MFA Requirements | LSU Creative Writing

MFA Requirements

Degree Requirements

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)

Nearly all students complete the program in three years. The degree must be completed within five years of entrance into the program.

Required courses for the MFA degree:

15 hours of writing workshops in the following genres. At least 3 of these hours must be outside your primary genre. No more than 12 hours of any one of these courses may be counted toward the degree:

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

3 hours of a forms course, usually in your primary genre:

  • Forms of Prose Fiction (ENGL 7106)
  • Prosody and Poetic Forms (ENGL 7107)
  • Forms of Film Writing (ENGL 7109)

12 hours of non-Creative-Writing courses in the English Dept.

  • 7915 (required for those teaching English composition at LSU for the first time)

12 more hours in any of the following:

  • Additional non-Creative-Writing English courses (or courses outside the department with special permission from advisor or major professor, Director of Creative Writing, and Director of Graduate Studies)
  • Additional workshops (note maximum hours of credit listed for each course in the General Catalog)
  • Additional forms courses (note maximum hours of credit listed for each course in the General Catalog)
  • Up to 6 hours of independent study (ENGL 8900)
  • Up to 9 hours in related courses outside the department

6 hours of Thesis Research (ENGL 8000)

Program of Study

We require a Program of Study meeting with your unofficial/official Advisor or the DGS in the first or second semester of your first year in the program. Download the M.F.A. Program of Study form or contact the DGS Office. This form is an advising tool that reflects your plans and your discussion with your advisor. The form clarifies requirements for the degree, but it can evolve as your goals change: you are not bound to specific courses in the order set forth.

Creative Thesis

You must choose a thesis examining committee a minimum of nine months before the proposed M.F.A. Final Examination. The MFA thesis committee is comprised of three or more members of the graduate faculty.

Typically, students ask a faculty member to direct their thesis in March or April of their second year, though you are free to ask earlier. You may ask any faculty member of the English Department to direct your thesis committee. You do not have to ask a faculty member in your genre or in Creative Writing to direct your thesis. When choosing a director, you should generally select a person with whom you have an established working relationship

You may ask any faculty member in the English Department or any other department at LSU to serve as a reader on your thesis committee. When choosing other committee members, you should generally select people with whom you have an established working relationship or who you particularly value as mentors or as readers of your work. You can elect to have more than three faculty members on your committee.

The Chair of the committee (your Thesis 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 M.F.A. degree.

Thesis Defense

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.

You are responsible for knowing the deadlines for submitting your thesis and for all other deadlines related to completing your thesis work. Visit the Graduate School office (114 West David Boyd Hall) 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.

Thesis defenses usually take place in March or early April, though they can be scheduled earlier. The defense must be held two weeks before you formally submit your thesis to the university. You are responsible for coordinating the time and date of your thesis defense in consultation with your committee in the fall semester of your third year. You are also responsible for booking the room in which your defense will be held with the English Office and notifying your committee members of the location. If you wish to have an open defense, you must consult with the chair of your committee about the possibility early in the thesis process.

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.