How to Become a Writer in the District of Columbia (DC) with a BFA, MFA or Similar Creative Writing Degree
Created by CreativeWritingEDU.org Contributor
With many preserved historic areas there’s a good chance you can take a walking tour past the original homes of some of your favorite authors right here in the District.
Walt Whitman is one example. He called DC home for a decade in the 1860s. The person behind such works as Leaves of Grass , his style was unique and forever changed poetry. Not surprisingly his innovation to abandon the then-popular structure for meter and rhyme was scorned by his contemporaries. Whitman’s time in DC gave him unique experiences that would show up in his writing ever after.
Fast forward to the 21 st century and DC’s own Jonathan Safran Foer is the most recent proof that a writer from the capital can succeed in the world of words. Everything Is Illuminated was his first novel and was made into an award-winning film with major Hollywood star power. The novel itself was also highly acclaimed, winning several prominent national awards and appearing on the New York Times bestseller list.
Safran Foer has since followed upon his initial success with more memorable work, and now he’s also a creative writing teacher at New York University.
In fact, it was at a university, when Safran Foer was a freshman, that he first caught the writing bug when he took an introductory fiction writing class taught by none other than Joyce Carol Oates. He found he liked writing so much that he continued in the academic pursuit, and his thesis under Oates turned into the first draft of Everything Is Illuminated .
Safran Foer discovered in college what other successful writers have too: uniquely talented and inspiring writing professors who make a profound and early difference.
Speaking of Oates’ guidance as a writing professor, Safran Foer says…
“…she was the first person ever to make me think I should try to write in any sort of serious way. And my life really changed after that.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer on his writing professor Joyce Carol Oates
Safran Foer earned an undergraduate degree and that was all he needed to launch his successful career. A BA or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is great for laying a solid foundation in the literary arts.
While a bachelor’s was enough for Safran Foer, for us mere mortals, an MA or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) can take things to the next level and get you ready for both the artistic and business side of getting published, going beyond coffee shop writing groups and amateur criticism.
DC – Birthplace of the Harlem Renaissance
In fact, some argue that this African American intellectual and cultural revival in the 1920s and 30s got its start in the nation’s capital before moving to NYC.
Langston Hughes, who was influenced by Whitman, authored dozens upon dozens of short stories, novels, poetry collections, children’s books, and plays. While working as a busboy in a DC hotel, Hughes happened by one of the most popular poets in the nation at the time, Vachel Lindsay. Hughes put some of his poems next to Lindsay’s plate, and the next day national newspapers were talking about Hughes’ poems. From there he would go on to be a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance.
Husband-and-wife duo Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Dunbar-Nelson lived in LeDroit Park. Paul wrote 17 books and was one of the first African American writers to gain national prominence, even though he died at the young age of 33. Alice was an outstanding poet in her own right with her own style, and this plus her literary reviews of prominent Harlem Renaissance writers shaped the trajectory of the movement.
One of the most important sites associated with the Harlem Renaissance is writer Georgia Douglas Johnson’s old house, today a few blocks away from the U Street Corridor, then-known as the S Street Salon. Every Saturday night she would host a local writers’ party where up-and-coming African American writers in DC could mingle with their older more experienced counterparts.
Johnson herself was an accomplished playwright and poet, and she also penned a weekly newspaper column. Her plays include Blue Blood and Plumes .
Zora Neale Hurston was one of those young up-and-coming DC writers who attended Johnson’s S Street Salon soirées. In fact she moved in with Johnson for a while, and was published for the first time while living in DC. In addition to her involvement in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston went on to become an anthropologist and ethnographer of Black folklore, as well as the author of four novels including Their Eyes Were Watching God .
DC has been the birthplace of many important literary movements in the past, and will undoubtedly continue its tradition of leadership and creativity going into the future. You’re in the right place at the right time. All you need now is the creative writing chops to add your name to the list of great writers from DC.
District of Columbia’s Creative Writing Classes, Courses, and Workshops Can Prepare You for a Creative Writing Degree
As with any creative endeavor, your progress as a literary arts wordsmith improves with practice and experience.
Because Washington DC attracts some of the nation’s brightest it should come as no surprise that the city hosts plenty of opportunities for practice that will stimulate your talent.
Capitol Hill Writers Group welcomes aspirants in all genres of fiction, whether you have several books published or none at all. Membership is free and allows you to take advantage of regular meetings complete with Clarion-Method constructive criticism.
If you’re looking for a community, check out the DC Writers’ Salon. It has groups that meet anywhere from daily to monthly. In a unique approach, instead of groups focused on a particular genre, this salon has groups focused on specific tasks.
One group is dedicated to getting you out of bed and meets every morning at 8:30. One group is focused on holding writers accountable. Another group features writers talking about their craft. And of course, one group is dedicated to socializing where local writers can get to know each other.
The spoken word can be a powerful medium, a fact that’s made reality at The Inner Loop. This organization celebrates writers who want to read their work out loud with a monthly gathering plus additional programming that supports the goal of vocalizing authors like retreats, radio programs, and residencies.
Writers’ conferences are a great place to meet people like yourself in addition to publishers who are fishing for new talent. Each year DC’s historic Eastern Market is graced by the Literary Hill Bookfest, a celebration of the district’s authors and the books they write. Children’s authors provide entertainment for the kids while the adults attend author talks throughout the day on a range of literary topics.
When it comes to publishing, Literary and Creative Artists is one DC-based lit agency with more than 80 clients who include everyone from first-time to best-selling authors. They accept submissions in fiction and non-fiction.
Writing Colleges in DC Offering Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing Provide a Path to Becoming a Writer
Writing is a craft that’s honed over generations and passed down. Degree programs in English and creative writing are designed to facilitate this generational fostering of artistic talent.
Jonathan Safran Foer launched his career thanks to his inspirational writing professor, and he himself is now passing on the literary arts to his creative writing students.
When you’re ready to get serious about supporting yourself as a writer and honing your skills to the professional level, that’s when you know it’s time to earn a creative writing degree.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Other Bachelor’s Degrees in Creative Writing in Washington, DC
George washington university.
COLUMBIAN COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Degree: Bachelor – BA
- Creative Writing and English
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Other Master’s Degrees in Creative Writing in Washington, DC
COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Degree: Master – MFA
- Creative Writing
Jump to navigation Skip to content
- P&W on Facebook
- P&W on Twitter
- P&W on Instagram
Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.
Find a home for your poems, stories, essays, and reviews by researching the publications vetted by our editorial staff. In the Literary Magazines database you’ll find editorial policies, submission guidelines, contact information—everything you need to know before submitting your work to the publications that share your vision for your work.
Whether you’re pursuing the publication of your first book or your fifth, use the Small Presses database to research potential publishers, including submission guidelines, tips from the editors, contact information, and more.
Research more than one hundred agents who represent poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, plus details about the kinds of books they’re interested in representing, their clients, and the best way to contact them.
Trying to get your work published can feel like wandering in a maze. If you are running into one dead end after another, not sure which way to turn, Poets & Writers can demystify the process and help you reach your destination—publication.
Every week a new publishing professional shares advice, anecdotes, insights, and new ways of thinking about writing and the business of books.
Stay informed with reports from the world of writing contests, including news of extended deadlines, recent winners of notable awards, new contest announcements, interviews with winners, and more.
Since our founding in 1970, Poets & Writers has served as an information clearinghouse of all matters related to writing. While the range of inquiries has been broad, common themes have emerged over time. Our Top Topics for Writers addresses the most popular and pressing issues, including literary agents, copyright, MFA programs, and self-publishing.
Our series of subject-based handbooks (PDF format; $4.99 each) provide information and advice from authors, literary agents, editors, and publishers. Now available: The Poets & Writers Guide to Publicity and Promotion, The Poets & Writers Guide to the Book Deal, The Poets & Writers Guide to Literary Agents, The Poets & Writers Guide to MFA Programs, and The Poets & Writers Guide to Writing Contests.
