Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Media Writing

In just two years, write a publishable nonfiction manuscript or a marketable screenplay and earn your MFA from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, home of the Peabody Awards and one of the top journalism schools in the country. This two-year low-residency program is designed to train writers who will be published and produced. The program offers students an unparalleled opportunity to develop narrative journalism and screenwriting skills that will equip them for long and varied careers. The program features a committed and diverse roster of accomplished authors, screenwriters, literary agents and other industry professionals who work closely with students to inspire and support each writer's emerging craft and voice.

MFA graduates are prepared to:

  • Write nonfiction books for national and international publishers
  • Write screenplays for major motion picture and television companies
  • Teach writing at the university level

Program Details

UGA's unique low-residency MFA program allows students to complete most of the degree requirements off campus while developing their skills and talents under the guidance of experienced faculty writing mentors. Students begin each semester by visiting campus for an intensive 8-day residency, followed by a four-month online writing period, during which each student works closely with a professional faculty mentor. Over the course of the program, students build a substantive portfolio of narrative nonfiction or screenwriting, reflecting their individual styles and interests. Students receive individualized instruction from assigned mentors who help them to develop and hone crucial career skills, ultimately completing a marketable screenplay or full-length manuscript of publishable quality.

Students may choose to concentrate in one of two focused genres:

Narrative Nonfiction or Screenwriting.

In both genres, the programs' co-directors — award-winning author and journalist Valerie Boyd and award-winning producer Nate Kohn — have assembled a diverse group of writing mentors who will challenge students to do their best work, to explore the role of the writer in society, and to use their writing to make a difference in the diverse communities in which they live.

Narrative Nonfiction

The Narrative Nonfiction concentration places journalism at its core, unlike any other nonfiction program in the country. It is designed for students who want to develop their research, reporting and writing skills to take on topics of national and global importance, beyond the self-focused genres of memoir and personal essay. The Narrative Nonfiction concentration is for people who have had some writing experience, but who want to explore writing long-form, research-based narratives that rise to the level of literature — factual literature. It's for mid-career journalists and other industry professionals who want to elevate their careers and write a book on a subject they feel passionate about. This program is for nonfiction writers who want to use their talents and skills to engage the world.


The Screenwriting concentration is designed for feature film and television writers who want to take their writing skills to the next level and who understand the advantages that the MFA degree affords.  The program is aimed at experienced writers who want to explore new creative opportunities in telling stories that matter for large and small screens.  The program allows students to work one-on-one with experienced mentors who are currently vital members of the entertainment community and who understand the challenges and opportunities found in new technologies. Most of all, the program is for writers who value the power, purpose and meaning of stories well told.

University of Georgia online graduate education programs are ranked #3 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.



The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of Georgia.

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

Technology Requirements

  • Computer with current operating system (Windows or Mac). Additional peripherals such as webcam, headphones and printer may be required.
  • High Speed Internet Access.



Online Tuition $984 per credit hour 36 credit hours $35,424 USD
Student Fees $597 per semester 5 semesters $2,985 USD
Total Program Cost     $38,409 USD

Tuition and fees are subject to change. Current tuition and fees are available on the Bursar's Office website. If you register for less than 5 credit hours, student fees are reduced to $372 in that semester. 

Online students pay the following fees: Connect UGA, Green, Special Institutional, and Technology. See UGA Tuition and Fees for the complete schedule of fees.

Financial Aid

Visit the Office of Student Financial Aid for information about financial assistance.

Corporate Assistance

Consult your employer about the availability of tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance programs.

Military Assistance

Active duty military, veterans, and military families should visit Veterans Educational Benefits to take full advantage of available financial assistance and educational benefits.

University System of Georgia Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)

The purpose of TAP is to foster the professional growth and development of eligible employees. For more information, see Tuition Assistance (refer to the Distance Learning section). 


Credit Hours

Total Hours Required to Earn Degree: 36 (credit hours)

Admission Requirements

Students applying to The University of Georgia must be accepted by the Graduate School. Persons holding a bachelor's degree from any institution accredited by the proper regional accrediting association are eligible to apply for admission to the Graduate School.

