Chatham University

Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (MFA)

The information on this page pertains to the Low-Residency MFA program. If you are looking for information about our on-campus MFA program, please visit the program homepage.

Chatham University's Low-Residency MFA focusing on nature, environment and travel writing is the premier graduate program for nurturing creative writers interested in the environmental imagination and place-based writing. Chatham also offers an on-campus MFA program with the same innovative focus on nature, environment and travel writing that can be completed in two years.

Our alumni have gone on to teach and publish, and many are pioneers and leaders in arts programs that work to foster diversity and social justice, such as Words Without Walls . Our program continues to be inspired by the work of Chatham alumna, Rachel Carson, a creative writer whose work demonstrates both lyricism and social conscience. The heart of our program—nature, environmental and travel writing—honors Carson's legacy, but expands the interpretation of environment to include any place-based writing and all genres—poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction—shaped by human relationship with place.

Students in Chatham's Low-Residency Program attend two residencies, held each August on our Shadyside Campus. Chatham University is located minutes from the urban heart of Pittsburgh, a city that has transformed from a polluted steel town into a vibrant, thriving major city. During the residencies, students participate in intensive workshops with faculty, attend field seminars to nearby landmarks such as Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater; the cutting-edge Eden Hall campus; and The Strip District, Pittsburgh's historic food capital, renowned for its food culture, restaurants, and unique international shops.

Located on a beautiful arboretum that offers rich opportunities for reflection and meditation, Chatham is a fantastic place to write. Filled with beautiful parks, nestled between three rivers, and surrounded by natural and cultural areas as varied as the Appalachian Trail, the Allegheny National Forest, the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, and a bit of the coast of Lake Erie, Pittsburgh offers many opportunities for writers.

Each year, our award-winning faculty lead creative writing field seminars that offer Low-Residency MFA students the opportunity to travel to the United States and other parts of the world and generate creative work about the experience. Past and current field seminars include trips to Costa Rica, Israel, New Zealand, Greece, India, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Students also have the opportunity to work on The Fourth River, Chatham's literary journal, under the guidance of experienced publishing professionals. In 2011, students earned publications by interviewing publishing writers and participated in designing and managing content for The Fourth River's website.

For a more in-depth look at our faculty, students, and opportunities that make our program special, please download our annual newsletter.

Featured Writers at the Annual Summer Community of Writers

Click to download the Summer Community of Writers 2013 brochure

The Summer Community of Writers, a ten-day intensive residency in Pittsburgh, is required of all low residency MFA students. The residency is composed of genre-specific craft sessions, workshops, lectures, readings and one-on-one conferences with mentors. More information about the upcoming residency will be posted soon. Past and current featured writers are listed below.
Read more.