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Department of English Language and Literature

Application Process

Admission Criteria and Selectivity

The MFA admissions committee considers the writing sample, statement of purpose, courses taken, grades, and recommendation letters. Candidates are successful with different mixes of relative strength in these components. Unlike admissions in some graduate and professional programs, the process is more qualitative than quantitative. The creative writing sample is the single most important component of the MFA application and should reflect both talent and commitment to writing as an art. In 2013, we received 170 applications. Our overall acceptance rate was approximately 18%, while in fiction, where we receive the most applications, our acceptance rate was below 8%.

Application Process

The application deadline is January 1. All applicants are automatically considered for all funding opportunities; there is no separate funding or assistantship application. All applications must be completed through the Graduate School website. Submit all of the following materials to the Graduate School to receive full consideration. (See FAQs below for more information).

  • A creative writing sample in the genre in which you are applying (20-30 double-spaced pages of fiction, 10-20 single-spaced pages of poetry)
  • A statement of purpose
  • At least two letters of recommendation (recommenders will be notified electronically)
  • Transcripts from attended undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate institutions
  • The application fee

If you have questions of a technical nature, please contact the Graduate School. Please see the FAQ section for answers to other common application questions.


We offer funding to all entering and returning MFA students through a variety of assistantships and fellowships. Second- and third-year students, as well as first-year students entering the program with 18 hours of graduate English credit, are eligible for Graduate Teaching Assistantships that provide full tuition abatement in addition to an annual stipend ($20,000 in 2023). Students entering without 18 graduate English credit hours are eligible for Graduate Instructional Assistantships that confer full tuition abatement and an annual stipend ($10,125 in 2023). After their first year, assuming they complete 18 credit hours and are in good standing, they will receive fully funded Graduate Teaching Assistantships (currently $20,000) in their second and third years. We also offer several supplemental fellowships and scholarships on a competitive basis.

Prospective students whose applications are received by the January 1 application deadline are automatically considered for all funding options, including assistantships and fellowships. There is no separate application for assistantships or other funding. 

The teaching load for Graduate Teaching Assistants is three courses per academic year (either a 1/2 or a 2/1 load). While most of this teaching load is in our First-Year English program, many MFA students also teach creative writing or literature while they are here. Graduate Instructional Assistants serve as assistants in large literature courses taught by professors or as tutors in the Writing Center. Substantial training and ongoing support is provided for new and continuing teaching assistants.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.