Master of Fine Arts

Creative and Environmental Writing

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Unique, affordable, and rigorous, the Eastern Oregon University low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is where your writing practice and intellectual curiosity will find a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive community of writers. We also offer a special (optional) concentration in Landscape, Ecology, and Community.

Renowned poets discuss nature, injustice at Ars Poetica

Renowned poets discuss nature, injustice at Ars Poetica 

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke joins MFA faculty members for a virtual reading and talk April 28.

Read more

The 2nd Annual La Grande Lit Week

July 17-22, 2023

Update: Due to mid-afternoon heat concerns, the events scheduled

between 3:45-5:45 pm on July 22 at hq have been shifted.

Please see updated schedule below.

Free literary readings and conversations,

showcasing our great downtown

Daily one-hour classes led by Lit Week authors for just $20

(click here for registration; full class descriptions available here)

The La Grande Lit Week is a project of the Eastern Oregon University MFA Program in Creative Writing, bringing together faculty and visiting writers during its annual residency for seven days of literary events in Northeastern Oregon on the I-84 corridor. The line up features winners of the Oregon Book Awards, the Washington State Book Awards, and the Pacific Northwest Book Awards, as well as authors touring new or recent books. Most of the featured authors will be in conversation with EOU MFA faculty after their readings. Please see the full schedule below.

We give thanks to our partners and sponsors. In 2022, the Union County Chamber of Commerce provided a helpful seed grant for the inaugural La Grande Lit Week. Other partners include Fishtrap, JaxDog Café and Books, Liberty Theatre Cafe, Side A Brewery, Cook Memorial Library, La Grande Parks and Recreation, hq, The Local, Elgin Opera House, and Art Center East. And all thanks to our students and faculty who are our biggest supporters.

We also humbly acknowledge the original inhabitants of the land that La Grande and EOU are upon: the Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Nez Perce people. We celebrate their traditions, languages, and stories. We acknowledge their continuing connection to this land, water, and community and pay our respects to these original stewards of northeastern Oregon.

All readings and conversations are free and open to the public. For those interested in honing their own writing craft, one-hour “community classes” will be offered by Lit Week writers on special topics. Registration for each class is $20. Classes will be held in Badgley Hall on the EOU campus. Click here for registration. Further questions may be directed to Nick Neely, Assistant Professor of English/Writing,

2023 La Grande Lit Week Schedule

Monday, July 17

6:30 pm, Cook Memorial Library, 2006 4th St

Michelle Nijhuis is an award-winning science journalist and the author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in the Age Extinction. She’ll be in conversation with MFA faculty member Kathryn Miles, whose most recent book is Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders.

Wednesday, July 19

6:30 pm, Market Place Fresh Foods (rooftop), 1912 Fourth St

EOU MFA faculty reading featuring Megan Kruse, Melissa Matthewson, and Joe Wilkins.

7:30 pm, Market Place Fresh Foods (rooftop)

Eileen Garvin is the author most recently of the bestselling novel The Music of Bees, which is set in Hood River where she lives, and the memoir How to Be a Sister. She’ll be in conversation with MFA faculty member Claire Boyles, author of Site Fidelity.

Friday, July 21

12:45-3:45, Badgley Hall, EOU, One University Blvd

One-hour community classes offered by Sindya Bhanoo, John Daniel, Jessica Gigot and others. Registration required.

4 pm, Loso Hall Lobby, EOU

Kathleen Flenniken, Jessica Gigot, and John Daniel. Flenniken’s most recent poetry collection is Post Romantic; she is a winner of a Washington State Book Award and the state’s former poet laureate. Gigot’s latest book is the essay collection A Little Bit of Land, and her second book of poems, Feeding Hour, won a Nautilus Award and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Daniel is the winner of three Oregon Book Awards in poetry and nonfiction; his latest book of poetry is Lighted Distances: Four Seasons on Goodlow Rim and his previous book is the novel Gifted.

7 pm, The Local, 1508 Adams Ave

Sindya Bhanoo is a journalist and the author of the story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, winner of the 2023 Oregon Book Award for Fiction and the New American Voices Award. She’ll be in conversation with EOU MFA faculty member Megan Kruse, author of Call Me Home.

8 pm, The Local

EOU MFA Alumni Reading

Saturday, July 22

9 am-12 pm, Badgley Hall, EOU

One-hour community classes taught by Garrett Hongo, Kathleen Flenniken, Emme Lund, and others. Registration required.

