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2023 Creative Writing MFA Applicants Forum
By MDP March 17, 2022 in Literary
For those of us who plan to apply for a Creative Writing MFA in 2022 (start date 2023)! I saw that last year's thread was created around this time, so I thought I would drum one up.
- anibass , opuhala , cherrypi and 2 others
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dagreenkat 74 posts
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Feb 21 2023
Feb 28 2023
send me my decisions u cowards!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I've now received CNF decisions on all of my schools: UPittsburgh, UMinnesota, UIowa, Louisiana State, and UArizona were all rejections...But! I was accepted at Ohio State (my top preference)! I am ve
Received an acceptance email from BU this morning for poetry. Insane relief after getting a couple rejections in a row this last week.
Hi! I'm really considering applying to Brown University's Cross-Discplinary/Digital Writing concentration in the Literary Arts MFA. I already have a studio MFA but I get so excited thinking about that school/program, lmfao.
Anyway, just wondering if anyone here went to Brown in their undergrad?
Hey! Excited to be applying for fiction MFAs this upcoming fall. Was wondering if anyone happens to know what the application fee is for University of Miami and if they have fee waivers available? I can't seem to find the information on their website. Much obliged :)
- 5 weeks later...
I am still at UNH, so if anyone has questions about what it's like as a first year creative nonfiction student or a MFA student in general let me know!
If I am being honest I had a real rough first semester, but the second semester made up for it. In Fall 2022 I am still working at Research and Development, the Writing Center and TA-ing with a professor of mine, as well as writing my Masters Thesis. This is the advice stemming from my own experience only I would give to someone now being one year into my program:
1. The first semester is when you begin to transition into the grad-school writing life and into your writing community, but it may not be easy. Putting out my first essay (to a mostly second year cohort!) was rather scary because it was the first impression of my writing I gave to my peers and professor. This is where the rose colored glasses come off and the real work begins. Just be patient with others and yourself.
2. Look out for professional development opportunities outside of the classroom. Try for that Writing Center job you saw in that email or even grant writing. Even if down the line you realize you don't want to do it for a career, the experience will get you far and even help you make a little money. Yes the rumors are true, everyone is kinda looking out for the same careers post graduation. Everyone is looking to have that cushy tenure track job "teaching," (even if they've never done it in their entire lives or admit to hating undergraduates) or are looking to be the Editor and Chief of Penguin Random House. People will most likely brag and use every political tool they have to get ahead, but don't let it get you down. Think outside the lines, be yourself and keep on your own path. I personally thought I would be a terrible editor for the Writing Center, but it ended up becoming a passion of mine.
3. Find that one professor in your corner. You won't like every single person on the faculty, but you just need one who sees you and your writing for what it really is.
4. Even if you don't become extremely close with your cohort, if they respect you within the classroom as a writer, that's all that matters. In my experience, that whole "you will find friends for life," thing was an inflated unrealistic myth. (But if that aspect is important to you in an MFA program, then that's fine too.)
5. You might not all graduate together. I personally had no idea about this until recently. Everyone except for me extended their time in our two year program to 2.5 years and I am apparently the only one graduating in May 2023. Just don't be shocked.
6. Take that literature class your advisor warned you about. I took 2 master's level literature classes and not only did I get to know some awesome people outside of the MFA classroom, studying literature also helped my creative writing! I am also admittedly not an MFA purist. I describe myself as a academic/artist hybrid so I believe in cross-departmental study.
7. Take advantage of alumni from your program. One published alumni subbed for my nonfiction class once last semester and he is now helping me out with some aspects of my Masters Thesis!
8. In the end, it's your writing. Just because they are your professors or second/ third years doesn't mean they have greater authority then you about your voice, style, POV ect. In the end, you get to call the play.
Again, this is small sage advice from one person, but I hope it helps!
- koechophe , RosA-R and jjooeeyy
- 1 yr Warelin pinned this topic
Heya folks. I've been a reader for my college's literary magazine over the summer. The vast, vast majority of pieces I read are from MFA graduates or MFA candidates. Being in that seat where I have to say yes or no to incoming pieces has taught me a lot about what the difference between a "yes" piece is and a "no" piece is (and for reference, there have been dozens of "no" pieces and only like 2 "yes" ones... which I think is a lot like MFA applications lol).
