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MFA in Creative Nonfiction Graduate Student Handbook 2022/23

  1. Introduction
  2. Your Program
  3. Before you begin the program
  4. When you begin the program
  5. As you progress through the program
  6. As you prepare to graduate
  7. After you graduate


Welcome to King’s and to the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program.

This handbook is a guide to the various regulations and policies that govern your participation in the MFA. It also introduces people and services that can help you get the most out of the program. The handbook is meant as a guide only — official documents take precedence.

The MFA in Creative Nonfiction is a degree offered jointly by the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University. The program is governed by Dalhousie’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS). So you are a student at both universities and member of both the King’s Students’ Union (KSU) and the Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students (DAGS).

Your Program

The MFA in Creative Nonfiction is a two-year low-residency program geared to providing you with the structure, instruction and support required to develop your skills as a nonfiction writer and your understanding of the business side of nonfiction book publishing. You will attend two June  residencies in Halifax (nine days each), and in alternating years, a winter residency in New York and a winter residency in Toronto (one week each). (NOTE: pandemic restrictions may require residencies to be convened online). During the residencies, you take part in writing workshops, lectures and meetings with editors, agents and publishers. Each term, you work one-to-one with a mentor on your book-length nonfiction manuscript. By the end of the program, you are expected to have completed a polished book proposal and a substantial portion of your book manuscript.

As of Spring 2022, more than 40 graduates of the program had published or were under contract to publish books developed in the program. Graduates have made national bestseller lists and been nominated or won awards such as the RBC Taylor Prize, Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, Margaret and John Savage First Book Award (Nonfiction), Evelyn Richardson Award, Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Nonfiction and others.

Program structure

Each year of this two-year program is structured around two residencies and four courses. The program begins with a nine-day June Residency in Halifax. In the Summer Residency/Fall Term, you take a Mentorship course and a Writing Craft course. In the Winter Term, you attend the Winter Residency and take a Mentorship course and a Publishing course. The second year follows the same pattern.

The Mentorship courses form the backbone of the program and consist of one-to-one work with a mentor. You produce a book proposal and work on your manuscript, with the expectation that you will produce between 15,000 and 20,000 words per term, depending on the research requirements and complexity of your project. Mentors provide feedback at each step, with opportunities for you to revise your work during the program. The Writing Craft courses, which take place in the Fall term, consist of assignments geared to contributing to the development of your nonfiction writing skills, including consideration of writing challenges, book reviews, research plans and endnotes assignments. The Publishing courses, which take place in the Winter term, are focused on the business aspects of nonfiction writing, including marketing, legal issues, and other aspects of building a career as a writer. For marking purposes, the Summer Residencies are considered part of the Writing Craft courses, and the Winter Residencies are considered part of the Publishing courses.

Master’s Classes 2022-2023

Summer and Fall 2022

First-year students

JOUR 6101.06 Mentorship I

JOUR 6100.03 Writing Craft I (includes the June residency)

Second-year students

JOUR 6201.06 Mentorship III

JOUR 6200.03 Writing Craft II (includes the June residency)


Winter 2023

First-year students

JOUR 6103.06  Mentorship II

JOUR 6102.03 Publishing I (includes the winter residency)

Second-year students

JOUR 6203.06 Mentorship IV

JOUR 6202.03 Publishing II (includes the winter residency)


Examples of the syllabi of these courses may be found under the “Explore Courses” link under the Curriculum heading near the bottom of MFA Program page. For the most current versions of syllabi for the courses in which you are enrolled, see your cohort’s Dropbox Paper page (see information below under “As You Progress Through the Program: Cohort updates and current information”) or contact your faculty instructor.

Brightspace Learning Platform

Each course has a page on Brightspace, the university’s online learning platform. Course outlines and updates, Zoom session invitations, recorded lectures, PowerPoint presentations, supplementary readings and other course materials are posted here and updated as the term progresses.

To login to Brightspace, go to and click on Brightspace in the upper right hand corner. You can also login by going directly to

If you have received a NetID or username, and still cannot login, please contact the Instructional Technologies Team by phone (902-494-3456) or email (

Help and support for students using Brightspace and other learning technology tools is provided by the Help Desk.

