Creative Writing Masters Program (MFA) About the Masters in Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 45-credit-hour terminal degree. The workshop-driven program provides students a rigorous creative environment to pursue fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction writing, building on a rich foundation of apprenticeship and critical studies. Earn a terminal degree in creative writing in two years with our accelerated, low-residency MFA program. Students can study anywhere in the world, joining faculty, guest authors like Bret Lott and Scott Cairns, and peers at two annual Texas-based writers retreats. A parallel MFA in Screenwriting is also available.

The MFA utilizes an accelerated, low-residency model designed to meet the needs of today’s students, while emphasizing a strong commitment to excellence in craft, analysis, and creativity. Three times per year, students and faculty gather either at HCU’s campus or for a destination writers’ retreat near cities like Austin, TX. Each residency features workshops and extensive interaction with notable professional writers serving as guest instructors, as well as ongoing mentorship from HCU’s exceptional full-time writing faculty.

Between residencies, students work from home, maintaining connections with their cohort through online workshops and ongoing coursework. These long-distance classes preserve HCU’s apprenticeship model, providing frequent feedback and personalized direction from each student’s writing mentors and peers. While the low-residency model allows writers to continue to live and work in their home cities, students should expect to commit considerable time every week to practicing their craft in order to successfully develop and hone their creative skills.

The  accelerated schedule allows students to complete the MFA degree in two years. For professional writers, the Master of Fine Arts serves as a terminally qualifying degree, allowing successful graduates to teach at the university level. However, the program’s primary goal is to nurture students’ creative potential, ensuring that their artistic craft is sharpened and developed.

Most importantly, the core of this degree remains HCU’s steadfast commitment to providing a learning experience that instills in students a passion for academic, spiritual and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. Students learn how this faith has guided writers, storytellers, and artists throughout history and will be inspired by this rich heritage as together we seek to craft new works reflecting our Creator’s goodness, truth, and beauty.

Applications for the next cohort are now open.
A writing portfolio is required for admission.

Apply Now

View Degree Plan

Program Highlights

  • Workshop-Based Mentoring

    The MFA in Creative Writing places a strong emphasis on practice and feedback, using rigorous faculty-led workshops throughout the program. Students will work closely with a writing mentor and receive valuable critiques from their cohort of peers.

  • Study from Anywhere

    The MFA in Creative Writing is offered as a low-residency program, requiring approximately four weeks of Texas-based instruction across bi-annual writers retreats, supplemented by year-round online workshops that can be completed from anywhere in the world. (Learn more…)

  • Accelerated Program

    With intense, focused classroom instruction during four Texas-based residencies and year-round online workshops, students earn the 45-credit-hour terminal degree in Creative Writing in about two years. (Learn more…)

  • Terminal MFA Degree

    The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. When coupled with professional work in the field, the MFA qualifies graduates to teach Creative Writing at the university-level.

  • Learn from the Best

    Each residency features notable professional writers. The focused retreat structure means students have extensive face-to-face interaction with the visiting authors, while year-round online workshops also facilitate feedback from HCU’s exceptional writing faculty and distinguished adjunct instructors. (Learn more…)

  • Strong Christian Foundation

    HCU is committed to providing a learning experience that instills a passion for academic, spiritual and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. MFA students explore the rich heritage of our faith, which has guided writers, storytellers, and artists throughout history.

Recent Guests

We are pleased to host a wide array of talented and experienced authors as guest speakers and instructors at each of our residencies, as well as through virtual discussions throughout the year. Our recent guests have included:

Bret Lott

Bret Lott
New York Times best-selling author of a dozen novels including Jewel, an Oprah Book Club selection

Fred Dings

Fred Dings
Acclaimed, award-winning poet, including the books Eulogy for a Private Man and After the Solstice 

Kimberly Povloski

Kimberly Povloski
Poet, educator, and editor; author of hell of birds

Scott Cairns

Scott Cairns
Acclaimed poet, essayist, and memoirist; author of Slow Pilgrim and Idiot Psalms

Theodora Ziolkowski

Theodora Ziolkowski
Award-winning author of the novella On the Rocks and the short story chapbook Mother Tongues

Lauren Berry

Lauren Berry
Award-winning poet and educator; poetry editor of Gulf Coast

HCU’s cross-disciplinary writing MFAs bring together novelists, poets, non-fiction writers, and screenwriters at multiple retreats throughout the year, providing unique opportunities for experienced writers to inspire and challenge a new generation of storytellers.

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Accelerated, Low-Residency Model

Our unique model is tailored to fit the active schedules of today’s writers, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world through online workshops, while not sacrificing invaluable face-to-face instruction with faculty, guest authors, and peers facilitated through three annual Texas-based writers retreats.

With our accelerated, low-residency model, students earn a 45-credit-hour terminal degree in Creative Writing in about two years. Across four residencies, students will gain 30 credit hours of intensive residential classes, providing essential foundations for the 15 credit hours of online courses that supplement the in-person instruction (learn more about the courses offered).