Here's some advice if you're still working on your writing sample:
-Good, solid prose is an entry requirement. I honestly thought literary magazine submissions would be filled with a lot of really mediocre writers, but they aren't. The writers are, for the most part, fabulous, and have very solid prose. You can tell these people know the craft and know the basics and principals. The writing is clean and polished from a prose standpoint. A lot of people feel like that's not important, but from my experience, it's more like it goes without saying that you already know your stuff.
-... but good, solid prose isn't enough to get you noticed. This actually sort of threw me, since I always thought the person with the best prose, mechanically speaking, would be the "winner." But as I'm reading, that's not the case, and in fact, one of my "yes" recommendations wasn't actually quite as solid on prose (it was still good, but it wasn't as amazing as some of the other ones I've seen.) Basically, prose seems to be a "you must be this tall to enter" line, not the end-all be-all for good writing.
-Your writing needs to feel like it is contributing to the literary conversation. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what made me say "yes" to the few I've said yes to. At the end of the day, it comes down to whether the piece felt like it had something interesting to say. I read a lot of pieces about popular topics which treated those popular topics... pretty much like everyone else does. They were well-written, and they were genuine, but it felt like a lot of them were saying things the same way everyone else has said them.
I doubt everyone says yes for the same reasons, but the reasons I find myself saying yes are based mostly on:
Does this feel like a new insight? Does it feel like they're approaching the topic from a new angle/perspective? Does the work appropriately embrace complexity and nuance? Is there enough ambiguity in the piece to allow it to be analyzed, while also having enough specificity to feel intentional? The pieces I read which got a yes just went a hair further than the rejected ones. They were just a bit more unique, enough to make me think after reading them. I hope some of this helps. I also highly recommend looking for opportunities to volunteer for a literary magazine. It's been one of the single best experiences for making me look at my writing in a harsher light.
Best of luck!
- ElfieG , Ydrl , 1badgloop and 2 others
Hey all. Application season is right around the corner... Anyone starting to feel the pressure? (And/or frantically trying to write the best short story they've ever written ? )
- 2 weeks later...
just out of a simple curiosity, what's the consensus on switching programs? like if one was admitted somewhere but decided that maybe they wanted to go elsewhere after all? is that frowned upon?
- 4 weeks later...
On 8/30/2022 at 12:31 PM, strawberrybaldwin said: just out of a simple curiosity, what's the consensus on switching programs? like if one was admitted somewhere but decided that maybe they wanted to go elsewhere after all? is that frowned upon?
I did it and now I'm at Iowa. If a program isn't right for you that's okay. Anyone who doesn't think so can go suck rocks.
Hope everyone is having a decent time putting together their portfolios and applications! This is my first time applying to programs, so I'm fairly nervous. I'm applying to 8 schools, all fully funded, with 4 being "higher ranked" programs and the other 4 being smaller/"underrated" programs.
I have my poems completed, but I need to really tidy up my SOP and get another letter of recommendation, (been out of school for 7 years eeep!)
On 10/23/2022 at 9:00 PM, jjooeeyy said: Hey all, Hope everyone is having a decent time putting together their portfolios and applications! This is my first time applying to programs, so I'm fairly nervous. I'm applying to 8 schools, all fully funded, with 4 being "higher ranked" programs and the other 4 being smaller/"underrated" programs. I have my poems completed, but I need to really tidy up my SOP and get another letter of recommendation, (been out of school for 7 years eeep!)
Hi! Fellow poet here. I was in the thread a little last year but didn’t end up applying due to health reasons. Now, I am back to try again. One thing that is helping me with my SOP is printing out my manuscript. Then I read it as if I have never seen it before (or try to). It helped me see some common themes or topics in the poems.
How are applications going for everyone? Anyone else have a Dec 1 deadline? I am worried about the program processing all my documents and transcripts in time.
Hi everyone! I just finished my applications to 16 different schools (mostly in poetry, a few for poetry and fiction) and am waiting on fee waivers for my last 3 applications. This has been such an incredibly stressful, daunting and nerve-wracking process so far and we are only just beginning! I endlessly workshopped my SOP and writing sample with two professors and I am still double-checking every so often to make sure I didn't make a mess of anything. How does everyone survive the waiting process!?
