Wilkes University

Creative Writing

David Hicks, Ph. D., Program Director
Bonnie Culver, Ph.D. and J. Michael Lennon, Ph. D., Program Co-Founders

Master of Arts in Creative Writing (low residency or weekender version)
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (low residency)


In October 2004, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Middle States Association of Schools and Universities approved the Wilkes proposal for the M.A. program. The University graduated its first class in June 2006. In September 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education approved the addition of the Master of Fine Arts to the graduate creative writing degree offerings at Wilkes University.


Students will be accepted into the Master of Arts in Creative Writing based almost entirely upon the application essay and creative writing sample. Students applying to this program should hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university; however, students without a bachelor's degree may apply. (Such applicants must provide a very strong writing sample and writing history.) No GREs are required. Applicants must submit the following for consideration:

  • Completed Application.
  • $35 non-refundable application fee.
  • Official transcript of all college work, undergraduate and graduate.
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Creative writing sample.(a 15-25 page writing sample from any genre or genres of published/unpublished work that best demonstrates your creative ability)
  • Essay response...A 3-10 page response to the following questions:
    1. Where are you with regard to your writing and how did you get here?
    2. Why Wilkes? What do you hope to accomplish in our program?
    3. What will you do with your program accomplishments following graduation?

Students may enter the program in either the winter (early January) or summer (late June) residency. Project terms (in the form of 15-week semesters) begin following each residency and continue for at least four months. Students selecting the "Weekender" version of the MA will receive online instruction over two weekends following each residency instead of attending the weeklong residencies in January and June.. Weekender study is allowed in lieu of the winter residency without question, but for the summer residency, in-person attendance is expected.

Students interested in the Master of Fine Arts must first complete the Master of Arts in Creative Writing. Students in the existing M.A. may apply for admission into the M.F.A. no earlier than the last term of the M.A.

To be accepted into the M.F.A., students must have a 3.5 in every M.A. course, write a letter of interest to the Program Director, and be approved by the CW faculty to continue into the M.F.A. Once in the program, students must maintain the 3.5 GPA and earn a 3.5 or better in every course to remain in the program.

Transfer Credits

Students who have earned credits from another accredited graduate program in creative writing, or who have published extensively in a particular genre, may apply for 3-9 transfer credits into the Wilkes program. In addition, Wilkes M.A. alums can transfer in 12 credits if they wish to earn a second MA in a different genre, leaving them with 18 credits to earn for that second Master's degree. An applicant with a master's degree in Creative Writing at an accredited university and/or book publications/produced work with reputable publishers/producers may petition for a direct admission into our MFA program (requiring 30 total credits).

Degree Requirements

(30 credit hour minimum)

The Master of Arts in Creative Writing is a 30-credit, low-residency program in seven tracks, one of which will appear on the graduate's M.A. diploma: fiction / poetry / screenwriting / playwriting / creative nonfiction / publishing / spoken word.

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (49 credit hours minimum = 30 credits MA course + 19 credits MFA courses). There is no Weekender option for the MFA courses.

BA/MA ("4+1")

Undergraduates at partner institutions hoping to attend a graduate program in creative writing after graduation may "double count" 9 credits of undergraduate and graduate instruction as a way of saving one semester's tuition in the Wilkes MA program. Qualified students would take CW 501R, the introductory residency, in person, followed by any two of the following online Foundations courses during their senior year: CW 502: Writing Fiction; CW 503: Writing Poetry; CW 504: Writing Screenplays; CW 505: Writing Plays; CW 506: Writing Nonfiction (3 credits each). Upon completion of these courses the undergraduate may apply for admission into the Wilkes graduate program with one semester's worth of transfer credit. Such students must meet all the same requirements as all other applicants in terms of demonstrated talent, ability, and dedication.Using the BA/MA (4+1) option, students will be able to complete the M.A. in a single year and the MFA (if qualfied) in two years. Contact the program administrators at 570-458-4547 for further information

Term = Weeklong Residency Followed by Semester Study

All graduate creative writing programs include two components, Residencies and Project Semesters — which are outlined below. Specific credit requirements for the degree and certificate follow this discussion.

  1. Residencies are week-long on-campus courses that include workshops, faculty lectures, readings, performances, class discussions, and panel discussions as well as student readings. This is a time to plan project work and meet with instructors and the program director. The following courses are residencies: CW-501R, CW-510R, CW-516R, and the capstone, CW-525R. Minimum required: 4, including capstone. The M.F.A. requires one additional residency - CW-616R - and one two-day workshop CW-650.  Residencies are held the first full week of January and the third week of June each year.
  1. Weekender option:  Students may opt to complete any of the winter MA residencies by receiving online instruction for two weekends immediately following the residency and responding to videorecorded panels and readings from the residency. Weekender students must notify the program administrators at least one month in advance of the residency of their intentions to attend the Weekender sessions in lieu of the residency. Weekender attendance is allowed without explantion every winter residency, but students must appeal to the director for permission to attend Weekender classes as a substitute for the summer residency
  2. Semesters are four-month periods spent writing and reading, beginning with foundation courses in two genre areas and ending with the thesis semester. The following courses are project courses: CW-502, CW-503, CW-504, CW-505, CW-506, CW-512, CW-514, and CW-520. Minimum foundations courses: 2; Minimum project terms: 3. All of these courses are delivered online. The Master of Fine Arts requires the following additional online courses - CW-612, CW-614, and CW-620.