IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

MFA Program

The IAIA low residency program begins with a weeklong residency on the campus in Santa Fe. Students and faculty mentors, together with visiting writers, agents, and editors, begin each semester by gathering for an intensive week of workshops, classes, lectures, readings, and individual conferences.

At the end of the week, you are matched with a faculty mentor, who then works one-on-one with you for the sixteen  week semester. You will share your creative work and receive critiques electronically using Blackboard, a distance-learning platform. In addition, you will read and write analyses of craft elements in books from your chosen genre.

As Sherman Alexie has said, “One’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” So you will develop a reading program with your faculty mentor, with one out of four of those titles written by an indigenous North American author. You will write brief essays analyzing craft matters on at least eight books each semester as a jumping-off point for an exchange with your faculty mentor.

At the center of each semester’s work, though, is your own creative writing. You will produce four large “packets” of your own writing that are carefully read and critiqued by your faculty mentor. These critiques guide you in the revision process—and in the creation of new work.

The first and second semesters are devoted to your creative work. The third semester continues the creative work, but you also produce a 25 page essay on some aspect of the craft of writing. This is not a dry academic exercise, but another stream to feed your growing awareness and mastery of the craft of writing. During the fourth and final semester, you assemble and refine your creative thesis.

At the end of the program, you will participate in a May graduation residency, during which you will present your thesis and craft essay for approval. You will also present a craft talk, a thesis reading, and team-teach a workshop for students in IAIA’s undergraduate BFA program. For details about the coursework, see below.

What is a faculty mentor?

A faculty mentor is a successful, published author, who brings years of experience reading and writing and teaching to bear on the students’ work. During the residency week on campus, the faculty mentor presents craft lectures, readings, classes, and workshops. He or she also attends all lectures and readings and participates in the developing conversation about writing in general and writing by indigenous North American writers in particular.

Then, during the 16 week semester, the faculty mentor works individually with up to five student writers.

What are the anticipated outcomes?

You will produce a full-length collection of poems or stories, a novel or novella, a book length creative nonfiction manuscript, or a feature screenplay. You will become, as the degree suggests, a master of your chosen art. You will also meet with editors, publishers, and producers and network with faculty mentors and visiting writers. You will get a foot in the publishing door and get some experience teaching others your craft. To see some work by current students, follow the links here.

MFA in Creative Writing: 48 Credits

 

FIRST YEAR

 

Fall Semester:

 

CRWR 561 Residency I, 3 credits

Plus one of the following courses:

CRWR 501 Mentorship I, Creative Nonfiction, 9 credits

CRWR 511 Mentorship I, Poetry, 9 credits

CRWR 531 Mentorship I, Fiction, 9 credits

CRWR 541 Mentorship I, Screenwriting, 9 credits

 

Spring Semester:

 

CRWR 562 Residency II, 3 credits

Plus one of the following courses:

CRWR 502 Mentorship II, Creative Nonfiction, 9 credits

CRWR 512 Mentorship II, Poetry, 9 credits

CRWR 532 Mentorship II, Fiction, 9 credits

CRWR 542 Mentorship II, Screenwriting, 9 credits

 

SECOND YEAR

 

Fall semester:

 

CRWR 661 Residency III, 3 credits

Plus one of the following courses:

CRWR 601 Mentorship III, Creative Nonfiction, 9 credits

CRWR 611 Mentorship III, Poetry, 9 credits

CRWR 631 Mentorship III, Fiction, 9 credits

CRWR 641 Mentorship III, Screenwriting, 9 credits

 

Spring Semester:

 

CRWR 662 Residency IV, 3 credits

Plus one of the following courses:

CRWR 602 MFA Thesis, Creative Nonfiction, 9 credits

CRWR 612 MFA Thesis, Poetry, 9 credits

CRWR 632 MFA Thesis, Fiction, 9 credits

CRWR 642 MFA Thesis, Screenwriting, 9 credits

 

Graduation Residency:

 

CRWR 663 Graduation Residency, no credits

 

Graduation Requirements:

 

  1. 48 credit hours, including four 9 credit online mentorships completed with at least three different faculty mentors.
  2. A 10-12 page craft essay with MLA documentation.
  3. One of the following: a double-spaced creative nonfiction manuscript between 80-120 pages, a single-spaced poetry manuscript between 48-64 pages, a double-spaced fiction manuscript of of between 80-120 pages, or a feature screenplay of between 90-110 pages in industry-standard formatting.
  4. A bibliography in MLA format listing all 32 books read during the program.
  5. 16 brief craft essays and 16 annotated bibliographical entries (not included in the final thesis).
  6. A 10-15 minute public reading, followed by a successful discussion/defense of the thesis.
  7. A successful 10-15 minute lecture or craft talk given to faculty and other graduating students.
  8. A successful workshop or class team-taught for IAIA undergraduate students and community members.