  • Phone: 902-494-2376 (option 1)
  • Toll-free: 1-800-869-3931
  • Email:


Important dates and deadlines

Encaenia (Graduation Exercises): May 26, 2022

June 2022 Residency (Halifax): June 4 – 12, 2022

Winter 2023 Residency: January 8 – 13, 2023.

June 2023 Residency (Creative Nonfiction – Halifax): June 3 – 11, 2023.

Winter 2024 Residency: (Dates TBD)

Deadline for 2023 applications for the MFA Research bursary: June 30, 2023

Please consult the King’s Academic Calendar for other academic and institutional deadlines.


Admission requirements, deadlines, forms and fees

Tuition and fees (term due dates and payment information)

Tuition and fees (estimates)

Financial aid: Bursaries

Financial aid: Scholarships: Nova Scotia students enrolled in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program may qualify for scholarships from:

* Nova Scotia Talent Trust

* Arts Nova Scotia

Students in other jurisdictions may qualify for arts council professional development funding in their province or jurisdiction.

Indigenous students may qualify for funding through Indspire.

African Nova Scotian and African Canadian students can apply for the Sylvia DHamilton Award, a scholarship that can be reined for the second year of the MFA. 

MFA students are, in general, ineligible for FGS scholarships.

Financial aid: Student loans


People in Your Program

Your cohort director is your main point of contact. If you are graduating in odd-numbered years, your cohort director is Stephen Kimber. If you are graduating in even-numbered years, your cohort director is Dean Jobb. The executive director of the MFA program is Kim Pittaway. Contact information for you mentor is found on your Mentorship course syllabus.

If you have questions or concerns about your course work, your mentor or course professor should be your first point of contact. If concerns remain, contact your cohort director (depending on your year, Dean Jobb or Stephen Kimber), or the executive director of the MFA program, Kim Pittaway. Tim Currie, director of the School of Journalism, is also the graduate coordinator for the School of Journalism, including the MFA program, and is the official liaison with the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Dalhousie, under whose auspices the MFA program is delivered.

Stephen Kimber, (902) 223-5120 (cell); Founder of the MFA program. Teaches JOUR 6100.03 (Writing Craft I) and JOUR 6200.03 (Writing Craft II) and supervises Mentorship courses.

Dean Jobb, (902) 476-3416 (cell); Teaches JOUR 6100.03 (Writing Craft I) and JOUR 6200.03 (Writing Craft II) and supervises Mentorship courses.

Kim Pittaway, (902) 422-1271 x282; (902) 448-1175 (cell);; office Room 261 on lower level of A&A building. Responsible for overseeing administrative aspects of the MFA program. Teaches JOUR 6102.03 (Publishing I) and JOUR 6202.03 (Publishing II).

The Director of the Journalism School is Tim Currie. He is also the Graduate Coordinator, your liaison with FGS. (902) 422-1271 x187;

Kelly Porter is the Department Administrator in the J-School. (902) 422-1271 x159;

For questions about other matters:

  • Admission: Assistant Registrar, Admissions Tara Wigglesworth-Hines (902) 422-1271 ext 259, (Registrar’s Office)
  • Tuition, Fees and Student Accounts: Student Accounts Officer Sharlene Salter (902) 422-1271 ext 116,’s Office)
  • Scholarships, Bursaries and Financial Aid: Assistant Registrar, Awards Catherine Read (902) 422-1271 ext 193, (Registrar’s Office)
  • Registration & Graduation (Encaenia): Coordinator, Academic Services and Student Systems Kirstin Mosher (902) 422-1271 ext 108 and Assistant Registrar, Academic and Enrolment Services Brandi Trzop-Goodick (902) 422-1271 ext 123 (Registrar’s Office)
  • Grade Appeals: Graduate Coordinator, Tim Currie (902) 422-1271 x187;


University mailing address:

University of King’s College
6350 Coburg Road
Halifax NS B3H 2A1

Switchboard: 902-422-1271

Before You Begin the Program

Acceptance letter: A letter or email from the University of King’s College saying that King’s has recommended to the Faculty of Graduate Studies that you be offered admission is not an official offer from Dalhousie Registrar. Official offers come only from the Dean of Graduate Studies. It is possible for the Faculty of Graduate Studies not to accept recommendations from King’s. A letter from the Dalhousie Registrar that offers admission is your official notification of acceptance. Details on a required admission deposit will be included in this letter.

Deferrals: Provided you instruct us in a timely manner, you can request a admission deferral for up to one year. If your deferral request is approved, a $200 admission deposit will be required to hold your place for the next academic year. Deferral requests should be made to Assistant Registrar, Admissions Tara Wigglesworth-Hines by email at

When You Begin the Program

Registering for your courses

Your registration in all required courses will be completed by the King’s Registrar’s Office. You will be notified of the date by which you will be registered in your courses and of when associated fees and tuition will be due in advance of your course start dates. Keep an eye on your Dal email for further information as it becomes available. After you have been notified of your registration in courses, be sure to check your Dal Online account, especially before deadlines, to ensure that you are correctly registered.

Please note that you are solely responsible for making any changes to your registration, including course withdrawal. Please see the Fees section of the King’s Academic Calendar for information on Course Changes, Refunds and Withdrawals. Please also see the Withdrawal from a course and Withdrawal from the program sections of this handbook.

Paying your tuition

You will be sent an email from the Student Accounts Office with detailed information about how to access your online student account, and how to pay your tuition, including tuition deadlines. This email will be sent to your Dal email address. If you do not pay your student account by the term due date, there is a late fee of $50. If the account is still outstanding a month later, another $50 late fee plus weekly interest will be added. For more detail go to the Payments Guide.

For a tuition estimate, you may use the online calculator. Note that this calculator provides an estimate only. This is the estimated cost for one academic year only. The MFA consists of two academic years of study.


Your (B00…) student ID number is assigned to you on admission to the program. This is your academic ID. Please include it when corresponding with everyone who isn’t your faculty instructor. Your NetID is your login ID for various campus services. Activate your NetID or change your password at Use your NetID to log into eduroam, the wifi network available at many university campuses across Canada and worldwide.

ID Card

If you are able to visit the Dal Campus in person, you may obtain your Dal Card in person. Instructions may be found on the DalCard website.
If you are not able to visit the Dal Campus in person, you may obtain a DalCard Distance Education student card, using this form.
For the purposes of using web/library services, you can receive your Novanet Barcode by email request — — using your Dalhousie email. The only requirement for this barcode is that you are registered in Banner by 6 pm the day before you make your request. If you are on campus, you may visit the King’s Library and activate your Novanet account in person.

Activate your email account

You will need a university email address (ending with to access services and receive important information and updates from the university. You are responsible for activating it and checking it regularly, as this is the only e-mail address the University will use to communicate with you. An email sent to it will be considered delivered to you. 

The steps for activating your email account are:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on New Users.
  3. Click on the first option: Activate or look up my NetID
  4. Select the second button: No I do not know my NetID
  5. Type in your Student ID (B00…)
  6. Enter your birthdate in the specified format, then click on Look up NetID.
  7. You will be prompted to set an initial password.
  8. Make a note of your NetID, your email address and your password.
  9. Click on Main. Type your NetID in Username. Enter your new password.

Congratulations! You have activated your email account.

if you regularly use another email address, it is important that you set up your to automatically forward mail to it. If you wish to do this, go to Mail Management after logging into your email account. Under Email select Email Forwarding. Type in your username and password, then select Mail Forwarding. Enter the email address to which you want the mail forwarded. Click Set Forwarding.

Health and dental benefits

As members of the King’s Students’ Union, you are eligible for coverage under their group Health and Dental plan. Coverage runs from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 of each year. If you wish to opt out of the program, you must do so in between September 1st and September 17th . You may also opt-in to enrol dependents or family members in the program. Full details are found on the KSU information page. If you have any questions please email

King’s Co-op Bookstore

The King’s Co-op Bookstore is an important contributor to the cultural life of King’s and the wider community. It stocks and sells books by MFA graduates and mentors, along with textbooks, other books of interest and King’s merchandise. You may order from them online, or visit the store in the basement of the New Academic Building. They are also happy to do special orders for books not listed on their website. And if you’re an audiobook fan, you can enjoy audiobooks through, which supports local bookstores instead of Amazon-owned Audible.

Library Services

King’s students may use their student ID card to borrow books from the King’s library or any other Novanet member university or college after registering their card at the King’s library. (Novanet is a consortium of libraries in Nova Scotia and the Mount Allison University library in New Brunswick.) King’s students also have remote access to King’s and Dalhousie’s eBook collection, databases, and e-journals through the Novanet online catalogue.

See the links for Electronic Resources listed under Research on the Library main page for a wide range of electronic resources accessible from your computer. The Library’s LibGuide for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction also includes resources that may be particularly useful to students. (See the navigation bar on the left side of the LibGuide for a range of resources; the section titled “Distance Students” has information specifically for students working at a distance.)

The Live Help chat service provides students with one-on-one reference and research assistance from a Novanet librarian remotely via instant messaging. Students can access the Live Help chat box located on the Library website and any of King’s LibGuides.

Once registered with King’s Library, you may request a Council of Atlantic University Libraries (CAUL) card, which extends your borrowing privileges to other universities across the country in accordance with the Canadian University Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement. Not all universities participate in CURBA, and some participants charge additional fees.

NOTE: During the pandemic closure, you can receive your Novanet barcode by email request — — using your Dalhousie email. The only requirement for this barcode is that you are registered in Banner by 6 pm the day before you make your request.


Various software packages are available to students for download at no additional cost, including antivirus software and Microsoft Office.

Campus Emergency Alerts

While on campus, you may wish to register your email address or your mobile phone number for DalSafe alerts or download the DalSafe app.

As You Progress Through the Program

June residencies: The June in-person residencies take place in Halifax, and generally consist of two key components: morning workshop sessions with your mentor group of 5-7 students and afternoon lectures, discussions, panels and field trips with your cohort or the combined first- and second-year cohorts. Evening activities are optional, and include readings by students, alumni, faculty and guests. Classes start at 9 am on the first day of the residency, and run daily through until 4:30 or 5 pm (depending on the day), with a 90-minute break for lunch and short mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. The Wednesday in the middle of the residency is free.

NOTE: During the pandemic, we have shifted to virtual delivery of the residency content via Brightspace and Zoom. This includes a number of recorded lectures, as well as synchronous live sessions for mentor groups, readings and some lectures. Timing of the live sessions depends on your time zone. A schedule will be provided to you in early May.

Campus accommodation during the June residency: For in-person residencies, you may opt to book King’s summer campus accommodation. Accommodation may also be found at Dalhousie University. You are also free to arrange off-campus accommodation.

Winter residencies: The winter residencies alternate between Toronto and New York City, and generally consist of lectures, discussions, panels and field trips. Residencies also include a day of one-to-one meetings with editors, agents and publishers, where each student has two 15-minutes meetings. Evenings are free. Classes begin at 9 am on the Sunday, and finish at 5 pm on Friday. (If the winter residency is offered virtually, timing of live lectures will depend on your time zone.)

Accommodation during the Winter residency: The MFA program will provide hotel recommendations in New York and Toronto. You may also arrange accommodation independently.

Grading policies:

The course uses the following grading scale:

A+ 90-100
A 85-89
A- 80-84
B+ 77-79
B 73-76
B- 70-72
F <70

Students must achieve a minimum grade of B- in all courses. In general, discuss your grade first with your instructor. If you wish to file a formal appeal, talk to the Registrar’s Office to get the appropriate form and pay the fee. Consult the King’s calendar to learn more about the appeal procedure.

