M.F.A. in Nonfiction Curriculum

Kelly Carr M.F.A. ’06 Wins 2018 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting

Kelly Carr M.F.A. '06 and Jaimi Dowdell, freelance reporters writing for The Boston Globe, were awarded for their investigation "Secrets in the Sky", which details the failures of the Federal Aviation Administration's registration of U.S. planes and pilots.

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Required Courses

The low-residency format of the program, with its curriculum of reading, writing, and mentoring, allows students to complete the program in two years. The 49-credit degree requirement consists of these components:

  • Participation in a minimum of two on-campus residencies (CNF 608, a 3-credit course). Residencies include workshops, lectures, presentations, panel discussions, and other elements students use to continue their work off-campus during the online semester.

  • Four semesters of critical and artistic work completed off-campus. Over four semesters, these projects include studying one-on-one with a faculty mentor, writing a critical paper on an element of craft, taking one elective course, and building the final manuscript. 

First Semester

CNF 601. Mentorship I (4 credits)

CNF 620. Workshop I: Creative Writing (4 credits)
Developing and proposing the manuscript topic, with a focus on theme. In this and each semester, students write 15,000 words of new creative work.

Second Semester

CNF 602. Mentorship II (4 credits)

CNF 623Workshop II: Manuscript: Beginning (4 credits)
Continuing to write the manuscript with particular attention to structure and craft.

Third Semester

CNF 603. Mentorship III (4 credits)

CNF 626Workshop III: Manuscript: Work in Progress (4 credits)
Completing the first draft of the manuscript for editing and polishing in the final semester.

Fourth Semester

CNF 604. Mentorship IV (4 credits)

CNF 630. Workshop IV: Final Manuscript (6 credits)
Revising, editing, and submitting a final manuscript of about 50,000 words. 

Fifth Semester Option

Students may take a fifth semester as part of their course of study or elect to pursue the additional term after successfully completing four full semesters. To exercise this option, students submit a proposal to the program director, explaining their reasons and strategy for extending their studies beyond four semesters. They may also return after graduating to start a new project or focus more deeply on an existing one.

CNF 605. Workshop 5: Advanced Study in Craft (4 credits)
Students work with a faculty member along with other students in a workshop to begin a new project or explore a new avenue of an existing manuscript.

CNF 631. Mentorship 5: Advanced Projects (4 credits)
In this elective, students work with a faculty member on the beginning of a new project or investigation of a new idea on an existing manuscript, or more in-depth attention.