Areas of Concentration

a top-10 low residency MFA program

Poets & Writers, year after year after year

The Spalding low residency MFA in Writing Program offers six areas of concentration. Students may study in more than one area and all students are exposed to writing in all of the areas through brief cross-genre assignments at the residency.

“I think the structure of the program is brilliant. Every layer works. I couldn’t find a single thing that I would have wanted to miss. Overall I would rate this MFA an A++. I made the right decision.”
               –Linda Busby Parker, author of Seven Laurels


The Spalding low residency MFA program students develop high-quality literary fiction, work distinguished by complex characterization, psychological depth, stylistic richness, thematic resonance, a distinctive sense of time and place, and an original approach to form and structure. As part of their training, students are exposed to and encouraged to work with many different forms of fiction-sudden fiction, short story, novella, short story cycle, and the novel. For more information about fiction, click here.


Poetry writing combines the interests of the poetry faculty (some of whom write formal poetry and some of whom write in open forms) and the interests of the students. Ultimately, students are exposed to a range of contemporary poetry writing today: from new formalism to free, open forms to language poetry or experimental poetry, though not necessarily in any systematic order. Mentors follow the lead of the students and work with their poems as objectively as possible both in workshop and during the semester not encouraging poets to “write like me” but to be the best they can in their chosen styles. For more information about poetry, click here.

Creative Nonfiction

In the Spalding low residency MFA program, creative nonfiction is similar to “literary nonfiction.” It is NOT standard daily journalistic prose; i.e., it does not follow a formula dictated by space, “fairness” and 8th-grade reading level constraints. Instead, it makes use of the full range of literary techniques and elements employed by writers of other genres, including fiction, poetry, and playwriting. It is not constrained by subject matter or voice or point of view. For more information about creative nonfiction, click here.

Writing for Children and Young Adults

Writing for children and young adults is for students who wish to write for young audiences. The four-semester Spalding low residency MFA program stands alone in giving equal weight to audience considerations and serious study of craft. One or two semesters are spent on craft instruction in one of five focal areas: playwriting, fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or screenwriting. This approach ensures that students learn to engage their young audiences with work of literary merit. For more information about writing for children and young adults, click here.


The unique Spalding low residency MFA in Writing degree combines traditional on-campus classes with a nontraditional independent study. The on-campus or abroad experience initiating each semester lasts ten days; after returning home (where writers actually do their writing), students work, usually by email, with their mentors in a way that is both intense, individually tailored, and one-on-one with their expert teacher. In a low residency MFA program, students write more scripts and teleplays and those scripts receive more individual attention from the instructor than in traditional programs located in Los Angeles or New York. For film, TV, and theater professionals who wish to earn a terminal degree, the Spalding MFA offers the perfect course of study. For more information about screenwriting, click here.


Spalding’s low residency MFA offers individual tracks in Playwriting or Screenwriting, with an opportunity for optional interdisciplinary study for the student interested in acquiring a mastery of writing for both screen and stage. The playwriting faculty is composed of professional working artists with a wide range of expertise in areas including musical theatre (specialization in the creation of book [libretto] and lyric-writing), theatre for puppets, experimental theatre, adaptation, site-specific plays, theatre for young and family audiences, and the production of one’s own work. Our faculty have garnered awards from the Princess Grace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Edgerton Foundation, a Kesselring Prize, as well as the Charles MacArthur Award, and have produced their work Off-Broadway, in many regional LORT theatres, and internationally. For more information about playwriting, click here.

Contact the MFA Program:

800-896-8941 x 4400 or 502-873-4400

Master of Fine Arts in Writing
Spalding University
851 S. Fourth St.
Louisville, KY 40203

last updated 07-28-14