Writing

The Columbia University MFA Writing Program is highly regarded for its rigorous approach to literary instruction and for its faculty of acclaimed writers and editors who are devoted and dedicated teachers. The faculty, the students, and the curriculum represent and foster a full range of artistic and literary diversity. Students are encouraged to make the most of their own artistic instincts and to realize as fully as possible, beyond any perceived limitations, their potential as writers.
 
At the core of the curriculum is the writing workshop. All workshops are small (7 to 12 students), ensuring that all students present work at least three times per semester. Students receive substantial written responses to their work from their professors and classmates; they also have regularly scheduled one-on-one conferences with faculty. The second-year thesis workshops (6 to 9 students) are dedicated to shaping each student’s work into book form.
 
The Columbia MFA is a two-year program requiring 60 credits of course work to complete the degree and can take up to three years to complete the thesis. Students concentrate in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction, and also have the option of pursuing a joint course of study in writing and literary translation. Most MFA programs require 48 credits or as few as 36 credits, but the Columbia Writing Program considers the study of literature from the practitioner's point of view—reading as a writer—essential to a writer's education. Every semester, students take a workshop and, on average, three craft-oriented seminars and/or lectures designed to illuminate, inform, clarify, augment and inspire each student’s experience and practice as a writer.  New seminars, lectures and master classes are created every year.

News


Alumnus James Rahn Publishes Rittenhouse Writers: Reflections on a Fiction Workshop
updated January 2017

For almost 30 years, writing program alumnus James Rahn ’88 has led the Rittenhouse Writers’ Group, a Philadelphia-based writing class that...
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Writing Roundup: January 1, 2017
updated January 2017

Over the past couple of weeks School of the Arts alumni and faculty have been receiving recognition for books they published this year by outlets ranging from NPR to the New York Times Book Review.
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Emma Cline’s ’13 The Girls Named Top 2016 Book by Numerous Publications
updated December 2016

The Girls, a debut novel by Writing Program alumna Emma Cline ’13, was a topic of much discussion in the literary world long before it even hit bookstores.
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Writing Roundup: Dec. 15, 2016
updated December 2016

Over the past couple of weeks School of the Arts students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been busy at work, publishing essays, being translated and...
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Hari Kunzru, Writing Program Adjunct, on Writing in the Age of Trump
updated December 2016

This past semester, Hari Kunzru, a fiction writer and member of the Writing Program adjunct faculty, taught a class called The Weight of the World. The class explored ways writers can respond, whether directly or obliquely, to their political landscape.
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Several Columbia Students Named Pushcart Nominees
updated December 2016

Several current Columbia students were named Pushcart nominees last week, as part of a widespread nomination process for the prize, which honors poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from small magazines and presses in the form of an annual anthology.
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Three Columbia Affiliates Named New York Times Notable Books
updated December 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, major publications have begun to release their lists of the best books of the year. Three Columbia affiliates—one alumna and two faculty members—have had their books named in the New York Times annual Notable Books list, arguably one of the most widely cited roundups of the year’s top titles.
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Writing Roundup: Nov. 28, 2016
updated November 2016

Over the past couple of weeks School of the Arts students, alumni, faculty, and staff have been busy at work publishing stories and poems, giving talks...
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Interactive Writing Program Exhibition Asks, "Artists: What Do We Do Now?"
updated November 2016

In the weeks since Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, politicians, pundits, thinkers, and entertainers—to say nothing of ordinary citizens—have been weighing in, often heatedly, on the meaning and possible ramifications of the business magnate’s victory.
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An Interview with Rebecca Godfrey on her Multidisciplinary Show Girls in Trees
updated November 2016

At Columbia’s School of the Arts, where programs are often divided by medium or concentration, it’s easy to assume that professors and students mostly stick to their chosen practices...

 
Writing Program
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.