Find a home for your work by consulting our searchable databases of writing contests, literary magazines, small presses, literary agents, and more.
Poets & Writers lists readings, workshops, and other literary events held in cities across the country. Whether you are an author on book tour or the curator of a reading series, the Literary Events Calendar can help you find your audience.
Get the Word Out is a new publicity incubator for debut fiction writers and poets.
Research newspapers, magazines, websites, and other publications that consistently publish book reviews using the Review Outlets database, which includes information about publishing schedules, submission guidelines, fees, and more.
Well over ten thousand poets and writers maintain listings in this essential resource for writers interested in connecting with their peers, as well as editors, agents, and reading series coordinators looking for authors. Apply today to join the growing community of writers who stay in touch and informed using the Poets & Writers Directory.
Download our free app to find readings and author events near you; explore indie bookstores, libraries, and other places of interest to writers; and connect with the literary community in your city or town.
Let the world know about your work by posting your events on our literary events calendar, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.
Find a writers group to join or create your own with Poets & Writers Groups. Everything you need to connect, communicate, and collaborate with other poets and writers—all in one place.
Find information about more than two hundred full- and low-residency programs in creative writing in our MFA Programs database, which includes details about deadlines, funding, class size, core faculty, and more. Also included is information about more than fifty MA and PhD programs.
Whether you are looking to meet up with fellow writers, agents, and editors, or trying to find the perfect environment to fuel your writing practice, the Conferences & Residencies is the essential resource for information about well over three hundred writing conferences, writers residencies, and literary festivals around the world.
Find information about venues that host readings and author events, including bookstores, bars, cafes, libraries, literary arts centers, and more. The Reading Venues database includes details about how to schedule your own reading, admission fees, audience size, parking and transit information, and more.
Discover historical sites, independent bookstores, literary archives, writing centers, and writers spaces in cities across the country using the Literary Places database—the best starting point for any literary journey, whether it’s for research or inspiration.
Search for jobs in education, publishing, the arts, and more within our free, frequently updated job listings for writers and poets.
Poets & Writers Live is an initiative developed in response to interviews and discussions with writers from all over the country. When we asked what Poets & Writers could do to support their writing practice, time and again writers expressed a desire for a more tangible connection to other writers. So, we came up with a living, breathing version of what Poets & Writers already offers: Poets & Writers Live.
Establish new connections and enjoy the company of your peers using our searchable databases of MFA programs and writers retreats, apply to be included in our directory of writers, and more.
Bring the literary world to your door—at half the newsstand price. Available in print and digital editions, Poets & Writers Magazine is a must-have for writers who are serious about their craft.
View the contents and read select essays, articles, interviews, and profiles from the current issue of the award-winning Poets & Writers Magazine .
Read three decades of essays, articles, interviews, profiles, and other select content from Poets & Writers Magazine .
View the covers and contents of every issue of Poets & Writers Magazine , from the current edition all the way back to the first black-and-white issue in 1987.
In our weekly series of craft essays, some of the best and brightest minds in contemporary literature explore their craft in compact form, articulating their thoughts about creative obsessions and curiosities in a working notebook of lessons about the art of writing.
The Time Is Now offers weekly writing prompts in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction to help you stay committed to your writing practice throughout the year. Sign up to get The Time Is Now, as well as a weekly book recommendation for guidance and inspiration, delivered to your inbox.
Every week a new author shares books, art, music, writing prompts, films—anything and everything—that has inspired and shaped the creative process.
Watch videos, listen to audio clips, and view slideshows related to articles and features published in Poets & Writers Magazine .
Ads in Poets & Writers Magazine and on pw.org are the best ways to reach a readership of serious poets and literary prose writers. Our audience trusts our editorial content and looks to it, and to relevant advertising, for information and guidance.
Start, renew, or give a subscription to Poets & Writers Magazine ; change your address; check your account; pay your bill; report a missed issue; contact us.
Peruse paid listings of writing contests, conferences, workshops, editing services, calls for submissions, and more.
Poets & Writers is pleased to provide free subscriptions to Poets & Writers Magazine to award-winning young writers and to high school creative writing teachers for use in their classrooms.
Read select articles from the award-winning magazine and consult the most comprehensive listing of literary grants and awards, deadlines, and prizewinners available in print.
Each year the Readings & Workshops program provides support to hundreds of writers participating in literary readings and conducting writing workshops. Learn more about this program, our special events, projects, and supporters, and how to contact us.
Find information about how Poets & Writers provides support to hundreds of writers participating in literary readings and conducting writing workshops.
- Subscribe Now
MFA Programs Contact Form
Help us keep this database current. If you have updated information on one of the programs listed in the MFA database, let us know.
MFA Programs Database
- Help Keep This Database Current
Our MFA database includes essential information about low- and full-residency graduate creative writing programs in the United States and other English-speaking countries to help you decide where to apply.
Poetry: Jan-Henry Gray, Maya Marshall Prose: Katherine Hill, Igor Webb
Albertus Magnus College
Poetry: Charles Rafferty, Paul Robichaud Fiction: Sarah Harris Wallman Nonfiction: Eric Schoeck
Poetry: Kyle Dargan, David Keplinger Fiction: Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Stephanie Grant, Patricia Park Nonfiction: Rachel Louise Snyder
Poetry: Victoria Chang Prose: Lisa Locascio
Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith Literature: Matthew Heitzman, Christopher Varlack, Elizabeth Vogel, Jo Ann Weiner
Poetry: Genevieve Betts, Michelle Reale Fiction: Stephanie Feldman, Joshua Isard, Tracey Levine, Eric Smith
Arizona State University
Poetry: Sally Ball, Natalie Diaz, Eunsong Kim, Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Safiya Sinclair Fiction: Matt Bell, Jenny Irish, Tara Ison, Mitchell Jackson, T. M. McNally Creative Nonfiction: Sarah Viren
Poetry: Aria Aber, Dexter Booth, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Adam Gellings, Tess Taylor, Vanessa Angélica Villareal
Fiction: Kirstin Chen, Brian Conn, Edan Lepucki, Sarah Monette, Nayomi Munaweera, Vi Khi Nao, Naomi J. Williams, Kyle Winkler
Nonfiction: Cass Donish, Kate Hopper, Lauren Markham, Thomas Mira y Lopez, Lisa Nikolidakis, Terese Mailhot, Kelly Sundberg
Poetry: Jim Cihlar, Michael Kleber-Diggs Fiction: Stephan Eirik Clark, Lindsay Starck Nonfiction: Anika Fajardo, Kathryn Savage Playwriting: Alice Eve Cohen, Carson Kreitzer, TyLie Shider Screenwriting: Stephan Eirik Clark, Andy Froemke
Ball State University
Poetry: Katy Didden, Mark Neely Fiction: Cathy Day, Sean Lovelace Nonfiction: Jill Christman, Silas Hansen Screenwriting: Rani Deighe Crowe, Matt Mullins
Mirene Arsanios, CA Conrad, Hoa Nguyen, Christopher Perez, Cedar Sigo, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Roberto Tejada, Monica de la Torre, Simone White
Bath Spa University
Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, John Strachan, Samantha Walton, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Alexia Casale, Lucy English, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Steve Hollyman, Emma Hooper, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, C.J. Skuse, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Celia Brayfield, Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss Scriptwriting: Robin Mukherjee
Poetry: Lucy English, Carrie Etter, Tim Liardet, Gerard Woodward Fiction: Gavin James Bower, Celia Brayfield, Nathan Filer, Aminatta Forna, Maggie Gee, Samantha Harvey, Philip Hensher, Claire Kendal, Kate Pullinger, Gerard Woodward Nonfiction: Richard Kerridge, Stephen Moss
