Dare to Imagine.

Nurture your creativity with engaged critical study and analysis of literature for children and young adults. Transformative works from folklore, fantasy, nonfiction, poetry, and realism set rich contexts to your developing vision and voice. Small group critiques, individualized mentorships, and grounding in the publishing industry fortify your developing career as a writer.

Explore genre and audience. Engage with picturebooks, young adult realism, beginning and middle-grade readers, graphic novels. Dare to discover new audiences and forms all your own.

Learn from colleagues from across professions. Core classes will include teachers, librarians, editors, illustrators, academics. Join experienced authors and illustrators in unique events such as the summer institute at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons, Horn Book at Simmons Symposium, and Boston's annual literary events. From P.E.N. New England Discovery Night to the Boston Book Festival, participate in today’s literary heritage as you create tomorrow’s.

Program Requirements

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MFA program requires a baccalaureate degree preferably with a major in English and American and/or comparative literature from an accredited institution. However, the program is also open to students with majors in elementary or secondary education, fine arts, or social sciences who have done substantial work in English. The application should include official transcripts of all degree work, two letters of recommendation, and, for international students, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants must submit a writing portfolio not to exceed 20 pages as well as a statement of purpose that reflects on their writing process. This statement should address the applicant’s goals as a writer, his/her publishing history and/or any works in progress. An interview, though not required, is strongly recommended. 

Degree Requirements

Thirty-two credits are required for the MFA degree. The program consists of four academic courses and four writing courses. The final requirement is a two-course sequence in which the student works closely with a mentor to develop a manuscript from conception to submission.

The following courses are mandatory:

  • CHL 401 Criticism of Literature for Children 
  • CHL 403 The Picturebook 
  • CHL 430 Writing for Children I
  • CHL 431 Writing for Children II
  • CHL 441 Mentorship I, supervised study
  • CHL 442 Mentorship II, supervised study


History Electives (to total 4 credits)

  • CHL 411 Victorian Children's Literature
  • CHL 418 Australian Children's Literature
  • CHL 419A Canadian Children's Literature: Fantasy
  • CHL 421 History of Children's Book Publishing
  • CHL 424 Nonsense and Subversive Rhymes
  • CHL 427 Special Topics in Folk & Fairy Tales
  • CHL 428A The Graphic Novel and The Wizard of Oz

Genre Electives (to total 4 credits)

  • CHL 404A Poetry for Young Readers
  • CHL 413 Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Young Adults
  • CHL 414 Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • CHL 419B Humor
  • CHL 429A Rereading Race in Classic Children's Literature
  • CHL 429B The Girl Reader, 1868-1908
  • CHL 429C Culture Matters in Children's Literature
  • CHL 436A Nonfiction-Narrative
  • CHL 436B Nonfiction-Expository
  • CHL 513 Survey of Children's and Young Adult Literature
Customize Your Program
You'll work with a faculty advisor to tailor your program to your interests and career goals.
Internships and Research

Our students work with two mentors to advance their creative work toward publication. Authors, literary agents, and editors serve as mentors. Recent mentors have come from:

Candlewick Press

Charlesbridge Books

Scholastic Books

Tu Books

Walden Media

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency

Alumni of the M.F.A. program have served as Boston Public Library Children’s Writers-in-Residence and St Botolph Club Emerging Artists. Recent M.F.A. alumni have been contracted by Simon and Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and HarperCollins. Two May 2014 graduates received the P.E.N. New England Children’s Book Caucus Discovery Award.

    Cathryn Mercier
    • Cathryn Mercier
    • Professor, Director of the Children’s Literature Program, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature
    • Phone: 617-521-2541
    • Office: C313
    Amy Pattee
    • Amy Pattee
    • Associate Professor
    • Phone: 617-521-2853
    • Office: P310B
    Megan Lambert
    Kelly Hager
    • Kelly Hager
    • Professor
    • Phone: 617-521-2173
    • Office: C310D
Eric Carle Museum

Programs at the Eric Carle Museum
All Children's Literature degree and dual degree programs are offered on the Boston campus. In addition, the M.A. in Children's Literature, M.F.A. in Writing for Children and our M.A. in Children's Literature/M.F.A. dual degree, and M.A. in Children's Literature/M.S. in Library Science dual degrees are offered at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. A number of two-credit courses are offered using an intensive weekend or week-long model.

The Carle
In collaboration with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Simmons offers all four graduate programs in Children's Literature onsite at The Carle. This includes our M.A. in Children's Literature, M.F.A. in Writing for Children, M.A. in Children's Literature/M.F.A. dual degree, and M.A. in Children's Literature/M.S. in Library Science dual degree offered in collaboration with Simmons's School of Library and Information Science program at Mount Holyoke. Founded in part by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art. The Carle is located in Amherst, in the heart of the Five Colleges area of Western Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.carlemuseum.org.

How to Apply

Ready to take the next step? We'll guide you through the requirements and deadlines — and get you started on your way.

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