Program in Creative Writing Graduate Studies Arcadia University

Program in Creative Writing Graduate Studies Arcadia University

Glenside, PA
student ratio
Not Reported
total students
Not Reported
average amount to complete degree
Not Reported
fall application deadline
Not Reported
acceptance rate
1 Degree Offered
degrees offered


MFA in Creative Writing at Arcadia University

Arcadia University is a private university offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. Located in Glenside, Pennsylvania, about 12 miles north of downtown Philadelphia, the 76-acre campus features Grey Towers Castle, a National Historic Landmark. The 2016 edition of "US News and World Report Best Colleges" ranks Arcadia University as a Best Regional University-North.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing overview

The 39-credit, low-residency MFA in Creative Writing degree program at Arcadia University is the only one of its kind in the Philadelphia area, combining a dynamic online environment with a study abroad residency in Edinburgh, Scotland. Students receive personal attention from an experienced, award-winning faculty of published writers who prepare them for a career in writing and teaching the craft of writing at the secondary or college level.

Programs are offered in fiction and poetry, and each runs for two academic years. The low-residency model allows students to take between six and nine credits each term and still maintain a full professional life outside of school. The curriculum culminates in each student submitting a book-length manuscript and a plan for publishing it.

Online workshops and three residencies

Workshops are conducted during each fall and spring semester, and consist of asynchronous online forums. While there are weekly deadlines for assigned work, there is no one time that students need to be online. Students complete the workshops on their own schedules and can access them on desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Discussion boards, document sharing, and connecting with instructors via FaceTime or Skype may be completed anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection. Students submit work for peer review three or four times per semester, and review their peers' work every week.

The three residencies are the only times when students must meet in person during the two-year program. The first is in August on the Arcadia campus at the beginning of the program. The second takes place the following summer in Scotland during the residency abroad. The third and final meeting is on the Arcadia campus during the second year. Each residency is about a week long and includes workshops, writing exercises, discussions with a visiting writer, and a building of community within the group.

One-on-one practicum

Concurrent with taking the online workshops each fall and spring semester, students take a practicum that consists of at least four one-on-one meetings with an instructor throughout the semester. Students schedule the meetings at their convenience and may conduct them on Face Time or Skype.

Each meeting focuses on a piece of writing the student has submitted to the instructor before the appointment. It can be a revision of a workshop piece or a new piece of writing. Each practicum is one hour and consists of an in-depth discussion about the work and the specific writing methods or techniques the student may adopt to improve it.

Study abroad

Each student spends a weeklong residency in Edinburgh, Scotland in the summer between years one and two of the program.


At the end of the second year of the MFA degree program, each student submits a thesis. For fiction students, it is a manuscript of roughly 60,000 words and can be either a novel or collection of short fiction. For poets it is a manuscript of about 48 pages of verse. Both include a written plan for publication after the program is over. Guidelines are determined by faculty and based on the goals of each student.

MFA faculty and visiting writers

The creative writing faculty comprises published authors of fiction and poetry, whose works have appeared in books, magazines, literary journals, and broadcasts. Current MFA program director Joshua D. Isard published his first novel, Conquistador of the Useless in 2013; his short stories have appeared in The Broadkill Review, Northwind, and Wyvern Lit. Eric Smith, whose humor book, The Geek's Guide to Dating, was an Amazon 2013 Best Book of the Year selection, recently published his debut young adult novel, Inked. Poet Jim Warner has published two poetry collections and is host of the podcast Citizen Lit.

In addition, each year the MFA in Creative Writing degree program at Arcadia hosts two writers in residence to teach and mentor MFA students. The Writers Series, sponsored by the English department, brings writers of distinction to campus for readings and workshops with students.

Financial assistance

Every student accepted into the MFA in Creative Writing degree program at Arcadia University is considered for funding packages of between $1,000 and $3,000. Additionally, students accepted to the MFA program may apply for a Teaching Assistantship. Graduate students enrolled for at least six credits per semester are eligible for financial assistance in the form of federal loans. Graduate assistantships are available for students enrolled in at least nine credits per semester.

Degrees & Awards

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
    • Degrees Awarded
      • Master's Degrees 1
      • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
      • First Professional Degrees Not reported
      • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
      • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
    • Earning Your Degree
      • Part-time study available? Not reported
      • Evening/weekend programs available? Not reported
      • Distance learning programs available? Not reported
      • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
    • Degree Requirements
      • Master's Degrees
      • Doctoral Degrees Not reported
      • First Professional Degrees Not reported
      • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported

    Location & Contact

    Program in Creative Writing

    Arcadia University

    450 South Easton Road
    Glenside, PA 19038-3295
    United States

    Joshua Isard

    Program Director
    M.F.A. in Creative Writing

    Phone: 215-572-2146



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