Hamline News

Unique MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Celebrates 10 Years with Impressive Resume

Four alumni headshots and a pile of books

Hamline is home to one of the few programs in the country that focuses exclusively on educating and enlightening individuals who want to write for the youngest and most impressionable readers. Now celebrating its 10th year, the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) boasts an impressive number of award-winning alumni and faculty who are among the most influential writers of young people’s literature in the country.

Among the esteemed members of the faculty are the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (Gene Yang, who is also a recent MacArthur Genius Grant recipient), the 2016 Newbery Medal winner (Matt de la Pena), Printz and Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature (Laura Ruby), numerous finalists for the National Book Awards, as well as Minnesota Book Award winners. MFAC alumni have already published more than 75 books and our faculty are authors of more than 250. 

“We are tremendously gratified that our program has grown in depth and influence in such a short time. It really is the perfect constellation of accomplished authors who are also gifted teachers, aspiring writers with a dedication to young readers, and a rich community that is a haven for educators and writers,” said Professor Mary Rockcastle, founding director of the MFAC and director of the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline. “We draw students and faculty from across the country and abroad who are contributing to the field of young people’s literature in a way that is reflective of the diversity of experience and challenges of our young people.”

The program was poised for success from the start with such notable founding faculty members as Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, Flora & Ulysses) and Ron Koertge (Stoner & Spaz, Coaltown Jesus, Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses). The faculty has now grown to include distinguished authors such as Gene Yang, Swathi Avasthi, Coe Booth, Matt de la Peña, Nina LaCour, Laura Ruby, Claire Rudolph, Gary Schmidt, Sherrie Smith, Laurel Snyder, Marsha Chall, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Claire Rudolf Murphy, Mary Logue, and Anne Ursu. 

As a testament to her contribution to literature by founding this program, Mary Rockcastle was honored with the 2015 Kay Sexton Award in recognition of her long-standing dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading, and literary activity in Minnesota. You can see the impressive list of faculty and alumni publications and awards for faculty and alumni of Hamline’s MFA, MFAC, and BFA by visiting the Creative Writing Programs website.

The program differentiates itself from like programs by its rigorous curriculum; breadth and depth in multiple writing categories, including early reader, middle-grade and young-adult fiction (which includes realistic, fantasy, mystery, and verse novel), poetry, nonfiction, graphic novel, and comics; and its strong commitment to diversity. Students receive personal attention as they are paired each semester with authors who serve as one-on-one advisors. Students also attend two 11-day writing residencies on the Hamline campus each year (July and January). During each residency, students immerse themselves in workshops, lectures, and readings on the craft and process of writing, as well as presentations by agents, editors, and publishers who give valuable insight about the business of writing. 

Hamline remains the only university in the country with three creative writing programs: a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Creative Writing, an MFA in Creative Writing, and the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults; and it publishes two national literary magazines: Water~Stone Review and Runestone