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Independent Study

Our independent study focuses on the mentor-student working relationship, honoring a primary strength of the low-residency model. Because you won’t spend time critiquing other students’ material, you’ll be freed up to write prolifically. Over the four semesters of the MFA program, prose and script writers receive detailed professional commentary on up to 900 pages of new and revised creative writing. Poets and picture book writers can have up to 140 individual poems or picture books critiqued.

Before the session begins, student and mentor collaboratively create a study plan that includes five packet exchanges. For prose and script writers, each packet includes 25-45 pages of creative writing. Poets send 5-7 poems; picture-book writers, 5-7 texts. The mentor responds with detailed, thoughtful feedback.

Students write short essays about their reading to cultivate an explicit understanding of craft, in effect teaching themselves craft lessons through close examination of published work. “How did the author do that?” is the question you’ll aim to answer in each essay.

Third-semester students write an extended critical essay while continuing creative work. Fourth-semester students complete a creative thesis and prepare a capstone lecture and reading.

Our independent study options are highly flexible, letting you customize your weekly workload.

Hands-on Editorial Experience

Students gain valuable editorial experience reading submissions for The Louisville Review, a national literary magazine. It’s a rare opportunity to view writing from the editor’s seat—a perspective that helps students break out of writing ruts, recognize common pitfalls, and develop a working knowledge of the contemporary literary landscape.

Cross-genre, Translation, Enrichment

During your studies, you may take one core semester in translation or another concentration. You may also opt to add a semester in order to complete a project or study in yet another area.