The Writing Program

Columbia MFA in Writing - Overview

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 10 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.

 

Current student Antoinette Bumekpor on studying at Columbia University

Upcoming Events

All School of the Arts events have been postponed or cancelled until further notice. Please see our Cancelled Events page for a list of all events and updates.

Writing News:

Alumnus Daniel Pearce '18 Named a 2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellow

Alumnus Daniel Pearce '18 Named a 2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellow

The Steinbeck Fellows Program offers writers of any age and background a $15,000 fellowship to finish a significant writing project.

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Professor Susan Bernofsky & Alumna Alexandra Kleeman ’12 2020-21 Berlin Prize Fellows

Professor Susan Bernofsky & Alumna Alexandra Kleeman ’12 2020-21 Berlin Prize Fellows

Associate Professor Susan Bernofsky and alumna Alexandra Kleeman ’12 are two of this year’s recipients of the Berlin Prize, awarded by the American Academy in Berlin.  

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Writing Alumnus Matthew Gellman '18 Among 'Adroit Journal' 2020 Scholars

Writing Alumnus Matthew Gellman '18 Among 'Adroit Journal' 2020 Scholars

Along with his fellow scholars, Gellman will receive a cash prize and publication as part of the scholarship.

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'Drifts' by Adjunct Professor Kate Zambreno out from Riverhead Books

'Drifts' by Adjunct Professor Kate Zambreno out from Riverhead Books

Drifts is an intimate portrait of reading, writing, and creative obsession that tells the story of a writer who is working on a book titled Drifts, effectively making the book a work of autofiction.

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'If I Had Your Face' by Alumna Frances Cha '11 Out with Random House

'If I Had Your Face' by Alumna Frances Cha '11 Out with Random House

Cha’s debut novel is set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, and is about four young women making their way in a world.

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