Children's Literature + Children's Literature: Writing for Children

With our Children's Literature (MA) + Children's Literature: Writing for Children (MFA) dual degree you can cultivate a unique place in the landscape of children’s and young adult literature. Synthesize contemporary literary theory and your creative practice.

Students in class

Compose the literary future

Highlight critical analysis – including gender studies, ideology, narrative theory – to position your own voice as a writer for today’s young readers. Draw on an interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates art, history, education, sociology, psychology and media studies as illuminating perspectives. Test your creative mettle across genre – from picturebooks and beginning readers for the youngest audience to contemporary realistic fiction and fantasy for young adults.

Immerse yourself in The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons to discuss craft and criticism with critics, editors, authors, and illustrators at the summer institute. Attend events with The Horn Book and Children’s Books Boston. Indulge in the Boston Book Festival, PEN-New England, Grub Street, and the active writing community of Boston.

Scholarships, Discounts, Fellowship and Teaching Assistantship Opportunities 

All applicants are considered for a range of university scholarships, including endowed and departmental awards; new and returning students may apply for selective fellowships to help fund their degrees. Students who have completed at least eight credits are eligible to apply for teaching assistantships to gain experience in the classroom and help finance their degree. Additionally, Simmons is proud to offer teachers, librarians, affiliates of partner organizations, and Simmons alumnae/i reduced tuition and other benefits.


Graduate students in the MA/MFA dual degree program typically carry between eight and ten credits in the fall, spring, and summer semesters after their first semester of eight credits. Students considering registering for more than 10 credits per term must consult with the graduate program director.

Required and Elective Courses


CHL401 Criticism of Literature for Children 4
CHL403 The Picturebook 4
CHL413 Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Young Adults 4
CHL414 Fantasy and Science Fiction 4
CHL421 Children's Book Publishing 4
CHL430 Writing for Children I 4
CHL431 Writing for Children II 4
CHL441 MFA Mentorship I 4
CHL442 MFA Mentorship II 4
History elective/s
Coursework in the history of children's literature, selected from courses with a chronological focus. To total 4.00
CHL 4XX Coursework in children's of children's and/ or young adult literature To total 4.00

The remaining 12 credits are completed by drawing from a variety of two- and four-credit elective courses. Electives cover a range of academic and professional interests. See the list of general electives above in the Department catalog page. A student's academic advisor will be an invaluable partner in determining which electives to take to meet the student's immediate interest and to build their professional portfolio.

Our students take advantage of internships and research opportunities in Boston and beyond, building their skills and resumes and learning from mentors in their fields. Students have interned at publishing houses such as Delacorte, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Charlesbridge, Candlewick, Scholastic, Penguin, David Godine, and St. Martin's; at a variety of literary agencies in Boston and New York; and at advocacy groups, such as Reach Out and Read and the Boston Book Festival. Some students also seek professional internships with local schools and libraries.

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.

Programs at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

All Children’s Literature degree and dual degree programs are offered on the Boston campus. In addition, the MA in Children’s Literature, MFA in Writing for Children, the dual degree MA/MFA are also offered at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. Students can complete the MA in Children’s Literature/MS in Library Science with MA courses at the Carle and LIS courses on the Mount Holyoke campus. Founded by Eric Carle, the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the Carle is the first full-scale museum in this country devoted to national and international picture book art.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

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. Learn more about the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Children's Literature at Simmons University

From picture books to young adult literature, classic works to contemporary prize-winners, you will explore the artistry of literature for children and young adults. Dare to discover new audiences and stories all your own.

Graduate Program Videos

Diverse Voices in Storytelling

Genielysse Reyes '20MFA is adding her diverse voice to storytelling. Learn more about her experience in the Children's Literature program.

More Videos

Spotlight on Children's Literature Students and Alums

Rotem Moscovich standing in front of a shelf full of books

From Simmons to the Caldecott Medal: Adventures in Picturebooks with Rotem Moscovich ’06MA

Rotem Moscovich ’06MA, Editorial Director of Picturebooks at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, shares how Simmons cultivated her love for children's literature, and her experience editing a Caldecott-winning picturebook.

A row of children's books on a shelf. Robyn Budlender robzy_m, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Children’s Literature Editor Karen Boss ’95 ’13 Champions Diverse Authors in Successful Career Change

Karen Boss ’95 ’13MA earned a double Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Sociology and returned to Simmons twenty years later for her Master’s in Children’s Literature. She is a senior editor at Charlesbridge, where she works on fiction and nonfiction picture books, and middle-grade and young adult works.

A side by side image with Julie Bliven alongside the cover of her book "Sometimes Shy"

Julie Bliven ’05 ’08MA Shares the Power of the Simmons Community

Charlesbridge Publishing Children’s Book Editor Julie Bliven ’05 ’08MA worked with Simmons classmate Elaine Dimopoulos ’08MFA on her most recent novel, and this year published her debut picture book. She shares how being a writer has helped her be an editor, and vice versa.

Ariel Richardson hoding a number of children's books

Ariel Richardson ’09MA Edits Sibert Medal-Winning Picture Book

Ariel Richardson ’09MA is the Senior Editor in Children’s at Chronicle Books, located in San Francisco. We caught up with Richardson about her role, her time at Simmons, and her recent award-winning picture book.

Photo of Stephanie Seales with her dog

Children's Literature Alumna Shares Fresh Perspectives for Children's Books

Stephanie Seales '09MA has touched many aspects of publishing throughout her career, and is using her understanding of the industry in her works as an author , career coach, book reviewer, and authenticity reader. What led you to study children's...

Photo of Ariel Vanece - Adriana Arguijo Photography

Ariel Vanece MA '22 Imbues Children's Literature with Intergenerational Friendships

Ariel Vanece, who completed the dual Children's Literature MA and Writing for Children MFA program in 2022, recently secured a two-book deal with Penguin / Rocky Pond Books. They spoke with us about what motivates them to write and how...

Photo of Megan Litwin

Megan Litwin '02MA Publishes her First Children's Book

In her new book Twinkle, Twinkle, Winter Night , author Megan Litwin '02MA captures the enchantment of winter. She spoke with us about her interest in children's literature and her experience at Simmons. Tell us about your new book and...

Main College Building cupola with fall leaves

Elissa Gershowitz '00MA, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Offers Titles to Add to Your Reading List

This October, Elissa Gershowitz '00MA was officially named Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Inc. , publisher of a review journal of children's and young adult literature. We caught up with her about her role at the Horn Book...