Master of Fine Arts in Writing | MFA

An exceptional low-residency writing program in the Pacific Northwest

Pacific University's Master of Fine Arts in Writing program celebrates writing as an art that has the potential to make a difference in the world.

In a rigorous course of study and with an emphasis on the creative process, award-winning writers work closely with students to support and inspire emerging craft and voice. Students create a quality portfolio of fiction, nonfiction or poetry, reflecting their unique styles and forms of expression.

Each semester in the program begins with a 10-day residency where the students and faculty gather for workshops, craft talks, classes, panels, and readings. The residencies initiate a literary conversation that extends throughout the correspondence semester when the student and faculty advisor exchange packets about the student’s writing and reading, and anything else that attends them. At the same time, the MFA faculty advisor is hard at work on his or her own writing, and every exchange with a student is touched by mutual goals.

Our program offers a high level of craft and conversation along with the good humor and community of individuals who share a passion for art. We believe in inspiration but also in revision. We believe there is no one way to write and no right way to write. Above all, we believe in quality and originality in any guise.

Pacific’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program presents learning in its truest sense, meaning, simply, that we are all in this together. 

Meet The Faculty

Born in Ghana, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of that lush place, citing in a recent interview his "spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music." His book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley. Kwame Dawes is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including Impossible Flying (Peepal Tree, 2007) and Wisteria (Red Hen, 2006) which has also been set to music by Kevin Simmonds and premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London England. In January 2007, Akashic Books published his novel She’s Gone. His novel Bivouac and his collection of poems, Back of Mt. Peace, were published by Peepal Tree in December 2009, Wheels in the fall of 2011 and Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems, by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. His awards include The Forward Poetry Prize, the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, the Poetry Business Award, and an Emmy. For more on Kwame Dawes and the other MFA faculty see the Faculty Biographies.

More Information

We are now accepting applications for the spring semester that begins with a residency in Seaside, Oregon, from January 8-18, 2015. Please contact assistant director, Sara Violante, at violante@pacificu.edu or 503-352-1533.

Students in Pacific's Master of Fine Arts in Writing program earn a graduate degree in fiction, nonfiction or poetry over the course of two years during which they complete a minimum of five residencies and four semesters of guided study.

Each semester in the program begins with a 10-day residency, where the students and faculty gather for workshops, craft talks, classes, panels and readings. The residencies initiate a literary conversation that extends throughout the guided study, when the student and faculty adviser exchange packets about the student's writing and reading. At the same time, the MFA faculty adviser is hard at work on his or her own writing, and every exchange with a student is touched by mutual goals.

Throughout the program students demonstrate mastery in creative writing, applied criticism, contemporary letters and literary tradition. By the time they earn their degrees, students will have read approximately 80 works of literature, prepared a polished critical essay and creative manuscript, and given a public reading of their work.

Program Overview

Degree Requirements

Semester Description