The Writing Program

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 coursework 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.



Mon November 20, 2017

Orhan Pamuk reads from his new novel, The Red-Haired Woman, followed by a conversation with Bruce Robbins, English and Comparative Literature.


Sat December 2, 2017

The fourth biannual presentation of creative writing by the students of Columbia Artist/Teachers (CA/T) from New York City high schools: Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists
, Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts, High School of Fashion Industries, and Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts


Writing News

Writing Roundup: Week of Nov. 20

Writing Roundup: Week of Nov. 20   Over the past couple of weeks, Writing Program students, faculty and alumni have been busy publishing new work. Read more in our biweekly roundup.   Lacy Warner ’16

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Students Across Disciplines 'Perform the Library'

Students are proving that they can produce some of their most creative work in libraries.  

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Current Student Sarah-Jane Collins Shortlisted for Fair Australia Prize

A fiction piece by current student Sarah-Jane Collins was shortlisted for the 2017 Fair Australia Prize.  

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Faculty and Alumna Receive Lannan Foundation Poetry Award & Fellowship

Poetry faculty member Shane McCrae was awarded a Literary Award and alumna Mai Der Vang ’14 was awarded a Literary Fellowship from the prestigious Lannan Foundation.  

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Susan Bernofsky Awarded Warwick Prize for Women in Translation

Bernofsky, who directs Literary Translation at Columbia, said she was “almost too excited to work the keyboard” to share news of the announcement on her blog.

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Sarah Perry '13 Sees Continued Success with Poignant Memoir

Sarah Perry '13 is riding a wave of success with her new book.  

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