Bay Path University
Mel Allen, Leanna James Blackwell, Jennifer Baker, Sari Botton, Melanie Brooks, María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, Áine Greaney, Shahnaz Habib, Jessica Handler, Ann Hood, Susan Ito, Karol Jackowski, Yi Shun Lai, Anna Mantzaris, Meredith O’Brien, Lisa Romeo, Kate Whouley
Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College
Current Faculty: Poetry: April Bernard, Michael Dumanis, Randall Mann, Craig Morgan Teicher, Mark Wunderlich Fiction: Monica Ferrell, David Gates, Manuel Gonzales, Amy Hempel, Jill McCorkle, Elizabeth McCracken, Deirdre McNamer, Stuart Nadler, Katy Simpson Smith, Taymour Soomro Nonfiction: Eula Biss, Jenny Boully, Hugh Ryan, Clifford Thompson, Peter Trachtenberg
Poetry: Tina Chang, Joseph Weil Fiction: Thomas Glave, Leslie L. Heywood, Liz Rosenberg, Jaimee Wriston-Colbert, Alexi Zentner Nonfiction: Leslie L. Heywood
Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University
Poetry: Julie Hensley, Young Smith Fiction: Julie Hensley, Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson Nonfiction: Nancy Jensen, Robert D. Johnson, Evan J. Massey
Boise State University
Poetry: Martin Corless-Smith, Sara Nicholson, Taryn Schwilling Fiction: Mitch Wieland (Director), Anna Caritj Creative Nonfiction: Clyde Moneyhun
Poetry: Andrea Cohen, Karl Kirchwey, Robert Pinsky Fiction: Leslie Epstein, Jennifer Haigh, Ha Jin
Boston University—MFA in Literary Translation
Odile Cazenave, Margaret Litvin, Petrus Liu, Christopher Maurer, Roberta Micaleff, Robert Pinsky (advising), Stephen Scully, Sassan Tabatabai, J. Keith Vincent, William Waters, Anna Zielinska-Elliott
Bowling Green State University
Poetry: Abigail Cloud, Sharona Muir, F. Dan Rzicznek, Larissa Szporluk, Jessica Zinz-Cheresnick Fiction: Joe Celizic, Lawrence Coates, Reema Rajbanshi, Michael Schulz
Brigham Young University
Poetry: Kimberly Johnson, Lance Larsen, Michael Lavers, John Talbot Fiction: Chris Crowe, Ann Dee Ellis, Spencer Hyde, Stephen Tuttle Nonfiction: Joey Franklin, Patrick Madden
Poetry: Julie Agoos, Ben Lerner Fiction: Joshua Henkin, Madeleine Thien Playwriting: Dennis A. Allen II, Elana Greenfield
Poetry: Sawako Nakayasu, Matthew Shenoda, Eleni Sikelianos, Cole Swensen Fiction: Colin Channer, Laird Hunt, Karan Mahajan, Jacinda Townsend Cross Disciplinary & Digital Language Arts: John Cayley, Thalia Field, Sawako Nakayasu
- Make a Gift
You are here.
- Programs & Courses
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a two year program offering a degree in either Poetry or Prose, and is a part of the English Department's Creative Writing Program. Founded in 1947 by Theodore Roethke, the Creative Writing Program's tradition of transformative workshops continues with our current faculty: David Bosworth , David Crouse , Rae Paris , and Maya Sonenberg (Prose), and Linda Bierds , Andrew Feld , Richard Kenney, and Pimone Triplett (Poetry). They include among their many honors fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The list of our alumni publications represents a significant chapter in the history of American literature. The program has been ranked among the top ten in the country.
Students participate in writing workshops in prose and poetry, and undertake coursework in literary periods and types, and critical theory. MFA candidates also present a Creative Manuscript (minimum 30 poems,100 pages of 5 short stories and/or personal essays, or 150 pages of a novel or book-length essay), a Critical Essay (20-30 pages, addressing the student's relationship to his or her reading based on the student's own writerly concerns and studies), and an oral presentation (a discussion with and/or questions from the candidate's thesis committee on the creative manuscript, critical essay, and/or the writing process and which may include a reading from the candidate's Creative Manuscript).
The program admits only ten to twelve students each year. The relatively small size of our program (20-25 students) allows for close associations to develop among students and faculty. The first year is devoted to participation in workshops and literary seminars, and the second year allows for concentrated work on a creative manuscript and critical essay under the supervision of one of our regular faculty.
Students are funded through Teaching Assistantships, Fellowships, and a long-standing relationship with the Amazon Literary Partnership.
Students also enjoy Seattle's lively literary and arts scene. Seattle is home to numerous reading series, the Seattle International Film Festival, and many highly-acclaimed theater companies. Surrounded by spectacular scenery, Seattle is minutes away from hiking, skiing, and boating.
Learn more about UW's Creative Writing Program .
Application materials are due January 2 (or the first business day after January 1 st ). Initial offers of admission are usually made by mid-March.
- How to Apply
- Application Checklist
We offer a funding package to all admitted MFA students for two academic years. Learn more about the funding package and other funding opportunities here: MFA Funding and Support .
MFA Degree Requirements & Program Guide
The MFA is designed to be completed within six full-time quarters (two academic years). MFA students can refer to the MFA Degree Requirements and MFA Program Guide .
The Creative Writing Program acknowledges that the University of Washington, like all of our businesses, institutions and our lives, exists on Indigenous land. Such land acknowledgements are necessary as we push for justice and liberation in institutions and a broader society that continues to live out the settler colonial legacies of land theft, genocide, and enslavement. This Duwamish territory, and we are grateful to be here.
Departmental Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Justice
The UW English Department aims to help students become more incisive thinkers, effective communicators, and imaginative writers by acknowledging that language and its use are powerful and hold the potential to empower individuals and communities; to provide the means to engage in meaningful conversation and collaboration across differences and with those with whom we disagree; and to offer methods for exploring, understanding, problem solving, and responding to the many pressing collective issues we face in our world--skills that align with and support the University of Washington’s mission to educate “a diverse student body to become responsible global citizens and future leaders through a challenging learning environment informed by cutting-edge scholarship.”
As a department, we begin with the conviction that language and texts play crucial roles in the constitution of cultures and communities, past, present, and future. Our disciplinary commitments to the study of English (its history, multiplicity, and development; its literary and artistic uses; and its global role in shaping and changing cultures) require of us a willingness to engage openly and critically with questions of power and difference. As such, in our teaching, service, and scholarship we frequently initiate and encourage conversations about topics such as race and racism, immigration, gender, sexuality, class, indigeneity, and colonialisms. These topics are fundamental to the inquiry we pursue. We are proud of this fact, and we are committed to creating an environment in which our faculty and students can do so confidently and securely, knowing that they have the backing of the department.
Towards that aim, we value the inherent dignity and uniqueness of individuals and communities. We acknowledge that our university is located on the shared lands and waters of the Coast Salish peoples. We aspire to be a place where human rights are respected and where any of us can seek support. This includes people of all ethnicities, faiths, gender identities, national and indigenous origins, political views, and citizenship status; nontheists; LGBQTIA+; those with disabilities; veterans; and anyone who has been targeted, abused, or disenfranchised.
English Department Diversity Plan
The English department seeks to promote inclusion, diversity, and equity, especially racial equity, by recruiting, retaining, and supporting a diverse population of faculty, students, and staff in ways that counter ongoing legacies of systemic inequity and settler colonialism, and their organizing epistemologies.
The University of Washington acknowledges the Coast Salish people of this land, the land which touches the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Suquamish, Tulalip, and Muckleshoot nations. The Department's promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion values endeavors that build on this recognition as a means of transforming our research, pedagogy, and/or service.
Read more about the UW English Department's commitment to diversity, equity, and justice .
Contact an advisor
- For questions about the MFA program, please contact [email protected]
- Visit our FAQ page
- Meet our Graduate Staff
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
- Review Your ...
