MFA in Creative Writing Program Information

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Whether focusing on poetry, fiction, or nonfiction, a creative writing degree prepares students for a multitude of career options. Spanning two years, a master of fine arts (MFA) program trains you to become a skilled writer, communicator, and editor who can receive and apply feedback effectively. This adaptable skill set enables you to work in industries like education, publishing, and journalism. Professionals in these fields flourish in business, where they can apply their skills to promote products, reach consumers, and maintain a company's brand. A creative writing degree can also bolster a student's chances of obtaining a publishing deal.

The BLS projects growth for master's in writing careers through 2026, including an 8% increase for writers and authors, a 9% increase for public relation specialists, and an 11% increase for technical writers. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth for master's in writing careers through 2026, including an 8% increase for writers and authors , a 9% increase for public relation specialists , and an 11% increase for technical writers . This guide provides prospective students with the academic and career information necessary to find the MFA program that best suits their needs.

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Popular online master's in writing programs.

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Should I Get an MFA in Creative Writing?

Creative writing degrees are highly versatile. Students of all academic and professional backgrounds may enroll in an MFA program to strengthen their writing, develop editing skills, and cultivate professional relationships. In addition to gaining in-depth knowledge of literary genres, students benefit from classes in technical, journalistic, and business-oriented writing. Regardless of what areas they specialize in, writers learn to articulate complex and artistic ideas persuasively, which enables them to pursue occupations with nearly any company or organization.

Master's in writing programs also incorporate experiential learning and professional development opportunities into their curricula. Students attend writing conferences, writers' retreats, and guest speaker sessions. These events allow them to meet other writers and professionals in the field. It also exposes them to career opportunities. Additionally, MFA candidates benefit from university fellowships and internships, which typically center on editing, publishing, and teaching.

Creative writing degrees represent one of the fastest growing university programs in the U.S. According to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) 2015 report, 30% of MFA full-residency programs enjoyed an enrollment increase. Distance education represents a viable option for students, especially low-residency programs that allow working professionals to earn their degrees while maintaining career and family responsibilities.

On the other hand, campus-based options offer opportunities for students to directly collaborate with a community of artists. This camaraderie empowers students and cultivates creative and professional relationships that last long after graduation. Traditional MFA programs especially suit learners who transition into graduate-level academics immediately after earning their bachelor's.

What Can I Do With an MFA in Creative Writing?

Through MFA programs, students develop creative writing, editing, critical-thinking, and professional leadership skills. Though common perceptions of writers paint them as loners, creative writing degrees necessitate collaboration. Students discuss famous literary works and each other's writing in workshops that help them become better orators and listeners. Even the thesis process requires communication because candidates must work with their advisers to revise their projects and prepare them for publication. Therefore, MFA graduates become exceptional team members, who give, take, and apply criticism effectively. These writers also possess strong grammatical and rhetorical skills, which they apply to diverse genres, including poetry, memoir, search engine optimization, and grant writing.

These writers create content for blogs, journals, magazines, films, video games, and television series. They can also sell their own fiction, nonfiction, and poetry through either a publishing firm or a self-publishing platform. Depending on their specific position, authors can work independently or in project teams with technicians, designers, and managers. Median Annual Salary: $61,820*

Technical Writer

Also referred to as technical communicators , these writers craft how-to manuals and instruction guides for companies and organizations. Technical writers ensure that these materials are standardized and dispersed across all of a company's channels. Though students can pursue this career with a bachelor's, an MFA opens more doors through advanced skill and leadership training. Median Annual Salary: $70,930*

Postsecondary Teacher

As a terminal degree, the MFA prepares students for work as college and university instructors . Professors teach courses in their own genre, such as conventional literature classes or writing-intensive workshops. They also pursue creative projects, research, and publication. Like other educators, postsecondary teachers develop curricula, assess testing standards, and support university administration. Median Annual Salary: $76,000*

Public Relations Specialist

These professionals work in teams to cultivate and maintain a positive public image for their business or organization. Their work involves creating and implementing promotional and social media branding campaigns. Public relations specialists also handle press releases, field requests from news outlets, and write speeches for the company's top executives. MFA graduates typically need additional training to obtain this position, either through on-the-job experience or a certificate program. Median Annual Salary: $59,300*

Marketing Manager

These leaders work with teams of writers , graphic designers, sales agents, and advertisers to create and actualize promotional campaigns. They also negotiate marketing contracts, maintain budgets, and train employees. Additionally, marketing managers analyze brand effectiveness using data-analytical methods. As a high-level career, these professionals need a graduate degree, extensive continuing education, and at least five years of relevant work experience. Median Annual Salary: $129,380*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose an MFA in Creative Writing Program

When researching prospective master's in writing programs, students need to consider cost, length, and location. In general, graduate students can secure substantial funding through scholarships, grants, and fellowships. The most competitive MFA programs boast full tuition coverage and stipends. However, students should look at their financial situation practically, discerning how much they can afford without resorting to loans. They should also seek out private scholarships through local companies and professional organizations.

Most universities follow a two-year timeline as established by the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the first accredited MFA program in the U.S. However, creativing writing represents a highly malleable field with different pedagogical philosophies and curricular design choices. Certain programs last three years, while others last up to five. Relatedly, prospective students should consider whether they want to enroll part or full time. Online and low-residency MFA programs often facilitate part-time enrollment, while traditional programs often require full-time participation.

Distance learners should note that remote creative writing degrees typically use a hybrid format, requiring them to attend conferences and summer retreats. Coursework and specializations reflect other important considerations. These factors fluctuate based on faculty interests and the school's overall direction. Some master's in writing programs highlight the American literary canon, while others focus on works from writers who occupy marginalized identities. And still others break with tradition altogether, emphasizing experimental writing styles and multimedia forms.

Finally, MFA applicants need to factor in location. For traditional students, this includes heightented tuition prices due to out-of-state residency status. Learners should also look into job prospects and cost of living. Many of the most popular programs are located in cities where rent is high and employment is competitive.

Programmatic Accreditation for MFA in Creative Writing Programs

To confer valid degrees, colleges and universities need to earn accreditation at the national, regional, and/or programmatic level. Schools with a religious or vocational focus typically seek out national accreditation. Schools may also earn the more prestigious regional accreditation from one of six organizations depending on their location. Students should look for nonprofit higher education institutions with national or regional accreditation. Students should confirm a school's accreditation status before starting the admission process.

In addition to national and regional backing, colleges and universities may also receive programmatic accreditation. For example, teaching programs usually need to earn the support of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation if they want to uphold state licensure standards. Creative writing degrees stand out because they do not subscribe to formal programmatic accreditation. However, many MFA programs are AWP institutional members . Students who enroll at participating schools benefit from scholarship opportunities, writer-to-writer membership programs, and conference discounts.

MFA in Creative Writing Program Admissions

Creative writing degrees generally require standard admission materials. These comprise academic transcripts, resume/CV, recommendation letters, personal statement, and standardized test scores. Candidates should consult their prospective schools' websites for details, including the admissions deadline.

