Point Loma Nazarene University Launches M.A. in Writing Program

Graduate students in the PLNU Writing Center. From left to right, Abigail Franklin, Jaden Goldfain, and Denise Magloire. Photo courtesy of Rachel Lemmen.

Point Loma Nazarene University has launched a Master of Arts in Writing this semester under the Department of Literature, Journalism, Writing, & Language (LJWL). It has been in the works since 2019 and according to the program’s director, professor Robbie Maakestad, it has accepted its first cohort of 10 students and will accept a cohort of 10 each year. 

Graduate students choose a concentration in writing to study for two years which includes fiction, taught by professor Breeann Kirby, poetry, taught by professor Katie Manning, or nonfiction, taught by professor Robbie Maakestad. 

Manning is working with graduate students to create a professional online literature journal that will publish submissions from outside PLNU. According to Manning, the students and department recently decided on the name “Last Syllable” for the journal.

Jaden Goldfain, a graduate in the master’s program, said that studying and writing with friends from undergrad is a special experience.

“It’s just fun when you get a group of creatives all in one room,” said Goldfain. “It’s not like we think alike but we all have similar aspirations and vibes and we all understand that we all are here for art, and to express ourselves, and to really find out who we are, and who we are through writing, and how we can help others through writing.” 

The Loma Writing Center, directed by associate professor Holland Prior, has been launched this semester in conjunction with the graduate program. Graduate students are required to tutor for 20 hours during their first year. Students complete six units of pedagogy courses, taught by Prior, in their first year, preparing them to teach in the Loma Writing Center and the college setting. They will also mentor under a faculty member as a graduate teacher’s assistant. 

During their second year, students apply to teach as teachers of record in the WRI 1010: College Composition courses. According to Maakestad, students can receive a $10,000 stipend and 100% tuition remission.

In addition to the two-year writing master’s, LJWL has launched the four-plus-one writing track alongside the traditional master’s. Students in the four-plus-one track complete upper-division undergraduate classes in the third and fourth years of their bachelor’s, which count toward graduate credit. After receiving their bachelor’s, students can pay for a fifth year to complete the remainder of their master’s degree.

 The four-plus-one program does not require students to teach in the Loma Writing Center or WRI 1010 courses, nor does it include the stipend and tuition remission. However, Maakestad says that it allows students to complete a good chunk of their master’s while paying the block tuition for undergrad, as well as in half the time. Additionally, Maakestad says the master’s credits completed in undergrad are transferable to other graduate programs if students choose not to continue the fifth year at PLNU. 

Aliah Fabros, a third-year writing major and literature and philosophy double minor, is currently in the four-plus-one program and hoping to participate in the two-year master’s once she graduates. She is taking a graduate class this year with the current cohort. 

“There’s a level of trust in your ability to do your work and do it well, which I really like and appreciate,” Fabros said. “I think that when you’re doing four-plus-one you’re going to have to juggle a little bit more than maybe the average undergrad student but if you love to write and you see it as something that’s really fun then you know, it’s not going to be a negative.” 

According to Maakestad, the four-plus-one track is open to any major who is interested. 

“All fields need strong writers,” said Manning. “If you look at any of those lists of things that employers want, among them is they want writing, they want good communicators, they want people who can think creatively.”  

Denise Magloire is a graduate student in the program and shares that it is a place where students can grow.

“It’s a very accepting and nurturing space, I would say,” said Magloire. “It feels to me like it’s not a program where you’re asked to be perfect but where you’re asked to try and be creative, and it’s ok to fail and no one’s going to judge you. And I think that’s the perfect place to be when you’re not sure what you want to do.” 

To learn more about the master’s or four-plus-one program, contact professor Robbie Maakestad at