MFA in Creative Writing — Sample Schedule

August Residency (3 credit hrs)
week-long on-campus residency
July 30 – August 4, 2023
WRIT 6331 or 6341: Writing Workshop I
Fall Semester (6 credit hrs)
online, Aug–Dec
WRIT 6330 or 6340: Poetic Techniques of Fiction Techniques
WRIT 6320: Topics & Genres: Writers on Writing I
January Retreat (6 credit hrs)
week-long destination retreat
January 7 – 13, 2024
WRIT 6310: Faith, Culture, & the Arts I
WRIT 6332 or 6342: Writing Workshop II
Spring Semester (6 credit hrs)
online, Jan–May
WRIT 6333 or 6343: Writing Workshop III
WRIT 6320: Topics & Genres: Writers on Writing II
Summer Semester (3 credit hrs)
online, May–Aug
Cross-Disciplinary Writing Workshop
August Residency (3 credit hrs)
week-long on-campus residency
WRIT 6320: Topics & Genres: Writers on Writing III
Fall Semester (6 credit hrs)
online, Aug–Dec
WRIT 6334 or 6344: Writing Workshop IV
WRIT 6320: Topics & Genres: Writers on Writing IV
January Retreat (3 credit hrs)
week-long retreat
WRIT 6310: Faith, Culture, & the Arts II
WRIT 6390: Master Class
Spring Semester (3 credit hrs)
online, Jan–May
WRIT 6391: Thesis I
Summer Semester (3 credit hrs)
online, May–Aug
WRIT 6392: Thesis II

What to expect at the residencies…
Each writing residency is carefully planned to provide an ideal, concentrated creative environment for learning and lasting growth. Bond with peers in small, focused workshops and learn directly from seasoned professional writers through extended conversations in-class and over meals.

The residencies also provide an opportunity to be inspired and challenged by a wide variety of writers, as we bring together poets, fiction authors, creative non-fiction writers, screenwriters, and playwrights in cross-disciplinary discussions.

August On-Campus Residency
For six days in early August, students gather on HCU’s campus for classes and workshops. With special visiting instructors, the August residency focuses on the craft of writing and explores how artists of faith can create in ways that reflect the goodness, truth, and beauty of our Creator.

January Destination Retreat
For seven days, students travel to a Texas-based retreat location. Be inspired by a fresh locale and the beauty of God’s natural world, as we take a break from our busy lives and gather together to focus on artistry and creativity. This retreat explores how the work of great poets and authors have inspired and shaped today’s successful writers, offering students a chance to build upon a great tradition, while developing  unique voices of their own.

Annual Writers Conference
Students also have the option to gather on our campus for the annual HCU Writers Conference, featuring a wide array of guest speakers and an opportunity to connect with writers, editors, and publishers.

Meals and lodging for the residencies are included in tuition. Students are responsible for their own travel arrangements.

Courses Offered

The MFA in Creative Writing is a 45-credit-hour terminal degree. 30 hours of the degree are completed at four different residencies, while the remaining 15 hours are facilitated through online workshops throughout the accelerated program, which can be completed in less than two years.

For additional information on MFA courses and for the current official degree plan, see the HCU Course Catalog or select any course below for more details...

  • This course explores the role of the Christian artist in culture. Students will study how great Christian thinkers have thought about culture and art throughout church history and be challenged to understand their vocation as writers from a biblical perspective. Students will also develop an understanding of how to live out their faith through their work as they seek to affect the culture around them.

  • Study with experienced authors or poets, exploring the creative works that have inspired or shaped their writing. Topics will vary at each residency depending on the instructor and may also take into account the genres and mediums of interest to the current cohort of students. Cross-disciplinary courses in fiction, poetry, and cinema will be offered.

  • A study of the techniques available to writers of poetry or fiction. In Poetry Techniques, students will examine the various uses of form, metaphor, symbolism, meter, and narrative in poems. In Fiction Techniques, students will examine the various uses of person, character, voice, dialogue, detail, and plot.

  • Writing workshops in which students will create and revise original works of poetry or fiction (or other genres such as creative non-fiction). Over the course of the semester students will learn to critically assess their own work as well as the work of their peers.

    Students select one medium to specialize in for 12 hours and are required to take at least one cross-disciplinary course.

  • This course is a capstone experience for students. In this course, students will reflect upon what they have learned in all previous courses. WRIT 6390 will also prepare students to begin their thesis.

  • Under the direction of a faculty mentor, students will write and defend a faculty-approved creative writing thesis.

Admissions Requirements

  • Personal Statement – Please submit a personal statement, between 300 and 500 words, sharing your desire to attend the HCU Graduate School and how you feel a degree from HCU will assist you in your academic and professional careers.
  • Résumé – Email a current résumé to the Graduate School at
  • Writing Portfolio – Please submit a portfolio containing examples of your writing to The Graduate School. Your writing sample must be at least 10-15 pages in length for poetry or 20-30 pages in length for fiction or creative non-fiction, which may contain one story, multiple stories or excerpts. Additional work from other genres may be included as well.