Requirements by Concentration

To earn a Master of Arts in Writing degree, students complete nine courses, including core/foundation courses, writing workshops, electives, and a final thesis course. Specific requirements depend on a student’s concentration, as listed below. Other Course Options:

  • Cross-Concentration Courses
  • Independent Study
  • Internships
  • Advanced Workshops
  • Dual-Concentration Students
  • Courses from Outside the Writing Program

Degree Requirements By Concentration

Fiction

Fiction students complete the following nine courses:

  • 490.654 Fiction Techniques (core course)
  • 490.652 Contemporary American Writers (core course)
  • Three fiction workshops from the list below, general or specialized
  • Three electives, including at least one Fiction-specific elective
  • 490.801 Thesis and Publication (taken only after completion of all core courses, workshops, and electives.)

Fiction Courses
Workshops (three required; each may be taken more than once)

  • 490.660, 661, 662 Fiction Workshop
  • 490.679 Experimental Fiction Workshop
  • 490.682 Writing the Novel Workshop

Fiction Electives (three required, including at least one from this list)

  • 490.678 Novel Form, Style, and Structure
  • 490.680 20th Century World Literature
  • 490.683 Voice in Modern Fiction
  • 490.684 The Heritage of Fiction I (Pre-20th Century)
  • 490.684 The Heritage of Fiction II (20th Century)
  • 490.687 The Short Story: Past and Present
  • 490.688 The Evolution of Fictional Forms
  • 490.713 Fiction for Young Readers
  • 490.721 Drama & Playwriting*
  • 490.731 Film & Screenwriting*
  • 490.747 Advanced Revision Techniques in Fiction

*Film & Screenwriting and Drama & Playwriting usually are open only to Fiction students who have completed the Fiction Techniques core course. Consult the fiction advisor for more information.

Program Structure

Core courses:
Fiction students should complete both core courses before enrolling in any writing workshops, and Fiction students are urged (but not required) to complete the core courses before taking any other courses. For exceptions to the core course rule, see the Student Handbook section on Waivers. Contemporary American Writers is a joint core course with Nonfiction students.

Scheduling and Planning Tip: Fiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers usually are offered each Fall and Spring term in Washington. In Baltimore, Fiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers are usually offered only once a year. Core courses usually are not offered in the summer term.

Workshops:
Fiction students can meet their workshop requirements by enrolling in a general Fiction Workshop, Writing the Novel Workshop, or Experimental Fiction Workshop. Any combination of those courses is acceptable as long as a total of three are taken. Students usually must complete at least one Fiction Workshop before enrolling in Writing the Novel Workshop. Consult the fiction advisor. Fiction students can submit short stories or, at times, novel chapters, in a Fiction Workshop. However, students working on novels are encouraged to enroll in Writing the Novel if it is offered at their home campus. All other fiction courses are electives and cannot count as workshops. Fiction students may take only one workshop per term.

General Fiction Workshops usually have three course numbers during an academic year to specify the term in which the workshop was offered. However, workshop course numbers are irrelevant to degree requirements; students can take any combination of workshops — with the same or different course numbers.

Students are encouraged but not required to take workshops with different instructors.

Electives:
Fiction students do not need to complete core courses to enroll in an elective unless the elective specifically requires such prerequisites. Fiction students must complete at least one Fiction-specific elective from the list below to earn their M.A. in Writing; non-concentration electives may be considered with the fiction advisor’s permission. Enrollment in cross-concentration courses does not require advisor permission. Students may count an additional workshop toward their elective requirement, but Fiction students must complete at least one Fiction-specific elective.

Thesis:
Students must complete all eight degree-level courses — two core courses, three workshops, and three electives — before enrolling in the thesis course. Students who must take a second course for financial aid purposes can take a second course during the thesis term only if the course is additional to degree requirements and only with an advisor’s permission.

For more courses of possible interest to fiction writers, see Cross-Concentration Courses, Independent Study, and Advanced Workshops in this handbook.

Nonfiction

Important Curriculum Change: Beginning Sept. 1, 2012, the required core courses for Nonfiction students are changing. The new required cores in Nonfiction are Nonfiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers, which is now a joint core course with Fiction students. Contemporary American Writers replaces Contemporary Nonfiction, which is being eliminated. Material previously covered in Contemporary Nonfiction is being moved to Nonfiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers. Students who previously completed Contemporary Nonfiction do not have to take Contemporary American Writers, which is required only for new, incoming Nonfiction students who have not completed their core requirements. The two core courses may be taken in any order, or they may be taken in the same term.

To earn the MA in Writing, Nonfiction students complete the following nine courses:

  • 490.656 Nonfiction Techniques (core course)
  • 490.652 Contemporary American Writers (core course)
  • 490.703 Principles of Journalism (optional core course)
  • Three workshops from the list below, regular or specialized
  • Two or three electives (depending on number of cores taken)
  • 490.801 Thesis and Publication (taken only after completion of all core courses, workshops, and electives)

Nonfiction Courses

Workshops (general or specialized / any combination of three required)

  • 490.669 Combined Workshop in Nonfiction and Science-Medical Writing
  • 490.670, 671, 672 Nonfiction Workshop
  • 490.673, 674, 675 Science-Medical Writing Workshop
  • 490.690 Literary Travel Writing Workshop
  • 490.692 Profile and Biography Workshop
  • 490.693 Writing the Memoir and Personal Essay Workshop
  • 490.698 Writing the Review Workshop (formerly Modern Criticism)
  • 490.695 Viewpoint Journalism Workshop
  • 490.698 Writing the Review Workshop

