Creative Writing MA/MFA

LitFest 2024

Wilkes University proudly hosts its 4th annual LitFest, a celebration of the written word featuring program alumni, faculty and guest artists.

LitFest 2024 Schedule

Follow Your Passion

Are you a writer with a story to tell? Do you dream of publishing or producing it? Join the more than 1000 writers from around the globe who have chosen Wilkes to pursue their passion and advance their craft in a variety of genres.

Why Study Creative Writing at Wilkes?

At Wilkes, we focus on the craft, community, and career of writing. Industry feedback is an incredible benefit to aspiring writers. That is why each creative thesis is read and evaluated by a working agent, editor, publisher, or producer. These outside readers provide detailed notes about your work and review them with you during a one-on-one residency meeting.

This focus on the profession of writing, along with the dedication of our faculty (who "stay with you" even after you graduate), has propelled our creative writing MA/MFA students to an exceptional level of success after graduation, resulting in hundreds of published or produced works.

Low-Residency Program

  • Come together twice a year to attend workshops, connect with your cohort, check in with your mentor and expand your craft.
  • Complete your coursework online between residencies with the support and guidance of accomplished writers.
  • Enjoy readings from nationally-acclaimed writers, program alumni, faculty and mentors.

View Our Schedule and Apply

Creative Writing students at residency

What Will You Learn?

  • Learn how to live like a writer, building a writing plan, schedule and practice that encourages discipline and supports and sustains your creative process.
  • Learn to tell your story in a way that engages the audience—exploring genres, experimenting with writing conventions, and mastering the presentation of your work so it can be shared with the world.
  • Focus on developing your craft with concentrations in fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, writing for television, poetry, spoken word, or publishing.
  • Revise with intention—for that's where the “real writing” begins. Process notes and feedback, translating them into actionable edits that make your project shine through revision.
  • Learn to get published/produced. Learn ways to share your finalized manuscript with editors, publishers and producers, and how to pitch your project when given the opportunity. We do this by offering you that training and practice while you’re in the program!
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Program Highlights

Accomplished Alumni

Our creative writing MA/MFA program boasts of not just several but hundreds of published or produced alumni. That’s because our faculty don’t say good-bye when you leave our program; rather, as they put it, “We stay with you.”

Review by Agents and Editors

Every student’s thesis is read by a professional agent, editor, director or producer, providing valuable feedback, advice for the manuscript's eventual publication/production, and insight into the publishing world.

Scholarships and Graduate Assistantships

Most low-residency MFA programs can’t offer scholarships, but our program has six of them, and six graduate assistantships (with Etruscran Press, Kaylie Jones Books and Blue Moon/HaveScripts) to help make our already low tuition more affordable.

Alumnus wins the Man Booker Prize

Wilkes alumnus Marlon James MA ’06 won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings. He is the first Jamaican author to win the prize, considered one of the most prestigious prizes in literature.

Read the Story

Marlon James

Careers & Outcomes

In addition to publishing and producing hundreds of literary works, our creative writing MA/MFA graduates go on to work as professors, editors, teachers, literary agents, directors of reading series, script writers for video games, high school teachers, book reviewers, freelance writers/editors, public relations or marketing directors, and in a variety of writing or writing-related jobs.

Marlon James MA '06, Fiction

marlonjameswriter.com external website

Brian Fanelli MFA '10, Poetry

brianfanelli.com external website

Adrienne Pender MFA '11, Playwriting

imdb.com external website

Morowa Yejide MFA '12, Fiction

morowayejide.com external website

Nisha Sharma MFA '14, Fiction

nisha-sharma.com external website

Leah Vernon MFA '15, Nonfiction

leahvernon.com external website

Andre Carter headshot

I arrived for the January residency and the community experience was as advertised. I was able to engage with faculty on day one in a way I would not have dreamed of. My writing cohort sealed the deal.

Andre Lewis Carter MFA ’18 Author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, published by Kaylie Jones Books, 2022.

Vibrant Writing Community

Our writing community is incredible. Successful writers in their own right, our faculty members, outside readers and advisory board members come together to support and mentor students in the program.

