University of Minnesota
Creative Writing Program
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12/1/15 UPDATE: Due to a family emergency, our coordinator may not be available to take your calls today. Please email any and all last-minute questions to or, and she will answer them.


NOTE: The application deadline for Fall 2016 is 11:59pm CST on December 1st, 2015. (Please allow plenty of time in case of upload problems or delays!!) All application materials must be submitted online. We will no longer accept hard copy application materials. This includes the writing sample, unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, Statement of Purpose, etc. More details on required materials are found here. You can begin your application on ApplyYourself and view the application instuctions on the Graduate School admissions page.

Each year, the MFA program accepts up to 12 students total in fiction, poetry, and literary nonfiction. We expect to notify all applicants of our admissions decision by the end of February, 2016.


The online application is "one size fits all," and not all items are required for all programs. Please email with any questions about application requirements. Items marked with an asterisk are required; all other documents (whether listed here or on the application itself) should be considered optional.

Here's a checklist of our admissions materials:

  • *Online application, submitted via ApplyYourself. Please note that the English Department is unable to waive application fees.
  • *Unofficial transcripts of every college or university you have attended, even if you didn't receive a degree there. Please follow the instructions in ApplyYourself.
  • GRE scores (these are not required, but outstanding scores may be used as a basis for nominating admitted students for additional fellowships)
  • TOEFL / IELTS scores (if applicable; please note that we are unable to waive the TOEFL requirement)
  • *Statement of Purpose (upload this in the "Applicant Statements" section of the online application, under Statement 1; see below for more information)
  • Diversity Statement (IF APPLICABLE; see "DOVE Fellowship" info below) (upload this in the "Applicant Statements" section of the online application, under Statement 2)
  • Extenuating Circumstances (IF APPLICABLE; see instructions in the "Applicant Statements" section of the online application)
  • *Creative Writing Sample (upload this in the "Program Supplementary Information" section of the online application, under "Writing Sample"--see page limits below)
  • *Resume or CV (upload this in the "Program Supplementary Information" section of the online application, under "Resume/CV")
  • *Program "smart form" (found in the "Department/Program Forms" section of the application)
  • *Letters of Recommendation (please follow the instructions in ApplyYourself; yes, we do accept letters from a dossier service such as Interfolio) (Please see below for the LOR deadline)


The application for Fall 2016 is expected to be available by the end of September 2015. You may begin your application, selecting an earlier admission date, prior to this time, but you must go back and change your selection to "Fall 2016" once that option becomes available, and before submitting your application. If you submit your application without changing the date, your application will not be included in the pool for Fall 2016 admission and will not be considered.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: You may submit your application and pay the fee before your letters of recommendation have been received. RECOMMENDERS CAN UPLOAD LETTERS AFTER DECEMBER 1ST, AS LONG AS THEY ARE UPLOADED BY DECEMBER 7, 2015. NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS. After December 7, complete files will go to the reading committees. Files with fewer than three letters will still be reviewed; however, your chances for admission may be adversely affected.

WRITING SAMPLE PAGE LIMIT: The page limit for prose is 25 pages, double-spaced, 12-point standard font (e.g. Times New Roman). The page limit for poetry is 12-15 pages, single-spaced. You may submit more than one story or a novel excerpt for fiction or more than one nonfiction piece, but the total amount of pages may not exceed 25. You should submit your best work, even if that amounts to fewer than 25 pages.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE PAGE LIMIT: There is no strict page or word requirement for the Statement of Purpose (which is also listed on the application as Statement 1--please upload your Statement of Purpose under Statement 1); generally, most applicants submit 2-4 double-spaced pages.

We cannot return CDs, books, news clippings or other supplementary materials sent through the mail.

THE DOVE FELLOWSHIP: The Office for Diversity in Graduate Education administers the DOVE Fellowship, awarded to first-year students from underrepresented groups. The fellowship provides a $22,500 stipend, tuition and health benefits for one academic year. Graduate programs nominate prospective students who have applied for admission. Please submit your "Diversity Statement" under Statement 2 on the Apply Yourself application if you feel you fit the guidelines outlined in the application. Visit the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education's page for the DOVE Fellowship for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

When will I be notified of the program's admission decision? Answer: We expect to send out all notifications by the end of February, 2016.

Can I enroll in the MFA Program part-time? Answer: No. Ours is a three-year full-time program.

Is the GRE really necessary? Answer: GREs are recommended but not required. We use stellar GRE Verbal scores as a basis for nominating admitted students for additional college-wide fellowships. Many students are admitted without GRE scores, and the lack of GRE scores will not adversely affect your chances for admission.

What if my GRE test date is late and my scores won't arrive until after the 1st? Answer: By the December 1st deadline, all of your materials to the Graduate School and to the Department of English must have arrived online, including test scores. We highly recommend taking the GRE several months before the deadline if you plan to submit a GRE score. We cannot consider incomplete applications. PLEASE SEE NOTE AT TOP OF PAGE REGARDING LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION.

My GPA and/or GRE scores aren’t stellar. Will that ruin my chances for admission? Answer: Our main criterion for admission is the writing sample. Your Statement of Purpose can address academic or personal challenges that affected your record. We would not recommend submitting poor GRE scores.

I don’t have a BA in English. Will that affect my application? Answer: No. We accept students from a variety of academic backgrounds. As long as you have an undergraduate degree, you can be considered for admission. If you don't have any English courses, submit the GPA application sheet with "not applicable."

I don’t have an undergraduate degree. Will that affect my application? Answer: Yes. The Graduate School requires an undergraduate degree for admission.

I am an international student, and my undergraduate institution grants a three-year Bachelors Degree. Am I eligible to apply? Answer: Unfortunately, no. The Graduate School accepts degrees from four-year institutions only.

Are international students eligible for funding? Answer: All of our students receive full funding for all three years of the program; however, the U.S. government requires proof of a minimum amount of financial support to issue a student visa. We do not yet have that minimum figure for 2016-17 yet, but in previous years our funding package generally falls short of this minimum by around $2,000. The applicant would be required to show proof (savings, employment, etc.) of that additional funding.

Who should write my letters of recommendation? Answer: Ideally, at least two letters should come from professors who know your writing well, and one letter should address your potential for graduate study. However, we do accept letters from employers or literary mentors. It is not a good idea to have friends or family write your letters of recommendation.

Can my TA write me a letter of recommendation? Answer: Yes.

What is the GPA calculation sheet? Answer: The GPA cover sheet is a tabulation of literature courses you have completed. As an MFA student, you will be expected to take literature courses within the English department and in other departments. However, many of our students do not have backgrounds in English literature. If you have not taken literature courses, fill out the GPA sheet with "not applicable." Do not submit composition or creative writing courses on this sheet.

I won’t graduate until May, so my transcripts will be incomplete. Is that okay? Answer: Yes. Upload your current transcripts, even if you will not complete a degree until late spring. At that time, the Graduate School will ask you for your complete transcripts, with evidence of degree completion.

What is the teaching assistantship? Answer: All admitted MFA students receive teaching assistantships for three years. You will be assigned to teach literature, creative writing, and courses within Writing Studies. The teaching assistantship includes a stipend, health benefits, and tuition waiver. Students are responsible for Student Services fees.

How much is the tuition waiver? Answer: All MFAs receive a full tuition waiver, up to fourteen credits per semester, with in-state tuition rates.

Can I teach during the summer? Answer: The department has limited teaching opportunities during the summer months.

What if I want to apply in two separate genres? You may apply in more than one genre, but you must complete a separate application and pay another application fee. In general, we recommend that you apply in the genre that represents your strongest work as a writer. If selected to be a MFA candidate, you can pursue work in other genres once in the program, though switching genre tracks is not automatic. You must go through an application process if you wish to switch tracks.

What is my Statement of Purpose? Answer: Your Statement of Purpose should be a brief, personal/literary essay that will give the admissions committee a sense of who you are and why you are applying to the program. While there is no set page/word requirement, most applicants submit between two and four double spaced pages. The Statement of Purpose is "Statement #1" on the online application. "Statement #2" concerns diversity and is not required; please read the guidelines carefully. If you feel you don't fit the criteria for Statement #2, you don't need to submit anything; however, if you wish, you may submit a statement concerning your writing background.

Do you grant application fee waivers? Answer: The English Department does not grant fee waivers. The Graduate School may waive fees for veterans and active members of the military; please contact them at

What are your program demographics? Answer: Our students are a broad range of ages. They come from a variety of academic backgrounds, cultures, and life experience. Students from underrepresented groups may want to know about the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education and external opportunities available for fellowships and community support: http://www.grad.umn/edu/outreach

Can I meet with someone to discuss the program? Answer: Unfortunately, we are not able to meet individually with applicants. If you have additional questions about the program or about the application process, email us at or email our Program Coordinator, Holly Vanderhaar, at

Letters of Recommendation: all letters of recommendation must be submitted online through Apply Yourself. You'll list the names and emails of your recommenders and they will receive instructions on uploading letters. We do accept materials through dossier services such as Interfolio, but WE DO NOT ACCEPT HARD COPY LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION.

If you experience problems with Apply Yourself, please contact the AY tech helpline.We are unable to provide tech support.

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