Overview & Career Outcomes
Lasell University's Solstice Low-residency MFA in Creative Writing is a selective two-year program that helps you further your writing practice with a high level of professional proficiency while developing your unique voice in a supportive community. This skills-based program combines five short, ten-day residencies—periods that feature literature & craft courses, writing workshops, seminars, readings, and panel discussions with a diverse cadre of writers, editors, and agents—with a 21-week long period of independent study in which each student works 1:1 with a mentor. This terminal degree offers a flexible format to help you fit the coursework into your schedule while providing an encouraging, immersive experience.
The program's mission is to nurture all the voices of America and beyond; to help students reach their full potential as writers through a demanding curriculum that balances the workshop experience with the study of literary craft, criticism, and theory; and to prepare students for the rigors of being a professional writer after graduation. The Solstice Program provides a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds feel safe and are encouraged to take creative risks. Working with some of the best writers in the country, our students emerge with a deep, well-rounded knowledge of their art, a strategy for continuing the development of their creative vision, and a supportive circle of peers and mentors. We seek to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and the belief that engagement with the literary arts is not only a means to personal fulfillment but also an instrument for social justice and real cultural change.
Thanks to the support of founding faculty member and best-selling fiction writer Dennis Lehane as well as the Solstice Institute for Creative Writing, the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program launched at its first home institution—Pine Manor College—in 2006. The program landed at its current home at Lasell University in 2022, beginning its next chapter at an institution that aligns with its mission via the University’s commitment to fostering the next generation of creative thinkers, makers, leaders, and doers.
Hear what makes Lasell's Solstice MFA program different!
Solstice MFA Concentrations & Tracks
The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program allows students to focus on their passion by offering 5 concentrations:
- Fiction (including genre & popular fiction)
- Creative nonfiction
- Comics & graphic narratives
- Writing for children & young adults
Students who not only want to write but also have a desire to teach at the college level will want to consider the Pedagogy Track. During their internship semester, Pedagogy track students teach their own creative writing workshops in their home communities.
Along with selecting a concentration focus, students in the Pedagogy track learn how to plan and design courses, assess and grade students' work, and manage a classroom. Find out more.
Solstice Creative Writing Workshops
Lasell's MFA Program students complete five residencies over a period of two years. Each 10-day residency, held in summer and winter, begins the new semester with a demanding program of craft classes and workshops in which students’ creative work-in-progress is analyzed and discussed. Each of the eight three-hour workshops held during the residencies allows students to experience a variety of pedagogical approaches; to develop constructive critiquing skills; and to enhance their own writing (and artwork, in the case of graphic narrative students) via close study of other students' works-in-progress under the guidance of a faculty mentor. During each residency, students in workshop have the opportunity to work with at least two different faculty mentors, providing the chance for a wider range of perspectives and feedback. Our approach to the writing workshop emphasizes an atmosphere of mutual respect and consideration between students and faculty members. Each residency takes place on Lasell University's beautiful campus (located just 10 miles from downtown Boston). Take a virtual tour of the Lasell campus!
What is a Low-Residency Format?
Click on the video below to hear Meg Kearney, Founding Director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program.
Benefits of the Low-Residency Format
- Sense of community - These intensive, inspiring residencies help students form a supportive, engaged community and lifelong connections with fellow writers, including faculty members.
- One-on-one communication with faculty mentors during the semester: Because our student-faculty mentor ratio is never more than one to five, students receive highly focused attention from some of our nation’s best authors.
- Flexible learning - Independent learning, a flexible schedule, and autonomy. Solstice students are able to pursue their writing goals while balancing the demands of work and family.
The Lasell Solstice MFA Difference
- Our faculty are award-winning writers who come from a variety of different backgrounds; are committed to achieving diversity of race, class, and creed in the classroom; and are dedicated to helping students find and develop their own, unique voices.
- Our goal is to create opportunities for ALL writers to pursue their creative goals.
- Diversity - Our students, faculty, and alum represent a wide variety of ethnic, social, and geographic backgrounds (from 30 different states, Canada, and Dakar, Senegal), creating a truly vibrant cross-section of America.
Our curriculum is designed to be flexible. Between the residencies, students work on semester-long projects directly (1:1) with a faculty mentor. During this time of independent work and study, students collaborate with their faculty mentors to explore their genres in depth through reading, discussion, craft analysis, and the creation of new work.
