Announcing January’s Featured Guest:
Scott Cairns, Acclaimed Poet and Teacher
At our January 2021 writers retreat, we are honored to host Scott Cairns, author of The End of Suffering, Idiot Psalms, and Short Trip to the Edge. An award-winning poet and memoirist, as well as a gifted professor with extensive experience teaching in MFA programs, Cairns brings an incisive and thoughtful perspective to writing, art, and theology. (Read more…)
Join our next cohort, beginning January 2021 — Accelerated, Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA
Earn a terminal degree in creative writing in less than two years with our accelerated, low-residency MFA program. Students can study anywhere in the world, joining faculty, guest authors like Bret Lott and Scott Cairns, and peers at three annual Texas-based writers retreats. (Apply now…)
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a 45-credit-hour terminal degree. The workshop-driven program provides students a rigorous creative environment to pursue fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction writing, building on a rich foundation of apprenticeship and critical studies. A parallel MFA in Screenwriting is also available.
The MFA utilizes 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 creativity. Three times per year, students and faculty gather either at HBU’s campus or for a writers’ retreat in cities like Galveston or Austin. Each residency features 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 work from home, maintaining connections with their cohort through online workshops and ongoing coursework. These long-distance classes preserve HBU’s apprenticeship model, providing frequent feedback and personalized direction from each student’s writing mentors and peers. While the low-residency model allows writers to continue to live and work in their home cities, students should expect to commit considerable time every week to practicing their craft in order to successfully develop and hone their creative skills.
The accelerated schedule allows students to complete the MFA degree in less than two years. For professional writers, the Master of Fine Arts serves as a terminally qualifying degree, allowing successful graduates to teach at the university level. However, the program’s primary goal is to nurture students’ creative potential, ensuring that their artistic craft is sharpened and developed.
Most importantly, the core of this degree remains HBU’s steadfast commitment to providing a learning experience that instills in students a passion for academic, spiritual and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. Students learn how this faith has guided writers, storytellers, and artists throughout history and will be inspired by this rich heritage as together we seek to craft new works reflecting our Creator’s goodness, truth, and beauty.
Applications for the next cohort (beginning January 2021) are now open.
A writing portfolio is required for admission.
The MFA in Creative Writing places a strong emphasis on practice and feedback, using rigorous faculty-led workshops throughout the program. Students will work closely with a writing mentor and receive valuable critiques from their cohort of peers.
Study from Anywhere
The MFA in Creative Writing is offered as a low-residency program, requiring approximately five weeks of Texas-based instruction across six writers retreats, supplemented by year-round online workshops that can be completed from anywhere in the world. (Learn more…)
With intense, focused classroom instruction during four Texas-based residencies and year-round online workshops, students earn the 45-credit-hour terminal degree in Creative Writing in less than two years. (Learn more…)
Terminal MFA Degree
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. When coupled with professional work in the field, the MFA qualifies graduates to teach Creative Writing at the university-level.
Learn from the Best
Each residency features notable professional writers. The focused retreat structure means students have extensive face-to-face interaction with the visiting authors, while year-round online workshops also facilitate feedback from HBU’s exceptional writing faculty and distinguished adjunct instructors. (Learn more…)
Strong Christian Foundation
HBU is committed to providing a learning experience that instills a passion for academic, spiritual and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. MFA students explore the rich heritage of our faith, which has guided writers, storytellers, and artists throughout history.
January’s Featured Guest:
Scott Cairns, Acclaimed Poet and Teacher
HBU is pleased to host Scott Cairns, author of The End of Suffering, Idiot Psalms, and Short Trip to the Edge during our upcoming January 2021 writing retreat. An award-winning poet and memoirist, as well as a gifted professor with extensive experience teaching in MFA programs, Cairns brings an incisive and thoughtful perspective to writing, art, and theology. Cairns has written eight books of poetry and his work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Best Spiritual Writing and Best American Spiritual Writing. Besides writing poetry, Cairns has also written a spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, and the libretto for the oratorios “The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp” and “A Melancholy Beauty.” Spirituality plays an integral role in Cairns’ writing; in an interview, he said, “I’ve come to think of beauty as how God woos us to himself. One doesn’t so much create it or illuminate it as partake of it. Thereafter, one participates, collaborates, in its endless development.”
As the featured speaker during the MFA’s January 2021 writing retreat, Cairns will share his thoughts on the craft of art and writing, while working closely with our creative writing students. In his passion for teaching, excellence as an author, and thoughtful integration of faith, Cairn embodies the ideals at the heart of HBU’s School of Fine Arts and we are honored to have him as a distinguished guest to teach, mentor, and encourage our MFA students.
At the recent August 2020 residency, HBU was pleased to host the multi-talented Nambi E. Kelley, a screenwriter for Showtime’s The Chi and an accomplished playwright and actress. Kelley has penned plays for Steppenwolf and Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Lincoln Center in New York, and internationally. Her adaptation of Sam French’s Native Son has enjoyed productions across the country, from Yale Repertory Theatre to New York City.
