Write the book you're meant to write, as you earn your Mountainview Master of Fine Arts in Fiction or Nonfiction. Alumni include 2019 Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu and 2019 Pulitzer finalist Elizabeth Rush.
Our two-year, low-residency program allows students to live anywhere and work a full-time job. We never allow the number of students to exceed 65, so our students develop close and sustaining relationships with faculty during our intensive weeklong residencies in June and January. During the rest of the year our students work with faculty one-on-one, receiving thorough, regular editorial letters supplemented with phone calls.
The Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Composition program at SNHU offers Mountainview MFA students with an interest in teaching composition an avenue to earn a graduate certificate in that field. By dedicating a portion of your MFA program to teaching, you can open up new career avenues as you earn your master's degree.
The program is open to just two students per year, and applicants must have been accepted into the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA in Fiction or Nonfiction program at SNHU. The program is available at no extra tuition cost, and, following completion, SNHU will provide opportunities for work as an adjunct professor teaching composition (as positions become available).
Looking for an online MFA or MA program? Check out our other graduate writing options:
In our program, it's traditional for students to refer to their professors as their "mentors." I like this tradition because it reminds faculty of what we aspire to be. We don't want to be mere lecturers in craft, foisting the same lessons on every student. We are teachers who get to know each student one-on-one, face-to-face and in writing, and we tailor our instruction to our students' artistic needs.
Our weeklong summer and winter residencies take place at the Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield, NH. There, we faculty meet with our students (our "mentees") in workshops and seminars. The conversations tend to continue over meals and on the veranda, which overlooks the White Mountains. After residency, the semester begins. Students send us their work every five weeks; we write thorough and precise editorial letters in response. We make ourselves available to discuss our students' writing beyond these regular exchanges, on the phone and by Gchat and email. No faculty member takes on more than five students at a time.
We're a young program, eleven years old, but we've already seen our students and alumni score book deals with major publishers, including Pantheon, Viking, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. One alumnus is a Guggenheim Fellow. One of our current students was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize/First Fiction Award.
From a substantial applicant pool, we accept a cohort of about 15 students each semester, maintaining a student-faculty ratio of 4:1. Students complete four residencies during the four-semester program, and work toward a Master of Fine Arts, a terminal degree which qualifies graduates to teach at the college level. If you have questions about our program, please don't hesitate to contact our administrative director, Lisa Janicki. If you have questions specifically for me, she'll pass them along and I'll get in touch.
I look forward to hearing from you,
The Zen Curmudgeon
By Zak Podmore
All day he walks ahead of me, his body lithe and his feet sure as he skirts the canyon's edge. At times juniper branches grab onto my pack, but they never seem to touch his. After five decades in the desert, his bag is as much a part of him as the top of his head or the width of his shoulders.
Anywhere that can be hiked in a day is merely training, he tells me; anywhere that can be reached by a trail is for the tourists. The goal is to find a place where you can ask this question: How many centuries have passed since someone else stood here?
This landscape is alive with ancient traces--pictographs, cliff dwellings, arrowheads. He points to a crack running down a boulder like a lightning bolt and says, there's a painted pot in there.
I believe him. He is seventy-one. Together we've lived exactly one hundred years.
The first day we hike for nine hours straight and in that time he never stops talking. Wild, ranging conversations and soliloquies and rants. He speaks of his past, local politics, the battles for Utah wilderness. He reads the fortune of our doomed town and our doomed state and our doomed planet, and explains that nothing is ever truly doomed. Tales flow from the years he has spent camping and hiking alone. Snooping, he calls it.
Again and again he takes a stand--controversial, untenable--and holds it against all my objections until I relent and he is free to walk out the line of his own reasoning. He then lets his argument guide him in a great arcing loop until everything he'd first claimed is knocked on its side. When he finally returns to where he started, he is holding some new view with as much conviction as the first. In the morning I pointed this out, but I soon realized to talk oneself in circles was exercise. Koans stretched across miles of slickrock. The point of a walk is to return to your door transformed, not hardened in your habits.
In nine hours, we pause only to down a fistful of peanuts and to refill our water jugs in a hidden spring.
He was once a poet and he recites lines to the moment. Upon crossing an ATV track and seeing the melted hunks of bottles and cans in an old campfire it is Richard Shelton:
This is the desert
It is all we have left to destroy
Years ago, he walked away from career after career to come here and walk. And eventually he left a marriage in the city to live closer to the canyons. The daughters he helped raise will hardly talk to him anymore. Now it's feet to the ground every day.
What can the old hope for? he asks, quoting a question once posed to an Australian aboriginal elder. Strong legs, the man had answered.
Then he recites a few lines he wrote thirty years before:
I am learning to be an old man
It is slow work
I am taking my time
Every winter, he goes south to spend months among the saguaros, and he hikes both sides of the border fence. Once he came across two bales of marijuana laying in the American cactus--packed into tight green blocks and dropped on the run. He buried them for later.
This year he found a skull, a human skull, clean and white as paper in the moonlight. Two dark caverns of eye sockets guarded a little shade where a man's memories once rode. Teeth lined the jaw. There were no ribs or femurs or vertebrae, just the skull. The ranger he notified told him this was not the thirst-driven death of a migrant; this was a message, a marking of territory. Like a dog pissing on a telephone pole. He shows me a picture on his phone.
