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Creative Writing

Master of Fine Arts (MFA), low-residency graduate program

Nurture your writing to its fullest potential.

Lesley University's celebrated low-residency MFA program nurtures and challenges your creative potential. Attend nine-day residencies in the literary mecca of Cambridge. Pursue interdisciplinary study as a spur for fresh ideas. Cultivate mentor relationships with prize-winning writers. Graduate with the work and connections to publish, win literary prizes and fellowships, and find teaching positions or work related to your writing.

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Program Summary

Exclusive partnerships create opportunities for you to put your pieces in front of prominent publishers, agencies, and organizations. You’ll meet literary figures who, as masters of their craft, will give you the tough love you need to achieve your aspirations. Benefitting from our small-group learning, you’ll form bonds with fellow writers from diverse backgrounds, and join in craft seminars, workshops, readings, and publishing events.

You'll have opportunities to interact with students and faculty from across the entire program, while still engaging in a deep exploration of your chosen genre: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Graphic Novels and Comics, Writing for Stage and Screen, or Writing for Young People.

Graduate Program Inquiry Form

Program Structure

Low-Residency Program

49 Credits
Man sitting while listening and writing.


Through our Fiction genre, you'll develop and hone your fiction-writing skills while being coached in the practice of constructing, analyzing, drafting, and revising short stories, novellas, or novels. As a graduating student in the Fiction genre, submit a sample from your thesis to acclaimed literary agency Aevitas Creative Management. Gain advice on the publishing strategy of your work and forge meaningful professional relationships.

Accomplished Faculty
You'll be mentored by well-know writers with multiple publications to their credit.

Tony Eprile
Laurie Foos
Rachel Kadish
Hester Kaplan
Michael Lowenthal
Kyoko Mori

Distinguished Visiting Writers
As you progress through the program, you'll have the opportunity to work with experienced fiction writers to hone your craft. Recent visitors include:

  • Steve Almond
  • Julia Glass
  • Lolita Hernandez
  • Gish Jen
  • ZZ Packer
  • Tom Perrotta
  • Justin Torres
  • Angie Cruz
  • Cheryl Tan
Creative writing students reading and discussing classwork

Graphic Novels & Comics

Through Lesley’s Graphic Novels & Comics genre, explore how to integrate text, image and design to create narrative and meaning. All practitioners of word and image work are welcome to apply, from traditional cartoonists to writers, photographers, and artists creating webcomics, zines, illustrated fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and hybrid forms. Mentorship will be tailored to students’ individual needs and projects.

Accomplished Faculty
You'll be mentored by well-known creators with multiple projects and publications to their credit.

Carl Antonowicz
Pamela Petro
John Rozum

Craft and Technique
Learn the essential tools and skills involved with producing sequential narratives and other word and image pairings. Topics will include

  • Graphic literacy: how words and images interact within panels and across pages
  • Narrative pacing and structure
  • Character development and dialogue
  • Craft and tools, from drawing board to digital
  • Print production and publication


Learn more about the Graphic Novels & Comics curriculum

creative writing students in a classroom

Nonfiction & Memoir

Through our nonfiction & memoir genre, gain a foundational approach to craft in genres such as memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, food and travel writing, and research-based narratives. Receive professional guidance through our exclusive partnership with Aevitas Creative Management. Submit a sample of your thesis for an immediate read and publishing advice from the acclaimed literary agency.

Accomplished Faculty
As you progress through the program, you'll be mentored by faculty with extensive experience publishing works of nonfiction & memoir.

Cindy House
Rachel Manley
Kyoko Mori
Pamela Petro
Janet Pocorobba

Distinguished Visiting Writers
You'll work alongside successful nonfiction writers as they visit Cambridge during the residencies. Recent visitors include:

  • Gail Caldwell
  • Lewis Hyde
  • Gish Jen
  • Megan Marshall
  • David Rakoff
  • Jerald Walker
  • Olive Senior
Student Writing on Paper


Through our poetry genre, learn directly from internationally-recognized poets and faculty as you explore the poetic forms and approaches that will serve to establish your aesthetic voice. Graduate deeply-read and immersed in a close-knit community that will provide ongoing support as you venture into the professional world.

Accomplished Faculty
You'll be mentored by award-winning poets throughout your graduate program.

Erin Belieu
Steven Cramer
Joan Houlihan
Kevin Prufer


Acclaimed Visiting Poets
Make connections with visiting poets, who have included:

  • Patrick Donnelly
  • Martin Espada
  • David Ferry
  • Nikky Finney
  • Louise Gluck
  • Marie Howe
  • Major Jackson
  • Robert Pinsky
  • David Rivard
  • Tom Sleigh
  • Oliver De La Paz
  • Carl Phillips
Students Sitting in Circle Having Discussion

Writing for Stage and Screen

Through our Writing for Stage and Screen genre, work on scripts with professional actors and directors while enrolled in one of the few university-based programs affiliated with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Given our location in a major metropolitan area, Lesley is one of the few low-residency MFA programs that offers graduate students staged readings of their scripts with professional actors and directors.