- K-12 School
- Town or Neighborhood
Masters in Creative Writing Programs in the Washington, D.C. Area
1-3 of 3 results
College of Arts and Humanities - University of Maryland
College Park, MD •
University of Maryland - College Park •
University of Maryland - College Park ,
Graduate School ,
COLLEGE PARK, MD ,
College of Arts and Sciences - American University
Washington, DC •
American University •
American University ,
WASHINGTON, DC ,
College of Humanities and Social Sciences - George Mason University
Arlington, VA •
George Mason University •
George Mason University ,
ARLINGTON, VA ,
College of Communication, Architecture and The Arts - Florida International University
Florida International University •
Graduate School •
- • Rating 4.54 out of 5 139
Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences
Lesley University •
- • Rating 4.75 out of 5 4
School of Public Affairs
- • Rating 4.5 out of 5 4
- • Rating 3.84 out of 5 19
Showing results 1 through 3 of 3
- College of Liberal Arts
- Creative Writing
- Academic Programs
| The MFA | Overview | Planning and Research | Assembling Your Application | Creating Your Timeline | Additional Tips | Additional Resources |
The MFA in Creative Writing
Many writers interested in continuing their study of Creative Writing beyond their bachelor's degree pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) in Creative Writing. MFA programs are designed to provide writers with theoretical framework, practical skills, and critical community support to help them further hone their craft and develop the expertise needed to become published writers.
MFA programs, however, are very competitive, with only a small percentage of applicants getting into the programs of their choice each year. As such, putting together a successful application takes considerable planning, research, focus, and time. From conducting research on which program is right for you, to preparing the materials you need, to perfecting your creative writing sample and statement of purpose, to obtaining letters of recommendation from your favorite professors, to actually sending in your applications: all this can take from six months to a year from start to finish.
If gaining a Master of Fine Arts degree is of interest to you, then this guide is a great place to start. Below are some tips on how to succeed in that process.
| Return to Top |
In total, you can expect to do the following as part of the process of applying to MFA programs:
- Plan the overall process and create a timeline
- Research MFA programs / Decide where to apply
- Creative Writing sample (10-20 pages of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, etc.)
- Statement of Purpose
- Letters of Recommendation from current or past professors (3 total)
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Curriculum Vitae or Resumé
- GRE test scores (if required by any of the programs to which you plan to apply)
- Application fees
- Submit your applications and required materials by the appropriate deadlines (see above)
Planning and Research
Your Application Timeline. The very first thing you'll want to do is create a timeline for your application process. (See " Creating Your Timeline " below for some more specific info.) Knowing that most application deadlines are between December 1st and February 1st (for students who want to begin in the fall semester), you will want to get started on everything AT LEAST six months prior to the earliest deadlines: i.e. you'll want to start the process in the spring of your Junior year (assuming you plan to start an MFA in the fall after graduating. If you think you might take a year off after graduation then you can begin in the spring of your Senior year.)
As part of your timeline, figure out when you need to start the various pieces of your completed application packet, and when you want to have them completed. For instance, knowing that it will take time to revise the stories or poems you want to include as your Creative Writing Sample, and that as part of this process you'll want to get feedback toward revision from a trusted friend and/or a willing (and generous) professor, you should plan to complete your first drafts of these no later than September, and possibly earlier. (Your friend or professor will need time to read and provide feedback for you. And then you will need time to revise, etc.) Similarly, knowing that your professors will need time to write your letters of recommendation, and that there's no guarantee that every professor you ask will agree to do this, you should start asking your favorite professors for letters early in your process, perhaps in the spring semester of your Junior year.
All this is to say: make yourself a timeline, give yourself deadlines, and do your best to stick to these deadlines!
Research. After completing your timeline, your next step in some ways is the most difficult: doing research to decide where you want to apply. Maybe you already have a program or two in mind. If so, that's great. If not, our best advice is to start with a resource right here at UTEP: Your Creative Writing professors.
Who are your favorite current or past Creative Writing professors ? Send each an email, or drop by their office hours. Simply let them know that you're interested in applying to MFA programs, and that you would like their advice. All of your professors here will have great advice, and can point you to programs that they admire, and/or in which they think you would be a good fit.
Of course there are other factors you should think about aside from your professors' recommendations. Here are a few things to consider as you're looking at various MFA programs:
- Genres. Does the program offer courses in all genres, or specialize in a limited number of genres (poetry, fiction, cre ative non-fiction, children's lit, screenwriting , gaming, etc)? Does it offer a variety of courses in the genre you're interested in? Does the program have faculty who specialize in and/or publish in the genre(s) you want to study?
- Faculty. Are you interested in writing by one or more members of the faculty in the program? (You may need to do some research to find and read some work by the program's faculty. Each Faculty member's bio or Faculty page will list their most prominent or most recent work.) If you're really intrigued, a sk t o be connected with faculty, if possible, to sit in on a class or for a one-on-one conversation about the program. Conversely, are there writers (perhaps that you've encountered through your Creative Writing classes, or by reading contemporary poetry/fiction journals) that you really admire? Look them up and find out where they teach!
- Location. Consider where the school is located . Is it somewhere you'd like to live? Is it affordable to live there? Is there a literary arts scene (or music scene, or performance scene, or visual arts scene)? Do you have connections to anyone in this location, or will you need to form new community upon joining the program? (Keep in mind that an MFA program is a great and easy place to form a new community!) Is the program online or in person? Do you want to move to a new city and start over, or would you like to be close to family and friends?
- Finances. Does the program offer Teaching Assistantships or Fellowships (or some other kind of yearly stipend) to its MFA students? (It should.) Does the program (and/or the University) offer grants/scholarships/tuition wavers to help defer the costs of graduate school? How much is not covered by all the above, and what is the remaining amount, considering tuition, fees, and cost of living, that you would have to cover out of pocket? Are you willing to take out loans to cover the rest? How much aid will you receive from FAFSA? Contact the school’s Financial Aid office for more information and to learn about additional resources.
- Program Specifics. Every student will have their own unique wants and needs from an MFA program, so consider what you value and are looking for. Some of the things you might consider: the reputation of the university and/or the program; the size of the program; the culture of the program and the competitiveness among classmates; what the graduates of the program do after completing the program; access to faculty; class size; opportunities to take part in reading series or in the production of a literary magazine; etc.
- Get in Touch. Talk to MFA students currently in that program to get a sense of what their experience has been, the strengths and weaknesses of the program, what they like and don't like about the program and/or the location, about the camaraderie among fellow students, why they chose that program, etc. (To get in touch with current students, you can usually e-mail the program, tell them you're considering applying, and that you'd like to be put in touch with current students.)
- Visit. If you have the time and resources, visit the programs you're most interested in (in person or virtually) to get a feel for the campus, the people, the program, and the town/city where it's located. If visiting in person, let the program know ahead of time that you're coming, make sure it's a good time to visit (you don't want to visit while they're on break!), and ask if you can sit in on a class and/or meet with current students etc. This is a great way to get a sense of whether or not you would fit in and feel comfortable there.
In the end you'll want to apply to at least three, and up to eight programs, depending on your resources. (The more MFA programs you apply to, the greater chance you have of being admitted to one. At the same time, the more MFA programs you apply to, the more you'll be paying in application fees, which can be quite expensive.)
Recent alumni from UTEP's Creative Writing Department have had success getting into a number of MFA programs that you might want to consider as well: University of Arizona, University of New Mexico, the New School, the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Pittsburgh, Emerson College, Simmons University, NMSU.
Assembling Your Application
Once you've made your selections and you know where you want to apply, you'll need to start assembling your application materials. The following is a list of materials commonly requested as part of an application to an MFA program in Creative Wriitng.