I also wanted to say that I was able to secure fee waivers for every program so far (other than the final 3) and if anyone would like help with the language to use when asking for waivers or what I had to use as proof of financial hardship, I am more than happy to help!
On 11/20/2022 at 9:08 PM, Veneralia said: Hi everyone! I just finished my applications to 16 different schools (mostly in poetry, a few for poetry and fiction) and am waiting on fee waivers for my last 3 applications. This has been such an incredibly stressful, daunting and nerve-wracking process so far and we are only just beginning! I endlessly workshopped my SOP and writing sample with two professors and I am still double-checking every so often to make sure I didn't make a mess of anything. How does everyone survive the waiting process!? I also wanted to say that I was able to secure fee waivers for every program so far (other than the final 3) and if anyone would like help with the language to use when asking for waivers or what I had to use as proof of financial hardship, I am more than happy to help!
Congrats on finishing 16 applications already!! The waiting sure is difficult but at least you don’t have to worry about sending apps in during the holidays. Is this your first round of apps?
5 hours ago, Leeannitha said: Congrats on finishing 16 applications already!! The waiting sure is difficult but at least you don’t have to worry about sending apps in during the holidays. Is this your first round of apps?
Yes! I am just finishing my first undergraduate degree this semester, as a non-traditional student, and I focused on English and Creative Writing. I will definitely apply again next round if I don't end up anywhere this time--I know people often get in on subsequent rounds, but hey, fingers crossed and all that.
On 11/23/2022 at 11:00 PM, Veneralia said:
Best of luck to you!! With apps and the rest of your undergrad classes. Which programs are you applying to? Maybe we have some in common.
I’m applying to:
Iowa Writers’ Workshop
Helen Zell program
& maybe Northwestern?? All for poetry ?
22 hours ago, Leeannitha said: Best of luck to you!! With apps and the rest of your undergrad classes. Which programs are you applying to? Maybe we have some in common. I’m applying to: Michener NWP Iowa Writers’ Workshop NYU Umass Amherst Syracuse Helen Zell program & maybe Northwestern?? All for poetry ?
I'm applying to all of those except for NYU, Umass and Syracuse! I live like twenty minutes from Amherst though and it's lovely here! I just want to move to a new place. I'm also applying in poetry. Would be so rad to cross paths!
Hi friends! Happy holidays and happy application cycle!
I am applying to Michener and I'm a little confused about the process. I submitted my ApplyTexas online application and got an email from UT, Austin telling me they received my app. I set up my MyStatus account but now I cant figure out how to upload my additional materials (personal statement and manuscript ext.) Can anyone help me? Thank you in advance!
On 11/28/2022 at 12:34 AM, alligator mississippiensis said: Hi friends! Happy holidays and happy application cycle! I am applying to Michener and I'm a little confused about the process. I submitted my ApplyTexas online application and got an email from UT, Austin telling me they received my app. I set up my MyStatus account but now I cant figure out how to upload my additional materials (personal statement and manuscript ext.) Can anyone help me? Thank you in advance!
Hi sorry just saw this!!! I know the deadline is approaching. Go to your my status page and click the “admissions” tab. It should have sections to upload each part. This is what mine looks like. (I am on mobile so I hope this picture shows up)
I think you have to click “details” first on the right, then it will take you to a separate page to upload.
I had a hard time figuring out underrated programs. Which ones did you apply to?
I got an email from FSU about an 'application update' and jumped out of my skin (as if I didn't just apply last week). it was only letting me know the app is now under department review. It's gonna be a longggg three months until decisions come out, lol
just wanted to jump into this forum and note my presence. in addition to PhD programs in English, i am applying this cycle to Michener, New Writer's Project, UC Irvine, Litowitz @ Northwestern, Brown, and UVA. all are for poetry. wishing everyone a jolly and warm december!
6 hours ago, issys134 said: hi y'all, just wanted to jump into this forum and note my presence. in addition to PhD programs in English, i am applying this cycle to Michener, New Writer's Project, UC Irvine, Litowitz @ Northwestern, Brown, and UVA. all are for poetry. wishing everyone a jolly and warm december!
Good luck to you!
23 hours ago, notebook said: I got an email from FSU about an 'application update' and jumped out of my skin (as if I didn't just apply last week). it was only letting me know the app is now under department review. It's gonna be a longggg three months until decisions come out, lol
Do you think this means that programs are already meeting and going over applications? Was the deadline last week? The whole process is very mysterious…
hi everyone! i just discovered this forum and i'm so happy to find some community!
i applied to brown, syracuse, ucsd, u of o, and uw this year. it's my first time applying so very scary!!
wishing you all luck as you get those apps in. looking forward to tons of acceptances for everyone <3
Hi y'all! Here to offer well wishes as the December 15th deadline is looming... I'm frantically revising (and essentially rewriting) my SOP for each school, which is maybe the worst part of this whole process, IMO. Each school wants a different length, different questions answered, and then I feel the need to research each school's resources and opportunities to oh-so subtly mention them. At least it'll be (mostly) over soon! Best of luck! ?
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Becoming a great writer is at once an intensely personal and a deeply collaborative process. This new program is designed to help writers find their voices and find their audiences. It is built around poetry and prose workshops led by award-winning published authors. Faculty take a holistic approach to teaching that merges rigorous literary study with a communal, writer’s retreat-style experience.
This 30-credit program is the only public, graduate creative writing option in the Hudson Valley. Complete it in two years or less or design a part-time course load to fit into a busy schedule. We can also accommodate future teachers with creative writing electives that fulfill MAT degree requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply to the new MA program?
What do I need to provide in the application?
To apply you’ll need:
- A BA in English with at least a 3.0 GPA
- A 10-20 page Critical Writing sample, which can be 1 or 2 essays showing your research and analytic abilities.
- Three letters of recommendation.
- A 10-20 page Creative Writing sample, which can be a collection of poems, a personal essay, a short story, an excerpt from a longer work of prose, or some combination of these.
- An essay stating intent and objective of your graduate studies.
When is the deadline to apply?
We ask that your application be submitted by March 15 th . We will accept applications on a rolling basis after that date, but you may not receive priority consideration.
What if I am already in the MA English Literature program, but would like to switch to the new Creative Writing concentration?
If you currently have fewer than 12 credits in the MA program, it is possible to switch concentrations. Please contact Professor Cyrus Mulready with the 10-20 page Creative Writing sample, and to go over the change in the plan of study.
Is this new concentration compatible with the 4+1 BA/MA program?
While we hope to set up a new plan of study to allow this soon, it is not currently possible.
Can I still apply for the MA Teaching Assistantship program if I concentrate in Creative Writing?
Yes! You can still apply as usual (by April 1 st ) to be a part of the TA program.
What about the Graduate Assistantship program?
Yes, this is also compatible with the new concentration, and MA Creative Writing students can apply for funding through the GA program as positions become available.
Is this an MFA degree?
No. The MFA, which is considered the terminal degree in the Creative Writing field, is a little different than our MA degree, which is really a concentration of the English MA, but which allows students to concentrate more on their own creative writing. However, our MA degree may be a useful stepping stone towards an MFA degree elsewhere, as it will provide writers with the chance to hone their craft, develop a writing sample, and gain valuable education about teaching creative writing.
Do I need to specify my focus in one specific genre of creative writing?
Our program is designed for cross-genre study, meaning that all students will take a mixture of poetry and prose (fiction/nonfiction) workshops.
What is a “Creative Thesis”?
Our writing students will produce a creative thesis in their final semester of study, while meeting for individual advising with a professor to guide the process. The final thesis will consist of at least fifty pages of prose or a collection of poetry.
What is a “Teaching Writing” course?
One of the unique aspects of our MA program is a special course to train students in the techniques behind teaching creative writing, as this is a common path for many working writers.
Why do I still need to take Literature & Critical Theory courses as a Creative Writing student?
Our program is still an MA in English, and half of the required courses are in our literature/theory areas, and it is crucial for all creative writers to also be good readers, and to know more about the many varieties of literature.
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The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023
April 7, 2023
Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.
First of all, what is an MFA?
