MFA in Creative Writing

A home for writers in Harlem

For more than four decades, City College has been a home for writers in Harlem. Since its inception, some of the most distinguished writers in America have taught here at our West Harlem campus, including Donald Barthelme, Gwendolyn Brooks, Kurt Vonnegut, Marilyn Hacker, William Matthews, Grace Paley and Susan Sontag. Our MFA Program in Creative Writing is dedicated to diversity, excellence and inclusion. The mission of our program is simple: We want every student to find his or her unique voice, whether through fiction, nonfiction, drama, screenwriting, experimental or genre fiction and/or poetry, while simultaneously preparing them for life beyond graduate school as writers, teachers, scholars, and more.

Our recent award-winning graduates include Hasanthika Sirisena, Lisa Ko and Brendon Kiely. New York Times Bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize winners include Walter Mosley, Oscar Hijuelos, and Ernesto Quinonez. In small workshops, craft courses and literary analysis, our students immerse themselves in their writing. Meanwhile, they discover a thriving community through literary magazines, public readings and visiting writers.

“Our MFA program is dedicated to diversity, excellence and inclusion. We help emerging writers find their voice, polish their craft, and enter the contemporary publishing landscape.”

We welcome our MFA students to attend the program at their own pace, either full-time or part-time. We believe in access and opportunity not for just a select few, but for all those who are committed to their creativity, literature and who take the craft of writing seriously.

Finally, despite its prime location and storied past, the City College’s MFA program is dedicated to remaining at a fraction of the cost of similar programs in New York City. We welcome our MFAs to attend the program at their own pace as full-time or part-time students. We believe in access and opportunity not just for select few, but for all those who believe in the life of literature and who take the craft of writing seriously.

Fall Application Deadline:

February 15
Extended to March 1st


Visit our full program site here

In The Press

‘The Blue-Collar Harvard’

Fledgling authors from underrepresented backgrounds and nontraditional students are turning to graduate creative writing programs at the City University of New York to tell their stories.

by Sara Weissman, Inside Higher Ed,  June 22, 2021

The class for the creative writing master of fine arts program at City College of New York this past spring was its largest yet — enrollment jumped from 120 students in the fall to 140 this spring. There were 105 students enrolled in fall 201

What makes the CCNY MFA in Creative Writing Different from other programs?

“Diversity. We’re located in Harlem. Our unofficial tagline is “Ten times the diversity for one tenth the price,” because we’re also comparatively affordable”…

MFA Program Profile: Emily Raboteau on CCNY
Publisher’s Weekly, May 2015

We have students of all backgrounds in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, and age. No one group is the majority, and therefore none of the work is treated like minority literature. There are radical implications for the kinds of work our students are putting out into the world for it to be nurtured, respected, celebrated, and intelligently critiqued in the classroom.

IndoorVoices Podcast interviews the Director: Episode 65: Michelle Valladares on CCNY’s creative writing MFA

By Kathleen Collins, October 18, 2021

In Spring 2021, the Creative Writing MFA at City College saw an unprecedented enrollment spike. It’s not exactly clear why it occurred, but Director Michelle Valladares has some ideas about that. She has lots of ideas, in fact, about unique and exciting ways to grow the program even more while still maintaining a manageable cohort size…

What Alumni Are Saying

CCNY and its terrific writing program provided me with a beacon of hope – for where else could working class immigrant kids go for such first rate guidance and encouragement?

Oscar Hijuelos Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

Severely shaken by a series of big-life ordeals, including a cancer diagnosis, I decided to give myself the gift of an MFA for 50th birthday – because, you know, ‘if not now, when?’ I entered the program quite unsure of my talents, my relevance, and, indeed, my life going forward. I left CCNY a poet. Enough said.
Michele Karas
Doing my MFA at CCNY is probably the best decision I’ve made in the last twenty years. I had been a writer for some time, but never thought I could do the fiction and essay writing I really wanted to do. CCNY’s firstrate teachers, supportive environment, and my own hard work, showed me I could.e and encouragement?

Rodger Fell
The program has been a solid landing place to grow my poetic craft. I am inspired by my peer poets and writers and have expanded my process and my connection to craft. I have entered writers’ circles — that occur off campus with CCNY Alums which had led to more contact with poets/writing groups. I feel poetry all around me.
Allia Abdullah-Matta


Portrait of Michelle Y. Valladares

Michelle Valladares
Assistant Professor & Director of MFA in Creative Writing
Location: Room 6/219
Phone: 212-650-6694