- Three Letters of Recommendation. I t is best to ask for letters of recommendation from current/previous professors who can speak to your writing abilities, your growth as a student, your participation and contributions to the classroom, and why they believe you are the right candidate for an MFA program . It is important to ask professors whom you know and in whose classes you did well. Also, consider your audience. Since you're applying to Creative Writing programs, you'll want letters primarily from Creative Writing professors. (One letter from a professor in a related field, such as Literature, would be okay, as long as the others are in the field you're applying to.) If you've done a special project with a professor, like an Honors Thesis, or If you've taken multiple classes with a particular professor you like and admire, and whose classes have been important to you, then she or he or they should be on the top of your list. Think ahead. C onnecting with professors during your experience as an undergraduate Creative Writing major--through class participation , attending office hours , and staying in touch even after your class with them ends--will help you build relationships with them and thus provide your recommenders with a deeper understanding of you and your writing as they prepare their letters. Always ask for letters at least two to three months prior to your earliest application deadline. (It never hurts to ask earlier rather than later.) Your professors are very busy, and while they always want to help if they can, good letters of recommendation require a lot of time and effort to prepare. You do not want to rush them. Make sure you provide for them the names of each school/program you're applying to and the deadlines for each.
- Statement of Purpose (or Statement of Intent). Precisely what any particular program asks for here can vary, but most programs request a writer’s statement and/or a statement of purpose (of approximately 500-1000 words) that speaks about your writing influences and goals ; what makes you distinctive as a writer; your academic and literary interests ; why you think their program is right for you; and your further professional goals beyond the MFA program . While the Creative Writing Sample (see below) is often the most important document you submit as part of your MFA application, the Statement of Purpose is still crucial, as it can often sway an admissions committee (who are weighing your application against many others), who may realize from your statement that you are truly interested in their program and what their program has to offer, and that you will therefore be a good fit there. What this means, however, is that you shouldn't simply send the exact same Statement of Purpose to each program you're applying to. Rather, you should tailor each Statement of Purpose to the program you're sending it to. Make sure you address the topics the program asks you to address, of course, but also make sure you talk about the specific aspects of their program that excite you: particular courses that are offered; faculty members you're excited to work with and why; specialty tracks or sub-programs within the program (such as screenwriting, literary translation, children's literature, etc.). All this is to say that you want to let the admissions committee know that you know something about their program, and that you know why you want to be there.
- Creative Writing Sample. A Creative Writing Sample will be 10-20 pages of your best poems, short stories, excerpts from novels, etc. In an MFA application, this is often the most important document you submit , and an admissions committee will often start by looking at this sample of your work. If they like it, they'll move you forward and look at the rest of your application. If they don't, that'll be the end. As such: do not simply dust off the work that got you an "A" in your recent Creative Writing classes and send it in. You'll want to work on these, revise, and work on them some more. Get feedback from a trusted friend or CRW classmate, or from a professor (who has agreed ahead of time to give you feedback). Take their constructive criticism seriously (they're trying to help! They want you to succeed!) and revise, revise, revise. Make your creative writing sample the absolute best you can. Once you've decided on the stories or poems you want to submit, have revised it all to the point where you (and your trusted readers) think it's ready, and you're ready to put the sample together, you'll want to think about how to order the work you've chosen for your writing sample. It's often best to lead with the strongest works first, the next strongest samples last, and the least strong samples in the middle. Finally, keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity (as long as you provide the minimum number of pages they request).
- Transcripts. Official Transcripts are official legal documents listing among other things the courses you took at the University and the grades you received, and these are issued by the university or college where you completed your undergraduate coursework, usually by the University Registrar's office. Unofficial transcripts show the same information, but do not have official legal standing. Most programs you're applying to will require official transcripts. To request your official transcripts from UTEP, contact the Division of Student Affairs Office of Registration and Records .
- Application Fees. Most programs charge an application fee to apply to their program. These fees cover the time and effort needed to process and review applications. These are typically between $50-$100 per application, and sometimes more. So, the more programs you apply to, the more you'll be spending on application fees. You'll need to think about this ahead of time, and start saving if necessary.
Some less commonly requested materials :
- Curriculum Vitae or Resume. A curriculum Vitae (CV) is a complete list of education, jobs, volunteer work, professional experiences, publications, public performances, awards, etc. Whereas a resume is usually a brief, one-page snapshot of all the above, highlighting your skills and past job responsibilities. You can find examples of both online.
- Critical Writing Samples. A 10-20 page sample of critical/analytical/research writing. Such a writing sample would be more commonly requested for applications to MA or PhD programs in more traditionally academic programs, like Literature, History, Communications, or Sociology. But, you never know. If you happen to be applying to a PhD program in Creative Writing, however, you will likely be asked for both a creative writing sample AND a critical writing sample.
- GRE Test Scores. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is similar to the SAT test (which you may have taken in preparation to apply to college), but is for those who want to study at the masters level or beyond after finishing their bachelor's degree. The "general" GRE test is supposed to measure your aptitude for graduate-level study, while specific GRE tests for specific disciplines (such as Literature or History) measure your preparation for advanced study in that discipline. In either case, though, one can dramatically improve their performance on these tests by studying for them with a test-prep book or app. Important to note is that few MFA programs require GRE scores, but some do. Best to do your research ahead of time here and figure out if any of the programs you're interested in require the GRE. If they do, and if you still want to apply to them, you'll need to schedule a GRE test time far in advance of those application deadlines. You can get more info on taking the GRE at the GRE website: https://www.ets.org/gre On the other hand, you may decide that you don't want to apply to any programs requiring the GRE, and therefore eliminate programs that require it from your list.
| Return to Top |
Creating Your Timeline
Below is a general guideline for putting together your own application timeline. Make sure you check with the programs you're applying to for specific dates for everything below.
- 12 months before applying (winter of Junior year) – Begin researching MFA programs
- 2 months before applying – Ask for Letters of Recommendation
- September 1 st - May 15 th – Applications Due (see MFA programs for exact deadline e s)
- Many programs have deadlines the first few weeks of January (for students intending to begin in the fall of that year). However, some of the most competitive programs have deadlines as early as September, and others have deadlines as late as May. Start researching early so that you don’t miss these crucial deadlines.
- October 1 st – June 30 th – FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid– see schools for exact deadlines) FASFA opens for applications October 1 st and closes June 30 th . Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible – some schools have priority deadlines or hard deadlines before June 30 th , or give a wards until funds are depleted. Check with your school to see when their deadlines are. A pply for FAFSA HERE .
- Rolling – Applying for scholarships Scholarships have deadlines throughout the year. It is recommended to start research ing and applying for scholarships in the fall prior to the year you are seeking funding. Check with the programs you are applying to to learn of additional scholarships and funding they may have. Contact the UTEP Office of Fellowships and Awards for assistance.
- March – July – Accept Offer (see schools for exact deadlines) You will get letters of acceptance or rejection anytime between March and July. Hopefully you'll have received an acceptance or two (or more). Review offer letters and notify program s of decisions. Some programs require a non-refundable deposit upon acceptance, while others do not. (If you are not successful in getting into the programs you applied to, it is okay to call and ask to speak to (or email) the chair of the admissions committee simply to thank them for their time and consideration, and to (politely) ask what was lacking in your application. This can help should you decide to try again next year.)
- Remember to say "Thank You" Send a follow up “thank you” card to the professors who wrote you letters of recommendation. And, don't forget to keep your recommenders in the loop as you make decisions – share with them when you are accepted into programs, and what your ultimate decisions are so that they can celebrate with you or provide support if you decide to apply to additional programs in the future.
Additional Application Tips
- Build time into your application timeline to h ave all of your materials reviewed by trusted classmates, fellow writers, and/or UTEP's University W riting C enter . Receiving feedback on (and then revising!) your creative/ critical writing samples and statement of purpose is crucial to the process of assembling quality application materials.
- Carefully proofread everything you submit. You are applying to a writing program, after all. You don't want to send writing that is riddled with typos and grammatical errors.
- Apply to multiple programs. While you may have an ideal program in mind, it is good to have several options available in case you are not admitted into your first choice; circumstances change your priorities; or so that you can compare the various offers in the event you are accepted to multiple programs.
