Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Creative Writing

Louisiana's oldest MFA program in Creative Writing offers small class sizes, teaching and editorial experience, and the opportunity to earn a concurrent MA degree in English.

Program Highlights

MFA in Creative Writing Degree Highlights

The cornerstone of our three-year program is the workshop, where students submit their creative work for review, critique the writing of their peers, and build necessary skills as writers and readers of fiction and poetry. While working closely with individual faculty—Michael Horner and Vallie Lynn Watson in fiction, Michael Robins and Kevin Thomason in poetry—students enroll in craft-based Form and Theory courses that provide a foundational knowledge vital to the development of writing skills. Our master’s degree program features a variety of literature and criticism classes, which give students a sense of how their work fits into literary traditions. Beyond the department’s curriculum, our visiting writing series brings prominent authors to campus each semester to offer readings, craft talks, and one-on-one conferences in both fiction and poetry. The MFA experience culminates with the creative thesis: a book length manuscript with significant artistic merit.

The MFA program at McNeese State University is one of the only programs in the nation that offers the possibility for obtaining a concurrent MA in English (without additional hours or cost), which further builds a broader base for students’ writing and their professional lives.

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At a Glance

Degree Type: Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Program Length: 3 years (60 credit hours)

Availability: in person

Program overview

Explore More for Creative Writing MFAs

Scholarships and Financial Aid

All MFA students are offered teaching assistantships, which includes a partial tuition waiver and a stipend. Typically, our creative writing MFA students pay less than $1500 per semester after the waiver and stipend have been awarded, making McNeese one of the most affordable MFA programs in Louisiana and nationwide.

Experienced Faculty

Located in the heart of Cajun country in Lake Charles, Louisiana, McNeese’s MFA program offers mentorships unlike most other MFA programs: students work intensively with the faculty in their genre and a small peer cohort. This consistency is an advantage for developing writers, as faculty members get to know the student’s work intimately and provide personalized writing advice and career advising.

Unparalleled Teaching Experience

First-year MFA students tutor undergraduates in McNeese’s Write to Excellence Center and gain classroom experience as embedded tutors in English 101 and basic writing classes before teaching their own sections of composition in their second and third years. The extensive experience in teaching serves as excellent preparation for university jobs after graduation. There are also opportunities available for assisting with undergraduate creative writing courses.

Visiting Writers

Each semester, the MFA program’s reading series brings major poets and fiction writers to campus to give readings, craft talks, and meet one-on-one with students to discuss and critique their writing. Poetry guests have included Guggenheim fellows Camille Dungy and Aimee Nezhukumatahil, and US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Fiction guests have included Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler, PEN/O. Henry Award winner Sam Ruddick, Pushcart Prize winner Deb Olin Unferth and New York Times bestseller Kristen Arnett.

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How to Apply

Let’s be sure our program is the right place for you. To begin the application process, send us your work and a brief, one-page letter of intent describing what you want from an MFA program, why McNeese sounds appealing, and your interest in teaching freshman-level English.

For every opening, we receive many applications each year. We keep the program small in order to have close, personal relationships with students. We accept applications between October 15 and February 21 for the following academic year. Acceptance into McNeese State University does not guarantee acceptance into the MFA program. If you are accepted into the MFA program and decide to join us, then we will ask you to complete the formalities of applying to the graduate school.

MFA in Fiction

Submit up to 20 pages of fiction through Submittable. If you have any specific questions regarding your writing sample, contact Lynn Watson at

Submit Your Fiction Sample
MFA in Poetry

Submit up to 10 pages of poetry through Submittable. If you have any specific questions regarding your writing sample, contact Michael Robins at

Submit Your Poetry Sample
Careers and Opportunities

McNeese graduates have received numerous honors, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pulitzer Prize. Skills developed in the MFA program are applicable to a range of careers, including content creation, professional and technical writing, teaching and public relations. Many of our students go on to pursue residencies, fellowships, and PhDs in Creative Writing and Literature from some of the top programs in the country.

Take their word for it


The McNeese Review and Boudin

The McNeese Review, a national literary print magazine, and its online home Boudin, are staffed by student editors and readers in the McNeese MFA program. Students who work on the McNeese Review get invaluable experience in the editing and publication process, network with writers and other editors around the country and host readings with other MFA programs at the annual AWP conference.


All MFA students at McNeese receive membership to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), the national creative writing organization. McNeese provides partial funding to attend AWP’s national conference, where students have the opportunity to attend readings and panels and network with fellow writers and editors.

Professional Development

Students are encouraged to attend national workshops and residencies, and have been accepted to the Tin House Workshop, the Community of Writers, the Sundress Academy for the Arts, and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. McNeese strives to assist with travel and associated costs for those accepted into summer residencies and workshops.

Creative Writing

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Program Contact

Michael Horner - MFA Program Director