Conventional requirements aside, the most important part of an MFA candidate's application is their writing sample. Programs typically require students to declare genre specialization in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. A student's choice dictates the bulk of classes they take and their thesis requirement. Specifics vary by program, but poets can expect to submit around 10-15 pages worth of poetry. Fiction and nonfiction writers usually turn in 25-30 pages of prose. Crafting an effective writing sample requires time, so students should plan accordingly. They should also look into the program's guiding aesthetic. Some MFA programs prefer traditional works, while others find experimental narratives more engaging and indicative of a writer's potential.


Bachelor's degree=, professional experience:, minimum gpa:, admission materials, application:, transcripts:, letters of recommendation:, test scores:, application fee:, what else can i expect from an mfa in creative writing program.

Graduate creative writing degrees center on three specializations: poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. However, MFA programs aim for a holistic approach to the writing craft. This means that a poet must also take fiction and nonfiction classes, whether they be literature seminars or intensive writing workshops. Students also pursue coursework outside the three genres. Beyond some core classes, topics vary greatly based on faculty specializations.

Courses in an MFA in Creative Writing Program

While coursework differs based on the individual program, an MFA degree plan typically breaks down into four parts: literature courses, writing workshops, independent study, and thesis hours. Students can expect literature classes to encompass both classic and modern works. Independent study allows students to take classes outside the three main genres. Possible topics include journalism, gender studies, technical writing, and grant writing.

Reading Across Genres

MFA programs operate under the philosophy that experimenting across genres builds better writers. In this class, students learn how to effectively interact with works in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Learners also develop the skills to analyze how such fundamental ideas, like plot, character, and point of view, operate in each genre to achieve desired effects.

Poetic Forms

This class provides students who already write poetry with the knowledge and practice to advance their art. Unlike the workshop, this craft class emphasizes literary analysis that enables writers to break down a poem into component parts. Topics include meter, rhyme, rhythm, stanza pattern, and lineation. Students also delve into traditional and experimental poetic forms.

As one of the most popular creative nonfiction forms, the memoir tells the personal story of an individual or a community. In this course, writers learn the art of memoir through ideas like tone, voice, structure, and subtext. They also develop knowledge of subgenres, including the autobiographical memoir and those that deal with food, travel, family, addiction, and grief.

The Short Story

This narrative form represents the premier learning tool for MFA fiction students due to its relative brevity and popularity with literary magazines. This course provides writers with an in-depth study of the short story form, focusing on narrative arc, pacing, characterization, and internal/external action. Students also learn about short story history by reading the works of famous authors, such as Donald Barthelme, Alice Munro, and Octavia E. Butler.

Writing Workshop

While the structure of the workshop varies by MFA program and individual professors, this course always focuses on providing students with the feedback needed to improve their writing. Workshops also help students develop skills as editors and book reviewers. In addition to submitting creative work, students need to turn in written analyses of other students' writing.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MFA in Creative Writing?

Like other master's programs, creative writing degrees typically take two years, or 36 credits. Some schools follow a three-year curriculum. A student's enrollment status affects the timeline. Online and low-residency MFA programs provide more flexibility, allowing students to accommodate busy schedules by taking courses part-time. They may also offer accelerated degree plans that let students finish seminars and workshops in as few as 12 months.

Full-residency programs prefer a structured approach, similar to cohort learning, in which all students in the program take the same classes every semester, advancing through their degree work at a communal pace. Relatedly, MFA candidates who receive fellowships may not take more than the standard course allotment each term due to how university tuition waivers work.

Finally, the nature of a student's capstone project also affects their degree timeline. Many writers want their MFA thesis to be publishable manuscript, so they often take additional semesters to polish their work before submission and defense.

How Much Is an MFA in Creative Writing?

According to Peterson's , a higher education organization, graduate students who attend a public university pay $30,000 in average annual tuition, while those who attend private institutions pay $40,000 each year. However, prices vary with individual schools. The University of New Orleans and Columbia University offer two popular creative writing degrees. UNO's yearly graduate tuition is $8,892 for Louisiana residents and $13,462 for non-residents. Columbia charges $28,230 per semester.

MFA programs operate under the jurisdiction of the college of liberal arts or arts and sciences. This means they usually charge rates that match other graduate programs in that area. The most renowned and competitive creative writing degrees offer every student a full tuition waiver and monthly stipends. Other MFA programs provide institutional and departmental scholarships. Students should also seek out awards from professional organizations and businesses.

Beyond tuition and related fees, students need to consider cost of living, particularly housing. Websites like Payscale and Numbeo allow students to calculate living expenses using city-specific data. They can also compare prices between locations. MFA students should set aside money from conference attendance because these events represent important professional development opportunities for new writers. Research and technology costs also warrant consideration. Fortunately for writers, their field does not require expensive machinery or software. However, they should prepare to face high printing costs.

Certifications and Licenses an MFA in Creative Writing Prepares For

American grant writers' association (agwa) certified grant writer.

Organizations highly value grant writing, making it one of the most lucrative professions for freelancers. AGWA's certification series offers courses on proposal writing, program development, and review. Candidates take the exam in person, which comprises handwritten and computer-based sections. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree to qualify for the program.

American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Medical Writer Certified

AMWA operates an intensive, exam-based certification program that enables writers to demonstrate their knowledge and improve their marketability. The in-person test consists of 125 multiple-choice questions and takes 2.5 hours. To be eligible, applicants need to possess at least a bachelor's degree in any field and two years of paid medical communication experience.

Society for Technical Communication (STC) Certified Professional Technical Communicator

Operated by STC, this program offers technical writers three certification levels: foundation, practitioner, and expert. The foundation certification exam covers such topics as project planning, analysis, content management, organizational design, and written and visual communication. The exam costs $250 for STC members and $495 for nonmembers.

American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI) Copywriting Certifications

AWAI offers multiple training and certification options for copywriters. These include an accelerated foundation program, a master's program, and an advanced training program for seasoned professionals. Copywriters can also pursue training in specialized topics, such as web/online content, business-to-business copywriting, grant writing, resume writing, and event travel writing. Furthermore, AWAI offers membership that comes with benefits like discounts and a career database.

American Copy Editors Society (ACES) Certificate in Editing

Through ACES , writers can enroll in fundamental and advanced certification programs. Fundamental level classes cover topics like clarity, accuracy, and search engine optimization. The advanced program comprises courses in copyright/fair use, fact-checking, and numeracy. To obtain the certificate, students need to pass individual assessments that come after every module.

Resources for MFA in Creative Writing Students

Duotrope provides the tools writers need to locate agents and publishers. The website also operates a massive database of literary magazines and journals, which writers use to submit and track work for publication.

Poets & Writers

Poets & Writers offers the resources writers need to publish, promote, and develop their art. The organization also operates writing contests, workshops, networking events, and a database of MFA programs.

Writer's Digest

This organization regularly publishes articles on writing tips, literary discussions, and new books. Writer's Digest also operates numerous writing competitions, including those for poetry, fiction, and self-published books. Writers can strengthen their craft through free webinars and paid workshops.

Literary Hub

Literary Hub provides an interactive platform for writers to discuss craft, design, and literary criticism. The website also highlights relevant pop culture and political issues. Additional resources include book reviews, daily fiction, and podcasts.

Literary Marketplace

Facilitated by Information Today Inc., Literary Marketplace operates the world's largest searchable database of publishers, literary agents, and industry events. Users benefit from 180 search terms, enabling them to find publishers by size, location, and genre.