Novelist Bret Lott, Poet Kimberly Povloski, and Screenwriter Whit Stillman
HBU was pleased to host acclaimed novelist Bret Lott as the keynote speaker at the first writers retreat for the new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Lott is the New York Times best-selling author of more than a dozen books, including Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian and Jewel, an Oprah Book Club novel. He has served as an editor for The Southern Review and the journal Crazyhorse. Currently, Lott teaches creative writing at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He has also been named a Fulbright Senior American Scholar and served as a member of the National Council on the Arts.
Kimberly Povloski is a poet, educator, and editor from Houston, Texas. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. She has spoken on such topics as image and (negative) space at Selkirk College’s A Stone’s Throw Writing Symposium and Houston Baptist University’s Writer’s Conference. She is a former poetry editor of Willow Springs. She currently teaches at the University of Houston and is proud to work with Writers in the Schools.
Povloski’s first book of poetry, hell of birds, was chosen as the winner of the 2018 Adrift Chapbook Contest and published by Driftwood Press. Erica Dawson describes it as “ferocious” and “arresting”. Laura Kasischke writes that the poems within carry “the heaven and the hell” of our lives. Other work appears in Gris-Gris.
Screenwriter and director Whit Stillman is known for The Last Days of Disco (1998), Damsels in Distress (2011), Love & Friendship (2016), and other fantastic films. His directorial debut, Metropolitan, premiered at Sundance in 1990 and earned him an Academy Award nod for Best Original Screenplay. His most recent film, Love & Friendship, returned him to Sundance before being distributed by Amazon Studios. Stillman is one of the most consistently sharp and delightful voices in contemporary cinema, bringing a brilliant wit and incisive perspective to his work.
Brett Lott discusses being an artist of faith in this video about his book Letters & Life: On Being a Writer, on Being a Christian:
Accelerated, Low-Residency Model
Our unique model is tailored to fit the active schedules of today’s writers, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world through online workshops, while not sacrificing invaluable face-to-face instruction with faculty, guest authors, and peers facilitated through three annual Texas-based writers retreats.
With our accelerated, low-residency model, students earn a 45-credit-hour terminal degree in Creative Writing in less than two years. Across six residencies, students will gain 30 credit hours of intensive residential classes, providing essential foundations for the 15 credit hours of online courses that supplement the in-person instruction (learn more about the courses offered).
MFA in Creative Writing — Sample Schedule
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What to expect at the residencies…
Each writing residency is carefully planned to provide an ideal, concentrated creative environment for learning and lasting growth. Bond with peers in small, focused workshops and learn directly from seasoned professional writers through extended conversations in-class and over meals.
The residencies also provide an opportunity to be inspired and challenged by a wide variety of writers, as we bring together poets, fiction authors, creative non-fiction writers, screenwriters, and playwrights in cross-disciplinary discussions.
August On-Campus Residency
For six days in early August, students gather on HBU’s campus for classes and workshops. With special visiting instructors, the August residency explores how the work of great poets and authors have inspired and shaped today’s successful writers, offering students a chance to build upon a great tradition, while developing unique voices of their own.
January Destination Retreat **
For seven days, students travel to a Texas-based retreat location in cities like Galveston, San Antonio, or Austin. Be inspired by a fresh locale and the beauty of God’s natural world, as we take a break from our busy lives and gather together to focus on artistry and creativity. This retreat focuses on the craft of writing and explores how artists of faith can create in ways that reflect the goodness, truth, and beauty of our Creator.
Spring Writers Conference
For three days in late April, students gather on HBU’s campus for the annual HBU Writers Conference, featuring additional guest speakers and an opportunity to connect with writers, editors, and publishers.
Meals and lodging for the residencies are included in tuition. Students are responsible for their own travel arrangements.
** COVID-19 Residency Plans: The January 2021 residency is currently being planned for a hybrid format, allowing students, faculty, and guests to participate in-person at HBU’s campus or remotely from home. On campus events will follow all local health advisories and institutional policies, including distancing and masking. HBU is continually monitoring the situation and may adapt plans as needed. The format for other 2021 residency events may also need to change based on developing conditions.
- Personal Statement – Please submit a personal statement, between 300 and 500 words, sharing your desire to attend the HBU Graduate School and how you feel a degree from HBU will assist you in your academic and professional careers.
- Résumé – Email a current résumé to the Graduate School at GradAdmissions@hbu.edu.
- Writing Portfolio – Please submit a portfolio containing examples of your writing to The Graduate School. Your writing sample must be at least 10-15 pages in length for poetry or 20-30 pages in length for fiction or creative non-fiction, which may contain one story, multiple stories or excerpts. Additional work from other genres may be included as well.