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Year One, Fall semester

CRWR 561 Residency I, 3 credits. The residency, a weeklong series of workshops, craft lectures, conferences, panels, and readings, immerses the student in the world of professional writing. Students are responsible for reading assigned texts prior to the residency, submitting required work for workshop one month before residency, reading and writing critiques of fellow students’ work, attending all readings, attending six required craft lectures (assigned by mentor), and writing six one page responses to each of the six required craft lectures. Residency requires forty hours of contact time spread across six and a half days—15 hours of daily workshops in the student’s primary genre and 25 hours of craft lectures and readings. PREREQ: Admission to the MFA Program

And one of the following:

CRWR 501 Mentorship I, Creative Nonfiction. 9 credits. An intensive study of the writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, exposition, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative nonfiction each during the mentorship. Students will also read at least eight books in the creative nonfiction genre. These books will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 561.

CRWR 511 Mentorship I, Poetry. 9 credits. An intensive study of poetry writing focusing on advanced techniques of imagery, rhythm, and poetic structure. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least five pages of poetry each during the course. Students will also read eight books of poetry. These books will be selected by the mentor in collaboration with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 561.

CRWR 531 Mentorship I, Fiction. 9 credits. An intensive study of fiction writing, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, narration, exposition, scenic development, point of view, and other elements of fiction. All instruction and discussion is revision- based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of fiction each during the course. Students will also read eight books of fiction. These books will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 561.

CRWR 541 Mentorship I, Screenwriting. 9 credits. An intensive study of screenwriting focusing on advanced techniques of dramatic structure, dialogue, characterization, and other elements of screenwriting. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work each during the course. Students will also read at least eight screenplays and watch the at least eight films produced from those screenplays. These screenplays / films will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 561.

Year One, Spring Semester

CRWR 562 Residency II, 3 credits. A continuation of CRWR 561– a weeklong series of workshops, craft lectures, conferences, panels, and readings, immerses the student in the world of professional writing. Students are responsible for reading assigned texts prior to the residency, submitting required work for workshop one month before residency, reading and writing critiques of fellow students’ work, attending all readings, attending six required craft lectures (assigned by mentor), and writing six one page responses to each of the six required craft lectures. Residency requires forty hours of contact time spread across six and a half days—15 hours of daily workshops in the student’s primary genre and 25 hours of craft lectures and readings. PREREQ: CRWR 501, CRWR 511, CRWR 531, or CRWR 541.

And one of the following:

CRWR 502 Mentorship II, Creative Nonfiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 501–continued intensive study of the writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, exposition, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative nonfiction each during the mentorship. Students will also read eight books in the creative nonfiction genre. These books will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 562.

CRWR 512 Mentorship II, Poetry. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 511–intensive study of poetry writing focusing on advanced techniques of imagery, rhythm, and poetic structure. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least five pages of poetry each during the course. Students will also read eight books of poetry. These books will be selected by the mentor in collaboration with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 562.

CRWR 532 Mentorship II, Fiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 531–intensive study of fiction writing, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, narration, exposition, scene development, point of view, and other elements of fiction. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of fiction each during the course. Students will also read eight books of fiction. These books will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 562.

CRWR 542 Mentorship II, Screenwriting. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 541– intensive study of screenwriting focusing on advanced techniques of dramatic structure, dialogue, characterization, and other elements of screenwriting. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of fifteen pages of creative work each during the course. Students will also read at least eight screenplays and watch the films produced from those screenplays. These screenplays / films will be selected by the mentor in consultation with the individual student. Students will write eight 2-3 page double-spaced papers addressing each work from the writer’s point of view, focusing on issues of craft. COREQ: CRWR 562.

Year Two, Fall Semester

CRWR 661 Residency III, 3 credits. A continuation of CRWR562—a weeklong series of workshops, craft lectures, conferences, panels, and readings, immerses the student in the world of professional writing. Students are responsible for reading assigned texts prior to the residency, submitting required work for workshop one month before residency, reading and writing critiques of fellow students’ work, attending all readings, attending six required craft lectures (assigned by mentor), and writing six one page responses to each of the six required craft lectures. Residency requires forty hours of contact time spread across six and a half days—15 hours of daily workshops in the student’s primary genre and 25 hours of craft lectures and readings. PREREQ: CRWR 502, CRWR 512, CRWR 532, or CRWR 542

And one of the following:

CRWR 601 Mentorship III, Creative Nonfiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 502: continued intensive study of the writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, exposition, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work each during the course. In addition, students complete an annotated bibliography of at least eight works of creative nonfiction and a 10-12 page craft analysis essay based on work by published creative nonfiction authors. COREQ: CRWR 661.

