MFA Program

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a broad program of study designed to prepare students for careers in teaching creative writing and careers requiring similar professional skills, to enable students to improve their writing in more than one genre through interaction with our faculty and with other writing students, and to become able critics of literary works. Most students complete the program in two-and-a-half to three years. All students must complete the program within five years of entrance into the program.


In order to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, candidates must:

  • Complete 42 hours of course work plus 6 hours of Thesis Research (ENGL 8000)
  • Write a Creative Thesis and pass a Final Examination (oral thesis defense)

Program of Study

Your Program of Study is designed in consultation with your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or the Director of Creative Writing. You may petition to transfer up to 12 hours of previous graduate work (see General Catalog ), but you may not transfer more than 6 hours if you used those hours to earn a prior degree. You can change your Program of Study, but you will need to consult with your advisor and the DGS or the Director of Creative Writing. MFA Program of Study forms are available from the English Graduate Office. A Program of Study form approved by your advisor should be submitted to the DGS for his or her approval within your first year. Download a copy of our Program of Study form here

Course Work

Courses to be counted toward the MFA degree must be at the 7000 level, except:

  • 4000-level courses in linguistics and Old English.  These are the ONLY 4000-level English classes for which English graduate students can receive graduate credit.
  • 4000-level related courses in other departments (max. 9 hours) that are designated as providing graduate credit. Be sure to check with Ashley Thibodaux (the English Graduate Program Administrator) to see if the university mainframe computer indicates that graduate credit can be given. Please offer verification to the DGS or the Director of Creative Writing that this course requires graduate students to do significantly more work than undergraduates.  The Graduate School does not permit courses to be offered for graduate credit in the summer unless the same course provides graduate credit during regular semesters. 

NOTE: You are always welcome to audit a 4000-level course that interests you, with the permission of the professor.  Audited courses do not count in your required nine hours per semester because you will receive no grade, but the fact that you officially audited does appear on your transcript and does count in the number of students enrolled in the course, helping it to make.  One option (if you haven’t already used your two Independent Studies and would like to find a way to get credit for auditing a 4000-level English course) would be to set up an Independent Study (ENGL 8900) with the professor teaching the 4000-level course.  You could then design your Independent Study to include attending the 4000-level class with additional graduate-level work as part of your syllabus.  As with any Independent Study, this would require the permission of your professor and the DGS.

Courses for the MFA degree must include:

5 Hours of Writing Workshops in:

  • 7001 Literary Nonfiction
  • 7006 Fiction
  • 7007 Poetry
  • 7008 Drama
  • 7009 Screenwriting

(Note: No more than 15 hours of any one of these courses may be counted
toward the degree)

3 Hours of Writing Workshop in:

  • 7008 Drama
  • 7001 Literary Nonfiction
  • 7004 Translation
  • 7009 Screenwriting 

3 Hours of a Forms Course (usually in your primary genre):

  • 7106 Forms of Prose Fiction
  • 7107 Prosody and Poetic Forms
  • 7109 Forms of Film-writing

Consult The General Catalog for maximum semester hours of credit allowed in each of these.

12 Hours of Non-Creative Writing English Courses or outside the Department with special permission from advisor or major professor, Director of Creative Writing, and Director of Graduate Studies. NOTE: ENGL 7915 (required of most new GTAs teaching English composition) belongs here, if needed.

12 Hours in any of the following:

  • Additional literature courses
  • Additional workshops (again, note maximum hours of credit listed for each course in the General Catalog)
  • Additional forms courses
  • Up to 6 hours of independent study (ENGL 8900); all 8900 syllabi must be approved by the DGS.

Up to 9 hours in related courses outside the department

English 7915 (required of new teaching assistants)

6 hours of Thesis Research (ENGL 8000)

Creative Thesis

You must plan a thesis and choose a thesis examining committee a minimum of nine months before the proposed MFA Final Examination. (For more information on the composition of the committee, see the General Catalog.)

The Chair of the committee (your advisor) will confer with you and other committee members about the proposed thesis and will review the preliminary thesis work with you, informing you whether your proposed thesis is likely to fulfill the requirements for an MFA degree. 

Final Examination

The MFA Final Examination is a critical evaluation of your creative intentions and of how well those intentions have been actualized in the play, screenplay, or book-length work of prose or poetry that you have produced.


Visit the Graduate School office the semester before the semester you plan to graduate for deadlines and procedures concerning requests for a Final Exam and submitting the thesis to your committee.


Theses may be formally submitted to the Thesis Committee no more than twice for defense. All members of your committee must agree to pass your thesis. If your thesis is not approved at the second submission, you are considered terminated from the graduate program at the end of the examination semester.


After your successful thesis defense, submit the approved and corrected thesis (including any corrections required by the Graduate School) to the Graduate School. Note the often surprisingly early deadlines in the LSU General Catalog's Academic Calendar.