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.


Several Columbians Named to Granta List of Best Young Novelists

The literary magazine Granta has published its decennial list of the best young American novelists. The list, which includes 21 fiction writers under the age of 40, among them, five Columbia affiliates—alumni Jesse Ball '04, Emma Cline ’13, Dinaw Mengestu&nbsp

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Mary Mann '14 to Publish Essay Collection on Boredom

Mary Mann ’14, a Writing Program alumna, will publish her first book, a collection of essays called Yawn: Adventures in Boredom, in May.

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Erika Luckert '16 and Diana Khoi Nguyen '12 Receive 92Y's Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize

Two alumni of the Writing Program, Erika Luckert ’16 and Diana Khoi Nguyen ’12, have been announced as winners of the 2017 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest, which is put on jointly by the 92nd Street Y (92Y) and Boston Review.

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Writing Roundup: April 10, 2017

Over the past couple of weeks, Writing Program alumni, faculty, and students have been busy publishing new work and, in the case of one affiliate, winning an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. Read more in our biweekly roundup of news about Columbia writers. Paul Beatty, Faculty

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Three School of the Arts Affiliates Win American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards

Two School of the Arts faculty members, Paul Beatty and Lynn Nottage, and an alumnus, Ayad Akhtar ’02, are among the recipients of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Awards, which were announced Thursday. Beatty, an associate professor in the Writing Program,

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Mai Der Vang's Afterland Released by Graywolf Press

Graywolf Press has published Afterland, the debut poetry collection by alumna Mai Der Vang ’14. The publication of the book is part of Vang’s 2016 Walt Whitman Award, which she received last spring.

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