Nonfiction Electives (two or three required, depending on cores taken; Nonfiction students must complete at least one elective from this list)

  • Masters of Nonfiction
  • Crafting a Nonfiction Voice
  • International Nonfiction
  • Magazine Style & Substance
  • Readings in Essay & Memoir
  • Principles of Journalism
  • The Nature of Nature
  • The Literature of Science

Program Structure

Core Courses:
Nonfiction students should complete Nonfiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers before enrolling in any writing workshop. For more information about a possible waiver of a core course, see the Student Handbook. The two core courses can be taken in any order. Students who want a stronger background in journalistic skills should consider taking Principles of Journalism as an additional core course to help meet their broader creative writing goals. Principles of Journalism also can be an elective.

Scheduling of Courses:
Nonfiction Techniques and Contemporary American Writers usually are both offered each Fall and Spring term in Washington. In Baltimore, nonfiction core courses are offered once a year: Nonfiction cores usually are not offered in the summer term. A nonfiction workshop – specialized or general – will be offered each term at each campus, enrollment permitting. Nonfiction electives will be offered on an alternating basis – usually one at each campus each Fall or Spring. Cross-concentration electives are usually offered in the summer, along with workshops.

Workshops:
Nonfiction students may complete their workshop requirements by taking regular Nonfiction Workshops or various specialized workshops, such as in Profile & Biography or Memoir & Personal Essay. Generally, only courses with “workshop” in the title count toward workshop requirements. The Nonfiction concentration has the program’s largest number of specialized workshops. All other nonfiction courses are electives and cannot count as workshops. Students may take only one workshop per term.

General Nonfiction Workshops have three course numbers during an academic year to specify the term in which the workshop was offered. However, workshop course numbers are irrelevant to degree requirements; students can take any combination of workshops — with the same or different course numbers.

Students are encouraged but not required to take workshops with different instructors.

Electives:
Nonfiction students do not need to complete the core courses to enroll in an elective unless the elective specifically requires a core prerequisite. Nonfiction students must complete at least one Nonfiction-specific elective to meet degree requirements; electives from outside the concentration may be considered with advisor permission. Enrollment in cross-concentration courses does not require advisor permission. An additional workshop can count toward the elective requirement.

Thesis:
Nonfiction students should complete all eight degree-level courses — core courses, workshops, and electives — before enrolling in the thesis course. Thesis students who must take a second course for financial aid purposes generally can take a second course during the thesis term if the course is additional to degree requirements and with an advisor’s permission. For more courses of possible interest to nonfiction writers, see Cross-Concentration Courses, Independent Study, and Advanced Workshops below.

Science Writing

Students interested in Science Writing should explore our new online / low-residency MA in Science Writing or Graduate Certificate in Science Writing. The degree and certificate are both fully online, except for one brief Residency course required for the degree. The onsite Residency course is optional for the Certificate. For more information about Science Writing, email Faculty Advisor Melissa Hendricks.

Writers who recently applied to the previous Science-Medical Writing concentration in the Writing Program will be notified of the new degree and certificate and will be given the opportunity to shift their application to either new program.

Current students in the Science-Medical Writing concentration will have the option of completing their MA in Writing degree or shifting to the new degree.

OTHER COURSE OPTIONS

Cross-Concentration Courses

The program offers several courses that might be of interest to students in several or all concentrations. These popular courses count as electives and usually do not require advisor permission before enrolling:

  • Sentence Power: From Craft to Art
  • Literary Journals
  • Teaching Writing: Theory, Practice & Craft
  • Identity in Contemporary Writing
  • Shakespeare: Art & Audience
  • Masterworks: Examining the Boundaries
  • Voice in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Essence of Place: Description, Detail, and Setting

Independent Study

Independent Studies are proposed by advanced students on topics not already covered in the curriculum. The number of Independent Studies approved for any given term is limited, and only advanced students may apply. See Materials for Current Students for more information, or consult your advisor.

Internships

The program occasionally approves internships for select advanced students when the proposed work directly relates to the student’s development as a writer. Students often propose their own internships, which the program then reviews for proper standards. Students also sometimes apply for existing internships.

Advanced Workshops

At times, the program offers Advanced Workshops in one or more concentrations. These special workshops meet the workshop requirements for a degree, but they often require competitive registration reviews. That means students usually must submit new writing samples or meet other special requirements before enrolling; not all applicants can be accepted. See the Course Schedule for more information.

Dual-Concentration Students

At times, students are accepted into the Writing Program in two concentrations. Such students must arrange a hybrid plan of study that allows sufficient coursework in two areas. Dual-concentration students are required to take at least two and as many as four additional courses, meaning they must take a minimum of eleven courses instead of the nine required for a single-concentration Master of Arts in Writing. The coursework usually must include two electives and two workshops in each concentration, plus core courses and additional courses as specified. Before beginning their studies, accepted dual-concentration students should consult the Writing program director and the faculty advisors in the appropriate concentrations. For more information, consult Materials for Current Students.

Courses from Outside the Writing Program

Writing Program students may consider enrolling in Hopkins courses outside the Writing Program, but enrollment in such courses is only occasionally approved. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis and depends on the student’s performance in Writing Program courses. Tuition for such courses is based on the home program, not the Writing Program.

For full course descriptions in the Writing Program, click here.