Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing and Media Arts

UMKC's MFA in Creative Writing & Media Arts is an exciting studio-research program that combines intensive workshops with literature and craft classes to foster discovery and mastery in creative writing.  Our program is based on the belief that successful writers grow from the study of writing and the study of literature, which enables students to learn the traditions and adapt them to their own art.  The MFA in Creative Writing & Media Arts offers students immersion in a dynamic interdisciplinary program. Students may focus on poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, or screenwriting, in addition to completing coursework in at least one additional secondary area.

Students are supported by our award-winning faculty and UMKC's outstanding resources: five reading series; opportunities to work with New Letters Magazine and New Letters on the Air, summer workshops with esteemed visiting writers; and various internships with our extensive network of professional partners within the Kansas City community, including The Kansas City Star and Andrews McMeel Publishing.  Students may enroll full or part-time.  This 42-credit hour program is designed to promote life-long learning and creative engagement within academic and professional communities and beyond.

There are several types of funding available, including $25,000 Durwood Scholarships, Graduate Teaching Assistantships, and Creative Writing Scholarships.  Additional information on the MFA program and various types of funding is available on the English department website at Financial Support for Study in English: UMKC Department of English

Application Deadline:

January 15

Application Process

Students applying for admission to the MFA program must have completed a bachelor's degree and taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Applications must submit a writing sample in their area of focus. The writing sample will be limited to 35 pages for prose writers (including play and screenwriters) and twelve poems for poets. All applicants will be asked to specify an area of concentration (creative non-fiction, fiction, playwriting, poetry or screenwriting) and to submit work only in that area. Once admitted to the programs, students will be encouraged to study multiple types of writing.

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose describing themselves, their work, their goals, and what they hope to accomplish by participating in the program. They must also provide three letters of recommendation from professors or published writers with whom they have had substantial contact at the University or professional level.

A complete application includes a UMKC application (sent to the Office of Admissions in room 120 of the Administrative Center) and the following five items (sent to the Department of English, Cockefair Hall 106):

1. the English Department MFA application

2. an official GRE verbal score

3. writing sample (fiction samples must be double-spaced)

4. three letters of recommendation with accompanying recommendation forms

5. a statement of purpose

Graduation Requirements

Total credits required for graduation: 42 credit hours

Students choose to focus on one or more of the following genres

  • English: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction
  • Communications Studies: Screenwriting
  • Theatre: Playwriting

Residency requirements

A minimum of 33 hours must be completed at UMKC.

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 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 a foreign language. Previous undergraduate coursework may be used to satisfy this requirement. Old English may satisfy one semester of this requirement. Foreign language credits do not apply toward the 42-hour degree requirement, unless taken at the graduate level.

Literature requirement:

12 hours minimum

Students choose from among more than 65 literature courses. Their principal focus will be in the core genre in which they plan to write their final portfolio, but they may also reach into other genres as well. With their adviser’s permission, students may also choose courses from other departments.

Creative Writing and Media Studies requirement:

12 hours minimum

Students will complete at least three courses in their core genre chosen from among the 28 “Craft, Workshop, and Production courses." With adviser’s permission, other courses may apply.

Interdisciplinary requirement:

6 hours minimum

Students choose at least one “Craft, Workshop, and Production Course” outside their focus genre and one other course that is also outside their focus genre.

Thesis requirement:

6 hours minimum (see details below)

Free elective credits:

0 to 6 credit hours

Requirements for thesis, internship or other capstone experience

In consultation with the faculty, the student will chose a thesis committee comprised of three members: a thesis director from the MFA faculty and two other faculty members approved by the director and selected from the MFA 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:

  • Book of poems (48-80 pages, single spaced) or
  • Book of short stories or creative non-fiction essays (180 pages minimum, double spaced) or
  • Novel or novel-length non-fiction book (180 pages minimum, double spaced) or
  • Full-length or several one-act plays
  • Feature screenplay (95-120 pages) or a series bible and two 1-hour episodes (20 pages + two 45-page episodes) or
  • Full-length cross-genre work, with the permission of the thesis director

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

Although administered by the Department of English, the interdisciplinary MFA in Creative Writing and Media Arts will allow students the option of developing their writing focus in the Department of Theatre or in the Department of Communication Studies. The Theatre Department’s MFA degrees in Acting and Technical Theatre thus extend and complement the range of curricular possibilities for students. The flexibility of the program will permit students to tailor their programs to meet their personal needs and interests and to experiment with and to create new forms of literature. Students must complete at least six hours outside their writing focus area including one creative writing, craft workshop or production course.

Thesis directors 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, 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.

Programs of Study

MFA Advising Guidelines (PDF)

MFA Degree Requirements (PDF)

MFA Program Facts Sheet (PDF)

Helpful Resources

UMKC MFA Facebook

New Letters & BkMk Press

New Letters Kansas City Literary Events Calendar

Associated Writing Programs

Poets & Writers

The Writers Place

The English Department Blog

Literacy Kansas City


New Letters BkMk Internships

Contact Info

English Department


Director of Creative Writing

Michael Pritchett
Cockefair Hall 16D

UMKC Admissions


120 Administrative Center
University of Missouri-Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499