A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.
What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.
Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing
You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.
The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.
Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.
But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.
Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs
Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:
Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs
These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.
- Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
- Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.
Full-Time MFA Programs
These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).
- Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
- Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.
Low-Residency MFA Programs
Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.
- Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.
Online MFA Programs
Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.
- Pros: No major life changes required.
- Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition
The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category
The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.
Fully Funded MFA Programs
1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).
This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).
- Incoming class size: 8 students
- Admissions rate: 11.1%
- Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren
2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)
A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.
- Incoming class size : 12 students
- Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
- Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith
3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.
- Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
- Acceptance rate: 3.7%
- Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft
4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.
This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.
- Incoming class size: 18
- Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
- Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward
5) Brown University (Providence, RI)
Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.
In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.
- Incoming class size: 12-13
- Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
- Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh
Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued)
6) university of arizona (tucson, az).
This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.
This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.
- Incoming class size: 9
- Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
- Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace
7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):
Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.
- Incoming class size: 8-10
- Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
- Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam
FULL-RESIDENCY MFAS (UNFUNDED)
8) new york university (new york, ny).
This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.
- Incoming class size: 40-60
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong
9) Columbia University (New York, NY)
Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.
- Incoming class size: 110
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang
10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)
Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.
- Incoming class size: 30-40
- Acceptance rate: N/A
- Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado
11 bennington college (bennington, vt).
This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.
- Acceptance rate: 53%
- Incoming class: 40
- Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others
12) Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)
This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.
Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”
- Incoming class size : 22
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder
13) Vermont College of Fine Arts
One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.
VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.
- Incoming class size: 18-25
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya
14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).
The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.
- Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here
15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)
This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.
There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.
- Incoming class size: 20
- Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
- Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here
Prepare for your MFA in advance:
- Best English Programs
- Best Creative Writing Schools
- Writing Summer Programs
Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:
- The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
- Graduate School Admissions
With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in The Millions , Asymptote , and The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit www.juliaconrad.net
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Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (0478)
Department website: http://www.wku.edu/english/
Nancy W. Dinan, [email protected]
The MFA program provides students pursuing vocations in creative writing the opportunity to acquire the background and knowledge required to be leading citizens of what Vachel Lindsay calls the “Republic of Letters.” The program prepares students for lives as writers of novels, short fiction, creative nonfiction, scripts, and poetry and related pursuits such as teaching, literary editing and publishing. In addition to intensive creative writing, students will complete four classes in a secondary concentration as part of the MFA. Students can select a concentration in literature, composition/rhetoric, or teaching English as a second language in order to give them additional options for employment after graduation. In total, the three year residential program consists of 48 credit hours of graduate course work, culminating in the completion of a publishable creative thesis in fiction, poetry, scriptwriting, or creative nonfiction. All applicants who meet the application deadline are automatically considered for available graduate assistantships teaching introductory writing classes for the English Department.
- Composition and Rhetoric (ENCR)
- Literature (ENLI)
- Teaching English as a Second Language (ENTL)
- A bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- A twenty-page creative writing sample consisting of work in at least one of the following genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or screenwriting. The spacing and formatting of the writing sample should fit conventions of the selected genre.
- A statement of purpose consisting of one or two single-spaced pages describing the applicant’s background and interest in creative writing and how the WKU MFA program could help with the applicant’s literary pursuits. Students may also briefly address interests, skills, or experiences that make them highly qualified for a graduate assistantship position teaching introductory college writing classes, although teaching skills should only be a small part of the statement of purpose (no more than 25%). Your interest in creative writing and your literary pursuits should be the main focus.
- A one or two-page curriculum vita or resumé
- Although not required, undergraduate creative writing courses are highly recommended
Graduate School Admission
Please refer to the admission section of this catalog for Graduate School admission requirements.
Program Requirements (48 hours)
Students may take the six hours of elective courses from any of the concentration courses so long as they have not counted them as part of the core or secondary concentration. In order to earn TESL certification as a secondary concentration, students must complete one TESL course as one of their free electives.
Composition & Rhetoric Concentration
Literature concentration, teaching english as a second language (tesl) concentration, print options.
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2023-2024 Graduate Catalog
A PDF of the entire 2023-2024 Graduate catalog.
MFA Program in Creative Writing
The Creative Writing Program offers the MFA degree, with a concentration in either poetry or fiction. MFA students pursue intensive study with distinguished faculty committed to creative and intellectual achievement.
Each year the department enrolls only eight MFA students, four in each concentration. Our small size allows us to offer a generous financial support package that fully funds every student. We also offer a large and diverse graduate faculty with competence in a wide range of literary, theoretical and cultural fields. Every student chooses a special committee of two faculty members who work closely alongside the student to design a course of study within the broad framework established by the department.
Students participate in a graduate writing workshop each semester and take six additional one-semester courses for credit, at least four of them in English or American literature, comparative literature, literature in the modern or Classical languages or cultural studies (two per semester during the first year and one per semester during the second year). First-year students receive practical training as editorial assistants for Epoch, a periodical of prose and poetry published by the creative writing program. Second-year students participate as teaching assistants for the university-wide first-year writing program. The most significant requirement of the MFA degree is the completion of a book-length manuscript: a collection of poems or short stories, or a novel, to be closely edited and refined with the assistance of the student’s special committee.
MFA program specifics can be viewed here: MFA Timeline Procedural Guide
Every graduate student selects a special committee of faculty advisors who works intensively with the student in selecting courses and preparing and revising the thesis. The committee is comprised of two Cornell creative writing faculty members: a chair and one minor member. An additional member may be added to represent an interdisciplinary field. The university system of special committees allows students to design their own courses of study within a broad framework established by the department, and it encourages a close working relationship between professors and students, promoting freedom and flexibility in the pursuit of the graduate degree. The special committee for each student guides and supervises all academic work and assesses progress in a series of meetings with the students.
At Cornell, teaching is considered an integral part of training for a career in writing. The field requires a carefully supervised teaching experience of at least one year for every MFA candidate as part of the program requirements. The Department of English, in conjunction with the First-Year Writing Program, offers excellent training for beginning teachers and varied and interesting teaching in this university-wide program. These are not conventional freshman composition courses, but full-fledged academic seminars, often designed by graduate students themselves. The courses are writing-intensive and may fall under such general rubrics as “Portraits of the Self,” “American Literature and Culture,” “Shakespeare” and “Cultural Studies,” among others. A graduate student may also serve as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate lecture course taught by a member of the Department of Literatures in English faculty.
All MFA degree candidates are guaranteed two years of funding (including a stipend , a full tuition fellowship and student health insurance).
- Graduate Assistantship with EPOCH . Students read submissions, plan special issues and assume other editorial and administrative responsibilities.
- Summer Teaching Assistantship, linked to a teachers' training program. Summer residency in Ithaca is required.
- Teaching Assistantship
- Summer Fellowship (made possible by the David L. Picket ’84 Fund and The James McConkey Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Award for Summer Support, established by his enduringly grateful student, Len Edelstein ’59)
Optional MFA Lecturer Appointments Degree recipients who are actively seeking outside funding/employment are eligible to apply to teach for one or two years as a lecturer. These positions are made possible by an endowment established by the late Philip H. Freund ’29 and a bequest from the Truman Capote Literary Trust.
Admission & Application Procedures
The application for Fall 2024 admission will open on September 15, 2023 and will close on December 15, 2023 at 5pm EST.
Eligibility : Applicants must currently have, or expect to have, at least a BA or BS (or the equivalent) in any field before matriculation. International students, please verify degree equivalency here . Applicants are not required to take the GRE test or meet a specified GPA minimum.
To Apply: All applications and supplemental materials must be submitted on-line through the Graduate School application system . While completing your application, you may save and edit your data. Once you click “submit,” your application will be closed for changes. Please proofread your materials carefully. Once you pay and click submit, you will not be able to make any changes or revisions.
DEADLINE: Dec. 15, 5 p.m. EST . This deadline is firm. No applications, additional materials or revisions will be accepted after the deadline.
MFA Program Application Requirements Checklist
- Academic Statement of Purpose Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe, within 1000 words: (1) your academic interests, (2) your academic background, preparation, and training, including any relevant professional experiences, (3) your reasons for pursuing graduate studies in this specific program, and (4) your professional goals.
- Personal Statement Your Personal Statement should provide the admissions committee with a sense of you as a whole person, and you should use it to describe how your background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Additionally, it should provide insight into your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect where scholars representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and work productively and positively together. Writing your Personal Statement provides you with an opportunity to share experiences that provide insights into how your personal, academic, and/or professional experiences demonstrate your ability to be both persistent and resilient, especially when navigating challenging circumstances. The statement also allows you to provide examples of how you engage with others and have facilitated and/or participated in productive collaborative endeavors. Additionally, it provides you with an opportunity to provide context around any perceived gaps or weaknesses in your academic record. Content in the Personal Statement should complement rather than duplicate the content contained within the Academic Statement of Purpose, which should focus explicitly on your academic interests, previous research experience, and intended area of research during your graduate studies. A complete writing prompt is available in the application portal.
- Three Letters of Recommendation Please select three people who best know you and your work. Submitting additional letters will not enhance your application. In the recommendation section of the application, you must include the email address of each recommender. After you save the information (and before you pay/submit), the application system will automatically generate a recommendation request email to your recommender with instructions for submitting the letter electronically. If your letters are stored with a credential service such as Interfolio, please use their “online application delivery” feature and input the email address assigned to your stored document, rather than that of your recommender’s. The electronic files will be attached to your application when they are received and will not require the letter of recommendation cover page. Please do not postpone submitting your application while waiting for us to receive all three of your letters. We will accept recommendation letters until December 30,11:59 EST . For more information please visit the Graduate School's page on preparing letters of recommendations .
- Transcripts Scan transcripts from each institution you have attended, or are currently attending, and upload into the academic information section of the application. Be sure to remove your social security number from all documents prior to scanning. Please do not send paper copies of your transcripts. If you are subsequently admitted and accept, the graduate school will require an official paper transcript from your degree-awarding institution prior to matriculation.
- English Language Proficiency Requirement All applicants must provide proof of English language proficiency. For more information, please view the Graduate School’s English Language Requirement .
- Fiction applicants: Your sample must be between 6,000 and 10,000 words, typed, double-spaced, in a conventional 12- or 14-point font. It may be an excerpt from a larger work or a combination of several works.
- Poetry applicants: Your sample must be 10 pages in length and include a combination of several poems, where possible.
General Information for All Applicants
Application Fee: Visit the Graduate School for information regarding application fees , payment options, and fee waivers . Please do not send inquires regarding fee waivers.
Document Identification: Please do not put your social security number on any documents.
Status Inquiries: Once you submit your application, you will receive a confirmation email. You will also be able to check the completion status of your application in your account. If vital sections of your application are missing, we will notify you via email after the Dec. 15 deadline and allow you ample time to provide the missing materials. Please do not inquire about the status of your application.
Credential/Application Assessments: The admission review committee members are unable to review application materials or applicant credentials prior to official application submission. Once the committee has reviewed the applications and made admissions decisions, they will not discuss the results or make any recommendations for improving the strength of an applicant’s credentials. Applicants looking for feedback are advised to consult with their undergraduate advisor or someone else who knows them and their work.
Review Process: Application review begins after the submission deadline. Notification of admissions decisions will be made by email or by telephone by the end of February.
Connecting with Faculty and/or Students: Unfortunately, due to the volume of inquiries we receive, faculty and current students are not available to correspond with potential applicants prior to an offer of admission. Applicants who are offered admission will have the opportunity to meet faculty and students to have their questions answered prior to accepting. Staff and faculty are also not able to pre-assess potential applicant’s work outside of the formal application process. Please email [email protected] instead, if you have questions.
Visiting: The department does not offer pre-admission visits or interviews. Admitted applicants will be invited to visit the department, attend graduate seminars and meet with faculty and students before making the decision to enroll.
Transfer Credits: Transfer credits are not available toward the MFA program.
For Further Information
Contact [email protected]
MFA in Creative Writing Graduation Readings
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
- Professional Practica
- Paying for School
- Frequently Asked Questions
Our MFA program, established in 1978, is a two-year, full residency, studio-based program featuring intensive study of fiction and poetry. We offer a wide range of fully-funded positions in teaching, editing, and arts administration! EWU MFA candidates can gain experience in book and magazine publishing, festival promotion, and teaching both composition and creative writing.
