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What Is the BFA Curriculum’s Purpose?

The B.F.A. is meant to give you lots of flexibility while still grounding your work in the skills all writers need. Each of the four parts reinforces the overall skill set at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels.

  1. The three introductory courses help you evaluate your strengths in each genre; begin to learn how to read like a writer; and start to contextualize your work within the literary tradition and our present moment. CWL 250, Join the Conversation, is limited to majors only, so it also helps to build your writing community.
  2. blackboardThe ten writing workshops are the heart and soul of your creative writing experience. In small groups of 16 students, you’ll produce original work and read the original work of your peers. Course numbers are defined broadly by genre, but within each course number you’ll find a variety of sections, each with a different topic being explored. You can take the same course number as many times as you want, since the topics change from section to section and from semester to semester. Initially, you’ll want to try your hand at everything, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, script, interdisciplinary writing, even science writing. But as you discover your sensibility and grow more secure in your talent, you’ll begin to specialize, choosing workshops that best develop your creative capacity. Ultimately, you’ll build your own BFA with these ten workshops as your primary building blocks.
  3. The "read like a writer" courses take a practical approach to literature. Organized around a topic, the course will have a reading list of books akin to what you’d find in an English class, but combined with assignments that ask students to apply what they’re reading to their own creative output. Instead of writing critical essays, you’ll be more likely to be editing Balzac or imitating Brooks or structuring a short story after one by T.C. Boyle.
  4. The capstone cluster is a group of four courses taken together during spring of junior year or fall of senior year, as you embark on your thesis project, a book-length manuscript. During this term you’ll form a relationship with your thesis advisor, a faculty member who will continue to work with you through the year you’ll spend on your book. You’ll take two courses for majors only: CWL 390, a course in the ethical problems that writers encounter, and CWL 450, a thesis workshop in planning your book and solving the challenges that go along with any long-form project. Along with advising sessions on your manuscript in progress (CWL 499), your thesis advisor will also conduct an independent reading course with you, CWL 487.

How Does the BFA Fit with Stony Brook's Gen Ed Requirements?

The B.F.A. is designed to fulfill most of Stony Brook's general education requirements in the humanities. Called the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC), these requirements are broadly defined. A full description is here in the Undergraduate Bulletin

A major will definitely get these SBC requirements from CWL courses: 

HUM (CWL 190)

ARTS (CWL 202)

HFA+ (CWL 300-315)

EXP+ (CWL 450, 320)

WRTD (CWL 300-315)

CER (CWL 390)

SPK (CWL 390)

ESI (CWL 487)


A major will likely meet these:

STAS (CWL 325)

GLO (CWL 330, 340)

USA (CWL 335)


A major will not get these SBC requirements from CWL courses: