Summer dreaming: graduate school


It’s summertime and we’re taking a break from the blog for awhile. Wish all of us luck with our summer writing! But before we skedaddle, one last post. As Director of Creative Writing , I receive a lot of messages over the summer asking about our MA and MFA programs, so I suspect there are many smart, proactive students doing summer research on creative writing graduate programs who land on this blog. If you’re one of them, read on for a thumbnail sketch of Miami’s programs.

Miami offers two graduate degrees in creative writing:

  • A robustly funded Residential MA that offers the chance to teach creative writing every year, summer stipends, a distinctive commitment to mentorship, and a storied tradition of alumni success.
  • A Low-Residency MFA with a diverse group of brilliant mentors such as Porochista Khakpour, Hoa Nguyen, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, and Peter Orner, who work one-on-one with writers to help them hone their work and sustain their practice.

If admitted to our program, you will join a small and intimate creative writing program at a university that regularly ranks in the top five in the country for commitment to teaching. Our faculty writers are well-published, widely networked, and deeply committed to teaching and individual mentorship. Miami alums include a Pulitzer-nominated playwright (Rajiv Joseph), a Pulitzer winner (Rita Dove), a Director of the Academy of American Poets, and many other literary notables. Students go on to careers in university teaching, public service, editing and publishing. They are regularly awarded fellowships at the most prestigious MFA and PhD programs. Alumni writing has been included in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection and other anthologies, received Intro Awards from AWP and Honorable Mention in the Atlantic Monthly Young Writer’s Competition, and been published widely in literary journals. In the past few years, recent graduates have sold first books to Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, Harcourt, and Penguin USA. (Check out our Twitter feed and Facebook community page to find out about recent alumni publications, and follow us if you’d like to see the publishing and other opportunities we post there for students, alumni, and friends.)

Residential MA students enjoy unusual opportunities and support. All our students are

  • awarded substantial teaching assistantships that include a summer stipendteach a creative writing course every year
  • focus on fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction (or a combination of their choice) with award-winning faculty
  • work closely and individually with a distinguished visiting writer during annual Sprint Workshops (this year, sprint visitors included Chris Bachelder, Erin Moure, and Jenny Boully; recent visitors have included Fred Moten, Bernadette Meyer, Tom Raworth, Cary Holladay, Erin McGraw, and Rae Armantrout)
  • benefit from the nationally recognized teaching mentorship provided by our cutting-edge composition and rhetoric program
  • have the opportunity to spend a winter holiday on an internship in China (travel and lodging costs covered)
  • gain editing and publishing experience through Oxmag & Miami University Press
  • attend readings by a score of visiting writers—emerging, famous, and in-between—each year; the 2015–2016 series included Claudia Rankine and Kathryn Davis as well as our annual Symposium on Literary Translation

Low-residency MFA students design their own programs and learn from the best mentors in the business; all are able to

  • work closely and individually with master-writers including Porochista Khakpour, Emily Rapp, Hoa Nguyen, Peter Orner, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Dana Ward, Josip Novakovich and others
  • create individually guided reading projects around themes and craft issues relevant to them
  • participate in on-campus residencies with well-known writers, agents and editors
  • mix with our residential faculty and graduate students over the course of four residencies, becoming part of our community

Miami’s campus is lovely and park-like, with woods and trails on one side and a busy brick-streeted small town on the other. Robert Frost called Miami “the most beautiful campus that ever there was.” Prospective applicants can visit our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, or write me, Cathy Wagner, at with questions. Applications must arrive by January 1 for the MA and are accepted on a rolling basis for the MFA.

Till fall,

Cathy Wagner