Writing Popular Fiction (M.F.A.)



Visiting Guest Professor
January 2016 Residency

 WPF Grad John Fortunato Wins Hillerman Prize for His Thesis Novel, "Dark Reservations"

Mystery author to receive $10,000 and contract with St. Martin's Press.

"Phoenix Island" served as inspiration for the CBS show Intelligence, which premiered on January 7, 2014. John Dixon also received a Bram Stoker award for his novel.

Writing Popular Fiction Instructor Lucy A. Snyder won two Bram Stoker Awards in 2015!

Program Director Albert Wendland's debut novel, "The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes," received a Publisher's Weekly Starred Review!

Assistant Professor Nicole Peeler is a participating writer in "Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse," an audio-original anthology inspired by the novels of Charlaine Harris and the HBO series "True Blood."

Esaias Earns Honors for Short Story “Sadness” & Poem “Universe”

Faculty writer Timons Esaias’ short story “Sadness” appeared in Analog, has been selected for The Years Best Science Fiction 32 (an audio anthology The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction #7), and has been named to the Locus recommended reading list for 2014. In addition, his poem “Universe,” will appear in the 2015 Rhysling Award Anthology.

An Online Program Supported by Intensive On-campus Writers' Residencies.

This one-of-a-kind program teaches writers to create – and market – the fiction that sells. It is designed for those authors who wish to write within the popular fiction genres such as romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery in the adult, children’s or young adult markets.

How the Program Works

Seton Hill’s flexible, low-residency format allows you to earn a master of fine arts degree while working full-time or caring for a family. One-on-one mentoring by established writers enables students to develop a novel-length writing project in a genre of their choice.


As students complete reading and writing assignments, online contact with mentors, faculty and fellow writers ensures that they participate in a writing community and receive varied commentary on their work-in-progress.

On-Campus Residencies

Week-long residencies twice per year inform and enliven the writing experience, bringing students together on Seton Hill’s campus to learn the basics and complexities of popular fiction. Each residency also includes special events designed to help students learn from working authors and other industry professionals.

  • Every January, Seton Hill hosts a visiting professor who works with both undergraduate and graduate students during the course of the week. Recent visiting professors include Kevin Hearne, Philip Palmer and Kate Carlisle.
  • Every June, Seton Hill hosts guest speakers, which may include bestselling authors, agents or editors. Previous guest authors have included Octavia Butler, David Morrell, Jonathan Maberry, Juliet Blackwell, Sophie Littlefield and Chuck Wendig.


Seton Hill’s Writing Popular Fiction program is composed of professors who have proven their knowledge of the fiction market by being active and successful writers themselves.

Certificates in Writing Popular Fiction

  • Current undergraduate students at Seton Hill can take advantage of the Genre Writing Certificate Program offered in conjunction with the Writing Popular Fiction Program.

Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction Program is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.