Professional Organizations for MFA in Creative Writing Students

MFA programs offer valuable academic training and networking opportunities, which new writers can bolster through engagement with professional organizations. These organizations facilitate literary databases, award competitions, topical webinars, and in-person writing workshops. Furthermore, students can take advantage of insider information and first-hand accounts to find the master's in writing programs that best suit them. Perhaps the greatest benefit of writer's organizations is their networking and community-building events. These include readings, guest speaker series, and annual conferences, like the AWP Conference and Bookfair which draws over 12,000 attendees each year.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs

Individual membership provides access to the writer's calendar, job list, and the writer to writer mentorship program. Members also enjoy career guidance and discounts on literature and conference attendance. Students can take advantage of the organization's comprehensive guide to writing programs.

Academy of American Poets

As the largest professional organization for poets, the academy offers up-to-date publishing news, award programs, and job opportunities. Members also benefit from a variety of creative networking events.

National Writers Union

Established in 1981, the NWU advocates for the rights and economic advancements of its members, who work in diverse writing and education fields. Operating 12 regional chapters, the union provides members with legal advice and promotional support. Emerging writers benefit from a searchable talent database.

The Authors Guild

As the oldest and largest professional organization for writers, the Authors Guild offers legal assistance, online seminars, media liability insurance, and an expansive resource library. Members also gain access to discounts, conferences, and awards.

Freelancers Union

The organization supports independent workers through government policy advocacy and community engagement programming. Members benefit from health, dental, and life insurance assistance. Freelancers Union also provides retirement support. Membership is free.

Explore More College Resources

Bachelor’s in writing program guide, master’s in graphic design program guide, a guide to graphic design degrees.

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Best MFA Degree: The Top 26 Schools for Master of Fine Arts Programs 2023

February 28, 2023 | bestvalue

Best MFA Degree

If you want to immerse yourself in your craft and further your career in the arts, a Master of Fine Arts degree may be the right path. An MFA degree combines hands-on experience, mentorship, and scholarship to further your artistic skill beyond the level of an undergraduate degree.

What is an MFA degree?

An MFA is a graduate arts degree that usually takes two to three years to complete, though some programs are longer or shorter. MFAs provide deep immersion in the field through workshops, productions, performances, or studio classes. Some programs are highly selective, admitting only a handful of students in each cohort. Requirements for completing an MFA can include teaching undergraduate classes and a thesis project.

Top 5 Schools for Master of Fine Arts Programs

What’s the difference between an mfa and an ma.

MFAs and MAs are both graduate arts degrees, but the MFA degree focuses on practical experience, rather than academic study. Also, an MFA is a terminal degree, meaning it’s considered the highest degree in the field, rather than a prerequisite for a doctoral degree .

What Schools Have the Best MFA Programs?

If you’re looking for the right school for you, we can help you find the best school based on the program you’re looking for. We’ve compiled a list of the best MFA degrees. These colleges are ranked based on their graduate tuition (lowest is best) and faculty-student ratio (lowest is best). We included a mix of both large, well-known universities and less famous institutions.

The Best 26 Schools for MFAs

Yale university.

Yale University offers a plethora of MFA options: in the School of Art, Graphic Design, Painting and Printmaking, Photography, Sculpture, and Critical Practice; in the School of Drama, Acting, Design, Sound Design, Directing, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Playwriting, Stage Management, Technical Design and Production, and Theater Management. Art programs require two years of residence and drama programs require at least three. The Ivy League school’s MFA program is ranked second-best in the country by U.S. News and World Report, tied with the Art Institute of Chicago.

School Overview

Cornell university.

Cornell University offers two-year MFA programs in Art and Creative Writing. The Creative Writing program has two emphasis options – Fiction and Poetry – and only admits eight students at a time. Because of this small cohort size, the university offers a financial aid package that fully funds each student. Both MFAs feature small cohorts and allow each student to design a personalized program of study by working closely with faculty members.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

PAFA prides itself on its low faculty-student ratio, which allows students to learn directly from artists with diverse experience. The MFA program also invites visiting artists and critics to campus to give feedback to students.

Marywood University

Marywood University Art Department logo in green and yellow

Marywood University  is a small, liberal arts, NASAD accredited, Catholic university located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in close proximity to Philadelphia and New York City. The college offers a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary MFA in Visual Arts with tracks in Clay, Sculpture, Printmaking, Painting, and Photography along with their unique “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA program, a low-residency MFA in Graphic Design, Illustration, and Sequential Art for working professionals. With spacious, state of the art facilities and dedicated professional faculty, Marywood is the perfect affordable option for a quality two-year MFA at a school with a low faculty-student ratio.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California, ranked as the No. 1 college for design by, offers a two-year, studio-focused MFA in Art and a five-term Design MFA through the Roski School of Art and Design. USC also offers MFAs in  Cinematic Arts, Film and Television Production ,  Animation and Digital Arts ,  Interactive Media  (with an emphasis option in  Games and Health ),  Producing for Film, Television and New Media , T heatre  (with an emphasis in Acting, Directing, Dramatic Writing or Theatrical Design), and  Writing for Screen and Television .

Alfred University

Art installation from Alfred University MFA students

Alfred University offers four MFA programs, each requiring two years of study: Ceramic Art, Electronic Integrated Arts, Alfred-Düsseldorf Painting, and Sculpture-Dimensional Studies. Of these, the ceramic program is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report. Electronic Integrated Arts is an interdisciplinary program in which students explore emerging technologies. For the Painting MFA, students spend two semesters abroad at a studio in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Edinboro University

At Edinboro University, graduate students can earn a three-year MFA in Ceramics, Metals, Painting, Printmaking, or Sculpture. According to GradReports, Edinboro alumni had the highest starting salary among MFA graduates, at $44,200.

School of Visual Arts

The School of Visual Arts New York City offers an MFA in Fine Arts ranked fifth in the nation by GradReports. Each student has access to a private studio and receives mentoring from internationally renowned artists. SVA also offers MFAs in Art Practice, Art Writing, Computer Arts, Design, Design for Social Innovation, Illustration as Visual Essay, Interaction Design, Photography, Video and Related Media, Products of Design, Social Documentary Film, and Visual Narrative

Adelphi University

Adelphi University, located on Long Island, offers an MFA in Creative Writing that emphasizes cross-genre learning. In this program, students learn from award-winning professors and can specialize in Poetry, Fiction, or Creative Nonfiction.

Columbia University

Columbia University offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing. Columbia’s MFA programs are ranked No. 10 in the country by U.S. News and World Report, and all programs offer individualized instruction and the ability to learn from experienced guest lecturers.

California Institute of Integral Studies

The School of Consciousness and Transformation at the  California Institute of Integral Studies  offers an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Writing. This program is a two-year, low-residency MFA which emphasizes the value of conversation across the arts, social, cultural, and global contexts, and inquiry-driven practice.

