Residential MFA in Creative Writing | English


time limit

All requirements must be completed within the six calendar years immediately preceding the granting of the degree.

Consultative Committee

In the second year and in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, M.A. in Creative Writing applicants should select a faculty member from the English Creative Writing department to serve as chair and advisor to the M.A. in Creative Writing committee. fine arts, two additional department faculty (one from creative writing and one outside of the student’s stated course of study) to serve as committee members, and a fourth committee member from outside the department of fine arts. English chosen in consultation with the chair of the committee.


Students are strongly encouraged to graduate in six semesters. All MFA applicants must enroll in a minimum of six credits per semester during their first five semesters in the program and maintain their graduate student status thereafter. It is assumed that students in their sixth semester will complete their thesis projects and will likely only be registered for thesis credits and the comprehensive exam.

Continuous registration

Graduate school regulations require graduate students to maintain continuous enrollment of at least three credit hours per semester (excluding summers) to remain active.

Total Credits

The MFA requires 60 credits, all of which must be taken at the graduate level.

Transfer credits

Students will only be permitted to transfer credit from previous graduate courses in exceptional circumstances, to be determined by the Department of English MFA Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. In most cases, no more than three graduate classes applicable to the approved course of study may be accepted from graduate courses taken at another institution and/or at the University of Nevada, Reno. These courses must have been completed within the six-year time limit for the MFA degree and must be approved to count toward the degree by the MFA Committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate School. No previous writing workshops will count for transfer credit.

Seminar requirement

MFA students are required to take all courses at the 700 level or above, except for electives taken outside of the English department. The student may, in unusual circumstances, take a 600-level course in English, but only in consultation with their committee chair and the director of graduate studies.

Comprehensive exam (written)

To register for 795 (the comprehensive exam), a student must have met the following requirements:

  • Filing of a completed study program with the Graduate School
  • Completed five semesters of study toward graduation
  • Meet with the student committee president to develop plans to complete the written and oral portions of the exams
  • Returned the completed “Comprehensive Exam Registration Approval” form to the English Department office before the end of registration

In close collaboration with his advisory committee, at the start of his second year of studies, the student will prepare a reading list of 30 books. As soon as possible, the student will submit an annotated bibliography of this reading list to his committee. Before the end of their third year of study, the student will take a one-day written exam, prepared by the committee, covering the ideas and concepts represented by the student’s reading list and annotations. After the student has passed the written exam, the advisory board will conduct an oral exam, which will last no longer than 1.5 hours.


During their final semester of study, an MFA candidate must write and defend a thesis: a book of fiction or poetry of publishable quality, written and revised during the student’s studies. The student will plan and write his thesis under the supervision of his thesis committee and its president. Prior to the end of the third year of study (by which time the student must have registered/completed for 13 credits of thesis study), students will present a neat draft of the thesis to their committee for review, and then (soon after completing the full exam exam) defend the completed thesis before the full jury. The committee will then vote according to the statutes of the Department of English whether or not to confer the MFA degree.


To graduate in any given semester, the student must submit an application for graduation by the dates specified for that semester in the University catalog and meet that semester’s deadlines for submission of the notice of completion and (if on the thesis plan) the final copy of the thesis to the graduate school. Students should be aware that application dates for graduation at the University of Nevada, Reno are unusually early: the deadline is usually eight weeks before graduation. MFA candidates may be masked upon graduation, but must meet all completion notification deadlines listed for MFA candidates to do so.


The student is responsible for knowing the degree requirements and submitting all graduate school forms on time. At the start of their graduate career, students should familiarize themselves with the most important forms: the program of study, the notice of completion and the application for graduation. Most doctoral school forms are available online. The application file for obtaining the diploma is available on the website of the Doctoral School.

Please review the MFA Creative Writing Checklist degree requirements.

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