Graduate Overview

The Master in Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing welcomes writers of all genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting—as well as visual artists who work with language as an integral component of their practice. The two-year program provides a rigorous yet flexible curriculum to challenge and accommodate individual explorations of process and form.

Curriculum includes:

  • Graduate Projects are the heart of the MFAW. Modeled on the tradition of visual art “studio visits,” MFAW students meet one-on-one with faculty advisors who offer focused, intensive feedback and insight on independently driven projects. Students may work with advisors from both within the Writing Program and across the School to expand the critical vocabularies that are pertinent to their practice.
  • Workshops might focus on process, on a specific topic or theme. Workshops often include in-class generative exercises.
  • Seminars stretch across genre to present models and histories of literary practice and also frequently include a generative, creative component.
  • Electives offer students an opportunity to engage with interdisciplinary study in the context of an acclaimed school of art and design. MFAW students are encouraged to work with their advisors to develop a plan that takes advantage of adjacent fields of study, such as performance, film, sculpture, arts journalism or art history, to best support their continued growth.
  • Thesis. The thesis is the major creative project that all MFAW students submit during their final semester. There are no restrictions on genre or content--for some, it reflects an overall plan and design of a finished book; for others, it’s a means of documenting their graduate work and/or process; yet others use it as an opportunity to put together a collection that adopts variant strategies in relationship to their engagement with interdisciplinary work.

MFAW students are invited to participate in the MFAW Thesis Reading during their final spring semester; those students who demonstrate a visual art practice may also apply to exhibit in the spring semester MFA Thesis Exhibition, the FVNMAS Festival, or the IMPACT Performance Festival. MFAW students may also contribute work to in the annual, student-edited publication Collected.

In addition to the MFAW’s expansive curriculum, Teaching Assistantship and Writing Fellow positions provide opportunities to gain professional teaching experience. MFAWs may also seek internships and other professional opportunities through SAIC’s Office of Career and Professional Experience (CAPX).

Thesis Abstracts

Each year, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago celebrates the culmination and closure of students' studies at the masters level. In studio areas, the celebration takes place in the form of the thesis exhibitions. The academic areas complement this with the publication of students' theses.

The SAIC Thesis Repository contains theses submitted since November 2013.

Theses submitted prior to November 2013 are listed in the Flaxman Library catalog.