Chatham University :: NewPages Guide to Creative Writing Programs

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Chatham University

MFA in Creative Writing

Contact Information:

1 Woodland Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15232


Program director: Sheryl St. Germain

Program contact: Erin Hutton

Phone: (412) 365-1190


Program Information:

Degrees offered: MFA, BFA

Type of program: residency, low-residency

Length of program: 2 years

Genres: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, writing for children, travel writing, nature writing

Enrollment: 100

Total credits required: 42

Application deadlines: January 15 for early admission, otherwise rolling admissions.

Scholarships: yes (see website)

Assistantships: yes (see website)

Core faculty: Sheryl St. Germain, Sheila Squillante, Sherrie Flick, Lori Jakiela, Heather McNaugher, Kathy Ayres, Sally Alexander, Jonathan Auxier, Joy Katz

Visiting faculty: BK Loren, Scott Russell Sanders, Pam Houston, Dinty Moore, Ann Fisher Wirth, Janisse Raye, Robert Hass, Barbara Hurd

Publishing/editing courses: yes (see website)

Literary magazine: The Fourth River

Reading series: Summer Community of Writers

Recent visiting writers: BK Loren, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Aaron Smith, Terrance Hayes, Toi Derricote, Mary Karr, Geraldine Brooks

Program description: Chatham University's MFA, focusing on place-based writing and social outreach, is the premier graduate program for students interested in place-based writing and innovative community programs. No other MFA program offers concentrations in travel writing, teaching, publishing, or nature writing in addition to a primary genre focus (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction or children’s writing), and no other MFA program offers the ability to have a dual-genre focus. We are also the only MFA program to offer both a full residency program and a low-residency program as well as the ability to easily move between the two.

Our alumni have gone on to publish and teach; many are also pioneers and leaders in arts programs that work to foster diversity and social justice. Our program continues to be inspired by the work of Chatham alumna, Rachel Carson, a creative writer whose work demonstrates both lyricism and social conscience. The Words Without Walls program, in which MFA students go into the Allegheny County Jail to teach inmates creative writing, is only one of several social outreach programs developed and run by Chatham MFA students that offer transformative experiences for both students and an underserved populations. At Chatham, we will teach you craft, but we will also teach you heart. At Chatham, community service is not just something you do outside of your graduate program, it’s built into the core of the program.