Washington University

Washington University in St. Louis has a competitive MFA in Writing program which accepts 12 students each year and offers emphases in Fiction, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction. Through the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, WashU also offers MFAs in Visual Art and in Illustration and Visual Culture. The school also doesn’t charge tuition for MFAs. Students get a complete tuition remission and every student also receives a University Fellowship to meet expenses, this year in the amount of $26,831.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University offers MFAs in Fine Arts (concentration in Jewelry/Metalworking, Glassworking, Furniture Design, Fibers, Ceramics, Kinetic Imaging, Painting and Printmaking, Photography and Film, or Sculpture), Theatre (concentration in Pedagogy/Literature or Pedagogy/Performance), Design (concentration in Interior Environments or Visual Communications), and Creative Writing (concentration in Fiction, Poetry, or Dual Genre). The Creative Writing MFA has a 4:1 faculty-student ratio, and the Dual Genre track includes creative nonfiction classes.

California College of the Arts

The California College of the Arts offers six MFA programs: Comics, Design (concentrations in Graphic, Industrial, or Interaction Design), Film, Fine Arts, and Writing. Besides offering a wide variety of options for two- and three-year programs, CCA is one of the top art and design schools in the U.S. with close access to San Francisco’s thriving art scene.

New York University

Among the graduate programs offered at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts are a two-year MFA in Game Design, which teaches not only game development but criticism, and a three-year MFA in Design for Stage and Film. In the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, students can earn MFAs in Creative Writing (with a Fiction or Poetry emphasis) and Creative Writing in Spanish, led by prominent Spanish-language writers. NYU’s graduate programs are ranked among the best in the country, and alumni have gone on to earn accolades such as the National Book Award.

New York Academy of Art

Graduate students at the New York Academy of Art earn a two-year MFA that requires 85% of coursework to be in studio art. Available concentrations are Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture, and students can complete elective tracks in Anatomy and Printmaking. The program is designed to teach traditional techniques, contemporary methodologies, and art criticism.

Duke University

Duke University offers a unique MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, which combines video production with art theory and experimentation. Duke also offers a two-year MFA in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis. Dance students can pursue a college teaching certificate or entrepreneurship elective as part of their MFA.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design offers a two-year MFA in Visual Studies. In this program, students are encouraged to self-direct their study, and have access to faculty mentorship and personal studio space. The MFA is an interdisciplinary program in which students learn to perfect their craft in the visual arts through studio and seminar experience.

State University of New York – New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz offers an MFA in Studio Art, the largest in the SUNY system. Students can specialize in Ceramics, Metal, Painting and Drawing, Photography & Related Media, Printmaking, and Sculpture. The metal program, which explores modern jewelry and metalsmithing, is nationally ranked and one of the largest in the U.S. Situated in the scenic Hudson Valley, SUNY New Paltz offers tuition waivers and stipends as part of their teaching assistantships, as well as access to the New York City art scene. They have an affordable tuition because all of their students receive a scholarship that allows them to pay in-state tuition rates.

Georgia State University

At Georgia State University, students can earn an MFA in Studio Art with concentrations in Ceramics, Drawing and Painting, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Photography, Sculpture, Printmaking, and Textiles or an MFA in Creative Writing with concentrations in Fiction or Poetry. The Studio program offers full tuition waivers as part of teaching assistantships, as well as access to the Atlanta art and design community (Nine of the top 10 interior design firms have offices in the City in the Forest.).

Carnegie Mellon University

According to U.S. News and World Report, Carnegie Mellon’s graduate fine arts programs are among the top 10 in the country. CMU’s three-year Art MFA offers a highly interdisciplinary approach which teaches students about art criticism and production through close interaction with faculty. Through the School of Drama, students can earn MFAs in Costume Production, Design (concentration in Scenery, Costumes, Lighting, Sound, or Video and Media Design), Directing, Dramatic Writing, and Production Technology and Management.

University of Montana

The University of Montana offers MFAs in Art and in Media Arts, in which students learn to produce art in a variety of digital fields, from game design to animation to filmmaking. Ninety percent of Art MFA graduates become professional artists after graduation, and 25% are in full-time academic positions. Other MFA options are Theatre and Creative Writing (concentrations in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry)

University of California – Los Angeles

The MFA programs at UC Los Angeles are recognized as No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report. The university offers six Art MFAs (Ceramics, Interdisciplinary Studio, New Genres, Painting and Drawing, Photography, and Sculpture) as well as Choreographic Inquiry, for students pursuing a career in dance choreography, and Design/Media Arts, Film and Television, and Theatre. Regardless of which path students follow, they will benefit from UCLA’s experienced faculty and guest lecturers, as well as close proximity to the LA art and film community.

Boston University

Boston University offers a unique one-year MFA in Literary Translation, in which students learn to translate texts across languages and critically evaluate translations. In the Creative Writing program, which can also be completed in one year (including summer), students study abroad for up to three months and learn about international literature. Other MFA programs at Boston include Graphic Design, Painting, Sculpture, Costume Design, Costume Production, Directing, Lighting Design, Production Management, Scene Design, Sound Design, Technical Production, Cinema and Media Production, Screenwriting, Film and Television Studies, and Playwriting.

University of Florida

Dating back to 1949, the University of Florida’s Creative Writing program is one of the oldest in the country. According to its website, the MFA has a strong international perspective. Of its seven faculty, all of which are full-time, four were born outside the U.S. The University of Florida also offers MFAs in Theatre (specializations in Acting and Design) and Art (specializations in Art and Technology, Ceramics, Creative Photography, Drawing, Graphic Design, Painting, Printmaking, and Sculpture).

University of Massachusetts – Boston

UMass Boston offers a three-year MFA in Creative Writing which accepts five poetry students and five fiction students each year. Students complete writing workshops and seminars and learn through mentorship of accomplished professors and visiting writers.

How Did We Rank this List?

Our ranking was based 55.6% on faculty-student ratio and 44.4% on tuition.

From each institution’s website, we gathered rates for in-person graduate tuition for out-of-state domestic students. Where tuition was only listed on a per-credit or per-semester basis, the year was assumed to consist of two semesters, twelve credits each. Tuition figures do not include fees or other expenses. Where rates varied based on program, the least expensive MFA was used.

Each school was given a score from 1 for the highest tuition to 26 for the lowest. Schools were also scored from 1 to 26 for faculty-student ratio based on data from U.S. News and World Report. For the New York Academy of Art, for which data was unavailable, the average faculty-student ratio of the other colleges was used for the ranking. Tuition scores were multiplied by two and faculty-student ratio points by 2.5. These weighted scores were added together to produce the final ranking.

Problems with your Ranking?

If your school isn’t on this list and you think it deserves consideration for an update, please  contact us . Also, if you work for one of the schools on this list and you notice an error, please let us know. We always seek to provide the most accurate information available and let readers know about the best schools across the country.

Still not Sure which School is Right for You?

Finding the right college is a difficult process. Check out our degree finder and our other lists to help find the best MFA degree based on the characteristics that are important to you.

Pursuing an MFA Degree – What You Need to Know

Graduate programs are becoming an increasingly common next step for those with an undergraduate degree. For many professional and aspiring artists, a Master of Fine Arts is worth considering. An MFA can be a great choice for artists who are passionate about their craft and want to hone their skills. MFA’s are also a good choice for artists who want to add credentials to their resumes to give them a competitive edge in their field and advance their careers. 

Whether you’re interested in visual arts, creative writing, theatre, dance, or any other creative field, an MFA can help artists become masters of their craft. Not only will you have the highest degree in fine arts, but the right program will also allow you to meet like-minded individuals and connect with experts in your field. 

