Oregon State University's high residency MFA program in Corvallis has a long tradition of excellence in producing and teaching creative writing, going all the way back to the 1950s when the future distinguished novelist William Kittredge was a student here, and Bernard Malamud won a National Book Award while teaching in the English Department.

This is a distinguished past, but our present is even more remarkable.

Creative Writing has never been more vital or successful at OSU than it is right now, with a nationally competitive pool of applicants in fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction, full funding for all our students through GTA and GRA positions, full tuition waivers, and a vibrant Visiting Writers Series.

Program Highlights

Founded in 2002, the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing has produced a superlative track record, bringing regional and national attention to OSU.

  • The faculty have published more than 40 books, several of which have been New York Times and New Yorker Notable Books, and have received prestigious prizes, such as the National Jewish Book Award, the award for Best Poetry of the Year from the Poetry Foundation, and 6 Oregon Book Awards. Their work appears regularly in top national magazines such as The Paris Review, Poetry, McSweeney’s, and The New Yorker, and in anthologies such as Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart PrizeBest of the Small Presses. The faculty’s many national prizes for writing, such as the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Hemingway Short Story Award, the John Ciardi Prize, and the Whiting Award are complemented by a commitment to teaching and one-on-one mentorship. 
  • Our graduate students come to us from top-ranked universities all over the country.
  • All accepted students are fully funded through Graduate Teaching or Research Assistantships, tuition waivers, and stipends to defray 90% of student fees. We submit our top candidates for prestigious university-wide fellowships and scholarships.
  • In addition to teaching courses in composition, most GTAs have the opportunity to teach an introductory creative writing course during their second year.
  • Our vibrant Visiting Writers Series brings 4-5 nationally known writers and poets to campus each year. A Literary Northwest series celebrates the burgeoning literary scene in the Willamette Valley and the Northwest. The biennial EdFest brings in a panel of editors, publishers, agents, and writers to address a range of topics related to professional development and literary citizenship.
  • We also offer internships in literary editing, publishing, arts administration, and alternative pedagogies (e.g., teaching in youth correctional facilities) to name just a few.
  • In 2011, thanks to the generosity of OSU alumni Patrick and Vicki Stone, the biennial Stone Award in Lifetime Literary Achievement was established – one of the nation’s most generous literary prizes. Joyce Carol Oates was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2012, followed by Tobias Wolff in 2014 and Rita Dove in 2016.
  • Our current and past students have published books and chapbooks with publishers including Simon & Schuster, Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan), Hawthorne Books, Engine Books, West Virginia University Press, Forest Avenue Press, CutBank Books, and Gimmick Press. Their essays, stories, poems, and hybrid works have appeared in over 100 print and online literary journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Oxford American, Atticus Review, Prairie Schooner, The Greensboro Review, American Poets, The Normal School, Crazyhorse, Passages North, Brevity, Chicago Quarterly Review, Essay Daily, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New Delta Review, PANK, Seneca Review, The Collagist, Crab Creek Review, Witness, TriQuarterly Online, DIAGRAM, Entropy, Ninth Letter, The Minnesota Review, North American Review, Five Points, Iron Horse, Quarterly West, Sonora Review, Midwestern Gothic, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, Indiana Review, Pleiades, and Sycamore Review.

Learning Outcomes

In the MFA program, we recognize that the pursuit of excellence in the arts must be understood in diverse, patient, and supple ways. Some of our graduates (like many writers) will not pursue further advanced degrees or traditional academic careers, or even careers obviously linked to the creative arts. And the realities of the literary publishing world entail long apprenticeships before the first book might be expected. Therefore when the MFA discusses outcomes for our students, we keep in mind that each of our students will choose different career and artistic paths. The development and application of outcome measures must be thoughtful and individualized for each graduate. In general, students who graduate with the MFA degree will:

  • Demonstrate a rich and articulate understanding of the elements of the genre(s) in which they write.
  • Develop and employ techniques of intensive revision.
  • Make polished, creative work of publishable quality.

If you are interested in applying for our MFA program, please see the MFA Application Guidelines.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing News