Creative Writing and Environment

Program information:.

  • No Doctoral Degrees Offered
  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
  • No Online Degrees Offered
  • Demonstrate understanding of craft and professional practice through coursework, workshops, and completion of refined imaginative literary manuscripts in multiple genres
  • Identify, research, and examine—through coursework, fieldwork, and literary practice—the natural world and the environmental imagination
  • Broaden and deepen understanding of literary and theoretical traditions of the major genres and the methodologies of craft analysis and practice
  • Broaden and deepen understanding of the cultural and natural environment through significant coursework in environmental courses available at Iowa State University both within and beyond the MFA program and English Department
  • Design, write, workshop, refine, and defend a significant body of publishable- or production-quality imaginative writing, including a full-length thesis manuscript, which demonstrates professional understanding and application of craft and technique, literary tradition, and the environmental imagination
  • Gain practical training and experience in creating and fostering a healthy literary community and sustaining a professional life in letters through teaching and research assistantships and internships, literary journal editorial internships and positions, as well as land stewardship, reading series, and other outreach opportunities
  • Student Involvement: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, idque adipisci patrioque vix et, assum nostrum vituperata per in.
  • Teaching Assistantships
  • Scholarships
  • Application Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Med. Time-to-degree (years): 1.5
  • No Doctoral
  • Master's Degree
  • Career Placement

Program Contact:

Mailing address:, admission requirements:.

Application Information:

Search the Graduate POS Manual

3.2.1 Degree Requirements (effective Spring 2023)

Requires a total of 54 credits of coursework.

3.2.2 Curricular Policies and Guidelines

Environmental field experience.

As an MFA student, you are required to engage in an environmentally based internship or field work experience during your program. This work should be somehow related to the content of your thesis. You will design, propose, and complete a field experience relevant to your writing interests. By midterm of the semester before the field work is to begin, you must complete and submit—in consultation with your assigned program adviser or major professor—a MFA Environmental Field Experience (Engl 560) Proposal Form to the field experience facilitator. Field work requirements must be met as outlined in the Guidelines for Completion of English 560: Environmental Field Experience .

Environmental courses in disciplines outside the English Department

You design, in consultation with your assigned program adviser or major professor, a self-tailored core of interdisciplinary courses that allow you to pursue fields of knowledge relevant to your writing project. Selections can be made from any ISU courses outside the English Department with an environmental focus. These courses may be at the graduate level; they may also be 300- or 400-level undergraduate courses that are used in accordance with English Department and Graduate College Policy. The MFA program’s Petition for Approval of Environmental Courses Outside English must be completed, signed by your assigned program adviser or major professor, signed by the CWE area coordinator, and submitted to the Graduate Program Administrative Assistant for POSC approval. You provide an overview and rationale for your selection of outside courses as well as an argument for how each course contributes to your understanding of environment and thus is relevant to your plan of study.

Transfer credits

MFA students must complete a minimum of 22 graduate credits at Iowa State University, regardless of how many credits are transferred. Students may transfer up to 24 credits into the MFA POS, but the actual number of transfer credits approved will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Requests for transfer credit consideration must be made by completing a Transfer Credit Petition form accompanied by required paperwork. Refer to the section regarding transfer credits earlier in this manual for more information.

Students write theses that are composed of their own imaginative writing.They make a proposal for a book-length thesis to be approved by their major professor by the end of their third semester in the program. Thesis work produces one document—the thesis itself, which  is considered a work of publishable quality.

3.2.3 Final Oral Defense of the Thesis (Final Oral Examination)

See the section on  Graduation  for more details and information on finishing up as well as resources with links to very helpful information.

3.2.4 Program and learning outcomes

Program outcomes.

Learning outcomes

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Iowa State University

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MFA Program

Poetry: Debra Marquart, Charissa Menefee, Romeo Oriogun, K. L. Cook Fiction: K. L. Cook, David Zimmerman, Barbara Haas, Christiana Langenberg, Debra Marquart Nonfiction: Barbara Haas, Debra Marquart, K. L. Cook Playwriting: Charissa Menefee Screenwriting: David Zimmerman, Charissa Menefee

The program offers full funding. Prospective students may apply for full teaching assistantships  (including stipend, full tuition waiver, and health insurance coverage), and  Pearl Hogrefe Fellowships in Creative Writing  (including stipend, full tuition waiver, payment of fees, and health insurance) which have no teaching responsibilities during the first year.

Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment

In addition to poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction writing tracks, the program also offers drama as another genre option.

The MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment is the first MFA program in the country to combine the intensive study of creative writing with inquiry into interdisciplinary courses in environment, tailored to each writer’s research interests. The environmental mission is broadly defined to encourage creative projects that incorporate ideas of place, landscape, ecology, social and environmental justice, and the environmental imagination.

The MFA program is also home to the Pearl Hogrefe Visiting Writer Series , which invites visiting writers of international and national prominence to visit campus and deliver public readings of their work, the Everett Casey Nature Reserve , a 76-acre land reserve, the EcoTheatre Lab, and Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment .


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