So, where do you start? Before taking the big step of applying for an MFA program, there are some questions you must ask yourself:

Read on to learn more about MFA degrees, their requirements, and potential outcomes.

Types of MFA Programs

The decision to pursue a graduate degree of any kind is never an easy one to make, and neither is pursuing a career in art. A career in fine arts is generally thought to be tough – most fine arts fields are competitive and require artists to have a passion for what they do. If you choose to complete an MFA, you are committing to your craft. Having an MFA signifies that an artist has undergone rigorous study and practice in their field.

What Am I Interested In?

Before you start looking at schools, get a general idea of what type of MFA program you are interested in, as well as what discipline you want to concentrate on. Chances are that if you are looking into completing an MFA, you already have a creative background in some form of art. If you already have a background in fine arts or are interested in several disciplines, the first step is to narrow down your interests based on your goals and where you want to take your career.

If you’re passionate about art, then a visual arts program could be what you’re looking for. If you want to become a better writer, a creative writing program would be the best choice for you. Some schools offer interdisciplinary programs, meaning you can complete an MFA degree in two or more disciplines. This option can be more challenging, but also more rewarding as they allow you to expand your skillset. 

MFA Degree or MA Degree?

Ensure that it is indeed an MFA that you are interested in attaining and not an MA (Master of Arts). While they are both recognized graduate degrees, their objectives and potential post-graduate outcomes differ greatly . 

An MA gears more to those who are interested in theory and analysis . If you want to study liberal arts, you should pursue an MA. During this type of graduate program, you’ll spend more time writing academic papers on art created by other artists than you would spend creating your art. You don’t necessarily have to be an artist to pursue an MA. 

An MFA is considered a terminal degree meant for professional artists that focuses on developing their creative skills. The practice and training you receive during an MFA provide a more in-depth immersion into your craft. You’ll spend more time in the studio or participating in workshops than you write essays or analyze other peoples’ work.

Be sure to understand whether your interests are more aligned with creativity or theory and analysis before applying to an MFA program. For example, if you are more interested in art history, rather than creating your art, an MA in art history is more suitable for you. 

While the nature of the two degrees differ, you will be required to complete and defend a thesis at a thesis exhibition at the end of your program.

In summary, if you want to be a scholar, pursue an MA degree. If you want to continue as an artist, pursue an MFA degree.

Full-time or Part-time?

Not only is it important to determine the time-frame in which you want to complete your MFA program, but you also have to think about whether you are willing to complete the program full-time or part-time. Most schools offer at least one of two options for their programs: “low-residency” and “high-residency.” 

Whether you choose a low-residency or high-residency program, the length of time that it takes to complete an MFA is typically 2-3 years.

What Can I Study? 

MFA programs usually have a wide variety of disciplines, concentrations, and specializations to choose from. The most common MFA disciplines are creative writing and visual art . From there, you will find programs that break these disciplines down into sub-disciplines such as poetry, creative nonfiction, contemporary art, studio art, and more. 

Some other common MFA disciplines are:

Some schools offer advanced music programs as MFA degrees. Many institutions continue to incorporate technology into their MFA programs, resulting in newer fields of study such as graphic design.

Although most schools offer MFA degrees in writing and visual art, every school has a unique set of concentrations for their programs. Be sure to take the time to research what schools offer your desired field of study.

Requirements for MFA Programs

Before choosing a school for an MFA program, make sure to know the basic requirements, as they differ at every institution. 

Entry Requirements

Most graduate schools in the United States require candidates to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). For entry to an MFA program, the GRE is often not required.

As with most graduate programs, you are required to have completed a bachelor’s degree before being admitted to an MFA program. A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. 

Don’t be discouraged if your academic background does not match your desired MFA field of study! A bachelor’s in fine arts (BFA) is a great foundation to build on if you want to pursue an MFA, but it isn’t necessary. Although some schools will encourage candidates to have completed a BFA before applying for an MFA program, it is usually not required. An undergraduate degree in any field can prove to be beneficial in preparing you for an MFA.

Institutions consider many factors when evaluating potential MFA candidates, including skill, resume, references, and portfolio. 

The portfolio is probably the most important part of an MFA candidate’s application. Your portfolio is your chance to demonstrate the quality of your work and show off what you’ve accomplished so far. Ensure you follow your desired institution’s guidelines on how to assemble your portfolio and what type of content to include. The content can range from writing samples for an MFA in creative writing or an audition tape for an MFA in theatre.

If you are applying to an MFA program that focuses on performance, like drama, music, or dance, be prepared to either go in for a live audition or send in an audition tape.


Although your undergraduate major may not be an issue when applying for an MFA program, some schools may require you to have taken certain courses to be eligible for an MFA program. Visit your preferred school’s MFA application requirements page to make sure you meet all of their requirements before applying. 

If you did not take certain prerequisites during your undergraduate degree, you may have to go back to school for a bit to take those courses before applying to the program you’re interested in. With proper planning, you usually complete these in a semester. Be sure to discuss your options with the academic advisors at your school of choice. 

Get All of Your Documents Together

Once you’re done with your research, make a list of everything your desired school requires to complete the application process. This generally includes:

Be sure to start gathering these documents early to avoid missing deadlines. For example, if you’re asking someone to write you a letter of recommendation, be sure to give them at least a few week’s notice to have the letter submitted on time.

Application Deadlines

Most schools have their MFA programs start in the Fall, so you should begin the application process a year before you want to begin the program. If you are in your last year of undergraduate study, you can apply for tentative admission on the condition that you will complete your undergraduate degree before beginning your MFA.

Make sure you start applications early and mark down the deadlines of the schools you plan on applying to. Most schools open applications in the Fall, and close applications in the Winter. The most competitive programs have an application deadline of early January. Schools generally make their final decisions by the Spring .

Benefits of an MFA Degree

Many benefits come with holding an MFA degree. In the world of fine arts, an MFA is a highly respected degree that demonstrates discipline and dedication to your craft. As an MFA is usually considered a terminal degree, you will most likely hold the highest degree of education possible in your field, which gives you an advantage over those who may have a similar experience to you, but who only hold a Bachelor’s degree. Artists often find that they leave their MFA having significantly added to their portfolio or having created an important body of work, such as their thesis .

During your MFA program, you will most likely meet many other like-minded individuals, whether they be your instructors, your fellow students, or important artists in your field. Your peers will probably go on to pursue different opportunities than you and may meet new people who interest you, so it’s great to have a network of colleagues and professionals as you continue with your career. 

Additionally, your program may allow you to work with professionals and attend events that would have been difficult to access without being enrolled in the program. Plus, you may create some great long-term friendships.

An MFA can open you up to many career possibilities, or help you advance in your current career. Below is a list of different career paths your MFA may lead you to, depending on your program and discipline.

Visual Artist

Performing Arts

Having an MFA doesn’t mean you have to remain in the fine arts world . The skills that you will attain during your MFA can be transferred to several fields. 

Other fields you can consider entering after completing an MFA are:

Because an MFA suggests that you are an expert in your field, you may be eligible for more executive roles, such as managing an art gallery or becoming the director of a museum. You can even start your own business.

You often will not be restricted to just one career path and may have the freedom to move around within your discipline.

An MFA usually qualifies you to teach at a university or college level. Most full-time MFA students are required to spend at least one semester as a teaching assistant , so you will end up graduating with some teaching experience under your belt. This experience that you’ll get during your MFA will help you determine whether teaching is a career path that interests you. With additional certifications, an MFA graduate may also be able to teach grade school.

