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Publishing

Master of Arts in Creative Writing

Degree Type

Master of Arts

Department

Graduate Program in Creative Writing

To become a publisher in the 21st century requires dynamic literary, editing, and technological skills. Whether you aspire to start your own company, teach or work for a large publisher, you’ll need a thorough education and hands-on experience in the world of publishing.

Program Overview

Students in a publishing class present their final works.

Step into the shoes of a publisher.

Western’s Publishing concentration includes a thorough study of the publishing industry—editing, design, production, marketing, distribution and bookselling. The program also covers new technologies that have changed the industry for writers, publishers, booksellers and readers. You’ll have the unique opportunity to create books that will be released by a commercial publisher by the end of the program. This includes an original anthology that you have jointly edited and produced, as well as a public-domain “classic” reissued from scratch in print and e-book formats.

Prepared for success

Western’s innovative publishing program prepares students for careers in writing, editing and publishing—both in traditional publishing houses and the fast-paced world of e-books and new technologies.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

The Graduate Program in Creative Writing offers an M.A. in Genre Fiction, Nature Writing, Poetry, Publishing, or Screenwriting. Western 's curricula differ from other low-residency programs by emphasizing intense training in craft, building of a writing community, close study of historically underrepresented writers, and exposure to the business of being a writer or publisher.

All M.A. concentrations in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing use a low-residency format that engages students in two ways:
1. through rigorous online curricula and regular virtual classes spanning the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters during which students work closely with faculty and with members of their peer community;
2. through a one-week residency at the end of each summer semester that facilitates connection and community.

All programs require a high degree of commitment and excellence from candidates, who must maintain at least a 3.00 course average to complete the program. A minimum grade of B- in each course is required.

In their first summer, M.A. students complete 3-credits of intensive coursework in their concentration and take CRWR 600, The Common Read & Writing Craft, for an additional 2-credits. In their second summer, M.A. students complete a 1-credit capstone project in which they demonstrate their competency by giving a craft talk, reading, or similar presentation at the summer residency.

During the Fall and Spring semesters, full-time students take two 6-credit courses for a total of 12-credits per semester. Students may anticipate spending between 25 and 30 hours per week on assigned coursework. The coursework typically consists of readings and viewings, asynchronous discussions, and writing assignments for which instructors offer online feedback. Students also participate regularly in live virtual classes and one-on-one meetings with faculty.

Program Information 

The low-residency Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University is a 13-month program that emphasizes the development of creative, analytical, and pedagogical abilities. Students choose from five concentrations: Genre Fiction, Nature Writing, Poetry, Publishing, or Screenwriting. The curriculum consists of two regular academic semesters and two summer semesters. During the fall and spring semesters, students complete courses using both live virtual classrooms and online learning platforms. During each of the two summer semesters, students take courses online and also attend an on-campus residency at the end of the summer term.

Total Credits for the M.A. in Creative Writing
First summer = 5 credits 
Second summer = 1-credit capstone 
Two academic semesters @12 hours/term = 24 credits 
Total Credits: 30

Requirements for Full Admission to the MA in Creative Writing

Candidate must submit:

  • An official transcript of the bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university showing recommended 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.
  • An 800- to 1,000-word personal statement describing the applicant's experience and commitment to writing. This statement should include a self-assessment of qualifications for admission to Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing for the chosen degree and concentration.
  • A writing sample in the appropriate genre, double spaced and numbered, or properly formatted for the appropriate genre:
    • The Genre Fiction concentration sample should include 20 to 25 pages, ideally from a single work.
    • The Screenwriting concentration sample should include a screenplay of 15-30 pages.
    • The Nature Writing concentration sample should include 20 to 25 pages, in any creative writing genre or a mix of genres. 
    • The Poetry concentration sample should include 10 to 15 pages of poetry.
    • The Publishing concentration sample should consist of a 3- to 5-page critical assessment of a story’s suitability for publication (story to be provided to applicant during application process).
  • Two letters of professional recommendation from those capable of assessing the applicant's preparation to succeed in graduate-level work. All letters must be originals submitted on letterhead, must be signed by the person giving the recommendation, and must be less than a year old.
  • Payment of university application fee.                             

