essays, new journalism, investigative reporting and analysis, and feature writing of the quality that appears in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and literary quarterlies. More traditional journalism will not be accepted as material for workshops and/or final manuscripts.

In addition to the general requirements for the MFA listed earlier, the writing faculty sets forth these guidelines:

  • The manuscript should be aimed at a general, literate audience.
  • The manuscript cannot consist of ephemeral journalism, academic reports, scholarly papers, extended term papers, instructional manuals, or “in-house” public relations efforts.
  • The manuscript must focus on a single subject.
  • Collections of articles and/or essays will be accepted only if they have a unifying theme.
  • The manuscript must be composed of work written while the student is matriculated.
  • Acceptance of practice or work in a particular subgenre or style by one or more workshop teachers does not guarantee that the same work will be acceptable by the manuscript committee for inclusion in the final manuscript.
Revised 12/09/2014
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