Choosing an MFA Program

Now that you know what you want to study and have an idea of what you can expect to gain from an MFA degree, you can move on to the most important part – choosing the school you want to attend. The right school can make or break your MFA experience, so choose wisely!

Where Do I Want to Live?

Location may not be as important for other graduate programs, but you should strongly consider location if pursuing an MFA degree in some programs. Location doesn’t matter as much if you are pursuing a low-residency program. For a high-residency program, though, location plays a crucial part in your graduate experience. The city you live in will determine who you will have the opportunity to meet, and the opportunities in certain cities may appeal to you more than in others.

For example, if you want to study performing arts to work in theatre, a school in New York City might be the best option for you. However, if you want to pursue an MFA in creative writing with hopes of beginning a career in screenwriting, attending a school in Los Angeles would give you more opportunities in film and to meet people already in the industry.


Your environment also plays a large role in your success in an MFA program. In what type of environment are you most creative? You might be a writer who enjoys the big city and finds inspiration while people-watching in cafes. Or maybe you’re a painter who needs calm and the constant view of a natural landscape to create. If your family is your support system, keep in mind how far you’re willing to move away from them.

You must also think about funding and the type of lifestyle you want to live. Although many schools will fully fund their MFA students , this isn’t always guaranteed. While New York City and Los Angeles provide ample opportunities for MFA graduates to hone their craft and advance in their careers, they are also expensive cities to live in. If money is an issue, you may want to consider a school in a city with a lower cost of living,

Faculty and Potential Mentors

Another important thing to think about is the faculty that is currently at your desired school. There may be an artist you look up to in your discipline who is also teaching MFA courses at a certain school. That school may be worth considering for the opportunity to work with them or have them as a supervisor. There may also be a renowned instructor in your discipline who has a track record of producing very successful artists.

If you’re extra keen, you can reach out to faculty members with who you would be interested in working. They may be able to give you extra insight into your potential program and discipline, plus you’ll be building a relationship with them before stepping foot on campus.

Connect With Current and Past Students

Reach out to other people who are currently enrolled in MFA programs or have already completed an MFA degree. Get the inside scoop on what a day in the life of a graduate student is like. It’s also beneficial to take some time to learn about what others chose to do with their degrees. It’s always good to seek out advice.

If you’ve chosen to pursue an MFA, you’ve decided to embark on an exciting journey. You’ll get to immerse yourself in your creative passion and excel at it for the rest of your life. Start your research to find the right MFA program sooner rather than later to determine what school you want to go to and what your field of study will be. You want to be sure that you’re ready for this commitment.

An MFA is not easy, but worth it to do what you love as an aspiring writer or artist. With the right school and the right program, you’ll be well on your way to making your dreams come true.

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10 MFA Programs for the Budget-Conscious

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Rare, exclusive fully-funded programs aren't the only option for a lower-cost degree.

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It’s well-worn advice by now that you shouldn’t go into debt for an MFA. But how can you avoid it? Every year, the limited fully-funded programs—think Michener Center for Writers, Rutgers, Cornell, Brown, Purdue, Iowa, Johns Hopkins—receive a flood of applications. Fully-funded MFA programs at Syracuse University and Hunter admit around 6% and 2% of applicants, respectively. 

Statistically, it’s a simple fact that not every writer who feels committed to completing an MFA will find a seat in a fully-funded program—and those application fees add up. For example, Vanderbilt’s fee is $85 and Boston University’s is $95. Plus, even at full funding, location matters, as living on a graduate student’s salary has wildly different implications in different housing markets; some “fully funded” students do end up taking out loans to bridge the gap between stipends and what it means to pay rent.

Highly selective programs with extensive funding can be a gift for writers, but you also need a backup plan. This isn’t about thinking of MFA safety schools, but rather applying widely to programs that are a good fit both academically and financially. There are over 160 residential MFA programs in the United States, all of which have a different mix of aid and aesthetic. Even if full funding is not advertised, at some schools, you may still get it.

No matter what you get from the Registrar’s office, for any offer of admission, prospective students should ask to speak to current enrollees and recent grads and do as much vetting as possible. No program is perfect. 

With that in mind, here are 10 programs for the cost-conscious to get started with, based on the institution’s financial transparency and publicly available data. 

Butler University

Indianapolis, where Butler University is located, boasts a low cost of living in what is still a relatively major city, Indiana’s largest. As a private school, residency conditions do not apply, and Butler’s tuition and fees run about 16K a year. The MFA was established in 2008 and matriculates upwards of 15 students annually. There are a wide variety of scholarships available, including many that are not linked to instruction. Butler offers some paid teaching positions for second year students; in any given cohort, about half of enrollees would be eligible. As a university founded in a Christian religious tradition, Butler may not be right for everyone, even though its mission and degree programs (including the MFA) are firmly secular. However, with funding, this very small school can be an economical choice in a Midwest capital.

Eastern Washington University  

Founded in 1978, the Eastern Washington University program offers full and partial funding for many students in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. A land-grant institution in Washington state that is closer to Idaho than Seattle, the MFA is housed in Spokane, a small walkable city with low living costs. A two year program, students who are not fully funded in their first year through a teaching assistantship have a chance to get second-year funding and stipend through community-based programs and publishing, including with the literary journal Willow Springs Magazine . EWU’s tuition is on the lower end, at $12,704 a year. Through a western states partnership, those who reside in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, or Nevada do not have to establish residency. A unique aspect of EWU is that classes are largely held in the evenings, making it possible to hold a day job if needed.

University of Florida, Gainesville

The University of Florida, Gainesville MFA program is a fully funded three-year program, and receives upwards of 500 applications a year. It admits only six students in each genre of poetry and fiction. Founded in 1949, UF is a well-ranked, established program and has maintained the very low application fee of $30. The town of Gainesville, in the central panhandle of Florida, is an inexpensive place to live, making it likely that a stipend will in fact cover living costs. UF is a very pedagogically focused school. It prioritizes permanent faculty rather than visiting writers or temporarily appointed professors to deliver instruction, and the admissions statement is clear that applicants are selected on what the committee sees as potential to develop through the course of study. The program emphasizes world literature, and over half of its faculty are bilingual and born outside America.

Long Island University

If you absolutely have to be in New York, take a look at Long Island University. Located in Brooklyn, this school has ample paid internship opportunities at PEN World Voices Festival, the National Book Foundation, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, among others. LIU also offers teaching assistantships that will offset costs. Tuition is half that of other NYC-based schools like Columbia, which is highly relevant for those students who may pay some out of pocket. As a private school, state residency requirements do not apply. Founded in 2007, LIU’s MFA has programs in poetry, fiction, playwriting, creative nonfiction, and cross-genre projects. New York is, of course, extremely expensive, so applicants must balance funding against cost of living. With a $50 application fee, for those who feel strongly about being in the epicenter of American publishing, LIU may be worth the relatively low initial cost. 

