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AcademicsGraduate AcademicsLow-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics (low-residency)

Our low-residency MFA provides the structure, support, and professional development you need to take your writing to the next level.

Program Overview

Naropa’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing is designed for writers ready to hone their craft and earn their Master of Fine Arts degree through rigorous, cross-genre study. Students who can’t relocate to our Colorado Campus can acquire a quality asynchronous education with in-person residencies.

Whether you have a novel in progress, are preparing for a PhD program, or looking to strengthen your prose, poetry, and hybrid writing, our low-residency creative writing MFA program provides you with resources, accountability, and inspiration that fit your schedules.

Naropa takes traditional low-residency MFA programs a step further with our history of experimental and innovative writing, critical study, and cross-genre publishing. Our unique cross-genre online writing courses, generative residencies, and one-on-one mentorship provide students with a writing community, no matter where they live.

Unlike other Creative Writing MFA programs, our low-residency MFA is open-genre. This means that writers can work in fiction, poetry, prose, non-fiction, playwriting, and hybrid forms throughout their degree program. Students experiment with narrative structures and forms that fit their unique voices. Writers develop their unique style, critical ear, and vast knowledge of contemporary trends across literary genres.

One-on-one mentorship and small online writing classes help writers develop their style, refine their editing skills, and publish their work. Each writer dedicates their final semester to a thesis manuscript. Working one-on-one with their thesis mentor and workshopping with classmates through written exchange, students finish their MFA with a completed manuscript in the genre of their choice.

Every semester, our Low-Residency MFA students gather in Boulder, Colorado, for enriching and energizing residencies. MFA students meet one-on-one with mentors, enjoy master classes with guest writers, attend readings, and bond with writers. Residencies also overlap with our spring and fall symposiums, providing students with a rich 4-days of community and inspiration. Each academic year culminates in a week-long writing intensive at Naropa’s Summer Writing Program. This annual festival brings over 60 artists, writers, and thinkers to Boulder, for workshops, readings, panels, and professional development.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

Naropa’s Creative Writing MFA is a rigorous, generative, low-residency two-year program with 4 writing residencies in beautiful Boulder Colorado. The program combines asynchronous craft courses with on-campus residencies. 

Annual fall and spring residencies allow writers to connect with other writers and faculty, deepen their craft, and participate in symposium readings and panels with other MFA students in Boulder, CO. Spring and Fall Residencies run from Saturday through Tuesday during the Spring and Fall JKS Symposiums.

The summer residency immerses writers in a full week of the Jack Kerouac School’s world-renowned Summer Writing Program. Here, students attend workshops, lectures, panels, and readings by numerous visiting writers to hone their craft, make connections, speak on student panels, and prepare for the next step in their writing career.

Course Spotlight

Craft of Writing: Rooting in the Archive

This course delves into the Naropa University Archive and its rich offerings to explore traditions, movements, and/or schools of writing that inform or extend the aesthetic vision of the Jack Kerouac School toward mindful writing. Possible recent historical examples include New American Poetry, the Beats, San Francisco Renaissance, the New York School, Black Mountain Poetics, the Black Arts Movement, and Language poetry, among others.


Unlike many online creative writing MFA programs, our asynchronous classes build community through writer-to-writer feedback and a structured curriculum.

Degree Requirements

Students work one-on-one with a mentor, exchanging packets —consisting of letters, bibliographies, contemplative reflections, creative manuscripts, and critical essays—throughout the semester.

  • WRI-631E Craft of Writing: Rooting in the Archive(6)
  • WRI-648E Craft of Writing: Contemplative Experiments(6)
  • WRI-678E Craft of Writing: Cultures & Communities(4)
  • WRI-735E Craft of Writing: Contemporary Trends(6)
Professional Development:
Students choose one professional development course.
  • WRI-700E Professional Development: Writing Pedagogy (4)
  • WRI-755E Craft of Writing: Professional Development (4)

6 credits of MFA Thesis (faculty mentorship on a book-length creative manuscript)


Two eight-day summer residencies are completed at Naropa’s Boulder campus.
Choose two of the following:

  • WRI-751 Summer Writing Program(2)
  • WRI-752 Week Two Summer Writing Program(2)
  • WRI-753 Summer Writing Program(2)
  • WRI-789WE Fall Residency(1)
  • WRI-791WE Spring Residency(1)

Why Choose Naropa?

