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 at TEDx Columbia University

 

 

Upcoming Events:

September 18

The Novel and its Discontents: A Conversation Between John Banville and Richard Ford

Lenfest Center for the Arts, 615 W. 129 St., New York, NY 10027 The Lantern (Eighth Floor) 7:30 PM

“Banville and Ford, authors of many novels (The Book of Evidence, Independence Day), winners of many prizes (Booker, Pulitzer, Princess of Asturias, Prix Femina) and decades-long friends, engage in (it's hoped) a spirited, un-theoretical back 'n forth about the supposed pleasures of the text.”


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October 9

Creative Writing Lecture: Lynne Tillman

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

Lynne Tillman writes novels, stories, cultural criticism and essays. Her novels include Haunted Houses; Motion Sickness; Cast in Doubt; No Lease on Life, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; American Genius, A Comedy; and, in 2018, Men and Apparitions. She is the author of numerous fiction and essay collections, including What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.


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October 23

Nonfiction Dialogues: Wendy S. Walters

501 Dodge Hall
2960 Broadway
New York, NY 10027 7:00 PM

Wendy S. Walters is the author of a book of prose, Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal (2015), named a best book of the year by Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, and two books of poems. Her work has been published in Fourth Genre, Full Bleed, Flavorwire, and Harper’s among many others. Her lyrical work with composer Derek Bermel has been performed widely. Walters is Senior Nonfiction Editor at The Iowa Review.


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October 29

Complex Issues: In Jerusalem: Three Generations of an Israeli Family

Lenfest Center for the Arts, 615 W. 129 St., New York, NY 10027 Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room (Second Floor) 6:30 PM

Reading followed by a conversation between Lis Harris, Writing, and Ted Conover, NYU Shuttling back and forth over ten years between East and West Jerusalem, Lis Harris, a former staff writer for The New Yorker, learned about the lives of two families: the Israeli Pinczowers/Ezrahis and the Palestinian Abuleils. Combining a decade of historical research with political analysis, Harris creates a moving portrait of one of the most complicated and controversial conflicts of our time. Books will be available for purchase.


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November 6

Creative Writing Lecture: Sarah Manguso

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

Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of 300 Arguments (2017), a work of aphoristic autobiography. Her other nonfiction books include Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (2015), an essay on self-documentation, motherhood, and time; The Guardians (2012), an essay on friendship and suicide; and The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), an essay on living with chronic illness. Her work has been supported by Hodder and Guggenheim fellowships and the Rome Prize, and her books have been translated into six languages. She lives in Los Angeles.


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Writing News:

Alumnus Andrew Lewis '15 Set to Release Debut 'The Drowning of Money Island'

Alumnus Andrew Lewis '15 Set to Release Debut 'The Drowning of Money Island'

The Drowning of Money Island, the debut release from nonfiction alumnus Andrew Lewis '15, goes on sale October 1, 2019.

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Alumnus Adam O. Davis '06 Wins Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize

Alumnus Adam O. Davis '06 Wins Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize

Poetry alumnus Adam O. Davis '06 is a 2019 winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, presented by Sarbande Books.

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Alumna Ashley Shelby '02 Releases Chapbook 'Muri'

Alumna Ashley Shelby '02 Releases Chapbook 'Muri'

Muri, a climate fiction chapbook by nonfiction writing alumna Ashley Shelby '02, was published by Radix Media.

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