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 and 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 required writing samples - 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, since the M.A. is a degree in creative writing and not an English degree, students without a bachelor's 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.
  • $45 non-refundable application fee.
  • Official transcript of all college work, undergraduate and graduate.
  • Two letters of recommendation, (optional, required only for students applying for graduate assistantships).
  • 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 A 15-25 page writing sample from any genre or genres of published/unpublished work that best demonstrates your creative ability.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 5-10 page response to the following three questions:
    1. Where are you in time and how did you get there?
    2. What are you going to do in the program?
    3. What will you do with your program accomplishments following graduation?
  • Resume, including creative citations.

Students may enter the program in either the January or June residency. Project terms begin following each residency and continue until the next residency (approximately 6 months). Students selecting the weekender version of the MA will meet 4 weekends over the 6 month term instead of attending the 8 day residency in June and January.

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 as an application, and be approved by the full CW faculty to continue into the M.F.A. Once in the program, students must maintain the 3.5 GPA AND have a 3.5 or better in every course to remain in the program.

Transfer Credits

The Master of Arts in Creative Writing addresses the life, craft, and business aspects of becoming and remaining a professional creative writer. Because much of the curriculum design is tailored to the individual student and his/her thesis project and because the program offers no electives, the M.A. in most tracks does not accept transfer credits from another institution. However the publishing M.A. and documentary film tracks will transfer up to nine credit hours from applicants who hold a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing, film, or theatre from another institution. Wilkes M.A. alums can take an additional 18 credit hours to earn a second degree in any track.

Degree Requirements

(30 credit hour minimum)

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

The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (48 credit hour minimum) (low residency M.F.A.)

Students complete the required 30 credit hour minimum and the Master of Arts in Creative Writing plus 18 additional credit hours to earn the Master of Fine Arts degree.

Certificate Option (15 credit hours )

The certificate in Creative Writing is a special offering for perspective students or students who do not wish to complete a full degree. It consists of a minimum of 9 credit hours from the following courses: CW-501, CW-502, CW-503, CW-504, CW-505, and CW-506. These courses are each 3 credits and have been modified slightly from the existing M.A. courses to fit into the 13 week fall, spring, or summer semesters that undergraduate programs follow. All of these courses are offered complete online at a reduced tuition rate from the graduate program. These courses will be labelled "C" courses. Upon completion of the certificate program, students may use the portfolios in these courses as part of their application materials for the M.A. degree. If accepted into the M.A., these courses will automatically be accepted by the program director; however, students must meet all the same requirements as all other applicants in terms of demonstrated talent, ability, and dedication.

This option is highly recommended for undergraduates who wish to fast track their graduate studies. Using this option, students will be able to complete the M.A. in a single year. Please see the program director for further information


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 eight-day-long on-campus courses that are usually-team taught and include required and 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-525RMinimum required: 4, including capstone. The M.F.A. requires one additional residency - CW-616R.  Residencies are held the first full week of January and the third week of June each year.
  2. Weekender option:  Students may opt to complete the 4 M.A. residencies by attending 4 weekends between the regular residencies.  These students complete the same coursework as the residency students, but take it while taking the online courses in the project term.
  3. Project terms are writing and reading project work times, beginning with foundation courses in two genre areas and ending with the final project master 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; Courses delivered online. The Master of Fine Arts requires the following additional online courses - CW-612, CW-614, and CW-620.