Michael lKardos

Catherine Pierce

Mailing address:

P.O. Box E
Mississippi State, MS 39762

Creative Writing at Mississippi State


  • Overview
  • Master of Arts Emphasis
  • Faculty
  • Applications and Financial Aid

Crepe Myrtles

Mississippi State University's English Department offers classes in creative writing at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The department offers an emphasis in creative writing as part of its Master of Arts program.

Our faculty (fiction writers Becky Hagenston and Michael Kardos, and poets Richard Lyons and Catherine Pierce) teach workshops and craft classes, and mentor graduate students as they work on their creative theses. Creative writing students have the opportunity to gain editorial experience working on Jabberwock Review, the national literary journal produced through the efforts of the Mississippi State English Department and its creative writing program.

Each year we bring to campus prominent, talented visiting authors who not only read and discuss their work but also visit workshops and meet informally with students. Recent visitors include Dorothy Allison, Terrance Hayes, Brad Watson, Allison Joseph, Robert Olen Butler, Natasha Trethewey, Michael Farris Smith, Lorraine Lopez, Sandra Beasley, Sherod Santos, Ted Kooser, and Kevin Brockmeier.

Our students have gone on to advanced study in creative writing at prestigious M.F.A and Ph.D. programs across the country, including the programs at Boston University, University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, Western Michigan University, Florida State University, Georgia State University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, University of Kansas, University of Nevada-Reno, Oklahoma State University, Oregon State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and elsewhere.

They have published their work widely in such venues as The Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, Guernica, Indiana Review, The Hopkins Review, North American Review, Quarterly West, Cimarron Review, The Pinch, The Adirondack Review, New South, Hayden’s Ferry Review, decomp, The Hollins Critic, DMQ Review, Permafrost, Third Coast, Yalobusha Review, and Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art.


Writer-in-residence Terrance Hayes

The Master of Arts Program

Mississippi State offers an intensive graduate creative writing emphasis at a major university with a renowned and dedicated faculty, providing mentorship and individual attention in a collegial environment.

The creative writing emphasis is a 24 credit-hour course of study with an additional 6-hour thesis requirement. At least 9 credit hours are required in creative writing in combination with other courses of the candidate’s choice.

The two-year degree culminates in a creative thesis. Creative writing faculty teach workshops and craft classes, and mentor graduate students as they work on their creative theses.

All students pursuing an MA in English at Mississippi State will take the comprehensive exam during the second year of study.

[Photo:  Writer-in-residence Terrance Hayes signs books after his reading.]

North Farm in Fall



Fiction Writers






Applications are available from the Graduate School, 116 Allen Hall, Mississippi State, MS 39762. For more information about the graduate program in English, contact Lara Dodds, Director of Graduate Studies. For more information about the creative writing emphasis, contact Catherine Pierce and Michael Kardos, Co-Directors of the Creative Writing program.

In addition to the graduate school application, a writing sample is required of all applicants to the creative writing emphasis. Applicants should submit either 10-12 pages of poetry or 15-30 pages of fiction (or up to 30 pages of a combination of poetry and fiction). Email the sample as an attachment to Catherine Pierce (poetry) or Michael Kardos (fiction).

Applications wishing to receive funding for graduate study must submit their application, writing sample, and T.A. application by March 15.


Financial Aid

The department offers financial aid to our M.A. students through teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and editorial positions with Jabberwock Review, as well as a number of generous scholarships, including the Eugene Butler Scholarship in Creative Writing, which specifically awards money to incoming students with a creative writing focus. For details about this and other scholarship opportunities, please visit our departmental scholarship page.