CRWR 611 Mentorship III, Poetry. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 512—intensive study of poetry writing focusing on advanced techniques of imagery, rhythm, and poetic structure. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least five pages of creative work each during the course. In addition, students complete an annotated bibliography of at least eight works of poetry and a 10-12 page craft analysis essay based on work by published poets. COREQ: CRWR 661.

CRWR 631 Mentorship III, Fiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 532: An intensive study of fiction writing, focused on advanced techniques of prosody, narration, exposition, scene development, point of view, and other elements of fiction. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work each during the course. In addition, students complete an annotated bibliography of at least eight works of fiction and a 10-12 page craft analysis essay based on work by published fiction authors. COREQ: CRWR 661.

CRWR 641 Mentorship III, Screenwriting. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 542: Intensive study of screenwriting focusing on advanced techniques of dramatic structure, dialogue, characterization, and other elements of screenwriting. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work during the course. In addition, students complete an annotated bibliography of at least eight screenplays / films and a 10-12 page craft analysis essay based on work by published / produced screenwriters. COREQ: CRWR 661.

Year Two, Spring Semester

CRWR 662 Residency IV, 3 credits. A continuation of CRWR 661– a weeklong series of workshops, craft lectures, conferences, panels, and readings, immerses the student in the world of professional writing. Students are responsible for reading assigned texts prior to the residency, submitting required work for workshop one month before residency, reading and writing critiques of fellow students’ work, attending all readings, attending six required craft lectures (assigned by mentor), and writing six one page responses to each of the six required craft lectures. Residency requires forty hours of contact time spread across six and a half days—15 hours of daily workshops in the student’s primary genre and 25 hours of craft lectures and readings. PREREQ: CRWR 601, CRWR 611, CRWR 631, or CRWR 641

And one of the following:

CRWR 602 MFA Thesis, Creative Nonfiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 601: continued intensive study of the writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, exposition, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work during the course. Additional requirements of the course:

  • Creative work to complete manuscript requirement of the final thesis project
  • An annotated bibliography of at least eight works of creative nonfiction
  • Preparation of presentation to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation for workshop to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation of a 10-15 minute reading of original work to be given during the final residency
  • Submission of complete thesis to faculty and program archive

COREQ: CRWR 662.

CRWR 612 MFA Thesis, Poetry. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 611—continued intensive study of poetry writing, focusing on advanced techniques and the completion of a graduate thesis. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least five pages of creative work during the course. Additional requirements of course:

  • Creative work to complete manuscript requirement of the final thesis project
  • An annotated bibliography of at least eight works of poetry
  • Preparation of presentation to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation for workshop to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation of a 10-15 minute reading of original work to be given during the final residency
  • Submission of complete thesis to faculty and program archive

COREQ: CRWR 662.

CRWR 632 MFA Thesis, Fiction. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 631: Continued intensive study of fiction writing, focusing on advanced techniques of prosody, narration, exposition, scene development, point of view, and other elements of fiction. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work during the course. Additional requirements of course:

  • Creative work to complete manuscript requirement of the final thesis project
  • An annotated bibliography of at least eight works of fiction
  • Preparation of presentation to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation for workshop to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation of a 10-15 minute reading of original work to be given during the final residency
  • Submission of complete thesis to faculty and program archive

COREQ: CRWR 662.

CRWR 642 MFA Thesis, Screenwriting. 9 credits. A continuation of CRWR 641: Intensive study of screenwriting focusing on advanced techniques of dramatic structure, dialogue, characterization, and other elements of screenwriting. All instruction and discussion is revision-based. Students must submit four packets of at least fifteen pages of creative work during the course. Additional requirements of course:

  • Creative work to complete manuscript requirement of the final thesis project
  • An annotated bibliography of at least eight screenplays / films
  • Preparation of presentation to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation for workshop to be given during the final residency
  • Preparation of a 10-15 minute reading of original work to be given during the final residency
  • Submission of complete thesis to faculty and program archive

COREQ: CRWR 662.

CRWR 663 Graduation Residency, no credits. In this capstone course, the graduating MFA student presents a 10-15 minute craft lecture and co-teaches a creative writing workshop. He or she presents a 10-15-minute reading of original work. The candidate reviews and defends the thesis. COREQ: CRWR 602, CRWR 612, CRWR 632, or CRWR 642.