Beginning in January 2020, the HBU School of Fine Arts will offer two new Master of Fine Arts degrees. The MFA in Creative Writing and the MFA in Screenwriting will provide training for writers. The creative writing degree shapes writers of fiction or poetry, while the screenwriting emphasis prepares students to craft scripts for platforms including film, television and video games. Both degrees expand on HBU’s commitment to offering exceptional arts programs at the graduate level.
“The MFAs were created to capitalize on the success of our undergraduate creative writing and cinematic arts programs,” said Dr. J. Matthew Boyleston, HBU professor of English and Writing. “We also believe that they fulfill several parts of the University’s Ten Pillars Vision, including embracing the challenge of Christian higher education (Pillar Three) and expanding our commitment to the creative arts (Pillar Eight). We have faculty members who have published books, worked on films and are known professionals in their fields. These programs allow us to draw from their experiences.”
The two new MFA degrees will be offered in an accelerated, low-residency model, designed to meet the needs of today’s students, while emphasizing a strong commitment to excellence in craft, analysis and instruction. Each January and May, students and faculty will gather either at HBU’s campus or for a writers’ retreat in cities like Galveston or San Antonio. Each of the residencies will feature workshops and extensive interaction with notable professional writers serving as guest instructors, as well as ongoing mentorship from HBU’s exceptional full-time writing faculty. Between residencies, students will work from home, maintaining connections with their cohort through online workshops and ongoing coursework.
The specially developed, accelerated schedule will allow students to complete either MFA degree in just one-and-a-half years, beginning in January and finishing the summer of the following year. For professional writers, the Master of Fine Arts serves as a terminally qualifying degree, allowing successful graduates to teach at the university level.
“An MFA in Screenwriting is a professional standard for those who want to write movies for Hollywood or for independent films. The MFA is a credential that allows writers access to the many professional organizations for writing such as the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, which is the largest conference for writers in America. However, the skills learned in an MFA are transferable to many other careers,” Boyleston said. “Many industries love to hire writing students who are creative and experts at written communication. I know lawyers who have MFAs, doctors who have MFAs, and people who work in the energy industry who have MFAs. However, the most important reason to pursue an MFA is to carve out a bit of life to really focus on learning how to write in an intensive environment and in a creative community. We hope that our students will go on to influence the world for Christ through a variety of creative media.”