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Campus Coordinator

Christopher Barzak
237 DeBartolo Hall
(330) 941-16553

NEOMFA Director

Steve Reese
214 DeBartolo Hall
(330) 941-1650

Program Description

The Master of Fine Arts program at Youngstown State University is part of the Northeast Ohio Universities Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) in Creative Writing. The NEOMFA is a mul­tidisciplinary, interdepartmental, and interinstitutional program that provides opportunities for students to pursue the terminal degree in creative writing. The NEOMFA draws its faculty from departments at Youngstown State University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, and The University of Akron.

This program offers workshops in poetry writing, fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing, and playwriting, as well as courses in literature, literary craft and theory, and professional writing and editing. The M.F.A. prepares graduates to pursue opportunities in arts management; in many areas of communication, publicity, and marketing; and in teaching creative writing, literature, and expository writing. Graduates of the program are ready to contribute to the literary life of the nation and the cultural life of the community. The program requires 48 semester hours of coursework.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the minimum College of Graduate Studies admissions require­ments, applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and a substantive portfolio of creative work that includes either 15 to 20 pages of poetry or 30 pages of fiction, creative nonfiction, or  playwriting. All portfolios must include at least one finished work. All items in the portfolio should be double-spaced. The letters of recommendation should come from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic or pro­fessional background. The letters should include an assessment of the applicant’s current work quality and ability to successfully complete graduate training. Application to the M.F.A. program authorizes staff members at participating institutions to have access to all student academic re­cords and application materials.

The NEOMFA program accepts students for fall admission only.


All students should have their schedules approved by a graduate faculty advisor every semes­ter. After initial enrollment in the program, the student and his or her advisor will establish a coursework plan including alternate course selections. An advisor may be chosen from the faculty of any consortium school.

Writer in the Community Certificate

The certificate option gives writers a background in community engagement that would multiply the availability of such avenues. The Certificate allows students who wish to pursue a more "practical" option while they are focusing on their creative writing. In a climate where the engagement between academia and community is more and more highly valued, the NEOMF A believes this is an ideal time to introduce this Certificate option into the program. The NEOMFA is already a unique program in being a consortium; the Certificate would only add to its distinctive character and make it more attractive to potential students.

Christopher Barzak, M.F.A., Professor
Fiction writing; fiction; contemporary British and American literature

Philip Sean Brady, Ph.D., Professor
Modern Irish literature; creative writing; modern world literature

Steven Reese, Ph.D., Professor
Twentieth-century British literature; creative writing

All M.F.A. students must complete 48 semester hours in graduate-level courses. There are six areas of coursework in the M.F.A.: 

Writing Workshops15
Craft and Theory courses9
Literatures courses6
Total Semester Hours48

The thesis must be sub­mitted according to the general requirements established by the College of Graduate Studies. The student is required to defend the thesis in an oral presentation before a committee of graduate faculty from a minimum of two consortium schools.

Writing in the Community Certificate

Course requirement for obtaining the certificate would be 4 classes, 12 credit hours, described below:

1.    Teaching Creative Writing in the Community.
This course will prepare students to apply their knowledge of creative writing and participate in a community-based teaching residency.
2.    Writing in the Community Internship.
For the practicum experience students will be placed in the community to teach creative writing for at least one contact hour per week for ten to fifteen weeks in a setting agreed upon by the students and the advisor.
3.    Writing in the Community Paper.
This is the only new course required by the Certificate (see attached Request for Graduate Curriculum Action). The culminating experience of the Writer in the Community Certificate is the Certificate Paper. The paper is to be a high quality, publishable paper of 20 to 25 pages and draw on practicum experience, research, and developed pedagogy of teaching writing in the community. Regular consultation with the advisor is required.
4.    Professional Writing Elective.
Students select a professional writing course, to be approved by an advisor, to further expand the connection between creative writing and organizational writing. At YSU, such courses would include the following: ENGL 6943, 6949,6953