In nine hours, his pace never slows, but as the winter light sinks into the afternoon rock, I notice how his boots began to scrape across ledges as we move uphill. It is as if he has to pause for them to catch up as one might pause for an old hound scrambling up a steep slope behind.
We walk through the sunset while he searches for the perfect campsite. He wants it to face east toward the rising sun. He insists it have a sandstone wall so he can wake up in his sleeping bag and lean against the wall while he drinks coffee in the first warm light. We never find the right spot. He worries we'll run out of water tomorrow.
There are more days like this, but a week later, I'm in the canyons alone. I return and find the painted pot tucked in its hiding place. It is a seed jar, orange with red paint, and it's at least eight hundred years old. I think of the thousands of artifacts that have already disappeared from this mesa. I sense the destruction creeping across the land even as I crouch in the quiet sunlight before the patient pot.
Leaving the jar where it belongs, I sit with a notebook. Koans, desert, doomed. Pen touches page and twenty words pour out for my friend with the strong legs:
Still walking ahead
The zen curmudgeon
Offers slickrock syllogisms
To the fading light--
We're doomed, he says,
Isn't it beautiful?
SNHU requires an undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.75 (or equivalent) for admission. If you are an international student in need of a visa to study on campus, please see our international admission requirements.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our three 16-week graduate terms. You can apply at any time and get a decision within two weeks of submitting all required materials. To apply, simply complete our online application form.
Our two-year program includes mentored courses that allow you to write from home and be part of a supportive Mountainview MFA writing community, both online and during twice-yearly residency programs.
During these two years, students work toward completing their creative thesis, a book-length manuscript of publishable quality, turning in monthly submissions to their mentors, and receiving detailed feedback via correspondence and conferencing.
Each semester, students work with their individual faculty mentors in developing reading lists. Students read approximately two books a month, focusing their attention on craft analysis. Every part of the curriculum is designed to advance the writer in his/her skills and understanding of the writing craft, and toward helping the student with his/her final thesis.
Upon completion of the program, students will have earned a 60-credit graduate degree, which is considered ''a terminal degree'' in creative writing. The Mountainview MFA degree prepares students and qualifies them for applying for college teaching positions.
*Please note: the below texts are the only required texts for the MFA program. Other assigned reading will be determined on an individualized basis, as each MFA student designs a reading list with his or her mentor for each semester he or she is enrolled. In addition to the required texts, students typically read two books per month, focusing their attention on craft analysis.
1. The Elements of Style, Strunk & White, Longman ISBN 978-1945644016
2. "Politics and the English Language," essay, George Orwell
3. Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060777050
4. Burning Down the House, Charles Baxter, Graywolf ISBN 978-1555975081
5. "The Nature of the Fun," essay, David Foster Wallace
3rd Semester (Nonfiction only)
1. The Situation and the Story, Vivian Gornick ISBN 978-0374528584
Total Credits: 60
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Our two principal goals:
Students choose to focus on fiction or nonfiction. Some choose specializations like young adult fiction and environmental writing.
Our full-time faculty members have won numerous awards, published multiple New York Times Bestsellers, and received international acclaim in every literary category from young adult to lyric essay to crime. Their work appears in such forums as The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine and Best American Short Stories. Our faculty members, often referred to as "mentors," work to help each student find a literary voice, master craft and produce a manuscript worthy of publication.
Some of our alumni have book contracts with houses like Perseus and Viking. Others teach creative writing at the college level.
Both annual writing residencies take place at the Mountain View Grand Resort in Whitefield, New Hampshire. The MVG is an elegant, renovated nineteenth-century hotel where Charles Dickens stayed on his American tour. It has walking trails and a small farm. In the summer, students take their morning coffee on a porch overlooking the White Mountains; in the winter, they read by stone fireplaces. The residencies provide both rigorous classes and a social experience with other writers that nurtures creativity, friendship and reflection.
Once you complete the admission process, you can begin your program with either the Summer Residency or the Winter Residency.
Mountain Scholarships - $2000
Mountain Scholarships are awarded by the director to students whose writing samples show extraordinary literary merit. A Mountain Scholarship may be renewed semester by semester.
Residency Scholarships - $1000
Residency Scholarships are applied toward the residency fee for the term. They are awarded by the director to students with superior writing samples. A Residency Scholarship may be renewed term by term.
Orion Scholarship - $2000
Orion Scholarships are awarded by the director to students addressing ecological and social justice issues in their writing. An Orion Scholarship may be renewed term by term.
Elodie Reed, recipient of the 2017 Orion Scholarship
Elodie is a New Hampshire native who learned to love the world around her by watching thunderstorms from her porch, climbing the big tree at Grampy Joe's and swimming to the Big Rock in Lake Sunapee. Before she entered the Southern New Hampshire University Mountainview MFA program, she worked as a newspaper reporter and photographer in New Hampshire and Vermont for four years. Her favorite experiences include the six months she documented a pig from "piglet to pork-chop," the days she chased presidential candidates from town hall to town hall and the time she sat inside an igloo built by a man living outdoors near the Canadian border. While Elodie continues to explore her newest New England community in Massachusetts' Berkshire County, she has recently turned her gaze inward, to her spiritual landscape. As she enters her second semester in the Mountainview MFA program, she continues to write about the relationship between her inner world and the outer one. She's very grateful and excited to be chosen as a recipient of the Orion Scholarship.
Additional Scholarships and Fellowships
The program awards other scholarships and fellowships at the director's discretion.