1:15 pm, Schwarz Theatre (Loso Hall), EOU

MFA student thesis readings: Gabriel Boehmer, Christen Careaga, Rebecca DeLore, Christopher Densmore, Jensen Heike, Patsy Lally, Becky Murray, Gregory Rawlins, and Kasey Zmrhal.

Followed by the MFA program graduation ceremony.

4:45 pm, hq 3 pm, Schwarz Theatre

Garrett Hongo is the author most recently of the memoir The Perfect Sound and is a previous finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He’ll be in conversation with EOU MFA faculty member Christopher Kondrich, author of Valuing: Poems, a winner of the National Poetry Series.

Followed by Hongo’s playlist related to The Perfect Sound.

3:45 7 pm, hq, 112 Depot Street

A group reading from Cascadia Field Guide, featuring poets and writers John Daniel, Kathleen Flenniken, Garrett Hongo, Nick Neely, Dao Strom, and Joe Wilkins.

7 8 pm, hq, 112 Depot Street

Emme Lund is the author of the novel The Boy with a Bird in His Chest, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in Fiction and a Pacific Northwest Book Award, and longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize. She lives in Portland. She’ll be in conversation with EOU MFA faculty member Molly Reid, author of The Rapture Index: A Suburban Bestiary.

8:15 9 pm, hq

To conclude Lit Week, a visual-audio-poetry performance by Dao Strom, author of Instrument which won the 2022 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Admission Requirements

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year are now closed. The next application period for the EOU low-residency MFA will open in October 2024 with a priority application deadline in January 2025 for best consideration (please check back for the updated deadline). After the priority deadline, applications will reviewed on rolling basis if space remains available. Accepted applicants must signal their intention to enroll in the program within one month of official acceptance by making a nonrefundable $500.00 deposit. The Master of Fine Arts degree requires two types of admission: (a) Admission to Eastern Oregon University with “Graduate Student” status; and (b) Admission to the MFA program. Both applications should be submitted at the same time.

Admission requirements for the MFA program

Admission requirements for the MFA program: 1. Admission to Eastern Oregon University with “Graduate Student” status. 2. Grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0, calculated on either of the following two options: (a) Last 60 quarter hours completed of undergraduate upper-division coursework; or (b)  15 quarter hours of approved graduate-level coursework. 3. Official college transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate coursework. 4. Two letters of professional reference attesting to the applicant’s ability to be successful in a graduate program. 5. A short (750 word) essay explaining your reasons for wishing to pursue the MFA in Creative Writing at EOU and how you will integrate the demands of the program with your current responsibilities. 6. Creative Portfolio of your best creative work (10-15 pages of poetry; 15-20 pages of fiction or non-fiction).

Transfer Credit

The MFA Program allows a limit of 15 graded graduate-level credits (quarter hours) to be transferred from another accredited graduate-level institution. If you have regularly attended Summer Fishtrap Gathering, Fishtrap Outpost, and/or Fishtrap’s Yearlong Workshop, you also may petition the MFA Director directly to convert up to 15 hours to graduate-level credits. All graduate-level courses taken prior to program admission, and all graduate-level transfer courses, will be reviewed for appropriateness of transfer into the MFA program. Courses will not be accepted that are not appropriate to the MFA degree requirements. Courses completed prior to seven academic years before admission will be reviewed for appropriateness of transfer into the MFA program, but are not guaranteed to be accepted.

Applying for the MFA program

Submit electronically both the EOU Graduate Admission application and the MFA Program Application (i.e., cover sheet and creative portfolio), along with all required supporting documents, and official transcripts. Students who would like to participate in the Landscape, Ecology, and Community concentration should express this wish in their cover letters. Student who would be interested in studying on a part-time basis that would extend their time in a program to a third year should also highlight this intention in their cover letter.

Special note regarding admission to EOU

All MFA students are required to be fully admitted to the MFA program and EOU in order to complete the MFA degree. However, some students may desire to enroll in genre courses or elective courses on a part-time/non-admitted status. Enrollment in graduate writing workshops, seminars, and Individualized Studies requires full MFA program and EOU graduate student admission. Part-time and/or non-admitted course enrollment is permitted, but with the following exceptions: 1. Graduate student admission to EOU is required if a student will be registering for more than eight credits in any given term. 2. Graduate student admission to EOU and MFA Program admission is required, regardless of the number of registered credits per term, in order to receive financial aid. Financial aid is available both for full-time and part-time graduate students. Contact the EOU Financial Aid office at 541-962-3550 for information regarding submission of the FAFSA form and application procedures. Remember: All MFA students must be fully admitted both to EOU and the MFA program in order to enroll in any of the writing workshops and to receive the MFA degree. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for admission early in the program. For any application questions, please contact the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences program assistant Kayla Standley at 541-962-3508.

