The Department of English offers the degree Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Creative Writing and Media Arts. This interdisciplinary degree includes coursework in allied programs in Communication Studies and Theatre. The 42-hour program provides learning opportunities in writing, literary publishing, broadcasting, screen and stage writing, and production skills. The M.F.A. is a terminal degree in the field of Creative Writing and is designed to prepare students for careers as literary artists, authors, playwrights, poets, teachers, and screenwriters.


The application process is competitive. Satisfying the admission requirements does not guarantee admission to the program.

The applicant must hold:

  • a B.A. in English, or a B.A. degree that includes at least 30 hours of sophomore-, junior- or senior-level English courses, or the equivalent. Applicants with fewer than 30 hours of undergraduate English courses may be admitted and assigned additional coursework as part of their program. These extra hours are added to the hours required for graduation.
  • a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average in undergraduate work and a 3.0 average in undergraduate English coursework. In unusual circumstances, the Graduate Committee may consider applicants with lower grade-point averages.

The applicant must submit:

  • a complete application to the university. The university application should be sent to the UMKC Admissions Office. All other materials should be sent to Graduate Programs, Department of English, Cockefair Hall 106.
  • a complete application for admission to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Media Arts.
  • a recommended 60 percent or higher score on the verbal aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • a writing sample that demonstrates the applicant's writing abilities. A sample in a single emphasis area (no more than 10 pages for poetry; no more than 20 pages for all other disciplines: fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting or screenwriting) is required (poems [6-10] or stories, essays, novel chapters, or dramatic-work excerpts).
  • a statement of purpose that describes the applicant's academic and professional objectives. In an essay of 400 to 500 words, applicants should discuss in detail their interest in their emphasis area (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, playwriting or screenwriting), and their experience and goals in the area.
  • three letters of recommendation that evaluate the applicant's readiness for graduate study written by three professors or others who know the applicant's abilities and potential well.

Students may not take more than six hours of graduate credit in English before entering the program as a "fully admitted" student.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from this program will:

  • Mastery of poetics or storytelling craft through the creation of a full-length manuscript of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, plays, or screenplays that are structurally sound, polished, and complete, and have a distinct voice;
  • Effective problem-solving and revision strategies in the composition of poems, fiction, non-fiction, plays, or screenplays;
  • A deliberate, masterful command of language, including style, grammar, and mechanics;
  • Proficiency in at least one genre outside of their primary field and the ability to apply the techniques of their secondary genres to the work they produce in their primary field or study;
  • Sophisticated critical analyses of literary texts, including an understanding of how a text displays a writer's artistic techniques and the ability to incorporate those techniques into their own writing; and
  • Thorough knowledge of the literary traditions of their primary genre and the ability to situate their own work within current literary conversations.

Degree Requirements

Students must earn 42 graduate credit-hours beyond the bachelor's degree. Of these, at least 27 hours must be at the graduate level (courses numbered 5500 and above) and taught by a member of UMKC’s graduate faculty.

Students must maintain a 3.0 (B) grade-point average to remain in the M.F.A. program and to complete the degree.

Foreign Language Requirement: By the time of graduation from the M.F.A. program, students must have completed one year (two university semesters) of a single foreign language. Alternatively, the foreign language requirement may be satisfied by scoring a "C" on the final exam of the first-year, second-semester course in foreign language.  Previous undergraduate coursework may be used to satisfy this requirement.

Students must remain continuously enrolled, except in summer, for a minimum of 1 credit hour per semester. ENGLISH 5899 is the continuous enrollment course number.

Students must complete a formal Program of Study and have it signed within a year after admission. A final Program of Study must be submitted and signed during the semester a student files to graduate.

Students must complete all coursework within seven years.

Students must focus on one or more of the following genres:

Residency requirements: a minimum of 33 hours must be completed at UMKC.

Requirements for M.F.A. Thesis

In consultation with the faculty, the student will chose a thesis committee comprised of three members: a thesis director from the M.F.A. faculty and two other faculty members approved by the director and selected from the M.F.A. faculty, the faculty of another institution, or the faculties of the Departments of English, Communication Studies, or Theatre. Under the guidance of the thesis director, the student will complete a publishable or producible manuscript of one of the following:

  • a book of poems (48-80 pages, single spaced); or
  • a book of short stories or creative nonfiction essays (180 pages, double spaced); or
  • a novel or novel-length nonfiction book (180-page minimum, double spaced); or
  • a full-length play or several one-act plays; or
  • a feature-length screenplay (95-120 pages) or a series bible and two 1-hour episodes (20 pages + two 45-page episodes); or
  • a full-length cross-genre work, with Committee Chair permission.

At the completion of the writing project, the student will meet with his or her committee for a one-hour defense of the thesis.

Advisors may approve courses in other departments that may be highly valuable for particular student programs, e.g., History for documentary film, Foreign Language for translation work, Philosophy for aesthetics and theoretical/experimental approaches, and Art. Collaborative directed studies may be offered to allow two or more students to use two or more genres/media. Students may also seek collaborative opportunities in the Conservatory of Music and Dance and in Computer Science.

In addition to the department requirements above, graduate students in English must comply with the requirements listed in the General Graduate Academic Regulations and Information section of this catalog.