Notable names include:

  • Ibrahim Ahmad, Executive Editor at Viking Press
  • Beverly Donofrio, Riding in Cars with Boys
  • Susan Cartsonis, Resonate Entertainment
  • Kaylie Jones, Kaylie Jones Books
  • Ken Liu, winner of the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy, and FantLab Awards
  • Tim Seibles, Poet Laureate of Virginia
  • Johnny Temple, Publisher at Akashic Press
  • Chris Tomasino, The Tomasino Agency
  • William J. Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Ross Klavan, Tigerland
  • Marlon James MA ’06, A Brief History of Seven Killings
  • J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer: A Double Life

In addition to our talented faculty, board members and outside readers, Wilkes has created partnerships with several nationally known organizations.

Nationally Renowned

Our program regularly ranks as one of the top Creative Writing programs in the nation.

  • Best Colleges' Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs (2023, #3)
  • College Rank's Best Online Master’s in Creative Writing Programs (2023, #10)
  • College Choice' Best Online MFA in Creative Writing Programs (2023, #4)

LitFest 2024

June 21 - 27

A week of literary readings, discussion and celebrating written word! All LitFest 2024 events are free and open to the public.

Friday, June 21

Juneteenth Celebration of Black Writers

7 p.m.
Fenner Quadrangle
  • Hosted by Angelique Palmer
  • Mildred Mills, author of Daddy’s House
  • Monique Franz (playwright/essayist), author/editor of Black Diaspora
  • R. Alan Brooks (graphic novelist/comics writer), author of Grieving Mall

Saturday, June 22

Journey of the Book

7 p.m.
Fenner Quadrangle

Interview with creative writing faculty with new book releases

  • Gregory Fletcher (YA and playwright), author of Tom and Huck Sitting in a Tree
  • Jaclyn Fowler (novelist), author of Jack: The Almost True Story of the Molly Maguires
  • Jessica Goudeau (narrative non-fiction), author of We Were Illegal: Uncovering a Texas Family's Mythmaking and Migration (non-fiction)

Sunday, June 23

Faculty Reading

7 p.m.
Fenner Quadrangle
  • Christine Gelineau, poetry/nonfiction
  • Amanda Rabaduex (alumna), poetry
  • Phil Brady, poetry/nonfiction
  • Angelique Palmer, poetry/spoken word
  • Caroline Hayduk (alumna), poetry

Monday, June 24

Film and Talk-Back: Sitting in Bars with Cake

7 p.m.
Dorothy Dickson Darte Center
  • Screenwriter Audrey Shulman
  • Producer Susan Cartsonis

Tuesday, June 25

Faculty Reading

7 p.m.
Fenner Quadrangle
  • Teresa Friedman (alumna), novelist
  • Kaylie Jones, novelist/memoirist
  • Robert Mooney, novelist
  • Alexis Paige, non-fiction
  • Jeff Talarigo, novelist

Wednesday, June 26 (afternoon)

Special Event

4:30 p.m.
Jean and Paul Adams Commons (Henry Student Center, 2nd Floor)

Q&A with TV Creators/Showrunners Terri Edda Miller and Andrew Marlowe (Equalizer, Castle, Take Two)

Wednesday, June 26 (evening)

Playwrights’ Night

7 p.m.
Dorothy Dickson Darte Center
  • Nicole Pandolfo
  • Rachel Strayer
  • Bonnie Culver, playwright/novelist
  • Ruth Connors and Mandy Pennington, Scranton Fringe preview

Thursday, June 27 (afternoon)

Panel Discussion

4:30 p.m.
Dorothy Dickson Darte Center

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air, will participate in a podcast about banned books with Jessica Goudeau and Christine Renee Miller, faculty members and co-hosts of “The Beautiful and the Banned.”

Thursday, June 27 (evening)

Featured Reading

7 p.m.
FENNER QUADRANGLE
  • Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning
  • Barbara J. Taylor, author of Rain Breaks No Bones
  • Matt Bell, author of Appleseed and Refuse to Be Done
  • Rev. Shawn Amos, author of Ellis Johnson Might Be Famous and Cookies and Milk
  • Margaret Talbot, author and staff writer for the New Yorker