IX. Graduate Programs

Creative Writing

MFA Program

Admission Requirements

The normal minimum requirement for admission to the MFA Program is a baccalaureate degree, in an honours program or the equivalent, from a recognized degree-granting institution. There are no requirements as to the discipline in which the degree was earned. Successful applicants will be expected to have achieved an average standing of at least second-class honours (B-) in their last four semesters of study. A limited number of students, however, may be admitted to the MFA without having satisfied the degree requirement and/or academic standing requirements set out above if they are assessed as qualified to undertake graduate studies in creative writing on the basis of other experience and/or practice.

Admissions Portfolio

Applicants will be selected for admission to the MFA Program primarily on the basis of a portfolio and a letter of no more than three pages describing the applicant’s aspirations as a writer and an indication of the genres in which he/she is most interested. The portfolio should be between 25 and 40 pages in length, double-spaced, and may contain published and/or unpublished work and/or work-in-progress. It must include a minimum of three separate works (or excerpts from separate works). Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit works in more than one genre, e.g., fiction and poetry. Considerations of balance over the program as a whole, with respect to genres in which applicants are particularly interested and demonstrate special strength, will have some impact on admission decisions.

Degree Requirements

Students will take one workshop and one plenary course in the first (fall) semester of study; one workshop in the second (winter) semester; the individual study course in the third (summer) semester; and one workshop and a second plenary course in the fourth (fall) semester. The remaining two semesters of the two-year program will be devoted to the thesis. With permission, MFA students may choose to take one or two courses at the University of Guelph - e.g., MA courses in the School of English and Theatre Studies.

Plenary Courses

Plenary courses will be offered each year in the fall semester, and students are required to take two. These courses are intended in part to provide a forum for visiting writers and other literary professionals. Each course will also have a substantial component addressing practical matters associated with the progress of a writer’s career.


Students are required to take three workshops over the course of the program; the genres in which workshops will be offered are fiction, poetry, drama, screenwriting, and creative non-fiction. Students are also required to ensure through their selection of workshops that they work in a minimum of two separate genres and are strongly encouraged to take workshops that include work in at least three genres. The workshops will be strongly focused on writing, but each will also incorporate a substantial reading component.

Individual Study Course

The individual study course, required in the third (summer) semester of the program, pairs each student with a mentor. It is intended to install within the curriculum a critical opportunity to address the variable learning needs of individual students. For some students, it will be primarily a reading course, with practice in writing in relation to particular models. For the majority of students, however, it is likely to be an intensive writing course that will allow for additional work in the genre that interests them most, or to explore the possibilities of another genre.


The thesis is the single most important component of the MFA Program. Students should register for UNIV*7500 in each semester that they are writing their thesis. The thesis may be a novel, a book-length manuscript of poems, a collection of short stories, a full-length play or screenplay, or a memoir. The standard to be applied is that the thesis should be of publishable quality in the estimation of the examiners.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1