Applications are accepted starting in Fall semester prior to anticipated Fall semester matriculation. Although the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for admission to this program, requirements include:

  • Personal Statement
  • A 20-page Writing Sample
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae

Application Checklist

  1. Application - Submit the Graduate School application online.  Application fee: $75 Domestic/$100 International.
  2. MFA Supplemental Application - Submit the supplemental program application to the Grady Graduate Administrative Assistant.
  3. Statement of Intent - Submit a one-page statement of intent online to the Graduate School. The statement of intent should clarify the candidate's relevant background, interests, and goals in relation to the program.
  4. Writing Sample - Submit a 20-page sample of your best writing (nonfiction, fiction or screenplay) in a PDF document to the Grady Graduate Administrative Assistant. The writing sample may be a single work or a portfolio of various articles, essays, short screenplays, etc. Program faculty will assess the quality of each applicant's work — a major criterion for admission.
  5. Letters of Recommendation - Submit three (3) letters of recommendation online to the Graduate School. Letters should be from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's writing ability and potential for success in a graduate program. Preferably at least two (2) of the letters should be from an applicant's prior teachers or professional supervisors.
  6. Resume or curriculum vita - Submit online to the Graduate School.
  7. Official Transcripts – Submit unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended as part of the online application. Send official transcripts after you are offered admission

Application Deadlines

  • Fall: For best consideration apply April 1


Low-Residency Format

UGA's two-year, low-residency MFA program embraces the changing needs of students — particularly working professionals — by allowing them to complete their degree without having to relocate. Our program offers students the chance to continue their lives while learning the skills crucial to advancing their careers. The low-residency format also perfectly simulates the life of the writer — offering two things that every successful writer needs: a strong, supportive community as well as the freedom and solitude to write.

Each 15-week semester begins with a campus residency that features a demanding program of writing workshops in which student work is discussed and evaluated. The residencies run for eight days, with students immersing themselves in an intensive writing environment for a full, enriching week. The flexible schedule accommodates professionals who have two weeks of paid leave — while providing students with the opportunity to build a sense of community with their peers and to engage in serious, focused study with their faculty mentors. Each residency includes daily seminars and craft lectures, as well as panel discussions and readings by faculty members, visiting writers, editors, agents and other publishing and entertainment-industry professionals.

Program Structure

All courses in the student's concentration area are required. There are no prerequisites. The program offers students opportunities to attend craft lectures, seminars and panel discussions across concentrations during the residencies. Students also have the option to spend one entire semester as a "genre jumper" — meaning a Narrative Nonfiction concentrator may wish to spend a semester working on dialogue, or cinematic narrative, or other such issues with a Screenwriting faculty member. Similarly, a Screenwriting concentrator may wish to spend a semester studying nonfiction research techniques with a Narrative Nonfiction faculty member. Such cross-disciplinary opportunities will be allowed and encouraged.

Narrative Nonfiction Concentration

  Fall Term  Spring Term
Year 1
  • Nonfiction Writing I:  Explorations & Beginnings
  • Nonfiction Craft & Reflection I:  Research, Reporting & Ethics
  • Nonfiction Writing II:  Developing the Manuscript
  • Nonfiction Craft & Reflection II:  Analyzing Narrative
Year 2
  • Nonfiction Writing III:  Work-in-Progress Manuscript
  • Nonfiction Craft & Reflection III:  Critical Essay
  • Nonfiction Writing IV:  Final Thesis Manuscript
  • Nonfiction Craft & Reflection IV:  Seminar Preparation
Final Residency
  • Nonfiction Writing V:  Public Reading

