Graduate Programs

MFA - Master of Fine Arts

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

An arts community for poets and creative nonfiction writers, this low-residency master of fine arts program insists on both high aesthetic standards in writing and a strong, supportive, interrelationship between faculty, students, visiting writers and staff. The program is built on the understanding that even the most accomplished writers need a dynamic and critically acute group of fellow writers to reach the full potential of their art.

Diversity of Background and Commitment to Growth

The Ashland University MFA Program attracts people from all walks of life—lawyers, doctors, psychologists, business professionals, parents, college professors, high school and primary teachers, veterans, journalists, retirees. Students come from 17 different states and range in age from 24-70. The average age of students in the program is around 40 years.

Summer Residency

The Ashland MFA Program brings together students, faculty and visiting writers who share a love of literature, a commitment to the generation of new works of literary art, a respect for the integrity of all human beings, and a commitment to deepening the writer’s craft by reading widely, by offering critical commentary in response to the writing of others, by committing to the revision process, and by embracing a critical exchange of ideas offered in response to the student’s own writing.


Ashland University offers the only two-genre, low-residency MFA in the country:

  • Degree tracks in one primary genre, poetry or creative nonfiction
  • Cross-genre option for students interested in both genres
  • Single, annual-residency model: 14 days each summer for three summers
  • Six total weeks of intensive residencies on campus during entire program
  • Four non-residential semesters of study via the internet
  • Maximum of 5 students per faculty mentor
  • Writing packets exchanged four times per semester
  • On-going, intensive online discussion of assigned books

The low-residency format is based on the sort of mentorship relationships that informed the development of many accomplished writers prior to the establishment of traditional, residential MFA Programs. Throughout all aspects of the Ashland MFA Program, students will:

  • Connect with and learn from distinguished writers
  • Develop writing relationships to last a lifetime
  • Build a basis in reading for a life of writing
  • Create and revise poetry and/or creative nonfiction
  • Complete a book-length manuscript
  • Deepen an ability to assess literature critically
  • Re-energize a commitment to the literary arts

Two-Genre Focus: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction

While many traditional and low-residency MFA Programs offer degree-tracks in four or more literary genres, the Ashland MFA Program offers a sharper focus on poets and nonfiction writers exclusively. During intensive summer residencies, in craft seminars, faculty readings, and through Visiting Writer sessions, the program emphasizes a dialogue between these two genres, even for students who choose to take workshops only in one genre. The cross-genre option—the option of studying for one non-residential semester outside of a primary genre—offers a further opportunity to deepen an understanding of the interrelationship between poetry and creative nonfiction.


Each summer residency includes:

  • Daily writers’ workshops
  • Daily craft, style, and publishing seminars
  • Evening readings by faculty and visiting writers
  • Student readings and thesis defense sessions
  • Individual conferences


Congratulations to Steven Harvey, MFA faculty member, and Jon Kerstetter, MFA alumnus (class of 2011), whose essays from River Teeth have been selected for inclusion in Best American Essays 2013 by Guest Editor Cheryl Strayed. BAE 2013 will be available in October 2013. Read More...


For her senior theatre project, senior musical theatre major Andrea...Read more
Ashland University Department of Music presents the Winter Choral Concert...Read more
Opening Art ReceptionRead more
Mr. David Apsley, Natural Resources Specialist, The Ohio State University...Read more
Ashland University’s award-winning Jazz program is proud to present the...Read more