Strong Writing Tradition

Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics encourages experimental forms across genres, pushing for innovation inside and outside the classroom.

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Career Readiness

Whether a student plans to teach, write, edit, or work in publishing, our low-residency program provides the framework they need to develop their professional skills alongside a vibrant and supportive writing community.

In-house Publishing

The Kerouac School’s student-run Bombay Gin literary journal publishes work from promising students and distributes it nationally through Small Press Distribution. Students interested in fine-craft letterpress printing can learn at Naropa’s Harry Smith Print Shop and Kavyayantra Press.

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How this Program Prepares You

Professional Dossier

Graduates from our low-residency Creative Writing MFA emerge from the program with a solid record of written work. The pieces that make up their dossier are workshopped with peers and perfectioned with guidance from their tutor.

Critical Analysis

You’ll emerge from the program with critical analysis skills that go beyond reading between the lines of a written work. The program will teach you to recognize the role of intersectionality in the literary arts, looking at the wider spectrum that surrounds a piece, and identifying bias, assumptions and stereotypes.

Unleashing creativity

Our workshops, classes and Summer Writing Program encourage students to harness their creativity by exploring experimental forms. Low-residency students receive on-on one mentoring to help them develop their creative writing skills to the fullest, as well as feedback from their writing community, be it online or during their residency.

What You'll Learn

Highly Developed Writing Craft

Hone your voice in every step of the writing process.

Skill in Critical Analysis

Learn to discuss literary works through a variety of critical lenses.

Contemplative Writing Practice:

Use your writing practice as a tool for self-inquiry and discovery.

Social and Cultural Awareness

Recognize the role of race, class, and gender in literary history and works.

Career Preparedness

Graduate with a publishable manuscript and/or professional dossier.

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Career Opportunities with a Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

The Low-Residency Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts mirrors and supports the lives of professional writers. Unlike other online creative writing MFAs, our low-residency program balances community engagement with time to write alongside professional development opportunities.

Hear from a Graduate

I believe one way to stay young is to challenge myself with new situations. Since there is no sense of cliquishness [at Naropa], it is easy to interact with the younger students. One of the students just taught me a simple approach to writing a critical analysis, which is something I had never learned before. I also feel as if my life experiences add to the discussions, as if I am a grandmother elder giving back to a community.

Jackie Henrion

MFA in Creative Writing (Low Residency)

FAQs About the
Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing

A low residency MFA in creative writing is a two-year graduate degree. The program consists of asynchronous online courses and in-person residencies.
Students who are not able to permanently relocate to our campus in Boulder, Colorado can still obtain an MFA in creative writing by choosing the low-residency program. Low-residency students will have fifteen annual days of on-campus residency (fall, spring, and summer), while they complete the rest of their courses online.
The low-residency MFA in creative writing takes two years to complete, including classes, residencies and thesis.
Unlike other Low-Residency MFAs, our program features a contemplative, cross-genre curriculum to push writers to cultivate their unique and authentic voices, styles, and forms.

Students in the low-residency version of the MFA program may receive partial funding by applying for scholarships and Graduate Assistantships. Visit our Graduate Scholarship page for details.

Learn More About the Program

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with your counselor

Olivia Phipps

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

Naropa University values both academic excellence and critical self-reflection. Our application process not only evaluates academic performance but also candidates’ openness and willingness to engage in contemplation.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for our Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA.

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Prospective students who have completed an undergraduate degree are welcome to apply to Naropa. When applying, candidates must submit a transcript of their undergraduate coursework, a statement of interest, a resume, two letters of interest and a creative writing sample. They may also apply for financial aid at this stage. Discover all admission requirements.

If you obtained your undergraduate diploma from a non-US university, we require additional documentation to review your application. Learn how to apply to Naropa as an international student.

Costs and Financial Aid

Naropa University students have access to several financial aid opportunities and scholarships – over 75% of our graduate students receive some sort of financial support to pursue their studies. Use our calculator to estimate your tuition, housing, materials and other costs.

Graduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to undergraduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our undergraduate scholarship page.
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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.