Our MFA is flexible in requiring just one residency commitment a year: back-to-back weeks in July at the storied Fishtrap Gathering of Writers at Wallowa Lake near the artsy town of Joseph, and in nearby La Grande on EOU’s campus. These experiences offer distinct vibes under the same skies, separated by a scenic 1.5-hour drive around the Wallowa Mountains, known as the Little Alps of Oregon. Students may opt to attend just two summer residencies or they may attend a third on-campus week in a third summer and take slightly less distance-based coursework.

At Fishtrap, students enjoy a morning generative workshop with the conference’s world-class faculty (see the 2023 line-up) and gather in the evenings for faculty readings and open mics under the lakeside tent. There’s ample time for writing by the lake or taking trails into the Wallowas. For those unable to get away from home for two weeks, a virtual Fishtrap workshop option is also available (see the 2023 offering). Of course, we whole-heartedly encourage in-person attendance: this place, this community, is stunning.

In La Grande, on EOU’s view-filled campus, students take a morning craft class and an afternoon critique-based workshop with our award-winning MFA faculty and in the evenings attend La Grande Lit Week readings and conversations with more award-winning authors at downtown mainstays like our local brewery, coffeeshops, or a brick-lined music venue (Lit Week is open to the public and runs concurrently with the residency). In the afternoon, Lit Week visiting writers also teach 1-hr classes on special topics that are optional for students. During free hours, students write, hike or otherwise explore this outdoorsy area, watch a film, go bowling, and drink a lot of coffee. Meals and conversation late into the night inspire imaginative leaps and grow bonds between fellow students and faculty mentors.

Through the rest of the summer, students continue to work one-on-one at a distance with their EOU workshop instructor to push forward a project they started or shared during the on-campus week.

Rigorous coursework continues remotely during the academic year (see the full course of study). Our faculty work closely with students on their writing and provide instruction in contemporary literature, rhetoric, and special topics crafted to address student interests. We also provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning opportunities such as optional practicum classes in creative writing pedagogy, editing and publishing, and “professional portfolio,” in which students build professional materials specific to their long-term goals. Opportunities also exist to participate in the editing of our literary journal Oregon East and help with program communications and event planning, whether for credit or as a volunteer.

Tuition, Fees & Aid

We are committed to being the best value for a low residency creative writing MFA in the west. Click "learn more" below for more details on tuition, fees, and financial assistance. Learn More

Course of Study

EOU offers a traditional genre-based two-year low residency program that requires 60 credits of course work, including two 14-day summer residencies followed each year by online courses. Learn More

Faculty Biographies

EOU’s creative writing faculty are an award-winning and committed group drawn from all over the country. Learn More

Applications are now closed for the ’24-’25 academic year

Applications for the ’25-’26 cohort will be accepted starting in October 2024


At Eastern Oregon University, we share a core belief that creative individuals are an under-appreciated and under-used resource. The creative makers among us have much to offer their communities and we commit ourselves therefore to fostering that creativity. It is our belief, too, that finding community-based solutions to the real problems communities face can and should be a collaboration in which the creativity of artists and writers play vital, enduring roles for enriching the lives of all. The Grande Ronde Valley and nearby Wallowa Valley are gateways to Eastern Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains and Oregon’s largest wilderness, the Eagle Cap Wilderness, all of which provide an exceptional resource for student writers in our Landscape, Ecology, and Community concentration. In collaboration with our program partner, Fishtrap: Writing and the West, and the Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers at Wallowa Lake near Joseph, Oregon, we strive to create a truly one-of-a-kind literary experience for our students.


Subscribe to our program writing digest, The Mutineer

(which curates online events and opportunities from the region and beyond)


Read recent news from students, alumni, and faculty


Explore our Visiting Writers Series 


Check out the 2nd Annual La Grande Lit Week

July 17-23, 2023


Study with an EOU/Fishtrap Student Teacher

(we’re pleased to announce this new program)

Contact Info

Nick Neely
MFA Director
Phone: 541-962-3633
Kayla Standley
Administrative Program Assistant
College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Phone: 541-962-3508 / E-mail: