Jun 16, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2012 - 2013 
Graduate Catalog 2012 - 2013 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Creative Writing, NEOMFA

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Department of English

Rhodes Tower 1815
(216) 687-3951

David Larson, Chair
Jennifer Jeffers, Graduate Program Director
Imad Rahman, Director, Creative Writing
Mary Biddinger, (University of Akron) NEOMFA Director
Michael Dumanis, CSU Campus Coordinator for NEOMFA

The Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is offered as part of the NorthEast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a four-university consortium incorporating the faculty and resources of Cleveland State University, Kent State University, Youngstown State University, and the University of Akron. The degree program offers five different concentrations: fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, and literary translation. Curriculum focuses on the techniques of professional writing and the analysis of literary works from the point of view of the practitioner while electives enable the study of whatever subject area will further the student’s writing interests. A required internship offers practical workplace experience from a wide range of fields, including teaching, editing, grant writing, arts marketing, and arts administration.

The program is designed to meet the needs of both part-time and full-time students. Workshops and craft and theory courses are routinely offered in the evenings. Students can register freely across institutional boundaries for graduate courses offered at any of the participating universities and taught either by regular faculty or by visiting resident writers.

A NEOMFA Executive Committee, made up of representatives from each Consortium university, governs the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, oversees the subcommittee on the admission of students, appoints NEOMFA graduate assistants, and makes policy decisions for the Master of Fine Arts program. It also hears student petitions that specifically address NEOMFA arrangements or policy.

Faculty Publications and Research

The thirty faculty members of NEOMFA have gained regional and national recognition as creative writers and literary translators with a distinguished record of publications, performances, and awards. Faculty publication records include over fifty book-length works of poetry, fiction, and translation, and hundreds of short stories and poems published in such journals as American Poetry Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, and many others. The Playwriting Faculty has a record of performances from university theater programs to professional stages, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Creative writing awards won by Program Faculty include fellowships and/or awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission, the Pushcart Prize, the Chilchote Award, the MacDowell Colony, and even ASCAP awards for musical theater. Program Faculty regularly attend conferences, visit other institutions to give readings and workshops, and serve on committees and boards for regional and national organizations for the promotion of the literary arts. In addition, many faculty members are involved with outreach to schools, arts organizations, and regional communities.

For a full listing of program faculty with publications and performances, consult the NEOMFA Web site at http://www.ysu.edu/neomfa/faculty.htm

The English Department is home to the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, publisher of more than 135 books of contemporary poetry since 1971, offering one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for a book of poetry, and connecting the University to a national community of poets. Each summer since 1991, the Department of English has also sponsored the Imagination Writers’ Workshop and Conference, bringing both emerging and established writers from across the nation to read and teach on campus. In addition, for over thirty years, the University has housed Whiskey Island Magazine, a student-edited literary journal, publishing local, regional, and national work. Resources at other Consortium Universities include the Wick Poetry Center and Wick Center Poetry Books at Kent State, the Youngstown State Poetry Center and Etruscan Press, the Akron Series of Poetry, and the student literary journals, Akros, Luna Negra, and Penguin Review.

Financial Assistance

In almost every case, financial assistance will come through the student’s gateway university. At Cleveland State, graduate assistantships in English provide students with an opportunity to teach in the Writing Center, assist faculty on editorial or other academic projects, and in some cases to teach Freshman English classes. All graduate assistantships provide tuition waiver and a stipend. A few tuition waivers may be available for part-time students. Students must apply by February 1, in order to be considered for a graduate assistantship in the following academic year. The English Department also awards tuition scholarships as prizes in annual creative-writing contests and through the Leonard Trawick Scholarship fund.

Career Information

Students interested in a career teaching creative writing at the college or university level should apply to the MFA program (as opposed to the English MA concentration) in Creative Writing. An MFA will by no means ensure a college level teaching job. Substantial publication is increasingly the qualifying factor, but under the professional guidelines which govern such programs, the MFA has become a minimal degree requirement. Program students should select workshops and arrange their studies to help them write as productively as possible. An MFA program is designed to provide focus and to support creative work in ways the rest of the world does not. The quantity and quality of the writing itself, rather than the formal degree, is the proper measure of a writer’s success. Therefore, time in the program should be as productive as the student can make it. It is also important for students to plan for a writing life which offers no guarantees of financial reward or of teaching positions. When selecting an internship, it will be useful to keep this writing-life conundrum in mind: few jobs make space for the demands of creative writing, but many jobs demand people with writing skills.

Admission Information

To apply to the NorthEast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program:

Complete the Application for Graduate Admission at Cleveland State, checking the “English – Creative Writing NEOMFA” as the intended program of study and checking Master’s Degree. To facilitate the process, we strongly recommend that applicants use the online application system at http://www.csuohio.edu/gradcollege/admissions/apply.html.

The submission process requires that an applicant have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with an overall grade point average of 2.75 or higher and a 3.0 average in courses in English. Applicants must provide transcripts of all previous college work and, for NEOMFA applicants, three letters of recommendation. Students interested in teaching assistantships should submit a sample of academic writing, normally a research paper from an undergraduate course.

Send a one-page statement of purpose, along with a portfolio of fifteen pages of your work in poetry or literary translation or thirty pages of fiction, creative non-fiction, or drama. (Please note that for literary translation submissions, the original work must be included. The original will not be counted toward the page total.) Both the purpose statement and portfolio should be combined into one Microsoft Word document and emailed as an attachment to Maggie Anderson, NEOMFA Director, at neomfa@kent.edu. Be sure to label everything you send with your name and contact information.

Degree Requirements

(48 credits minimum)

Writing Workshops (15 credits)

Students will take 12 hours in their areas of emphasis (fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, poetry, or literary translation) and at least 3 hours in a second area.  

Craft and Theory Courses (6 credits)

Students will take at least 3 hours of craft and theory in their areas of concentration; a second craft and theory course must be taken in another area. 

Literature Courses (9 credits)

These courses, which focus on the reading of texts, will normally be taken in the Departments of English. Literature courses in languages other than English or in translation may be taken through the language departments.  

Electives (9 credits)

Students will take nine hours in an advisor-approved area such as literature, foreign languages and translation, theater, arts administration, fine arts professional writing, or education. These credits may range widely in support of the student’s writing interests and projects.

Internship (3 credits

Students will take an internship in a workplace related to their interests and areas of specialization.

Thesis (6 credits)

Normally, students will enroll in three hours of thesis in each of the last two semesters of study. The thesis is to be a manuscript of high artistic quality in the area of specialization. Thesis committees will consist of one thesis advisor and two other program faculty members from at least two consortial universities.


*Indicates Cleveland State University numbering system only. Equivalent courses at other Consortium universities will appear with different numbers.

NEOMFA Courses

The menu of Consortium courses is comprised of the collective graduate offerings of participating departments at all four NEOMFA universities. For an overview, consult the course-offering page on the NEOMFA Web site at www.ysu.edu/neomfa, where specific MFA courses are designated and available literature courses, as well as many electives, are listed for upcoming semesters.

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