Message from the MFA in Creative Writing Director

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Elizabeth Lawson

Welcome to the Master of Fine Arts in Fiction and Nonfiction Low-Residency program. If you are looking at our low-residency program, you may well be ready to ''Go Write Your Book.''  A number of elements distinguish our graduate degree from others. My favorite is the community itself. ''Check your egos at the door,'' our founding director, Bob Begiebing, would often say. Our students and faculty encourage each other, creating a personal and mutually respectful atmosphere, in which each member of our community can develop and better discover his or her true writing path.

As noted by our university president, Paul LeBlanc, ''SNHU programs are shaped by high ideals and grounded in eventual career success. The MFA is designed to support great writing and help people launch their publishing careers. This program’s track record provides ample evidence that it is meeting these twin goals.''

You might also be interested in knowing that New Hampshire has long been a haven for writers and artists, with its remarkable enclave of over 7,000 published authors and three poet laureates residing in the state. Further, Southern New Hampshire University, voted by Fast Company as one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world next to Apple and Google, is increasingly becoming the place to study writing, with its Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees in creative writing; its national and student literary journals; and its collaboration with the New Hampshire Writers’ Project, a prominently active state and regional writers’ organization housed on the university’s campus.

There are distinguishing factors specific to the MFA program:

  • Our students study in a small, uniquely focused program – narrative prose only (fiction and nonfiction).
  • Our students graduate with a book-length manuscript and agent and editor contacts.
  • Our advisory board of agents, editors, and book marketing professionals spends time with our students during our residencies, offering workshops and individualized consultations.
  • Our faculty is “full-time adjunct” – meaning they teach 30 graduate credits over 12 months each year and are involved in every aspect of shaping, delivering, and improving the curriculum.
  • We offer editorial, publication, and prize opportunities through Amoskeag – the university literary review, which publishes authors from around the nation.
  • With superb faculty to support, we offer a track focusing on environmental writing to those students interested in pursuing their love of the natural world.
  • We are one of the only MFA programs to offer a special track in Young Adult literature, one of the fastest growing genres in the marketplace.

We bring in two cohorts of 15 students a year, maintaining our small student-faculty ratio. Students who are accepted to our program begin their two-year course of study by joining us at either the five-day winter residency in January, or the seven-day summer residency in June. Following each residency, students work from home with the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students complete four residencies and four semesters during the program, graduating with a book-length manuscript of publishable quality and a 60-credit, terminal degree in writing, which qualifies students to teach at the college level.

A number of our faculty and board members have been with the program since its inception. They are committed not only to the program, but to the success of each student. There is an ethos of quality, integrity, and service to others uniquely this program's own.

There is a line from ''The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,'' by Junot Diaz: ''You don't know how or why you know this thing, but that you know it cannot be doubted.'' This thing that we all share in common in this program is our need to write. We come with different stories, and most of us from different parts of the country, or world, but this thing cannot be doubted.

I encourage you to explore our program further, and if at anytime you should have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

With warm regards and best wishes for your success,

Benjamin Nugent Director,
MFA Director

Contact Us
Benjamin Nugent, MFA Director


Phone: 603.626.9100 x 2382 / 603.851.5155