MFA Group


Find Your Voice and Become a Writer with a Creative Writing Degree

For many people, writing professionally and becoming a published author is a dream. At Carlow, our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program makes that dream possible.

Designed with convenience in mind, this MFA degree program balances the flexibility students need to juggle life's obligations with the literary experiences and mentorships that help each student find their individual voice. You'll elevate your ability to tell compelling stories and explore artistic technique while collaborating via postal mail and email with renowned faculty. You'll build your own connections with peers in the writing community, and you'll graduate with an MFA degree in Creative Writing that has prepared you to become a published writer.

Ready to take the next step and further your education at Carlow University? Apply for free online.

What You'll Learn

One of the most valuable features of the program is its apprenticeship focus. Throughout the course of study, students work under the guidance of masters in the field: excellent writers who have stature within the writing community and significant publication credentials, are actively involved in their own art, and are concerned and conscientious teachers.

Concentrations are offered in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, giving students the opportunity to refine and explore their writing in the genre that most interests them and aligns with their creative goals. The culmination of the students' experiences at Carlow is the production of a manuscript of publishable quality in their desired concentration.

“Carlow University’s MFA program is small enough to enhance personal development, but big enough to change your life.”   – Tess Barry, Alumni and Finalist for the Manchester Poetry Prize

A Low-Residency MFA Program

Students primarily complete the program at the time and location that works for them (with the exception of four 11-day residency sessions), collaborating remotely via postal mail and email with faculty and peers.

Interested in learning more about Carlow's MFA in Creative Writing program? Request more information today.

Residency Experiences in Pittsburgh and Dublin, Ireland

Each year, students complete two residencies. In January, students spend 11 days in Pittsburgh, a city known for its world-class teaching and research institutes. In June, students experience the magnificent setting and rich literary tradition of Ireland during an 11-day residency at Trinity College Dublin.

The goal of these residencies is to give students an experience that avoids the restriction of any one "school" or aesthetic. By engaging with faculty who hold a range of experience and scheduling a variety of seminar/course topics each semester, students enjoy a more enriching experience that considers multiple approaches to the writing craft.

Learn more about the MFA Creative Writing experience of studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland.

Distinguished U.S. and International Creative Writing Faculty

Every student in Carlow's MFA in Creative Writing program works under the guidance of award-winning American and Irish writers. Below is a selection of just a few of the distinguished writers you will work with when you enroll in the program.

Joseph Bathanti [photo: N.C. Humanities Council]

Joseph Bathanti (US) Fiction

Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC | Former Poet Laureat of North Carolina (2012-14) | Author, The Life of the World to Come (University of South Carolina Press, 2014) | Winner, 2001 Carolina Novel Award | Winner, 2006 Spokane Prize 

Brian Leyden, thumbnail

Brian Leyden (Ireland) Nonfiction

Author, Bestselling Memoir, The Home Place (New Island, 2002) | Co-Writer of Feature Film, Black Ice (2013) | Winner, Norman Mailer Writers Colony Scholarship (USA) | Winner, Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), Sound and Vision Award (2014)

Jean O'Brien - thumbnail

Jean O'Brien (Ireland) Poetry

Author, Fish on a Bicycle: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2016) | Named Highly Commended for The Forward Poetry Prize (2014) | Poem "Merman", Winner, Fish Award (2008) | Poem "Merman", Winner, Arvon International Award (2010)

See the full list of Carlow's creative writing faculty in the United States and in Ireland.

"This program changed my life. Carlow is where I learned what a strong, supportive writing community is like. It's where I learned the true meaning of 'misneach' (courage), where I made the most amazing friends, and where I have truly found my voice. I'm grateful for every moment." -- Ashley Ensminger



MFA - Creative Writing Courses

The bulk of the learning experience in Carlow's MFA in Creative Writing program centers around practicum rather than creative writing classes. However, there are structured elements to the program and optional courses that students may consider.

MFA Curriculum Examples

Practicum Requirements

Students are advised to dedicate a minimum of 25 hours per week to carrying out the writing plan designed with their mentor. Through this writing plan, students will submit work to their mentors at regular intervals throughout the semester. Depending upon the student's concentration, they may submit works of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction for review, critique, and collaborative feedback. Students and mentors are expected to complete a minimum of four exchanges, and are encouraged to keep a log of those exchanges.

Creative Manuscript/Defense

During the final semester of the program, students produce a book-length manuscript of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction (depending upon their chosen area of concentration). The manuscript should be of publishable quality and establishes the author's understanding of and mastery of the elements of craft within their chosen genre.

MFA Admissions Requirements

There is no need to wait for the next term. Admission to the MFA in Creative Writing program is offered on a rolling basis, meaning you can apply any time of the year.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher, and must be able to attend the two-week-long residencies in Pittsburgh and in Ireland as scheduled during the program. Required application materials include:

  • Two essays, typed and double-spaced
    • Essay 1: Self-assessment of writing ability
    • Essay 2: Critical response to a substantive piece of literature
  • Text submission, indicative of concentration area: 10 poems or 25 pages of fiction or 25 pages of creative non-fiction
  • Note: No GRE or GMAT is required for admission

Ready to take the next step? Apply now at Carlow.


The Carlow University MFA in Creative Writing Program offers students an apprenticeship with masters in the field: excellent writers who have stature within the writing community and significant publication credentials, are actively involved in their own art, and are concerned and conscientious teachers.