Additional Online Resources
- MFA Programs Database (Poets & Writers): https://www.pw.org/mfa
- Guide to Writing Programs (AWP): https://www.awpwriter.org/guide/guide_writing_programs
- UTEP University Writing Center: https://www.utep.edu/uwc/
- 6 Tips for Getting Successfully Accepted into an MFA Program (UTEP): https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/march-2019/6-tips-for-getting-successfully-accepted-into-an-mfa-program.html
- " So You're Thinking About Applying to Grad School in Creative Writing " -- from the University of Arizona MFA in Creative Writing Program.
- Spanish: [email protected]
- English: [email protected]
Thanks to UTEP Creative Writing MFA candidate Sarah Hobin for assembling, organizing, and writing most of the material on this page!
Connect With Us
The University of Texas at El Paso Department of Creative Writing University Towers, Room 520 Additional Emails English: [email protected] Español: [email protected] MFA Online: [email protected] Undergrad: [email protected] 500 W University Ave El Paso, Texas 79968
E: [email protected] P: (915) 747-5713
Fellowships & Financial Aid
You are here: american university college of arts & sciences literature creative writing mfa fellowships & financial aid.
Battelle Tompkins, Room 237 on a map
Back to top
Fellowships and Financial Aid
The Literature Department offers our applicants merit awards that include tuition remission and (taxable) stipends for each of two years of full time study. The competition for merit scholarships is keen. The priority application deadline to be considered for merit awards is February 1 .
Factors that contribute to selection for merit awards are an outstanding undergraduate academic record, a well-written and engaging personal statement, and most importantly a strong writing sample in one genre. Some workshop experience is also encouraged. Applicants are not required to submit GRE scores .
Students who receive partial merit awards with stipend may work editing for Folio or writing for Café Américain .
Budget permitting, we also offer a few work-study opportunities for up to ten hours a week-with the same compensation noted above-for students to serve as either teaching assistants or writing consultants. These optional hours of work provide not only further financial assistance but also valuable hands-on experience to students interested in teaching.
Need-Based Financial Aid
The University also offers need-based financial aid and assistance through various federal loans. For more information, please contact Graduate Financial Aid at 202-885-6500 or [email protected] .
Students are encouraged to contact the university's Human Resources Office (202-885-2591) for information about part-time and full-time employment opportunities on-campus. The university provides eligible faculty and staff members with educational benefits including tuition remission for graduate courses taken at American University. Note: You must have completed four months of active full-time employment before the last day of late registration for any given semester in order to qualify for tuition remission benefits for that semester. The maximum benefit available is eight credits per semester. In addition, your total credits for courses taken under the program may not exceed 20 credits per academic year. For more information, please contact the university's Human Resources Office.
For off-campus employment, consult the AU Career Center Job Listing Service (202-885-1800). Or consult JobCorps, sponsored by the university's Student Government.
- Office of Financial Aid
- AU Human Resources
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
- 2-Year Colleges
- Application Strategies
- Big Picture
- Career & Personality Assessment
- College Essay
- College Search/Knowledge
- College Success
- Costs & Financial Aid
- Extracurricular Activities
- High School Success
- High Schools
- Law School Admissions
- Medical School Admissions
- Navigating the Admissions Process
- Online Learning
- Summer Programs
“Innovative and invaluable…use this book as your college lifeline.”
— Lynn O'Shaughnessy
Nationally Recognized College Expert
College Planning in Your Inbox
Join our information-packed monthly newsletter.
Sign Up Now
Featured story slideshow, master of fine arts in creative writing & poetics.
Image: LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs performing the opening keynote at the 2019 Fall Convergence
UW Bothell: Where Writers and Artists Converge
Find your voice as a writer while inquiring into the social, cultural and technological aspects of writing. How is writing an ethical, political and aesthetic endeavor?
Our students experiment across genres and are encouraged to extend their practice beyond the page, drawing upon media, art and performance.
Our unique curriculum includes workshops, seminars and opportunities to participate in readings, conferences and festivals.
Earn your degree with flexible evening classes designed for working professionals. Join a creative community and gain valuable skills for a vibrant writing career.
Learn more about our program below.
Explore the UW Difference
Writers who want to join a supportive community of literary peers and gain the credentials to work in diverse industries or teach at the college level
- Experimental writing, hybrid forms and performance
- Critical thinking about contemporary literature and art
- Exploration across genres and media
- Hands-on collaboration with faculty
- Visiting writers and artists
- Connection with Seattle’s thriving literary community
Degree You'll Earn
Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics
2 years / 6 quarters
When Classes Meet
Evenings; part-time and full-time options available
Autumn 2024 Application Deadline
February 1, 2024
Anida Yoeu Ali
Investigates the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity
MFA Program Director Associate Professor
Works at the intersection of print and digital media
Naomi Macalalad Bragin
Dancer, writer and performance ethnographer
Hybrid writer, community organizer and performer
Teaches classes in creative writing and poetics, literature and cultural studies
Seattle-based interdisciplinary artist and theorist
Writer and media artist
Outcomes Worth the Investment
MFA alumni go on to publish their work, found literary journals and small presses, study in doctoral programs and build literary communities in Seattle and beyond. Here are some recent stories:
- MFA's Talena Lachelle Queen’s new exhibit at Paterson Museum
- MFA alumni Amy Hirayama and Emily Mundy teach workshops in somatic exploration
- MFA alum Troy Landrum Jr. selected as Wa Na Wari Fellow
Average annual salary for writers and authors in Washington state in 2022
Projected annual job growth for writers and authors in Washington state (2020–30), which is much faster-than-average job growth
* Source: O*Net Online
“ Having other people come from an experimental poetry section, which I didn’t even know was a thing. And then also Filipino mythology and folklore, and people who are brilliant poets who use sound poetry — how the words sound and feel in your mouth as opposed to how they look on the page. Experiencing all these different artistic approaches was phenomenal. It was absolutely worth every second I could spend in class to learn .”
Creative Writer, Editor, Mediator and Leader Alumnus, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics
Brought to you by UW Continuum College
© 2023 University of Washington | Seattle, WA
Creative Writing (MFA)
Program at a glance.
- In State Tuition
- Out of State Tuition
Learn more about the cost to attend UCF.
The Creative Writing MFA offers a workshop-intensive program in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, emphasizing the art and craft of creative writing and concentrating on the student's written work. The program encourages hybrid and experimental forms.
The MFA program emphasizes the study of craft and published writing alongside the closely analyzed production of original work by students. Opportunities for professional development as writers, teachers, and editors abound. Our prolific, dedicated faculty members have won numerous prestigious awards for their work and have served as officers in national professional organizations. The MFA program in Creative Writing offers workshop courses in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, emphasizing the art and craft of creative writing and concentrating on the student's written work.
Total Credit Hours Required: 36 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor's Degree
Ready to get started?
- Copy Writer
- Creative Writer
- Creative Writing English Professor
- Editor / Publisher
- High School English Teacher
- Technical Writer
University of Central Florida Colleges
Enter your information below to receive more information about the Creative Writing (MFA) program offered at UCF.
Students are required to have a proficiency in American and British Literature as reflected by completing at least one survey course in each field. Students with baccalaureate degrees in subjects other than English whose transcripts do not clearly indicate successful completion of such courses will be required to complete survey courses in British and American literature as co-requisites before the thesis defense. The particular courses that satisfy these co-requisites are selected in consultation with the MFA program director.
- CRW6025 - Advanced Graduate Writing Workshop (3)
- CRW6920 - Fiction Workshop (3)
- CRW6921 - Multi-Genre Workshop (3)
- CRW6922 - Novel Workshop (3)
- CRW6923 - Nonfiction Workshop (3)
- CRW6924 - Poetry Workshop (3)
- While the student is expected to concentrate their workshop study in their chief genre, multi-genre proficiency is encouraged. Additional credit hours beyond the required 9 credit hours in workshops that include their chief genre are recommended to assist the student in developing better writing and publication skills.
