COLUMBUS, Miss. — Mississippi University for Women will soon offer a new low-residency master’s of fine arts program in creative writing. On Nov. 20, 2014, The Board of Trustees of the state Institutions of Higher Learning of Mississippi approved the university’s proposal to offer the new program, which is set to launch in August 2015, pending approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Building on a successful undergraduate concentration in creative writing and events such as the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, the MFA program will include coursework in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and drama, combining writing workshop classes, literature and forms classes and practicum classes such as internships and two levels of residency periods. The program requires 48 hours of coursework, which can be completed in two to three years, though part-time students may take longer.

“The low-residency program can be the ideal option for writers who have begun careers or who have family or other obligations,” said Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, director of creative writing at The W. “Most of our coursework will be completed online, providing flexible scheduling.” Each year, the program will offer a full two-week residency period on campus in late May or early June, which will provide face-to-face workshops, professional seminars, public readings and time to develop a sense of community.

Students will also gather for short one-week residency periods scheduled at different times throughout the year. One will coincide with the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposia. Others may be offered over Winter or Spring Break, long weekends or during the summer. Students may choose the short residency that best meets their interests and schedules.

Existing faculty in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy will teach many of the classes, though the university anticipates hiring additional faculty to support the new graduate program.

“The W’s rich and influential history in creative writing and its pioneering practice of providing a hybrid education for those who will work in nontraditional ways make this new low- residence MFA in creative writing a natural and exciting addition to our graduate programs,” said Dr. Bridget Pieschel, chair of Languages, Literature and Philosophy.

Dr. Brian Anderson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, added, “The program builds upon the strengths of the College of Arts and Sciences through its focus on intensive education—the heart of the program will be close interaction between students and their instructors, both online and in the residency periods designed into the curriculum.

“We are also very pleased to offer a graduate degree, like our new master’s in women’s leadership, that is accessible to those in mid-career as well as those who would prefer to enroll right after completion of their bachelor’s degree. We are looking forward to this new addition to the College’s offerings.”

The university plans to admit six-10 students for the inaugural class, starting in August 2015, and about 10 students each year thereafter. In addition to the usual graduate admissions requirements, prospective students will be asked to submit a sample of their creative writing. More information on the program, including admissions requirements, and be found on the Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy’s website:

Contact: Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg
Mississippi University for Women
Dept. of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy
1100 College St., P.O. Box MUW-1634
Columbus MS 39701
(662) 329-7169