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 a '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

Students will be selected for admission to the MFA program primarily on the basis of a portfolio. The portfolio should be between 25 and 40 pages in length and may contain published and/or unpublished work and/or work-in-progress. It must include a minimum of two separate works (or excerpts from separate works). Applicants are 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 particularly strong, 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. All students will be required to complete at least six semesters of study.

Plenary Courses

There are two Plenary courses, CRWR*6000 and CRWR*6010, and both are required courses for MFA students. Plenary courses will be offered on an alternate-year basis in the Fall semester, allowing students to take one in the Fall semester of their first year, and one in the Fall semester of their second year. 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, 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 the majority of students, it will be an intensive writing course, supplemented by a reading component that allows for additional work in the student’s primary genre and offers the chance to build a body of work towards the thesis. For some students, it may be primarily a reading course, with practice in writing in relation to particular models, or provide an opportunity to develop a significant project in a secondary 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 work of creative non-fiction. The standard to be applied is that the thesis should not be a first draft but have undergone significant revision and be approaching publishable quality in the estimation of the examiners.

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