We are committed to diversity, inclusion, and equality in the Creative Writing program. We believe that a respect for policies and practices that foster and protect diverse voices and viewpoints is essential to the success of our students and our program. To that end, our program is committed to proactively fostering diversity and inclusion throughout its curriculum, admissions, and all day-to-day practices.
As of Fall 2021, we are no longer admitting students wishing to pursue an MFA degree with a focus in creative nonfiction. We will, however, continue offering graduate workshops and form and theory classes in creative nonfiction.
Why Earn Your MFA at EWU?
We provide an intensive, two-year, pre-professional course of study with an emphasis on the practice of literature as a fine art.
Our Professional Practicum Opportunities
We place MFA students in positions throughout the community so that you get valuable hands-on experience.
Each of our faculty are practicing writers with significant national book publications and are committed, passionate, and accessible teachers of writing.
Many of our students receive a full tuition waiver plus a monthly stipend for teaching undergraduate composition and creative writing courses.
Get to Know Us
The Master of Fine Arts program at Eastern Washington University is located in the heart of downtown Spokane. Learn more about our community, our campus and the local literary scene.
EWU in Spokane
We are consistently proud of the bright, dedicated, and kind students that make up our MFA cohort each year. There is a strong sense of camaraderie and respect among our students, which creates an atmosphere ideal for writing your best work. Our students range in age from people straight out of college to older, non-traditional students, some of whom have careers in other fields. Every year’s incoming class is different in its makeup.
Our MFA Alumni
From business owners to university professors, our MFA alumni have utilized their degrees to further their careers and to expand their creative work all over the world.
Chris Maccini '18
Producer | National Public Radio (NPR)
Jaime Curl '03
Director of Learning Design and Technology | Slalom Consulting, LLC
Shann Ray '05
Professor Leadership Studies | Gonzaga University
Our Alumni Work in Many Different Roles!
Maya Jewell Zeller '07 | Associate Professor of English at Central Washington University
Amy Chase ’14| Human Resources Investigation Specialist at Hobby Lobby Corporate
Rost Olsen ‘13| Lawyer at State of Nevada
Daniel Spiro '19 | Director of Communications, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
Anne Kilfoyle '17 | Instructional Designer at Pen
Lauren Hohle '17| Managing Editor The Gettysburg Review at Gettysburg College
- Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university
- A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in the last 90 quarter or 60 semester graded post-secondary credits
Curriculum & Requirements
Creative Writing, Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Gregory Spatz, Program Director 400 Catalyst 509.828.1310
The Master of Fine Arts Program is an intensive, two-year, pre-professional course of study with an emphasis on the practice of literature as a fine art. The program includes coursework in the study of literature from the vantage point of its composition and history, but the student’s principal work is done in advanced workshops and in the writing of a book-length thesis of publishable quality in fiction or poetry. The MFA is a terminal degree program.
Program Learning Outcomes
Graduates of EWU’s MFA program in Creative Writing should be able to do the following, at a level of proficiency sufficient for entry into the profession:
- analyze works of literature using the technical language of the craft pertinent to their chosen genre of study (literary fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry);
- demonstrate an understanding of the contemporary literary landscape;
- produce texts that conform to the conventions specific to the genre being studied (literary fiction, literary nonfiction, poetry);
- provide constructive criticism of written works in progress;
- synthesize an understanding of the publishing process.
- October 2020
- February 2020
- January 2020
- November 2019
- October 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019
- October 2018
- September 2018
- February 2018
- November 2017
- October 2017
- February 2017
- January 2017
- November 2016
- October 2016
- September 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
Our monthly program newsletter has information not only on our MFA program, but regional literary events as well. We also include a collection of calls for submission, contests, and fellowships.
View the January 2022 Newsletter for the latest updates, or peruse our archives below for past issues.
The MFA at EWU C/O Eastern Washington University CAT 400 601 East Riverside Ave. Spokane, WA 99202
We welcome comments and encourage questions from prospective and incoming students. Feel free to write, call, or email us with queries about the program, application process, or moving to Spokane (definitely check out our Frequently Asked Questions , too).