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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Marline and Shante

Feature: MFA Program Profile: Emily Raboteau on CCNY

Professor Emily Raboteau, MFA Program Co-Director, talks with Publishers Weekly about the need for diversity in creative writing programs.

MFA alumna Hasanthika Sirisena is the winner of the 2015 Juniper Prize for Fiction with her short story collection The Other One, to be published by UMass Press in 2016.

Program Overview

Co-Director: Professor Salar Abdoh
Co-Director: Professor Emily Raboteau
NAC 6/210; 212-650-6694;

The Creative Writing Program at The City College of New York is in its fourth decade. Since its inception some of the most distinguished writers in America have taught here at our West Harlem campus, including Donald Barthelme, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kurt Vonnegut, Marilyn Hacker, William Matthews, Grace Paley and Susan Sontag. The mission of our program is simple: We want every student to find his or her unique voice, whether through fiction, nonfiction, drama, screenwriting, experimental or genre fiction and/or poetry, while simultaneously preparing them for life beyond graduate school as writers, teachers and scholars.

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. Regardless of their concentration in poetry, nonfiction or fiction, we encourage students to practice in a variety of offerings, including our workshop in Literary Translation.

Graduates of the Creative Writing Program at The City College of New York have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the Pushcart Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Fulbright Award, the O. Henry Award, a Grammy Award and more. The legacy continues with recent alumni having work published by Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s Press, Ampersand, Lyons Press, as well as having a presence on the New York Times Best Sellers list. In a program curriculum of advanced writing workshops and courses in English and American Literature, our distinguished faculty is dedicated to the intellectual growth and literary success of our students.

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

Application Deadline: Fall Admission - February 1st; Spring Admission - October 1st (Please note: Organizing transcripts and letters of recommendation often takes longer than expected)

GRE Required:

Minimum TOEFL/IELTS Scores:
600 (PBT), 100 (IBT) or 7

Supporting Documents Required:

  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Resume/CV
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample (30-50 pages of fiction, nonfiction, or 10 poems)
All applications must be done online. Click here to apply now!

Funding Opportunities

Below is a list of local and CCNY-related programs and centers which provide funding or jobs for qualified MFA students:

America Reads/America Counts Program

The CCNY Writing Center - (writing consultant positions available for peer counseling)

CCNY English Department Scholarships & Awards

The Community Word Project

The Foundation Center in New York (on-line tutorial: Finding Foundation Support for Your Education)

Fulbright Program

HEOP – Higher Education Opportunities Program

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program

John Jay College (tutoring opportunities)

MAP – Morse Academic Plan Metro Center for Urban Education

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships For New Americans

The Wasserman Center for Career Development (listings for both part-time and full-time positions throughout the city)