Creative Writing

Selection process

Our admissions committees in fiction and poetry are made up of faculty writers who read all the applications carefully, with a decided emphasis on the manuscript portion. We look for talent that genuinely excites us and that we feel we can work with and develop. We strongly encourage applicants to read the published work of the Faculty in their genre since these are the writers the students will be working with in the program.

Our Admissions Committees look for evidence that prospective students can successfully take graduate-level courses in literature, language, or culture, since four graduate-level courses in these areas are required for our M.F.A. degree.

Both the personal statement and the teaching statement are also very important. Please note that the teaching statement is separate from the personal statement, because our admissions committees are especially interested in hearing how applicants might teach a beginning-level creative writing course in poetry and fiction. Applicants should feel free to include a brief description that details their thoughts on how they would teach such a course and why. Actual teaching experience is certainly of interest but not at all a requirement.

Please note that we read applications to our program only once a year, for admission beginning in the fall semester only.

Admissions FAQs

The application and all supplementary materials, including letters of recommendation, must be uploaded and transcripts received by January 2 (or the first business day in January).

We encourage applicants to have their official transcripts sent to the Creative Writing Program at least one month prior to the deadline to ensure that they arrive by the deadline (many institutions are closed at the end of the year).

No. We read applications once a year, and admit students only during the Fall semester.

You may, but you must submit separate applications, with a writing sample specific to each genre, and separate application fees. Please don’t send both poetry and fiction with a single application.

No. We offer tracks only in poetry and fiction. We do, however, offer workshops in nonfiction, and our students in both poetry and fiction have benefitted greatly from these courses.

There is no single formula for personal statements, though we are interested in hearing how you view your writing in relation to a larger world (this might be through questions of identity, place, culture, or whatever most prompts you to write). Think of your personal statement as the way you introduce yourself to us, not only as a writer and a reader, but also as a human being. We want to hear an honest voice that articulates in its own individual way your interests in writing and reading and learning, and how those interests mesh with our graduate program description, as well as your goal to pursue an M.F.A. degree. This statement helps us determine whether applicants will be productive and valuable members of our community.

As with the personal statement, there is no single formula for teaching statements. Regardless of your experience, you are being asked to describe your ideas about the teaching of creative writing, along with rationales for such choices. Some of these ideas may be generated from your own experiences as a student with good teachers. We want to hear a voice that resonates with our own unequivocal emphasis on the importance of teaching as a part of a well-rounded M.F.A. education.

The choice is completely yours, of course, but it’s recommended that you choose your strongest work, and which maybe other readers, like teachers, agree best represents your abilities. Fiction and poetry must both be typed. Fiction must be double-spaced, using a conventional 12-point font. For fiction, you may include a longer self-contained piece, an excerpt from a larger work, several shorter works, or a combination thereof.

While we will consider applications whose writing samples fall just outside the preferred range, we urge applicants to observe those ranges as closely as they can, using standard formatting and font, appropriate to your genre. In some situations, you may wish to submit an extract from a longer work (ie, one complete 18-page story and a 10-12 page extract from a second story).

The committee is interested in reading a substantial quantity of your strongest and most polished writing. Please send only the writing that you consider to be your best. Both quality and quantity matter.

Very important. Letters of recommendation help us get a better picture, and to contextualize your application in important ways, so, yes, the letters matter. It’s generally a good idea to ask for letters from those who can write specifically (not just generally) on behalf of your interests and goals, and tell us why you would make a good candidate for our program. Again, there is no formula for the letters of recommendation, but it’s recommended that you choose letter writers who can speak in specific detail about your readiness for graduate study and why.

Only transcripts received directly from the institution (either hard copy by mail or through secure e-transcript services) OR submitted by the applicant in sealed institution envelopes within a larger packet are considered official. Scanned documents or opened transcripts sent by the applicant are NOT official and cannot be used to admit students to the program.

You need to submit a new application form. You are also advised to submit new statements and writing sample that demonstrate developments in your thinking and writing from the previous year.

Our workshop is a place for total immersion in the art and craft of writing. It is a lively arena where the actual written material of the student-writers takes center stage, where that writing is explored and discussed in a productive and encouraging atmosphere and where students also read and discuss work by published authors to gain insights into their own craft.

We’ve designed our teaching schedule to ensure that students, regardless of when they enter the program, will have an opportunity to take workshops with different faculty members in the program. We are proud of the diversity our faculty bring in their approaches to the workshop. What this also means is there is no one way in which the workshop is run. In fact, we discourage prospective students from workshop shopping, i.e., determining beforehand whether a workshop will be to their liking. An M.F.A. in Creative Writing, in our view, is an opportunity not only to consolidate your strengths but also to stretch yourself into new areas of exploration. Some of our best writing happens in moments of discovery. A pre-determined approach to the workshop shuts out new avenues and new directions that could lead to truly exciting art.

No. In fact, many of our students come from areas other than English or Creative Writing. Even so, it’s assumed that reading and knowledge of literature goes hand in hand with writing, and that those admitted to the program will bring with them a rich reading background and knowledge, and solid critical thinking skills. In addition, our program is built around the academic/studio model and includes a strong literature component. Our M.F.A. program is a studio/academic program, including academic coursework; we encourage prospective applicants to review recent graduate literature course offerings here. Our students teach both creative writing and composition (which invariably involves exploration and discussion of literary texts). Therefore, we look for evidence that prospective students can be successful in talking and writing about literature, both in the classes they take and in the classes they teach.

Yes, the literature classes, as well as some of the creative writing special topics courses and nonfiction workshops, are open to all of our graduate students.