The program requires 60 credits—including work done during the residency and the remaining semester—for completion.
Craft Classes & Electives
At each residency, students attend a minimum of five courses in *Craft, Criticism, and Theory, as well as three Elective Seminars & Studies sessions (one- to two-hour classes). These classes are designed to provide students with a deeper understanding of the structural, philosophical, and historical underpinnings of the art of writing and include Foundational Craft Courses. Foundational Craft Courses are designed to ensure that students graduate with a shared vocabulary within their genre concentrations and a firm grasp of creative writing essentials. Residencies provide students with an opportunity for immersion in a community of writers as they sharpen their craft and expand their visions of their art.
*Students opting for the Applied Pedagogy Track will be required to take four course units dedicated to pedagogy basics, course design, assessment and grading, and classroom management.
Course and Work Roadmap
Students are expected to devote at least 25 hours per week to independent study each semester. It should be noted that reading, as well as writing, (and, in the case of graphic narrative students, making comics), is a vital component of the Solstice MFA Program at Lasell University. By the time a student graduates, they will have read between 50 and 80 books.
At the close of each residency, faculty mentors work closely with students to draft a semester plan—including a reading list, and a schedule for five packet exchanges in which students receive feedback to their creative and critical work.
First & Second Semester
In the first and second semesters, students are encouraged to draft new material and expand their knowledge, submitting five packets of creative and critical work for feedback from their mentors.
Second-semester students can explore working in another genre—enhancing their craft by exploring the possibilities and constraints of another form—before selecting a focus for the third- and fourth-semester projects.
Third-semester students complete a 30- to 35-page critical essay, an essential part of developing into mature writers. This work builds on the critical writing and thinking skills students have developed in their first and second semesters, during which they applied close reading, analytical, and interpretive skills to the drafting of short literary essays on single texts. The critical thesis challenges writers to create and build a sustained argument surrounding a single aspect (or a few aspects/elements) of literature and/or literature’s role(s) in the world. Students are expected to choose subjects with some personal appeal; ideally, the thesis topic should have an application to the student’s own creative work.
Third-semester students also have the opportunity to pursue an applied-track internship in arts administration, community programming, or publishing as part of their research for the major critical essay. These optional internships will enrich their experience, broaden their knowledge, and provide necessary research for the essay due at the end of the semester. *The Applied Pedagogy Track also requires students to complete an internship during their second or third semester in the MFA program, during which they will gain valuable teaching experience.
During the fourth, creative-thesis semester, students work closely with faculty mentors to revise work created during the MFA program with the goal of producing a book-length manuscript. The fifth and final graduating residency requires the presentation of a 60-minute lecture or course in the students’ specialized area or track, developed in their critical essays. In addition, graduating students deliver a 15-minute public reading from their creative theses.
Students and faculty are required to submit thorough evaluations of the residency and the semester project each semester. These evaluations become part of the student’s permanent record and determine whether credit is granted toward the 60-credit degree.
Requirements & Deadlines
In order to graduate, students must have received a passing grade for 60 credits of course work and must have attended five, 10-day residencies. In addition to receiving passing grades for all course work, students must complete a creative thesis (a novel, graphic narrative, collection of poems, short stories, or creative nonfiction) that is approved by a faculty mentor, give a reading from their creative theses, and teach one-hour-long lecture at the culminating residency.
Please review the MFA application requirements for admission:
- Official transcripts of any college-level coursework
For emailed transcripts, have them sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For snail mail, have them sent to:
Attn: Graduate Admission
1844 Commonwealth Ave
Newton, MA 02466
- Two recommendation forms (completed by either former professors or anyone who can attest to the applicant’s dedication to the art of writing and ability to get along well in a community of fellow writers). Note that recommendation forms, located on our application portal, make the process efficient and simple; recommendation letters may be uploaded to supplement the forms, but are not mandatory.
- A personal statement (3-5 typed pages maximum) addressing the following issues:
- Your literary influences, including books you’ve recently read, and what you have learned about the craft of writing from these influences
- The strengths and weaknesses of your writing
- Your ability to listen to and use direct criticism of your work
- What you hope to gain from earning your MFA in Creative Writing
- Obstacles that might prevent you from devoting 25 hours per week to your study and corresponding regularly with your faculty advisor
- Other things you'd like us to know about you, relevant to this application
Applicants should indicate and talk about what their goals and aspirations are as writers and/or artists in their personal statement when they submit their materials for consideration.
