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

Creative Writing

Along with earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, MFA students also have the opportunity to earn a Master of Art in English degree with McNeese's special three-year program.

Program Highlights

MFA in Creative Writing Degree Highlights

Editor's Choice Award for Master of Fine Arts Program Founded in 1981, the McNeese State University is home to the oldest Master of Fine Arts program in Louisiana and one of the oldest in the southeast. The cornerstone of our program is our creative writing workshops where, for a minimum of four semesters, MFA students submit their own poetry or fiction, review and critique their peers’ work and build necessary skills as writers and readers of literary fiction and poetry. Craft-based Form and Theory courses in both genres round out our MFA program, providing foundational knowledge of elements vital to the development of writing skills. As a creative writing MFA student, your three-year experience will culminate in the creative thesis – a book length manuscript with significant artistic merit.

In addition to writing courses, our creative writing master’s program features a variety of literature and criticism classes, which provide examples of the best in classic and contemporary fiction and poetry and give our writers a sense of where their work fits into the various literary traditions. The McNeese MFA program is also one of the only programs in the nation that offers the possibility for obtaining an MA in English concurrently as part of the degree program without adding additional hours or cost. Though it is optional, most of our students choose to do this, thus building a broader base for their writing and professional lives.

Before You Apply

Let’s be sure this is the right place for you. All you need to do to begin the McNeese MFA application process is send us your work and a brief letter (one page) describing what you want out of an MFA program, why McNeese sounds appealing and your interest in teaching freshman-level English. You can submit your writing samples and letters here.

For every opening, we receive many applications each year. We keep the program small in order to have close, personal relationships with students and to ensure that our students have individual conferences with guest writers. 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 (and only then) we will ask you to complete the formalities of applying to the graduate school.

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 out-of-pocket 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 funded MFA programs. Students in the McNeese creative writing program work intensively with a single faculty member 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

As part of their assistantships, first year MFA students work in the Write to Excellence Center and tutor undergraduates in grammar, argument organization, MLA and APA citation styles and more. Second and third year students serve as instructors of record for two sections of English 101 or 102 each semester and receive extensive experience in teaching composition and rhetoric, which serves as excellent preparation for teaching at the college level 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 and conduct conferences with students. Visiting writers meet one-on-one with students to discuss and critique a piece of the student’s work. Recent poetry guests include Guggenheim fellows Camille Dungy and Aimee Nezhukumatahil, Louisiana Poet Laureate John Warner Smith and United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Recent fiction guests include Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler, Flannery O’Connor Award winner Debra Monroe, Guggenheim fellow Jeffery Renard Allen, Pushcart Prize winner Deb Olin Unferth and New York Times bestseller Kristen Arnett.

Learn More

How to Apply

Before you formally apply to McNeese State University, please submit your writing sample and letter of intent through our submission manager.

MFA in Fiction

To apply, submit no more than twenty pages of fiction to us through Submittable. If you have any specific questions regarding your writing samples, contact Michael Horner at

Submit Your Fiction Sample
MFA in Poetry

To apply, submit no more than ten pages of poetry to us through Submittable. If you have any specific questions regarding your writing samples, contact Michael Horner at

Submit Your Poetry Sample
Careers and Opportunities

What Can You Do with a Creative Writing MFA?

McNeese graduates have been Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists and winners of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. They have had short stories and poems published in countless literary journals and novels and collections published with Bantam Books, Harper Collins, Arthur A. Levine Books and others.

McNeese's MFA graduates are creative thinkers and communicators, and the skills developed in the MFA are applicable to a range of careers, including content creation, professional and technical writing, teaching and public relations. Our graduates enter a variety of fields including academia, editing, professional writing, public relations, advertising and arts/non-profit administration. Many of our graduates go on to pursue residencies, fellowships and PhD.s in Creative Writing from some of the top programs in the country:

Doctoral schools McNeese MFA grads have continued onto include:
University of Tennessee
Florida State University
Texas Tech University
University of Ohio
University of Kansas

Employers of McNeese MFA grads include:
Stanford University
Harvard University
Marshall University
Medgar Evers College
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

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 joint readings with other MFA programs at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ (AWP) annual conference.


All McNeese MFA students 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 every year, where students have the opportunity to attend readings and panels and network with fellow writers and editors.

Professional Development

Students from the McNeese program are encouraged to attend national workshops and residencies, and have been accepted to Tin House, Squaw Valley, Sundress Academy and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy workshop. Whenever possible, McNeese strives to provide at least partial funding to help cover travel and associated costs of students accepted into summer residencies and workshops.

Creative Writing

Programs Related to the Creative Writing MFA

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Program Contact

Michael Horner - MFA Program Director