Department of English
Rhodes Tower 1815
Jeff Karem, Chair
Julie Burrell, Director of Graduate Studies
Mike Geither, CSU Campus Coordinator for the NEOMFA
Imad Rahman (CSU), NEOMFA Director
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 four different concentrations: fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, and poetry. 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 faculty of the NEOMFA Program possess a distinguished record of publications, performances, awards, and community projects, and have received regional and national recognition as writers, playwrights, and editors, across genres and aesthetics. Learn more about their work at http://neomfa.org/faculty.
The English Department is home to the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, which was established in 1962 and became a nonprofit independent press in 1971. The CSU Poetry Center currently publishes two to five books a year of contemporary poetry, essays, and translations, and has a backlist of over 200 titles. The NEOMFA Program and its consortium universities and community partners offer extensive programming, including the NEOMFA Visiting Writers series, Playwrights Festival, Playwrights Local, the Lighthouse Reading Series, and the Writers at Work Colloquium. The city of Cleveland is home to many exciting literary organizations and reading series, including the Cleveland Drafts Literary Festival, the Brews and Prose Reading Series, Literary Cleveland, Cleveland Review of Books, Twelve Literary Arts, Cleveland Scene, Lake Erie Ink, and more. Resources and projects at other consortium universities include the Wick Poetry Center (KSU), the ID13 Prison Literacy Project (KSU), and the University of Akron Press. Students regularly find opportunities to intern or collaborate with many of these organizations.
Financial assistance comes through the student’s gateway university. At Cleveland State, graduate assistantships in the English Department include full tuition remission (for 9 credit hours, the usual full-time course load) and a stipend, in exchange for part-time work in the Writing Center, Poetry Center, or teaching first-year writing. MFA students at CSU also regularly receive graduate assistantships outside the English department and across the university. Students must apply by January 15 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.
An MFA program is best considered a studio degree, designed to support intensive creative work in ways the rest of the world does not. Graduates of MFA programs work in many fields and positions, and their literary work takes many forms, from local community projects to national publication, high-school teaching to nonprofit administration. An MFA is required for teaching at the college and university level, but it’s important to note that attaining an MFA does not ensure a college-level teaching job (nationwide, only a small minority of MFA graduates go on to teach full-time at the college level). Yet the writing, teaching, communications, and administrative skills developed in an MFA program are useful in a wide range of professional roles, environments, and forms of cultural work.
NEOMFA alum have gone on to teach composition, literature, and creative writing in high schools, universities, and community settings; start their own literary journals and reading series; publish books in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; have their plays produced; and work as journalists, publishers, copyeditors, arts administrators, grant writers, and curators.
To apply to the NEOMFA Program:
1. Complete the Application for Graduate Admission at Cleveland State, checking “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 https://applynow.csuohio.edu/CSUApply/index.jsp?careerHint=GRAD /
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.
2. Submit required application materials to the NEOMFA Program: a creative writing portfolio, a one-page statement of purpose, and three letters of recommendation. Your portfolio and statement may be submitted here: neomfa.org/apply. Letters of recommendation should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on applying to the NEOMFA, see neomfa.org/prospective-students.
Please note that applicants must submit materials both to CSU and to the NEOMFA Program.