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Introduction to Our Programs and the Application Process

Two Programs: English MA and Creative Writing MFA

We offer two degrees: the MA in English and the MFA in Creative Writing. Both programs are two years, 32 credit hours, including six hours of thesis writing. All graduate candidates are required to take English 600, Introduction to Graduate Studies, and a graduate-level theory course: English 630 for MA candidates, English 613 for MA Rhetoric candidates, and English 617 for MFA candidates. All other courses are decided upon in consultation with a graduate advisor. MA candidates may include two graduate courses outside of the department offerings, and MFA candidates may include one. MFA candidates are required to complete two literature courses as part of their programs of study.

Our program is highly affordable. As part of the application process, students are automatically considered for scholarships. Most of our students receive funding from the department. Additionally, upon admission candidates’ names are given to University Writing, who will offer the opportunity to apply/interview to teach Freshman Composition, Writing 150. The salary for these courses is about $3400, and graduate students may teach one course their first semester and two each following semester. Finally, throughout the academic year faculty propose opportunities for teaching and research mentorships. These are awarded on a competitive basis and are generally for 12 hours per week, or around $3600 for the semester.

Application Deadline

January 15th

Application Prerequisites for the English MA/MFA Programs

An undergraduate degree in English or its equivalent is preferred. Ideally, applicants will have a strong background in both American and British literature as well as a course in advanced critical theory (such as BYU’s English 451 or 452).

You may apply if you lack prerequisites. However, the lack of prerequisites will be factored in by the admissions committee. Successful applicants without prerequisites may be required to take missing courses during their first year in the program.

Statement of Intent

The Statement of Intent should tell the story of your interest in the field. Be specific as you explain what inspired you to pursue graduate study. Highlight your key intellectual experiences, discussing your scholarly background. Include what you learned from some of your key accomplishments and projects. Explain your goals and fit for the program. Identify what you hope to become, the kinds of scholarly questions you are interested in studying, and how you align with the program’s strengths. Contextualize any weaknesses you may have in your application (e.g., low freshman gpa, time away from academia). Explain what you have learned from your experiences and how you have worked to overcome any weaknesses.

If you can, indicate which area of emphasis you want to study. To learn more about the MA emphases we offer, go here.

Cautions: Do not focus on your high school achievements. And don’t use gimmicks or cliches.

Write with precision. 500-1000 words is about right. Get feedback from peers, mentors, and editors to make sure your statement is polished and ready.

Formal Writing Sample

This sample should show the admissions committee that you are capable of graduate-level research and writing: polished style, meaningful argument, primary and secondary sources, citations, bibliography, etc. The subject of the paper does not necessarily need to be English or English-related. However, demonstrating disciplinary knowledge can certainly strengthen an application. Recommended length is 10-15 double-spaced pages.

Creative Portfolio

The creative portfolio must be in a single genre with the genre named (e.g., poetry, fiction, or essay): 20 pages double-spaced of prose OR 10 pages of poetry. Candidates must not exceed the stated limits.

Letters of Recommendation

The application requires three letters of recommendation. Academic recommendations are strongly preferred; however, if these are not possible, be sure that recommenders speak to those skills which would qualify the candidate for graduate study in this field.

Suggestions to get stellar letters: In your undergraduate years, treat school like your job. In fact, since you are going to graduate school to advance in the profession, treat undergrad study like the entry-level job necessary to get where you want to go. Be a good student, just like you’d be a good employee. Be on time, ready to work, prepared, and engaged. When you’re ready to ask for letters, remember that who and how you ask will help determine how strong your letters are. Ask a set of people who know your work well and can speak to specific strengths, including your educational goals and potential as a graduate student. Ask early. Don’t rely on your recommender to remember everything about you, even if they remember you positively. Include a note on courses you took with then, grades earned, a writing sample (ideally, from their course), CV, and your statement of intent.


Our program no longer requires that applicants take the GRE.

Full-time Work and Graduate Study Possible

This is possible, perhaps, but difficult. It may take longer than the usual two years, and you may have to take courses which do not necessarily fit your preferred program of study. Only a few evening classes are available. Students should consider these limitations before applying.