- LIT6039 - Studies in Contemporary Poetry (3)
- LIT6097 - Studies in Contemporary Fiction (3)
- LIT6076 - Studies in Contemporary Nonfiction (3)
- CRW5130 - Form and Theory in Creative Writing (3)
- CRW6720 - Professional Development in Creative Writing (3)
- CRW6721 - Literary Journal Editing (3)
- CRW6976 - Scholarship and Publication Models (3)
- CRW6806C - Teaching Creative Writing (3)
- CRW5948C - Creative Writing Service Learning (3)
- CRW6946 - Internship (1 - 99)
- CRW 5938 - Special Topics Seminar 3 Credit Hours may also be taken if offered CRW 6920, CRW 6921, CRW 6922, CRW 6923, CRW 6924 may substitute for CRW 6025
- LIT6216 - Issues in Literary Study (3)
- LIT6936 - Studies in Literary, Cultural, and Textual Theory (3)
- ENC5705 - Approaches to Teaching College Composition (3)
- LIT6276 - Teaching College Literature (3)
- Earn at least 3 credits from the following types of courses: An additional elective.
- Earn at least 6 credits from the following types of courses: CRW 6971 Thesis 3 Credit Hours The candidate will complete a book-length manuscript of publishable quality, written and revised in CRW 6971 Thesis, that meets both departmental and university requirements for the thesis.
Practicum and Internship (Optional)
- Although a practicum or an internship is not required, they are encouraged to better prepare the student for their profession. These courses fulfill the 6-hour requirement in restricted electives and are listed in that category. CRW 6946 Internship The Florida Review Internship 3 Credit Hours The Cypress Dome Internship 3 Credit Hours Other Approved Internship 3 Credit Hours CRW 5948C - Creative Writing Service Learning 3 Credit Hours
- The creative thesis, a book-length manuscript of original creative work, is the independent learning experience.
Grand Total Credits: 36
- Learn more
- News Archive
MFA In Creative Writing Hosting Free Online Events
Dominican University of California’s low residency MFA in Creative Writing program invites the public to attend its spring 2022 series of virtual retreats and workshops that will highlight the program’s supportive, creative environment across the genres of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and narrative medicine. The first one in a series of seven free events is February 2, featuring an online creative writing workshop entitled “On Future Worlds” with educator/writer/coach Raina León, professor of English Education at St. Mary’s College. Starting in January 2022, Raina will be a writing mentor in the MFA program and will join the adjunct faculty at Dominican. The MFA is designed to support poets and writers who wish to complete and publish a book manuscript. The focus is on honing students’ writing skills while they learn about the publishing industry. However, since the MFA is recognized as a terminal degree in academe, graduates are eligible to apply for college-level teaching positions. Graduates also are prepared for jobs that require strong writing skills, such as publishing, editing, marketing, public relations, social media and web content strategy. The MFA starts with a residency and runs for two years, for a total of five residencies and four mentorship semesters. All MFA students attend the winter (January) and summer (June) residencies together. During the Fall and Spring mentorship semesters, students are broken out into smaller groups of three to five students per mentor, in accordance with the AWP guidelines and best teaching practices. Here are the free spring 2022 events: February 2 , 6-8 p.m. PST. On Future Worlds . This free workshop presented by Raina León, professor of English Education at St. Mary’s College, has a new date and will include reading news articles that explore potential crises and imagine what inner and outer worlds might emerge, ones that are about flourishing and collective organizing and possibility. The workshop, originally scheduled on January 25, will study science fiction (in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts) alongside the news to inspire generative writing from a place of artivism for preservation and action. January 26 , 6-7 p.m. PST. MFA in Creative Writing Program Overview . Led by Dominican MFA Director Judy Halebsky, whether one is a poet looking to hone his/her craft, an aspiring novelist who wants to get that book written, or a memoirist with an urgent story to tell, Dominican’s MFA program will help one achieve his or her writing goals. An admissions counselor will also be available to answer application questions. February 12 , 10-11 a.m. PST. The Nuts and Bolts of Applying to the MFA in Creative Writing Program . A hands-on workshop about putting together an MFA application with guidance and writing prompts to help participants craft their Letter of Intent or Artist Statement. This info session is led by MFA Director Judy Halebsky. An admissions counselor will also be available to answer questions about the program and the application process. February 26 , 10 a.m. to noon PST. Writing To Restore The Self . This free workshop, presented by psychotherapist, teacher, and poet Eliot Schain, will feature writing and discussion about imagery that can help process both positive and negative experience and unite disparate parts of the self. March 12 , 10 a.m. to noon PST. Do the Math: How to Keep Pressing Forward When We Feel Stuck . Join author Kim Culbertson in a free workshop using five specific craft exercises. The workshop will focus on character, POV, conflict, and setting tricks to help when one feels stuck on his/her manuscript. Kim calls it “doing the math” because sometimes one just has to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to get to the root of that writer's block. March 14 , 6-7 p.m. PDT. Putting together a Writing Sample for Applying to MFAs, Grants, and Fellowships. The writing sample is often the most important part of an application to MFA programs, grants or fellowships. This session shares insights into how selection committees read the writing submitted and offers strategies on how to show your best work. Led by MFA Director Judy Halebsky. An admissions counselor will also be available to answer application questions. April 13 , 6-7 p.m. PDT Writing an Artist Statement / Letter of Intent for Applying to MFAs, Grants, and Fellowships. Programs, as well as artist residencies and grants, ask applicants to submit a Letter of Introduction or an Artist Statement. This session will provide approaches to writing this letter and will include writing prompts to help one make a letter that shines. Led by MFA Director Judy Halebsky. An admissions counselor will also be available to answer application questions. For more information about these free events, or to learn more about the MFA in Creative Writing program, please contact Natalie Babler, Administrative Manager in the School of Liberal Arts and Education , at [email protected] .
- University News
- Creative Writing
- School of Liberal Arts and Education
- English Literature
- Community Engagement
You May Also Like
Poet and Filmmaker Dr. Joan Baranow: New Work Inspired by Family, Healing, Happiness
Scientific American Article Highlights Importance of Convincing “Passive Positives” to Get COVID Vaccine
Men’s Lacrosse Captain Adds International, DI Experience as Team Moves to NCAA Division II
- Post author By Jason Tougaw (he/him/his)
- Post date November 24, 2023
Join us for a great program of spring events!
Most events will be streaming. check back for zoom links..
Wednesday, February 21, 12:15 – 1:30
Ava Chin (Off the Page), moderated by Frank Wu,
Thursday, March 7, 7 – 9
Vivian Gornick (Off the Page), moderated by Catherine LaSota,
Wednesday, March 20, 7 – 9
Loose Translation / Hanging Loose, with Rebecca Suzuki
Moderated by Roger Sedarat
Monday, April 1, 7 – 9
Alumni Event, with Sunu Chandy, Roger Smith, and Ariel Francisco
Moderator TBA / Location TBA
* Tuesday, April 16, 7 – 9 PM
Carlie Hoffman, Birdhouse Prize Winner with Ghostbird Press publisher Pete Vanderberg
Moderated by Lee Norton
Saturday, May 11
Louis Armstrong House Fellows Reading
Moderated by John Rice
Louis Armstrong House Museum
Graduate Date TBA , 11 AM
MFA Graduates Reading
This entry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.
- Terms of Service
- Creative Commons (CC) license unless otherwise noted
Creative Writing (Campus MFACW)
Have questions we make it easy to get in touch:.
412-419-3772 (standard text/SMS rates will apply)
Complete our Request for Information form
Or, answer a few questions and we will be glad to help.
Creative writing (campus mfacw) overview.
The application deadline is July 1st, but we will continue to accept applications after the deadline as long as there is space available in the program.
Chatham offers an MFA (42 credit hours) in Creative Writing and an MA (36 credit hours) in Creative Writing. The majority of our students who choose a full-time academic schedule are completing either program in under two years.
