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

February 5

Creative Writing Lecture: Claire Vaye Watkins

501 Dodge Hall
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027 Time: 7:30 PM

Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of the novel Gold Fame Citrus and the short story collection Battleborn, which won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. Series organized by Ben Marcus, Writing


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Thursday, February 6 at 7 PM

What is Columbia Selects? The first Thursday of each month the Columbia MFA program hosts a reading series featuring Writing Program alumni. These fresh talents are finished with or near to finished with their first books, but do not yet have a book contract and/or an agent. In recent years, many of our featured writers have achieved critical and commercial success. This is your chance to glimpse who you'll be reading in 2021!

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Writing News:

Columbia Writers Across Mediums Included on Zora's Best Books by African American Women

Columbia Writers Across Mediums Included on Zora's Best Books by African American Women

ZORA, the online literary magazine devoted to publishing women of color, recently released the Zora Canon on its website listing the best books by African American women.

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Professor Alan Gilbert Awarded the 2019 Arts Writers Grant

Professor Alan Gilbert Awarded the 2019 Arts Writers Grant

The award, created by Creative Capital and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, supports writing about contemporary art and aims to ensure that critical writing remains a valued mode of engaging the visual arts.

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'The Exhibition of Persephone Q,' by Alumna Jessi Jezewska Stevens '18 Coming in 2020

'The Exhibition of Persephone Q,' by Alumna Jessi Jezewska Stevens '18 Coming in 2020

​Alumna Jessi Jezewska Stevens '18 will publish her debut novel The Exhibition of Persephone Q with Farrar, Straus and Giroux this March.

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Columbia Faculty and Alumni Make the Grade on NPR's Best Books List

Columbia Faculty and Alumni Make the Grade on NPR's Best Books List

NPR’s prestigious end of year list includes Columbia alumni and faculty members like Tina Chang '97, Professor Rivka Galchen '06, Professor Brenda Wineapple, Professor Leslie jamison, Karen Russell '06, Professor Binnie Krishenbaum, and Lauren Wilkinson '13.

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Six Columbia Writers on the 2020 PEN Longlist

Six Columbia Writers on the 2020 PEN Longlist

Xuan Juliana Wang ’11, Professor Leslie Jamison, Ruchika Tomar ’12, Yvette Siegert '07, Virlana Maria Tkacz ’83 (Theatre) and Wanda Phipps ’83 (Barnard) were included on the 2020 Pen America Literary Awards Longlist.

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So Many Notables, So Little Time: 'The New York Times' 2019 List of the Best

So Many Notables, So Little Time: 'The New York Times' 2019 List of the Best

The School of the Arts is well represented on this years’ prestigious New York Times Notable Books of the Year list, which includes alumni and faculty members working across all genres, and ranges from veterans of the craft to a debut novelist. 

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