The program begins with an eight-day annual residency, held on the Saint Leo University Campus, located in suburban Tampa. The residency is designed as an immersive and contemplative retreat; the daily schedule includes a workshop where a faculty mentor leads small groups of students in discussing their own creative work. The rest of the day is divided between lectures, talks on issues of craft in creative writing, and panel discussions, each led by a faculty member, a distinguished visiting writer, or a professional in the writing field, such as an editor or literary agent. Each day ends with a reading by an M.A. faculty member or a visiting writer; these events are free and open to the public.
At the residency, students meet one-on-one with a faculty mentor to design an annual work plan. These plans are specifically tailored to the individual and help guide each student on a unique path to the completion of the program. Then, during the fall and spring semesters, students complete course work from home, communicating with fellow students and mentors online.
In a writing workshop course, each student creates and refines original work in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. Each workshop is paired with a foundations course, where students read both contemporary and classic examples of writing in their chosen genre of study. In their fourth semester, students work on compiling, revising and editing their creative work into a master’s thesis. Students complete their degree requirements in a third and final summer residency, each giving a public reading from their work and leading a seminar on a subject of literary interest for the other students in the program.