Mar 30, 2020  
2012-2014 Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Catalog 
2012-2014 Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Poetry, M.F.A.

Poetry Program Creates Excitement

Drew’s new MFA in Poetry is only in its second year, but it’s drawing a lot of praise. Ted Johnsen takes us inside the program.

About the Program

More Information

The Drew University Master of Fine Arts in Poetry Program is a two-year, low-residency program for poets and poet translators. Students hone and develop their talent, as well as gain knowledge of the craft and poetics of contemporary American writers, and writers from other eras and cultures. The program offers some of America’s most talented poets as faculty mentors who work one-on-one with our students.

The program is divided into short, intense residencies and mentorship semesters. During residencies, students and faculty come together on Drew’s beautiful campus in Madison, New Jersey. Residencies consist of ten days of public readings, lectures, workshops, as well as close work and planning between students and mentors for the mentorship semester. During the mentorship semesters students return home to complete the work agreed upon during their previous residency while under the watch and care of experienced mentor-poets. The program culminates in a fifth residency, at which graduating students participate in a panel discussion and offer a public reading of the work they have completed over the course of their time in the MFA Program in Poetry.

We offer three tracks, a track in Poetry, a track in Poetry in Translation, and a combined MFA in Poetry & Poetry in Translation (which requires an additional semester and an additional residency). The Drew MFA Program in Poetry is committed to making sure that all students, no matter which track they are on, are exposed to a broad range of poets and translators.

The MFA in Poetry

Requires the completion of four semesters and five residencies for a total of 64 credits. Students study the craft of poetry by writing poems, studying craft, reading extensively, and writing critically. During the fourth and final semester students complete a manuscript of original poems

The MFA in Translation

This program is designed to teach students about the different models and schools of translation. Students receiving the MFA in Translation will translate into English. They will be expected to attend all lectures at the residency in order to understand the craft elements involved in writing poetry in English. The degree requires the completion of four semesters and five residencies for a total of 64 credits. During the fourth semester students complete a manuscript of translations.

The Combined MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation

This program is designed for poets who also want to study the art of translation. Given that many poets are, at sometime, drawn to translation, both for the desire to understand and get at the heart of poetry from another language, as well as to inspire and deepen their own work, the study of translation is an important endeavor for any poet. The mission of the Drew Program in Poetry in Translation is to bring to Drew students an awareness and knowledge of poetry from all over the globe. All students will be exposed at residencies to the lectures in translation as well as to guest translators. To attain the combined MFA students pursue their own writing at the same time that they study and practice translation. The combined degree requires that students complete five semesters and six residencies for a total of 80 credits. During the fourth semester students complete a manuscript of their own poems. During the fifth semester students complete a manuscript of translations.

The MFA in Poetry requires that each student working on an M.F.A. in Poetry or in Poetry in Translation attend five residencies and complete four mentorship semesters for a total of 64 credits in order to graduate. Students earning an M.F.A. in Poetry and Poetry in Translation attend six residencies and complete five mentorship semesters for a total of 80 credits in order to graduate.


During the MFA program students and faculty gather twice a year for ten days to learn, listen, and write together. During the residencies, students will participate in poetry workshops, craft seminars, and readings. The residency is designed as an incubation period, an intense immersion into poetry.

At each residency students will attend workshops in the mornings, lectures in the afternoons, and readings most evenings. Students will also meet with their mentors to create their study plans for the coming mentorship semester.

Graduating students attending their fifth residency will give a panel presentation and a reading of their own work.

Housing for Residencies

MFA students will live in dormitories on Drew’s campus during their residencies. While housing arrangements may vary, students can expect to be housed in suite-style accommodations, with their own bedroom and a bathroom shared by other MFA students occupying the suite. Three meals per day are included during residencies.

Mentorship Semesters

During the semesters between the ten day residencies students return home and correspond with a faculty-mentor. Mentorship semesters offer periods in which students are engaged in the solitary work of writing poetry, and of reading and writing critically. Study plans devised at the residencies are fulfilled, and the challenge of sending packets back and forth between student and mentor creates excitement, energy, and growth. Requirements for mentorship semesters change as students progress through the program.

Requirements for Application

Applicants to the MFA must posses a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. All applicants must submit the following:

  • a completed application form
  • two letters of recommendation
  • a personal statement
  • resume or c.v.
  • official transcripts of all academic records, whether at the college or graduate level
  • a ten-page manuscript consisting of examples of your work
  • a critical essay demonstrating your ability as a critical writer
  • $35 application fee

Please see application form for a more detailed explanation of requirements for application.

Application Time Line

Applications to the MFA are reviewed on a rolling basis, for the January and June start terms. The priority dates are November 15 for the January start term, and May 1 for the June start term. Applications may be accepted after these dates on a space available basis. Merit scholarship funds may be limited for those who apply after the priority dates.

Download the M.F.A. Application

Get the M.F.A. in Poetry Application

The Adobe Acrobat version of the file is as close to the real application as you can get without requesting a print copy. Once you download the application, and open it using Adobe Acrobat Reader, you will be able to print the application.

In order to view this file, you will need Adobe’s Acrobat Reader installed on your computer or its corresponding plug-in installed in your browser. Many computers and browsers come with this software already installed. Acrobat Reader is a free program, and if you don’t have it, you can get it from Adobe’s Website. Get the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Cost of Attendance

Tuition and Fees for M.F.A. in Poetry can be found on the Business Office’s site.

The residency fee will be charged for each residency the student attends, and is inclusive of all costs associated with the residency, including but not limited to room and board.

By New Jersey law, students who do not have their own health coverage are required to purchase coverage from the university at an additional cost. The Drew University Insurance plan runs yearly from August 15 through August 15. First-year students in the MFA program who do not already have insurance must, therefore, purchase a rider so that they will be insured during the time of the January and/or June residencies. Read more about the health insurance plan for students offered by Drew University.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial aid comes in two forms, academic merit scholarships, and need-based aid. Applicants for scholarships and aid must fill out the Drew Supplemental Financial Aid Form and return it to the Office of Financial Assistance.

Academic Merit Scholarships are competitive and range from 10% to 50% of tuition. The application for admission serves as an application for merit scholarships.

Need-based aid takes the form of loans and work-study. In order to be considered for need-based aid, an applicant must fill out the federal FAFSA form and return it to the processor. To have the report sent to Drew, please use School Code 002603.

Learn more about financial aid in the graduate school.