Provisional Admission to the MA in Creative Writing

An applicant who does not meet the requirements for full admission to the Master of Arts in Creative Writing may be considered for provisional admission upon the recommendation of the program director and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies. A provisionally admitted student will have a maximum of one calendar year to complete any pre-requisite academic coursework. The program director or Dean of Graduate Studies may set additional timeline requirements.

Program Concentrations

Concentration in Genre Fiction 

The Concentration in Genre Fiction includes instruction in writing for such forms as science fiction/fantasy, the mystery, romance, and other forms of mainstream commercial fiction. Study includes short and long written forms, as well as strategies and techniques for the effective teaching of creative writing. As the culmination of their work, M.A. students complete a capstone project, which encompasses a book-length manuscript proposal, and present it at their final summer residency.

The M.A. Concentration in Genre Fiction requires the following 30 credits: 

Course List
Code Title Credits
CRWR 600The Common Read & Writing Craft2
CRWR 601FUNDMT WRITING GENRE FICTION I3
CRWR 608Genre Writing I- Romance and Mystery Fiction6
CRWR 609Genre Studies I-Romance and Mystery6
CRWR 618Genre Studies II- Western, Speculative, and YoungAdult Fiction6
CRWR 619Genre Writing II- Western, Speculative, and Young Adult Fiction6
CRWR 693Master's Capstone1
Total Credits30

Concentration in Nature Writing

The Concentration in Nature Writing brings students into the contemporary and complex conversation of environmental writing, introducing them to a wide range of authors, literary techniques, and styles. The concentration provides readings and training in all major sub-genres including memoir, personal essay, fiction, poetry, hybrid, and experimental work. Courses include significant reading in primary and secondary sources, workshop, and writing extensive short- and long-format work. As the culmination of their work, M.A. students complete a capstone project and present it at their final summer residency.

The M.A. Concentration in Nature Writing requires the following 30 credits:

Course List
Code Title Credits
CRWR 600The Common Read & Writing Craft2
CRWR 680Writing Place: New Forms and Techniques6
CRWR 681Introduction to Nature Writing3
CRWR 685Craft of Creative Nonfiction6
CRWR 686Genres of Nature Writing6
CRWR 688Writing about Nature and Society6
CRWR 693Master's Capstone1
Total Credits30

Concentration in Poetry

The Concentration in Poetry brings students into the ongoing conversation of poetics, introducing them to the ideas, questions, approaches, and techniques that have been the concerns of poets across time and cultures. The Poetry curriculum includes workshop-style courses focused on developing voice and expanding range, as well as courses on contemporary authors, poetic craft and technique, special topics in poetry, and professional development. As the culmination of their work, M.A. students complete a capstone project and present it at their final summer residency.

The M.A. Concentration in Poetry requires the following 30 credits:

Course List
Code Title Credits
CRWR 600The Common Read & Writing Craft2
CRWR 630Foundations of Poetry3
CRWR 634Poetry Now6
CRWR 635Poetry Workshop I6
CRWR 644Poetic Lineages6
CRWR 648Poetry Craft and Technique6
CRWR 693Master's Capstone1
Total Credits30

Concentration in Publishing

The concentration in Publishing brings together the study and real-world practices of traditional, independent and new models of publishing in a rapidly changing industry. The concentration provides training in traditional and alternative methods of publishing, including the various print, electronic, and audio formats, as well as training in the editing, production, and marketing of published materials. Courses include extensive work in designing and producing original and reprint books, formatting for the electronic market, and a wide variety of other publishing business skill sets, including copyright law, and working with authors and agents. As the culmination of their work, students complete a capstone project and present it at their final summer residency.

The M.A. Concentration in Publishing requires the following 30 credits:

Course List
Code Title Credits
CRWR 600The Common Read & Writing Craft2
CRWR 613INTRO TO PUBLISHING WORLD3
CRWR 614Traditional Publishing I6
CRWR 615PUBLISHING & MARKETING A BOOK1
CRWR 623Independent and New Model Publishing I6
CRWR 624Traditional Publishing II6
CRWR 625Independent and New Model Publishing II6
Total Credits30

Concentration in Screenwriting

The Concentration in Screenwriting teaches screenwriting for both film and television. Each semester pairs an intensive analytical course with an intensive generative writing course. The concentration emphasizes story and scene structure, visual storytelling, character development, development of concept and theme, genre, dialogue-never forgetting that a screenplay is a document that will ultimately be translated to the screen. Through regular mentorship, students refine and consolidate their own best writing practices. As the culmination of their work, M.A. students complete a capstone project and present it at their final summer residency. 

