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Program Highlights

MFA in Creative Writing Degree Highlights

Founded in 1981, the McNeese State University is home to the oldest MFA program in Louisiana and one of the oldest in the southeast. The cornerstone of our program is our fiction and poetry workshops where, for a minimum of four semesters, students submit their own work, 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 an MFA student here, your three-year experience will culminate in the creative thesis – a book length manuscript with significant artistic merit.

Earn a Master of Arts in English Literature

Literature and criticism classes provide examples of the best that’s been done so far and give writers a sense of where their work fits into the various literary traditions. The McNeese MFA program is 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 to the MFA program curriculum. Though it is optional, most of our students choose to do this, thus building a broader base for their writing and professional lives.

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, 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 the country.

Experienced Faculty

Located in the heart of Cajun country in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the close faculty/student mentorship offered at McNeese is unlike most other funded MFA programs. Students in the McNeese MFA program work intensively with a single faculty member and a small peer cohort. This consistency in mentorship 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 this assistantship, first year MFA students work in the Write to Excellence Center, serving as tutors to a diverse range of McNeese 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 freshman 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 a reading and conduct conferences with students in their genres. Visiting writers meet one-on-one with students and 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 Kirsten Arnett.

Learn More

How to Apply

Before you apply to the university, let’s be sure this is the right place for you. All you need 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.

For every opening, we receive many applications each year. We keep the program small in order to have a close, personal relationship with students and to ensure that our students have individual conferences with guest writers. If you are accepted into the program and decide to join us, then (and only then) we will ask you to complete the formalities of applying to the graduate school. We accept applications between October 15 and February 21 for the following academic year.


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 Christopher Lowe at

Submit Fiction Sample

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 Amy Fleury at

Submit Poetry Sample
Careers and Opportunities

What Can You Do with a Creative Writing MFA?

McNeese graduates have been Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, winners of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and have been published with Bantam Books, Harper Collins, Arthur A. Levine Books and more as well as in countless literary journals.

McNeese's MFA graduates are creative thinkers and communicators, and the skills developed in the MFA are applicable to a range of carrers, 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:
Standford University
Harvard University
Marshall University
Medgar Evers College
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

Take their word for it


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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.

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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.

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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

Not sure the Creative Writing MFA is right for you? Check out these other graduate degree programs at McNeese and talk about your options with a recruiter.

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Program Contact

Amy Fleury - MFA Program Director