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Master of Fine Arts in Writing


At Spalding’s affordable, nationally distinguished low residency MFA in Writing, we’ve put 18 years of thought and care into our program design, from the size and diversity of our faculty to the timing of our residencies during months when travel is easier. We’re dedicated to letting students focus on their own area of concentration while still exploring across genres and examining the interrelatedness of the arts. In short, we’re committed to excellence in a noncompetitive, supportive atmosphere.

“I have SUCH fond memories of my time at Spalding. The faculty was smart and engaged. The students were diverse and eager — and thoughtful. The conversations we had made me remember again why I do the work I do. The vibe was like family. I felt SO at home there, I have to say. All these years later, it really stays with me.”  

—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming, winner of the National Book Award, Newbery Honor Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award

In Louisville, students engage with the downtown arts scene, stay in a four-star hotel, and study on our green campus with publishing, prize-winning faculty. At our summer residencies abroad, we take our curriculum across borders to add an element of global cultural and literary exploration. Whether you choose to study in the States or abroad (and you can do both if you like!), you’ll gain invaluable editorial experience with The Louisville Review. And you’ll develop a close-knit literary community and writing habits that will serve you for life.

Yet none of that quite captures the feeling of coming to Spalding. We love the way Jacqueline Woodson said it in the quote above. Now here’s something we heard from Brittni Moore, a fiction writer and career tall-ship sailor, just after completing her first Spalding MFA residency:

Residency has finished, and I’m leaving Louisville tomorrow inspired, excited and eager for the semester ahead. It feels very much like looking out on the ocean, with nothing but horizon on all sides. Everything feels possible. I’ve never had this feeling about my writing before, and it’s this place, this program and the incredible people who populate it who have helped me get here.

We hope you’ll tour our website to learn why the low-residency approach is the best way to study writing. Read about the Spalding MFA program’s unmatched flexibility, both in scheduling your weekly workload and charting your own course of study—with options including translation, a teaching seminar, and a book-length manuscript workshop. Discover what our residencies offer (including optional summer residencies with travel abroad). Learn how prolific you’ll be during one-on-one mentored independent study courses—few programs can match us in the volume of writing you’ll produce and professional feedback you’ll receive.

We invite you to explore our program and get a sense of who we are. Then, we invite you to apply. (Our admission requirements tell you how.) Application deadlines are February 1 for spring and summer semesters and August 1 for the fall semester.

Our four-semester degree culminates with a creative thesis and capstone residency. Admissions are selective. To read about recent visiting writers and alumni successes, click your concentration below.


  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Writing for children & young adults
  • Features

    We’re proud to be named a top 10 low residency MFA program by Poets & Writers.

    We accept transfer credit from other MFA programs.

    Students with a published book or produced script may apply for acceleration.

    We welcome veterans.

    We offer a one-semester post-baccalaureate certificate.

    Alumni have garnered top national honors while publishing and producing more than 400 books, plays and films.

    We are members of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, SCBWI and the Playwrights’ Center.

    Spalding is the world’s first certified Compassionate University.

    You can get to know our faculty and directors on our blog.

    Mission Statement of the Spalding MFA in Writing Program

    The low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University is a welcoming community of creative writers dedicated to improving their craft through intense writing and reading, critical and creative thinking, and diverse opportunities to study closely with intellectual and literary leaders who are also expert teachers. The program provides a compassionate, flexible, and noncompetitive graduate learning environment that establishes lifelong writing habits and fosters a commitment to the global literary community.

    Our History

    The Spalding MFA in Writing program was founded in 2001 by Sena Jeter Naslund and Karen Mann. After teaching in a low-residency MFA in Writing program for 17 years, as well as at traditional programs, Sena had developed many ideas about how to create a better low-residency MFA in a noncompetitive, supportive setting. The program launched in Fall 2001, offering fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and writing for children. Since then, we’ve added screenwriting and playwriting, launched an international summer residency and an extended semester, and been named a Top 10 program of our kind by Poets & Writers. In 2017, Sena retired as program director to continue her career as a novelist (she’s author of critically acclaimed bestsellers Ahab’s Wife and Four Spirits, among others). The program continues to thrive under the leadership of Kathleen Driskell and Karen Mann.

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