The M.A. Concentration in Screenwriting requires the following 30 credits:

Course List
Code Title Credits
CRWR 600The Common Read & Writing Craft2
CRWR 660Scenes & Sequences3
CRWR 664Adapting the Feature6
CRWR 665Feature Structure & Genre6
CRWR 667Writing the Television Screenplay6
CRWR 669TV Structure & Genre6
CRWR 693Master's Capstone1
Total Credits30

Spotlight

Melissa Dalton Martinez

Melissa Dalton-Martinez

Alumna

Careers


Top Skills

  • Communication
  • Copywriting
  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Publishing
  • Research



Career Pathways

  • Author
  • Desktop Publisher
  • Editor
  • Proofreader
  • Publicist
  • Technical Writer

Take the first steps toward your academic and personal growth.

Fostering your intellectual development is the primary focus of every academic program at Western. Our professors and Office of Career Services will help you identify your strengths, hone your skills, define your goals, and prepare for a fulfilling and enriched life after graduation. Wondering how you can apply your program of choice to your intellectual and personal journey? Check out our “What Can I Do With This Major?” tool to explore the diverse opportunities and pathways within any degree program.

The Program

Publishing

Advancing your career in publishing.

The Publishing program begins with a one-week summer intensive on Western’s campus where you’ll learn the basics of the publishing industry and briefly intern for a small commercial publisher. As your main project for the coming year, you will develop a concept for an original anthology and solicit submissions.

The fall and spring semester each consists of two online courses, one focused on the traditional publishing industry and one on independent publishing. To acquire hands-on experience, you’ll read the “slushpile” submissions for your anthology project and select the stories to be included, all while adhering to a budget. You’ll also analyze typical book and short story contracts and issue contracts for the accepted anthology stories. In the spring semester, you’ll work to design, proofread and produce the printing masters for the anthology. As a solo project, you’ll select a public-domain “classic” to reissue from scratch. You’ll market your finished books and participate in a book signing event upon graduation, which takes place at your second summer residency.

Hands-on experience

Publishing students at the 2022 Residency

News & Research

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Additional Resources

Admission Requirements & Application

Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing considers applications in four waves throughout the year: Early Admissions, from July 1 through November…

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Tuition & Fees

Full-time enrollment in the MFA extends over 25 months, spanning four non-residency semesters and three Summer Residencies. Students may also attend half-time or take a leave of…

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Scholarships & Financial Aid

The GPCW is deeply committed to raising funds to support our students. Each year we offer substantial direct-funding scholarships. The GPCW is currently…

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Summer Residency

The highlight of our academic year is the Summer Residency, held each July on Western’s beautiful campus in Gunnison, Colorado.

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FAQs

How can a low-residency format create a sense of community among students and faculty?…

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Publications

Publications in the Creative Writing Graduate Program Explore the publications below to discover the depth and breadth of Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing: Think Journal Christine…

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GPCW Mission, Indigenous Commitment and DEIA+ Statements

The Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western Colorado University seeks to create transformative learning experiences for our students, built from a strong foundation that honors our students’ unique voices and is supported within inclusive environments established both virtually and at yearly residency gatherings.

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Learn More about the GPCW

Interested in learning more about the Graduate Program in Creative Writing? There’s no better way to get to know our program than through the voices of our faculty and students. Tune in to watch this informational video about everything you’ll look forward to as a student in our program.

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Department Information

Graduate Program in Creative Writing

Director

Tyson Hausdoerffer, Ph.D.

Director, Graduate Program in Creative Writing

Associate Director

CMarie Fuhrman, MFA

Associate Director; Director, Poetry Concentration; Faculty, Nature Writing Concentration

Executive Assistant

Anna Stileski, M.A.

Executive Assistant

Program Coordinator

Sarah Goettsch

Graduate Program in Creative Writing Coordinator

Contact Information

970.943.2014

gpcw@western.edu

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Quigley Hall 117
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

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