Cohort updates and current information: You will be added to the course list-serv for your cohort when you are admitted to the program. This list-serv is used for announcements from faculty and staff. Generally, we direct these messages to your Dal email account; if you would prefer them to go to an alternative account, please let your cohort director know. Each cohort also has a Dropbox Paper page set up that includes updates on residencies, schedules, syllabi and other information.

Dropbox Paper page for the Class of 2022

Dropbox Paper page for the Class of 2023

Dropbox Paper page for the Class of 2024

Academic accommodation: You may request accommodation as a result of barriers experienced related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic protected under Canadian human rights legislation.

Students who require academic accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams should make their request to the Advising and Access Services Center (AASC) prior to or at the outset of the regular academic year.

A note taker may be required as part of a student’s accommodation. There is an honorarium of $75/course/term (with some exceptions). If you are interested, please contact AASC at 494-2836 for more information or send an email to

Withdrawal from a course: The deadlines for adding and dropping classes are published in the schedule of Academic Class Add/Drop Dates in the King’s Academic Calendar [added link]. Please review these dates carefully.  A withdrawal prior to or on the last day to add and cancel courses or prior to the last day to drop without a “W” is not recorded on the academic record. After the specified academic add/drop dates, the student is responsible for payment and content of the class, and receives a grade for it.  Non-attendance does not, in itself, constitute withdrawal. Most courses are offered sequentially in the program. Dropping or changing courses may affect your expected graduation timeline and your eligibility for student aid. Classes may be dropped at DalOnline. Be sure to inform your program faculty and administrators and reach out to if you need any support or run into issues.

Withdrawal from the program: If you want to withdraw from the program you must  immediately inform the Graduate Coordinator and the Faculty of Graduate Studies in writing. The immediacy of notification is important since the amount and speed of possible fee reimbursement is influenced by the date of withdrawal. You must contact Student Accounts directly to make arrangements to receive their fee reimbursement. A withdrawal is not official until it has been approved by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and received in the Registrar’s Office, and you have dropped your courses at Dal Online.

MFA Refund Schedule

See the FGS calendar for additional information regarding Suspension of Studies and Parental Leave.

Conduct within the university: All students, staff and faculty are governed by the university code of conduct, general college regulations, and policies on discipline, equity, and sexual harassment. These support your participation in a safe and respectful environment. View these in the university Yellow Book.

Conduct with the School of Journalism: Additionally, the Journalism School expects high standards of practice. Students are expected to read and abide by the School’s Handbook of Professional Practice. Note that practices around the sharing of drafts with sources may differ for those working on nonfiction book manuscripts.

As You Prepare to Graduate

Approving your Program of Study: Before graduation, you must approve the courses that constitute your degree. The Graduate Coordinator will send you an email at your Dal email address to prompt you to do this at the appropriate time.

Registering to graduate: If you are graduating in May, the deadline to apply to graduate is December 1. Email reminders to register will be sent to your Dal email address and applications to graduate are completed through Dal Online under Web for Students > Student Records > Apply to Graduate.  If you miss the deadline, you may still apply to graduate, but will have to pay a $50 late fee through the Dalhousie Registrar’s Office or Student Accounts as part of our association for this program. Reach out to if you need any support applying to graduate or have any questions.

Graduation ceremonies/Encaenia: Graduation ceremonies at King’s are referred to as Encaenia, a Greek word meaning “beginning, commencement,” and the term has been used since the founding of King’s in 1789. Details on the ceremony, including arrangements for the rental of gowns and hoods, receptions and associated events, may be found online at Encaenia homepage. Tickets are required for various events (the Encaenia ceremony [for guests], President’s Dinner and Coffee with the President).

After You Graduate

The MFA program welcomes updates from graduates on their publishing, writing and other related activities, and we are happy to share this information in the program e-newsletter. Informal groups of MFA alumni in Vancouver, Victoria, Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and elsewhere also sometimes gather for readings and social events, news of which is often shared in the e-newsletter or via the program Facebook page. Graduates may also wish to explore the services and programs offered by the University of King’s College Alumni Association.

Posted: August 8, 2019, 10:54 am ADT
Modified: October 3, 2022, 6:09 pm ADT