Hamline’s low-residency program model

Attend in-person or virtually

The core curriculum of our low-residency program model is developed over the course of five residencies and is completed throughout your four semesters. You will complete your residency work every January and July in 11-day sessions. These sessions are made up of lectures and intensive mini-courses taught by core faculty and guest lecturers, including visiting published writers, literary agents, and editors.

Build your
writing community

With Hamline’s low-residency model, you’ll become part of—and build—an artistic community.

Develop your 
habit of art

Writing is a muscle that needs to be regularly exercised, so, you’ll dedicate 25-30 hours a week to writing and reading to hone your craft.

Hone your craft
get published

Being a good writer is more than just having strong writing skills—it’s creative intuition. You'll hone your voice to prepare for a successful writing career.

The MFA in Writing for Children and YA residency experience

Every residency is unique and special, as students and faculty—along with visiting writers, editors, and publishers—come together to collaborate and develop a writer’s habit of art.

Each residency will focus on one of the five major elements for every medium and genre:

  • Plot
  • Character
  • Point of view
  • Setting and world building
  • Theme

Lectures and mini-courses

Residencies will also include additional lectures and mini-courses that will focus on additional aspects of the core curriculum, including:

  • Writing effective dialogue
  • The use of time in fiction
  • Beginnings and endings
  • Picture book dummy workshop
  • First chapters
  • Mythological structures
  • Humor writing
  • The musicality of language
  • Deep revision

In addition, you'll read and discuss common books selected by the faculty that are directly relevant to the primary craft element being explored.

Workshop sessions

Each morning, you'll participate in a two-hour workshop session led by faculty advisors. These sessions will help to develop your ability to provide constructive feedback on your peers' work, as well as learn how to receive and integrate feedback into your writing.

In addition, third-semester students will present a short lecture based on the material in their extended critical essays, while fourth-semester students give a public reading from their critical theses.

During summer residencies, all new students and faculty participate in a multi-session diversity workshop entitled “Not Other, But Us: Writing with Insight and Empathy.”

For a more in-depth exploration of what each residency entails, view past residency schedules below: 

Experience a MFA residency lecture

The material in the lectures provides foundational knowledge in a specific essential craft element, so you can begin to apply those foundational skills to your work and use them to advance the quality of your writing throughout the program. Other residency lectures and mini-sessions will focus on other craft, process, and literature elements.

To give you a better idea of what to expect during the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults residency, following are two residency lectures from the January 2023 session, whose focus was on theme.

Laurel Snyder Faculty Profile

The "Aboutness" of Chickens

Laurel Snyder, faculty advisor

Faculty advisor Laurel Snyder presented on a picture book theme. Unlike a novel, the picture book can be thought of not so much as a story but as a box —a container we put things in—where what matters is not what’s inside the box but how it fits together.  A kernel of truth planted in the book might be a gateway to something new for the reader.

Photo of Dashka Slater

Finding Your Way to the Center of the Maze

Dashka Slater, faculty advisor

Faculty advisor Dashka Slater presented on a nonfiction theme. A particular challenge in writing nonfiction is the writer’s need to shape material—material that in real life may be messy and amorphous—into a compelling narrative. For her, theme is the set of resonances, the moments of "quivering," that constellate around an idea or question. It is the skeleton of the nonfiction narrative, the thread that leads you into the center of the maze and out again.

Hamline’s MFAC is life-changing—the most incredible, fun, challenging, and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I came in knowing I loved writing but had never “finished” a full manuscript. After two years with incredible mentors and an amazing cohort, I left with a writing family, start-to-finish manuscript drafts, and a full-to-bursting toolkit to keep writing into the future and pursue my dreams of publishing. Excited to attend alumni weekends for years to come!

Emily Fiocco MFAC ʼ23

Semester work between residencies

Your residency work continues over the course of the semester as you write and rewrite, practice and refine the lessons you learned during your residencies and throughout your reading.

Faculty advisors will be assigned during the residency and will guide your work. These advisors are assigned based on availability, student choice, content, and genre.

Each month during the semester, you will send your faculty advisor a packet that includes creative writing samples, critical work, and short bibliographic annotations of books from the required reading list. Your advisor will return these packets with extensive feedback and recommendations.

First semester

During your first semester you will be introduced to the craft and process of writing for children and/or young adults. You have the option to choose to focus on any of the genres taught in the program.

Second and third semesters

During the second and third semesters, in addition to your new and revised creative work, you will also write and revise a critical essay of approximately 20 pages, in which you will develop a topic relevant to your creative work. In addition, you also develop a lecture based on your critical essay to be given during the forthcoming residency.

Critical essays by program alumni are available online.

Fourth semester

During the fourth semester, you will complete a substantive original work of creative writing that illustrates mastery of the craft in your chosen genre(s) and demonstrates your ability to establish an independent artistic process. In addition, you will also prepare a public reading based on your creative thesis, which you will present during your final residency.

MFA in Writing for CYA frequently asked questions

Explore more features of the children's and YA writing MFA