Graduate Courses & Requirements

Requirements for Graduation


The required 60 points for the MFA degree must include:


  • Three 6-point workshops and one 9-point thesis workshop.


  • At least three lecture courses (totaling 9 points). Courses taken outside the Program may be counted toward the 3-lecture requirement.


  • At least 12 points total of seminars and/or master classes. Poetry students are encouraged to take the Practice of Poetry seminar.


  • Enough points in additional classes within or outside the Writing Program (which can include internships or independent study credits), to complete the minimum of 60 points.


  • In addition, a thesis of minimum 90 pages of prose or 35 pages of poetry composed (or substantially revised) since entering the program, is required for the degree. Prose theses must not exceed 300 pages. If your thesis is longer, you must make a selection and include a synopsis. A thesis conference with your two faculty thesis evaluators is optional. This is not a thesis defense—your evaluators make the decision to pass or fail the thesis before the conference takes place. Unless a student is pursuing the Literary Translation joint course of study (see below), a thesis may not consist of work in more than one genre except in extraordinary circumstances and with the approval of both concentration directors.


In general, students should not take the Thesis Workshop in the term in which they intend to turn in their thesis. If you wish to do so, you must receive permission from the concentration director.

Seminars and lectures are open to all students, with the following exceptions and provisos: only Poetry students may take the Practice of Poetry seminar and preference is given to Nonfiction students for the Research Seminar.

Independent Study and Internships


Independent study courses and internships for credit count as electives; they may not be used to satisfy other graduation requirements. No more than 6 credits of independent study and/or 3 credits earned by an internship may count towards the 60 points required for graduation. Internships for credit are offered by a number of magazines, publishers, and New York City literary organizations.


An internship (course number R6401) requires the approval of the chair or the administrative director following submission of a written proposal (including the name of the supervisor); students must demonstrate that the internship will provide substantial literary experience (i.e., an internship with a literary magazine in which the student evaluates and edits manuscripts would count, while one where the student primarily answers the phone and does clerical work would not). Each internship requires a written evaluation by the supervisor, to be submitted to the administrative director.


Internships usually require 15-20 hours of work per week. For a one-semester internship, students are therefore expected to work a total of 195-260 hours. From one to three points may be earned for one semester's internship, depending on the hours worked, the student's needs, and the Chairman's discretion. An internship may extend over two semesters, provided the student works a minimum of 110 hours per semester.

An independent study (course number R6400) requires that the student find a faculty member to work with. Please note that faculty availability for independent studies is very limited, and approvals are highly selective. It is strongly suggested that you approach an instructor with a clear plan - in writing - for what you wish to do and what you would expect from him or her. Each independent study requires a minimum of three meetings and written work as mutually agreed upon. The number of credits earned (between one and six) depends upon the amount work, the student's needs, and the Chairman's discretion.

Course Requirements

The following regulations apply unless otherwise stated in writing:


  • Under no circumstances are students allowed to audit a Writing Program course.


  • Attendance is mandatory. Unexcused absences may result in failure.


  • No work can be submitted for credit to more than one course, although a workshop may review earlier work (which has been substantially revised) with the permission of the workshop instructor.


  • Collaborative work with authors not enrolled in the class is not permitted.


  • Prose workshops meet for three hours and each student is required to produce at least three submissions for class discussion according to a schedule determined at the start of the semester. Typically, at least 35 pages of prose must be submitted for each workshop course; thesis workshops require about twice that amount. After each submission the student must meet with the instructor for an editorial conference. Students in workshops are required to discuss each other's submissions in class and to supply written editorial comments on each submission at the end of the class.


  • Poetry workshops meet for 3 hours weekly and each student must produce at least 8-10 new poems per semester. Thesis workshops generally require final portfolios of a minimum of 20 pages of poetry. Students in workshops are required to discuss each other's submissions in class and to supply written editorial comments on each submission at the end of the class.


  • Seminars, lectures, and master classes require class participation and written work as assigned by the instructor. Since these are reading and discussion courses, the written assignments will normally run to no more than a total of 15 pages during the semester. Instructors are available for individual conferences.


Failure to comply with any of the above may result in failure for the course.