McNeese State

Established in 1982, the McNeese State University MFA offers all who are admitted some level of funding, though it does not provide free rides. By their own metrics, MSU students enrolled in the MFA pay about $1,500 per semester for three years. The application process begins at no cost—prospective students are not asked to contribute any application fees or paperwork until after they are accepted. This is a positive model that helps students understand if they are a good fit before committing to fees or devoting time to formal applications. Prospective students should send in their work in poetry or fiction, their statement of purpose, and an additional letter spelling out one’s interest in teaching introductory composition. MSU is in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a gulf town about halfway between Houston and New Orleans with a very low cost of living. Demographically, Lake Charles is nearly 50% Black. MSU as a university enrolls more female identified students and employs more female identified faculty than average, making it a highly diverse option.

University of Mississippi  

Founded in 2000, the fully-funded program at the University of Mississippi Oxford is free to apply to, and the phased application is very low stakes. Email in a writing sample along with a statement of purpose essay, and the first part of the application is done. Much like other Gulf schools, it’s only once these initial materials are reviewed are some students asked to move to Phase II, which requires filling out the graduate application and providing letters of reference. In many ways, applying to UM is like submitting to a literary magazine or pitching agents. Applicants will only hear back and be asked for additional materials if the committee is interested. UM offers funded positions that do not involve teaching, and specifically earmarks financial aid for students of underrepresented groups. Oxford is a diverse city that is approximately 22% Black.

University of New Hampshire  

The University of New Hampshire’s program is newer, founded in 2007. It is very small and also very selective. Graduate school tuition rates were $14,170 in 2020. Residents of Rhode Island receive a discount. UNH has a reputation of being very community-minded, the kind of school where students celebrate on another’s successes. An advantage of UNH is the availability of paid internships in research and communications, and stipend positions at the literary magazine, Barnstorm . Top applicants will receive tuition waivers and a stipend through teaching fellowships. Durham, New Hampshire, has a high cost of living for such a small city, but in contrast, the housing costs in Boston, about an hour away, are 60% more than this college town.

Texas State University

The Texas State University MFA, founded in 1991, is a large program, with upwards of 70 candidates enrolled at any given time. The cost of living in San Marcos, located between San Antonio and Austin, is slightly lower than the national average. While TXST is technically only partially funded, 90% of applicants receive full funding, a hefty percentage. In-state tuition rates are $8664 annually, but essentially no students pay the full balance. While 75% of candidates are from outside of Texas, the university has a generous out of state waiver that is not contingent on residency. In 2019, this applied to 100% of students, suggesting that while not guaranteed, getting a waiver is highly achievable. If not offered full funding, note that TXST is a 3-year program, which could potentially increase costs and delay entry into the job market by a year. The university is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institute, with 25% of enrolled students identifying as Hispanic or Latinx. 

University of Texas, El Paso

University of Texas, El Paso has both a residential and a fully online program; this section covers the residential course of study. Since 1992, UTEP has enrolled a cohort of a dozen MFA students, and like other Texas-based programs, it is a 3-year course of study. That said, this program has the lowest tuition of any program on this list, at $6600/year. Graduate stipends pay $1200 per month for ten months, which is fairly average, but put in context of El Paso’s extraordinarily low cost of living, those dollars will stretch much farther than in other cities. UTEP is distinctive in that it offers a bilingual English/Spanish MFA, though bilingualism is not required of any applicant. Classes draw on both Spanish and English texts, and the program offers support for student matters like housing and financial aid in both languages. The campus is located near a shared border crossing with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.    

St Mary’s College

The St. Mary’s College program refreshingly focuses on life after an MFA and publishes statistics on the careers of its graduates. All incoming students are funded at 40–50% of tuition in their first year, and a smaller percentage in their second year. This brings tuition costs at this private school down to something that is more in line with a public school, with no penalty for not having California residency—although note that attending SMC means living in San Francisco, which is more expensive than New York. All students are invited to apply for graduate teaching assistantships, which offer an additional stipend. SMC is an option for students who are interested in interdisciplinary work, as there is funding for dual-concentration students who may take three years to complete their degree. The college also provides paid internships with Lambda Literary, Kearny Street Workshop, Hedgebrook, and is notably LBGTQIA+ friendly. Without a full portfolio of funding, St Mary’s can be unreachable for many, but because it has a free application process, it’s worth seeing where an application shakes out in the funding hierarchy. 

A comprehensive list of MFA programs from Poets & Writers can be found here .

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What is an MFA Degree? What You Need to Know

The hand of an MFA student holding a pencil and writing in a notebook with the text What Does MFA Stand For?

An MFA is a Master of Fine Arts, a graduate-level college degree earned by students who study and practice visual arts, performing arts, design or creative writing. Those who choose to pursue an MFA usually want to work in artistic professions and pursue careers as authors, editors, playwrights, dancers, actors, painters or sculptors. Others plan to teach at the college level.

If refining your art for personal purposes or professional gain interests you, you might consider advancing your education with an MFA degree.

What is the Difference Between a Master's and an MFA?

You may come across two different degree types as you research advanced programs focused on your preferred art form: Master of Arts  (MA) and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA). For instance, if you're interested in creative writing, you might need to choose between an MA in Creative Writing or an MFA in Creative Writing. There are several differences between an MA and an MFA  that you'll want to consider.

While both degree types can help you further explore and grow your talent, pursuing one over another might make the most sense for you.

How long it takes to finish is one factor. At Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), the MFA in Creative Writing is 48 credits, while the MA in Creative Writing  program is only 36 credits.

The professional weight of the credential is another factor. An MFA is considered a terminal degree , similar to professional degrees granted in other fields, such as the Doctor of Philosophy or the Doctor of Education, according to guidelines established by the College Art Association of America ( CAA ).

Types of MFA Concentrations

MFA programs span broad academic disciplines of art. These include:

To be accepted into a program, you must have a bachelor’s degree . Typically, you’ll also be asked to furnish letters of recommendation, provide a strong personal statement and show samples of your work.

Top MFA Programs: What to Consider

There are more than 250 MFA in Creative Writing programs in the United States, according to the Poets & Writers database. Of those, 193 are full-residency and 59 are considered low-residency programs. Many online MFA programs have emerged in recent years, making an MFA even more attainable for career-changers and students with families.

If you are weighing the pros and cons of different MFA programs, the Authors Guild suggests you ask yourself these three important questions to ensure the best fit.

1. Do you want to attend part-time or full-time? MFA programs can take anywhere from a year to as long as four years to finish, although most take 2-3 years to complete. If you need to juggle work and family with your MFA program, you might consider programs that allow you to study part-time or online.

2. Where do you want to live? Even if you choose to study part-time, many MFA programs require students to take part in a residency. A residency is a period of study with other students either on campus or at a specific site. Residencies can be as short as a weekend or last several weeks. MFA programs offer both low-residency and high-residency options, although some can be completed entirely online with no travel necessary.

3. Do you want to teach? Some MFA programs require you to teach undergraduate classes if you are studying on a full scholarship, whereas others allow you to teach in exchange for a discounted tuition rate. The Poets & Writers MFA programs database identifies those programs that offer stipends, partial or full scholarships – and the teaching requirements necessary to receive MFA financial assistance. A program with a teaching component can give you valuable experience if you plan on teaching at the university level after you graduate.

While an MFA program’s ranking and reputation are important, who you study with and how you study are equally important.

