Share This

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Program Overview

Co-Director: Professor Salar Abdoh
Co-Director: Professor Keith Gandal
NAC 6/210; 212-650-6694;

     The Creative Writing Program at The City College of New York is in its fourth decade. During that time we have had some of the most distinguished writers in America teach here – Donald Barthelme, Joseph Heller, William Matthews, Grace Paley and Susan Sontag, to name only a few. The mission of our program is simple and, we believe, unique to our academic culture and geographical location. Our institution is situated in the heart of Harlem in Manhattan – the location of one of the most important literary/cultural movements in America, the Harlem Renaissance. Diversity in the student body, therefore, is one of the hallmarks of our program. This diversity in turn naturally translates into a broad sense of aesthetics – including experimental works and genre fiction – in the practice of writing among our student population.

     Coupled with our drive for inclusiveness is our conviction that a writing program should not only help students hone the skills they already have but guide them to discover new ones as well. We encourage students to practice in a variety of offerings (including our singular Translation workshop and the workshop in Dramatic writing), regardless of their concentration in poetry, nonfiction or fiction. And since we are a part of the English department at CCNY, our MFA students have the opportunity to take a wide range of literature courses with our distinguished English Literature faculty.

Attached directly to the English Department are several vital affiliates:

Fiction, thelegendary magazine which, over the years, has published a who's who of the most renowned writers from around the world. MFA students regularly intern at the magazine and learn the minutiae of running a literary journal (

Promethean, a journal dedicated to the works of our own creative writing students.

The MFA Reading Series that takes place in a variety of attractive venues in Manhattan where students have the chance to read their works to their peers and audiences beyond the creative writing program itself.

The Poetry Outreach Center where poets from City College's faculty and graduate student body give readings and conduct hands-on writing workshops in NYC public schools, culminating in students' participation at the Annual Spring Poetry Festival.

The Langston Hughes Festival whose past medallion recipients are the leaders of the African-American arts and letters community in the United States.

The Rifkind Center for the Humanities and the Arts which regularly invites professional writers and practitioners in the publishing industry for talks and readings.

The Annual English Department Awards: Citations and cash prizes for excellence in writing.

The Publishing Certificate Program (PCP) for undergraduates has unrivaled access to publishers, editors, agents, and publicists. MFA students may take extra courses related to the publishing industry by directly contacting PCP's directors.

     The MFA program offers opportunities to qualifying graduate students to teach our many undergraduate courses as adjuncts; these positions, when available, can supplement a student's income and, more importantly, serve as essential teaching experience.

     Finally, despite its prime location and storied past, The City College's MFA program is dedicated to remaining at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in New York City. We welcome our MFAs to attend the program at their own pace as full-time or part-time students. We believe in access and opportunity not for just a select few, but for all those who believe in the life of literature and who take the craft of writing seriously.

Program Requirements

1. Forty-two credits are required for the degree: 15 credits of Creative Writing Workshops, 9 credits of Critical Practice Seminars, 15 credits of Literature Seminars, 3 credits of Thesis Tutorial. Each Graduate English course is worth three credits.

2. The thesis must be a mature, substantial body of work. The student will ask a faculty member to be the mentor and, in consultation with the mentor, decide on a project.

3. There is no foreign language requirement for M.F.A. students who enrolled in Fall 2011 or subsequent semesters. Note: students who enrolled before Fall 2011 must pass a foreign language translation exam, or receive a grade of B or above in the Translation Workshop before the M.F.A. degree can be earned.

Admissions/Applying to the Program

Admission Requirements for the MFA in Creative Writing Program are listed on the program's Graduate Admissions page.