Cost consists of program tuition (cost per credit times number of credits) as well as any applicable University and degree-specific fees.
In 2007, the Atlantic Monthly named the program one of the top five innovative MFA programs in the U.S,. and in 2016 Publisher's Weekly named the program one of five distinctive MFA programs in the nation.
Explore the Creative Writing Degree:
The MFACW/MACW is a broad program of study designed to prepare students for careers as writers or positions requiring similar skills, such as editing, publishing, and content development for the web; to enable students to improve their writing through interaction with our faculty and other writing students; and to become experienced critics of literary works.
- Have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale. If a Student has below a 3.0 GPA, please feel free to apply if you show extreme promise through other achievements. Additional Admissions documents may be requested.
- Six credits of undergraduate courses in writing are recommended, but not required.
Completed application for admission by the posted deadline, including:
- Online application
- Admissions Essay (current prompt found in application portal)
- Curriculum vitae or Resume
- Two official letters of recommendation, preferably written by former writing teachers or professors who can speak to your writing
- Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
- Creative writing sample in your primary genre ranging from 10-20 pages (maximum). It can be one creative work or several pieces combined.
Admissions Materials can be uploaded in the application or submitted to: Chatham University Office of Graduate Admission-Berry Hall Woodland Road Pittsburgh, PA 15232 Email Admissions
Integrated Degree Program
Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site . All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all requirements according to their IDP course of study.
Sample courses & curriculum.
Chatham offers an MFA (42 credit hours) in Creative Writing.
Additionally, Chatham offers an MA (36 credit hours) in Creative Writing. This program is distinct from the MFA in Creative Writing in that no thesis is required; therefore removing ENG698 and the genre-specific thesis seminar course.
ENG523: The Craft of Creative Writing: Multiple Genres
This course may substitute for any other craft course for students specializing in any genre. Students will be introduced to the craft of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and will also be introduced to the workshop method and given instruction on sending out work for publication.
ENG568: Practicum: Fourth River
This course is a practicum in which graduate students publish the print edition of Chatham's national literary journal, The Fourth River . All phases of the publishing process are addressed, with a special emphasis on editorial acquisitions and copy-editing.
ENG585: Travel Writing
This course focuses on the art and craft of travel writing. Students will read and study contemporary travel writing and will be expected to generate creative work that illustrates a deep understanding of the literary tools available to writers in this genre.
View Full MFA Curriculum
View Full MFA Low-Residency Curriculum
View Full MA Curriculum
The Summer Community of Writers is by far my best memory of graduate school so far, and it has blown pretty much every other workshop I've taken in the past out of the water. I hope I can experience it again in the future.
Faculty members are accomplished teachers, practitioners, and active leaders in the field.
A number of research, special project, and teaching assistantships are available to first-year full-residency students that help defray the cost of the tuition while also earning valuable, hands-on experience. These assistantships are re-awarded in the recipient's second year as long as they are a full-residency student in good standing. These assistantships include a full tuition award, as well as a fellowship working with The Fourth River literary magazine.
Summer Community of Writers
We have a vibrant, supportive community of students and faculty. A hallmark of Chatham's program is its Summer Community of Writers (SCW), a ten-day, six-credit course that brings together low- and full-residency MFA students, community members, and acclaimed national writers for an intense and exciting learning experience. SCW takes place on our beautiful Eden Hall Campus with daily workshops, dynamic craft lectures, faculty and student readings, and ample time to write that many mention as one of the highlights of their Chatham MFA degree. See you at The Summer Community of Writers 2023!
Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence Program
The MFACW program hosts the Emerging Black Writers-in-Residence program, which aims to support and feature the art and teaching of young Black writers. Pittsburgh writer and teacher, Cameron Barnett, will be the next Emerging Black Writer-in-Residence for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The Fourth River
The Fourth River is a journal of nature- and place-based writing published by the Chatham MFA program. The journal takes its name from a subterranean river beneath Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city famously sited at the confluence of three rivers: Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio. The Fourth River literary journal grew up from the idea that between and beneath the visible framework of the human world and the built environment, there exist deeper currents of force and meaning supporting the very structure of that world.
As part of our innovative creative writing field seminars, MFA students travel with faculty abroad. Recent trips have included Indonesia, Ireland, Chile, and South Africa, as well as continental trips to New Orleans and Canada. Program tuition goes toward these trips, making them affordable for most students. More importantly, the trips are transformative for our students, whose writing becomes sharper and more nuanced when in an unfamiliar environment.
Travel Writing Certificate
Immerse yourself in a community of creative writers with Chatham’s new post-baccalaureate Certificate of Completion in Travel Writing. This certificate requires 12 credit hours and can be completed in two semesters plus one summer, in full- or low-residency format.
Nature and Environment
Rachel Carson ’29 is Chatham's most distinguished alumna. In her honor, students may choose from a variety of literature courses focusing on the natural world, including Ecofeminism, Wildness and Literature, Nature and Culture, and Writing about Food, as well as a course in Environmental Imagination. The Fourth River , our national literary journal, focuses on nature and place-based writing.
Students interested in publishing can take The Fourth River practicum, where they have the opportunity to work as an assistant editor for our national literary journal, or our Independent Literary Publishing course, where students create and run their own literary press. There are also many opportunities for publishing internships in the Pittsburgh area, with a number of our students earning internships for Autumn House Press , Creative Nonfiction , and Pittsburgh Quarterly .
Our low-residency students work closely during their distance terms with faculty mentors who are seasoned educators and award-winning writers from all over the country. Chatham low-residency mentors have included Dilruba Ahmed, Derek Green, Paul Hertneky, Kathy Ayres, Karen Bender, Rachel Mennies, Abby Mendelsohn, Robert Yune, Melanie Fox, Sherrie Flick, Katherine Miles, and BK Loren.
Annual Reading Series
- Past lecturers have included: Cristina Garcia, Shaka Senghor, Renée Watson, Kaveh Akbar, Jaquira Diaz, Martha Southgate, Safia Elhillo, M. Evelina Galang, Margot Livesey, Amy Bloom, Karen Bender, Sam Chang, Stewart O’Nan, Alix Ohlin, Wiley Cash, Brad Kessler, Ann Pancake, Michael Byers, and Debra Marquart.
For basic inquiries, please email Joseph Bisciotti , Humanities Program Assistant.
MFA in Creative Writing
Holding Space on the Page
Summers at ChathamU usually mean one thing for the literary-minded among us: the MFA in Creative Writing program’s Summer Community of Writers.
‘Black is Not a Monolith’
Word Circus: Chatham MFA Reading Series & Open Mic
Word Circus is a monthly reading series presented by the Chatham MFA Creative Writing Program in collaboration with Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery.
Chatham’s MFA Program Gets Creative, Despite COVID
MFA Student Launches Online Magazine
Fiction is Still True: A Conversation with Brittany Hailer, MFACW ‘15
Brittany Hailer, MFACW ‘15, is an author and a journalist at Public Source and other outlets. Her new book Animal You’ll Surely Become is a genre-blending work of poetry and creative nonfiction that explores issues of addiction, sexual assault, and fractured families. Sarah Cadence Hamm, MFACW ’13, Associate Director, Brand and Content Strategy, an alumna herself, sat down with Hailer for a chat about journalism, authorship, and the Chatham community.
Here is an overview of what some recent graduates have gone on to do, and some of the places where they’re doing it: Editor-in-Chief at Autumn House Press , Pittsburgh, PA; Award-winning journalist for Public Source , Pittsburgh, PA; Acquisition Reader at Upstart Crow Literary Agency , Pittsburgh, PA; Writer and Community Specialist at ModCloth , Pittsburgh, PA; Information Specialist at USO , Frankfurt, Germany; Teaching Fellow at Duquesne University , Pittsburgh, PA; Associate Professor at Youngstown State University , Youngstown, OH; and Official Speech Writer for Tibetan President in Exile.
Do you have questions?
We make it easy to get in touch:.