Columbia College Chicago

Nonfiction, MFA

As a Nonfiction MFA student, you’ll navigate the world of nonfiction writing, from autobiographies and essays to memoirs and travel writing—and you’ll navigate it on your own terms. This growing genre, and its many styles and forms, blurs the line between the journalistic and the literary. With guidance and encouragement from faculty who have explored the nuances in creative nonfiction writing, you’ll experience the opportunity to experiment with different forms and materials.

These diversities in style are what sets our program apart. Through developing effective reading, writing, critical thinking and revision strategies, you’ll make your own writing even stronger and establish a foundation for creating individual, original and effective nonfiction writing.

Application Information

What to Expect Your First Year

During your first year in the MFA program, you’ll immerse yourself in writing workshops with fellow students, and you’ll engage in professional publishing and teaching opportunities. You also will take a long and hard look at writers who inspire you and explore how other writers make choices as you experience how a structured pursuit of your craft can lead to transcendental artistic breakthroughs.

What to Expect Your Last Year

As you conclude your MFA program, you’ll conduct a deep inquiry into your own works and create a substantial thesis, working one on one with a faculty member. But there’s so much more: You’ll take advantage of continued opportunities in teaching as a graduate student instructor or teaching assistant. You can also take additional publishing courses or increase your exposure to a variety of professional opportunities.

Detailed Program Information
For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Our Nonfiction MFA program is all about community: your community of fellow MFA students, the arts and communications community you’ll form at Columbia, and the Chicago writing community at large. No matter your end game, you’ll be presented with incomparable opportunities for network and collaboration:  

  • Participate in the Creative Writing Reading Series, which attracts prestigious, award-winning nonfiction writers. As a student, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with writers and discuss your work.
  • Hone your teaching skills by working as a graduate student instructor or teaching assistant.
  • Delve into the world of publishing with additional classes and opportunities to work on the magazines Punctuate and Hotel Amerika.
  • Participate in the student-run 33 Reading Series, which features readings by MFA students in Fiction, Nonfiction and Poetry.
  • Create reading series, journals or presses of your own.  
What are my internship options?

Employers in a variety of fields look for experienced, competent and confident employees who are strong communicators. The internship opportunities that Columbia’s Nonfiction MFA program can help you land are vast— in addition to the graduate student instructor opportunities available at Columbia, there are numerous positions available at newspapers, trade magazines, banks, personnel firms, legal firms, television companies, advertising agencies and more. The companies get your strong writing skills, and you make professional contacts and create a portfolio of real-world work.

See the Career Center website for more information.



Graduate Counselor
Emily Schmidt

Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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