- Your typewritten application manuscript. Please submit work for the area in which you plan to concentrate. If you are applying to the Writing for Children & Young Adults concentration, you may submit a mix of genres totaling no more than 25 typed pages and adhering to the guidelines below:
- Poetry: 10 typed pages (single spaced, one poem per page) maximum
- Fiction: 25 typed pages (double spaced) maximum
- Creative Nonfiction: 25 typed pages (double spaced) maximum
- *Comics & Graphic Narratives:
- Confident artists: 8–12 pages of sequential fiction or nonfiction
- Confident writers: 20+ pages of graphic narrative script (in standard script form or via “the Marvel Method,” i.e. the general outline of a story, major plot points, + some dialogue); pages of sequential art are not mandatory for confident writers.
*Note: Students in the Comics & Graphic Narratives Concentration are placed in the program as “confident artists” or “confident writers” based on their applications. Typically, confident artists aspire to improve their craft as writers to match their drawing talents, with the ultimate goal of becoming cartoonists who both write and draw their own stories. Confident writers are typically more interested in creating comics/graphic narratives in collaboration with an artist/illustrator. That said, even confident writers who do not consider themselves to be confident artists will be expected to learn and practice the fundamentals of comics art in order to more deeply understand the collaboration process.
A Note on Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology: Any use of AI is considered plagiarism and prohibited by the Solstice MFA Program in application manuscripts. All critical and creative work should strictly be the work of the applicant. Writing is hard work; it has always been hard work, which has been one of its graces. We believe our students and those seeking to be our students are self-selected lovers of words who, as apprentices to this craft, share the goal of becoming the best, most original writers they can be on their own merit. This is not to say that AI-generated work is not being used in creative ways in certain circles, but we expect our applicants to generate the “inputs” that result in their original “outputs.” In the end, we trust that Solstice MFA Program applicants, along with faculty, staff, and students, believe that academic and artistic honesty are paramount and will live up to those ideals.
Note for prospective international students: At this time, the Solstice MFA Program is not in a position to consider F-1 international students for enrollment. We are able to accept applications from international students who are dual U.S. citizens or permanent residents, as well as those who have other visa types that permit study in the country, such as L2, H1B, and H4 visas. Contact Lasell University’s Office of International Student Services for more information.
The Solstice MFA Program accepts applications on a rolling basis. The deadlines below determine your starting residency and eligibility for fellowships. Review our application guidelines as you decide when you want to apply to the program. Students who hope to receive a need-based scholarship should submit their application and the FAFSA as early as possible, as these awards are granted until funds are depleted.
The Winter/Spring 2024 Semester
The winter 2024 residency, which begins our spring semester, is set for January 5 – January 14, 2024. Writers who submit general applications by Monday, November 13, 2023 may be offered a space in the winter 2024 residency/spring semester. Following that date, all acceptances will be for the summer 2024 residency/fall semester.
Fellowship Deadlines for Winter 2024
Applicants who wish to be considered for the Michael Steinberg Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, Jacqueline Woodson Fellowship for a Young People’s Writer of African or Caribbean Descent, Doug & Betsy Sholl Fellowship for Poetry, or the Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction should submit the general application form by Monday, October 30, 2023.
The Summer/Fall 2024 Semester
The summer 2024 residency, which begins our fall semester, is set for July 12 – July 21, 2024. Writers who submit general applications by Monday, May 13, 2024 may be offered a space in the summer 2024 residency/fall semester. Following that date, all acceptances will be for the winter 2025 residency/spring semester.
Fellowship Deadlines for Summer 2024
Applicants who wish to be considered for the Monica Hand Fellowship for Nontraditional Students, Francis L. Toner Fellowship for Veterans, Kurt Brown Fellowship for Diverse Voices, or Dubus Fellowship for Native & Indigenous Writers should submit the general application form (check the appropriate box on the form) by April 29, 2024. Please note that the Kurt Brown and Dubus Fellowship applications require a short essay.
10% Lasell Alumni Discount
Alumni can take 10% off all master's and certificate programs. Does not apply if you receive a scholarship.