Screenwriting Concentration

  Fall Term Spring Term
Year 1
  • Writing for the Screen I:  Explorations & Beginnings
  • Screenplay Craft, Criticism & Reflection I:  Directed Readings
  • Writing for the Screen II:  Developing the Screenplay
  • Screenplay Craft, Criticism & Reflection II:  Directed Readings
Year 2
  • Writing for the Screen III:  Work-in-Progress Screenplay
  • Screenplay Craft, Criticism & Reflection III:  Critical Essay
  • Writing for the Screen IV:  Final Thesis Screenplay
  • Screenplay Craft, Criticism & Reflection IV:  Seminar Preparation
Final Residency
  • Writing for the Screen V:  Public Reading

News & Events

Guest Blog: My Experience with Distance Learning, Mark Joyella (MFA)

When my seven-year-old daughter wants a laugh, she says, “Daddy, did you do your homework today?” She thinks it’s second-grade hilarious that her father i

Valerie Boyd Recognized with a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities

Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and an associate professor of journalism, received

Alumna Profile: Sarra Sedghi, MFA

On August 5th, the inaugural class of MFA students at Grady College were recognized in convocation ceremonies.

Inaugural class of MFA students graduate from Grady College


The final chapter was written August 5 as the inaugural class of MFA students at Grady College were recognized in convocation ceremonies.

Introducing New Mentors to the MFA Program

UGA Online is excited to welcome four new mentors to the MFA Low Residency program! The program trains writers who will be published and produced in narrative journalism or screenwriting.

Anne Hurne to Take Over as Program Coordinator for MFA Program

The UGA Office of Online Learning and Grady College of Mass Communication and Journalism is happy to announce that Anne Hurne is Grady’s new Graduate Coordinator Assistant! In addition, Hurne will be taking over Kelly Meyer’s position as Program Coordinator of the Master of Fine Arts degree program.

Valerie Boyd, Director of Narrative Nonfiction, Featured on Georgia Public Broadcasting Radio Show

Print is not dead. This is the point that Valerie Boyd, director of the Narrative Nonfiction track of UGA’s Low-Residency MFA Program in Narrative Media Writing, wants to make, despite the quickly changing journalism industry. Boyd recently discussed her new program and her thoughts on journalism on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s (GPB) radio show.

MFA Student Pete Stone Found the Perfect Fit in the Low-Residency Screenwriting Program

The low-residency MFA program at Grady College began in the fall of 2015 and has had a very successful start. There are two tracks one can choose from once admitted into the program: narrative nonfiction or screenwriting. Pete Stone, an English teacher and video production company owner from Chester, S.C., is a student in the screenwriting program. Stone spoke with Grady College about his experiences in the program and had many positive things to say.

Georgia Magazine Features Valerie Boyd, Director of Narrative Nonfiction

Congratulations to Valerie Boyd, one of the the bright minds behind UGA’s MFA in Narrative Media Writing program, for being featured in a wonderful article written by Allyson Mann in Georgia Magazine! Boyd has worked diligently the past few years alongside Nate Kohn to build up the Narrative Media Writing program at UGA, in hopes that she can “bridge the false divide” — as the article is titled — between journalism and literature.

UGA Online Professors Awarded International Education Awards

The Office of International Education honored two UGA Online Learning faculty and staff members at its annual International Education Awards Reception April 7 at the State Botanical Garden, with five other honorees. The annual event honors faculty and staff who have made outstanding contributions to the university's internationalization through instruction, research and service.


Contact Information

Contact the low-residency MFA Coordinator for answers to any additional questions you may have. 

Email us using the request for information form

or call


The Residency

About the Residency

The residency portions of the MFA program run for eight days, with students immersing themselves in an intensive writing environment for a full, enriching week. The residency provides students with the opportunity to build a sense of community with their peers and to engage in serious, focused study with their faculty mentors. Each residency includes daily seminars and craft lectures, as well as panel discussions and readings by faculty members, visiting writers, editors, agents and other publishing and entertainment-industry professionals.

A special thank you to Jittery Joe’s for afternoon coffee breaks at our residencies and the inspiration that follows!

Browse our residency photo album on Flickr!

Sample Residency Guides

Each guide is specific to your chosen program concentration.

Narrative Nonfiction Residency Guide (.pdf)

Screenwriting Residency Guide (.pdf)

Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Narrative Media Writing