During your first year, write full-length scripts for stage and screen. In your second year, choose to concentrate in either stage or screen, or write another full-length play and another screenplay. During your fourth semester, participate in a Play Lab where your completed full-length play is read to students, faculty, and the public. You'll graduate with four full-length scripts and three ten-minute plays.

Accomplished Faculty
Throughout the program, you'll learn from faculty whose work has been staged by prominent theater companies and presented at film festivals around the world.

Jami Brandli
Barry Brodsky
Ellen Lewis
Cassie Seinuk
Sinan Ünel

Distinguished Visiting Writers
You'll connect with visiting playwrights and screenwriters, providing an opportunity to network with industry insiders. Some recent visiting playwrights and screenwriters have included:

  • Constance Congdon
  • Kia Corthron
  • Jonathan Cott
  • Molly Smith Metzler
  • Theresa Rebeck
  • Karen Zacarias
Two Students Speaking with Bright Background

Writing for Young People

Through our Writing for Young People genre, create works of fiction and nonfiction while studying under award-winning faculty in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult genres. Our program maintains an exclusive agreement with Candlewick Press, providing the opportunity for your final manuscripts to be considered for publication by this award-winning publisher. Candlewick's catalog includes picture books, middle-grade, and young adult fiction from hundreds of celebrated authors.

Accomplished Faculty
You'll work closely with faculty who have substantial experience writing for children and young adults, including:

Tracey Baptiste
Sara Farizan
Michelle Knudsen
Chris Lynch
Cynthia Platt
Jason Reynolds
Sara Zarr

Distinguished Visiting Writers
As you progress through the program, you'll connect with visiting writers who have published a variety of books for young people. Recent visitors have included:

  • M.T. Anderson
  • Elizabeth Bluemle
  • Robie H. Harris
  • Jo Knowles
  • Marilyn Nelson
  • Maurice Sendak
  • Rebecca Stead
  • Renée Watson
  • Jacqueline Woodson
  • Kyle Lukoff
  • Renee Watson
"Writing may be a solitary craft, but working within a community of Lesley faculty and fellow writers gave me the inspiration I needed."
Sarah Farizan ’10, Author of If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
harvard square cambridge

Residencies in Cambridge, MA

Our residencies immerse you in a vibrant literary arts scene. Your faculty mentor will work with you throughout your residency to create a tailored plan for the upcoming semester. Seminars, lectures, and readings foster discussions about concept and craft. Genre-specific workshops allow you to share work and receive the praise/tough love that fuels you to keep writing, revising, and moving forward.

creative writing students discussing

Interdisciplinary Study

Through our program’s interdisciplinary component, you can design an independent study on a topic vital to your writing, gain professional experience in publishing or education, take courses in subjects related to your concentration, and experiment in other genres.

Dylan thomas summer school in wales

Study Abroad in Wales

Study abroad at the Dylan Thomas International Summer School in Creative Writing, a 12-day residency in rural West Wales. Engage in on-site workshops in castles, gardens, Iron Age villages, slate and coal mines, and more. Plus, participate in readings and visits with internationally renowned Welsh writers.

"Our low- residency program is not just about honing your craft. It’s also about learning how to fit writing into the rest of your life – whatever that life might be."
Janet Pocorobba, Professor & Interim Director, MFA in Creative Writing
cassie seinuk
Creative Writing
Cassie M. Seinuk ’13
Cassie M. Seinuk is a playwright and author of From the Deep. Winner of the Boston University Jewish Cultural Endowment Grant, the Latinidad Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the Pestalozzi full-length play prize at the Firehouse Center for the Arts New Works Festival.

What Graduates Achieve
Our alumni are accomplished authors, poets, screenwriters, and playwrights with books from major publishers, individual works in prestigious journals, plays staged by prominent theater companies, films featured in international festivals, and more. They have received numerous literary awards and fellowships.

In addition, they also hold teaching positions in writing programs across the U.S. and beyond, such as Boston University, Brandeis University, University of California Berkeley, Manhattan College, University of Arkansas, University of Nebraska, Colorado College, and the University of the West Indies.


Total approximate cost for this master's degree program.
Creative Writing
  • Tuition
    $925/credit x 49
  • Fees
    Residency Fees
    Comprehensive Fee
  • Total
Estimated Cost

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.


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Total approximate cost for this master's degree program. Tuition and fees are for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Use our step-by-step guide to apply for federal and university funding. Scholarships, grants, Work-Study, and loans. It’s all right here.

Next steps to apply

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.