Advantages of an Online MFA

Joan Smith with the text Joan Smith

"Nationwide, the MFA has been typically reserved for people of privilege, and the online program allows us to break that (mold) a little bit," Smith said. "Students can maintain work and family balance in their lives while they put in the hard work to pursue a dream."

Students enrolled in the online MFA in Creative Writing at SNHU still focus intensely on their writing but are not required to attend residencies. The program offers a greater exploration into the "business" of entering the publishing world, allowing you to fully understand how to market your writing and navigate the publishing ecosystem.

Learning strategies related to publishing, freelancing and building an effective online writer’s platform to attract your audience are all covered in the program, especially in the professional writing certificate path, one of two certificates the program offers. Those interested in teaching writing can choose to pursue the other graduate certificate focused on teaching creative writing online, which includes learning how to develop web-based courses and coach students virtually.

Online MFAs may also allow students to explore a wider range of fiction writing genres. For example, the online MFA in Creative Writing at SNHU encourages a focus on speculative fiction, young adult, fantasy and romance – opening the MFA to even more writers .

"One of the major benefits of the online MFA is that it helps you learn to communicate in an online space, and today's career authors need to know how to navigate their way through online communities and social media," Smith said.

Advantages of a Low-Residency MFA

You might choose a low-residency program if you want to join an intimate community of writers and have the flexibility to travel to scheduled in-person residencies each year.

In the Low-Residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction  program at SNHU, a cohort of about 16 students attend two, week-long residencies at the Mountainview Grand Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire each year of their 2-year program. There, they meet with one another, faculty and visiting authors to workshop their writing and hone their craft.

Benjamin Nugent with the text Benjamin Nugent

The low-residency program can give you a unique opportunity to have your work read and critiqued by your peers and other faculty twice a year, Nugent said.

While not in residency, students in the program work intensely on their writing from home, submitting 30 pages of work every five weeks. They are paired with faculty members who provide frequent, 1-on-1 feedback in the form of notes and phone calls.

The best part: No matter where you are in your life, a low-residency program allows you to participate in a rigorous program without having to move.

“We have a flexible enough writing schedule that will work with your daily commitments,” Nugent said.

The low-residency program helped MFA alumni, including David Moloney '17MFA and Nadia Owusu '17MFA , advance their writing careers.

Is an MFA a Good Degree?

Not only can an MFA program give you a structured space to hone your skills and receive feedback from peers and professionals, it can also help you advance your career.

Derrick Craigie with the text Derrick Craigie

Here are some careers MFA graduates – including those who specialize in creative writing and other fine arts – often focus on:

Whether you choose to pursue an MFA to share your love of art with college students or nurture your talents, you can benefit from a degree program that helps foster discipline while it inspires creativity.

Discover more about SNHU's MFA in Creative Writing ; find out what courses you'll take, skills you'll learn and how to request information about the program.

Krysten Godfrey Maddocks ’11 is a writer and marketing/communication professional. Connect with her on LinkedIn . 

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About southern new hampshire university.

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs . Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU  page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.

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Medical Financial Assistance Program

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Candace Maher struggled with high medical bills after several unexpected surgeries. Kaiser Permanente's Medical Financial Assistance program helped pay for her medical care.

Improving health care access for people with limited incomes and resources is fundamental to Kaiser Permanente’s mission. Our Medical Financial Assistance program helps low-income, uninsured, and underserved patients receive access to care. The program provides temporary financial assistance or free care to patients who receive health care services from our providers, regardless of whether they have health coverage or are uninsured. The MFA program is one of the most generous in the health care industry and is available to those patients in greatest need.

Who’s eligible for Medical Financial Assistance?

What does the program cover?

The MFA program covers emergency and medically necessary health care services, pharmacy services and products, and medical supplies provided at Kaiser Permanente facilities (such as hospitals, medical centers, and medical office buildings), at Kaiser Permanente outpatient pharmacies, or by Kaiser Permanente providers. Services that are not considered emergent or medically necessary as determined by a Kaiser Permanente provider include but are not limited to cosmetic surgery or services, infertility treatments, retail medical supplies, surrogacy services, and services related to third-party liability, or workers’ compensation cases.

Please note: The MFA program is not a form of health insurance and can’t be used to subsidize premiums.

How can I learn more about the Medical Financial Assistance Program and how to enroll?

To learn more about the MFA program and how to enroll, please see the program qualifications and contacts information for the Kaiser Permanente region where you live:

Other beneficial programs and extra resources:

If you don’t have health care coverage and would like more information, call us at 1-800-479-5764 (TTY 711) Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to learn more about your coverage options.

We’re here to support you however we can. If you need help with essentials like housing, childcare, or food, Thrive Local Connections can help connect you to resources in your community. Call 1-800-443-6328 (TTY 711), Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

News and views from one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans.

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2020 Best Graduate Schools Badge

25 Best MFA Programs 2020

The 25 schools on this list offer the top MFAs in fine arts, based on median salary one year after graduation. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania tops the list with a starting salary of $44,200 for MFA graduates. University of Oregon students in this program graduate with $29,274 of student debt, the lowest median debt of the schools ranked below. The schools on the list boast median starting salaries in the $25,000-$44,200 range.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools .

GradReports has over 200 partner colleges that advertise on our site. Search results include only our partner colleges, which are marked with the word "Ad." Learn more about how we make money.

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Edinboro university of pennsylvania.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania logo

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania features several Master of Fine Arts programs. These 60 credit hour degrees take three years to complete. The programs are focused on the studio arts, and are designed to produce professional artists rather than teachers or art historians. A portfolio is required for admission, which is competitive.

The school’s MFA degrees are in Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, and Metals/ Jewelry. All are heavy on studio practice. The academic components include art history and theory. The emphasis is on developing students’ conceptual, aesthetic and technical competencies. Students will learn about the arts in general, but will focus largely on developing their skills and artistic voice in their preferred form of art. They will also learn about the presentation and installation of their art, as well as publicity and marketing.

The courses offered include Kiln Construction, Ceramic Materials and Glaze Calculation, Studio Problems in Painting, and Jewelry/Metalsmithing. Students have 24-hour access to their studios.

The school is located near Erie, Pennsylvania, in the northwest part of the state.

Visit Edinboro University of Pennsylvania’s website .

The New School

The New School logo

Through its Parsons School of Design, the New School features a number of Master of Fine Arts degrees. They are heavily oriented to professional practice in the context of interdisciplinary study. The programs are 60 credits and generally take two years to complete.

The MFA degrees are in Design and Technology, Fashion Design and Society, Lighting Design, Photography, Interior Design, Industrial Design, Fine Arts, Textiles, and Transdisciplinary Design. The MFA Textiles focuses on fashion, decoration, product design, and textile history. The Lighting Design MFA is concerned with the effects of natural and artificial light, including the design of interiors, energy conservation and the social impact of light systems. Industrial Design focuses on the design process and product design. Transdisciplinary Design looks at the future of design and social thought.

Courses vary with the program. Sample courses are Professional Practices and Portfolio, Survey of Silver: Renaissance to Modern, Interactive/ Web Design, and Color Theory. Students learn about all aspects of art and develop their own professional competencies.

The New School is located in Manhattan, in New York City. It has a long tradition of academic innovation and social action.

Visit The New School’s website .

Duke University

Duke University logo

Duke University features a Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts. This is a new and unique program at the cutting edge of contemporary art theory and experimentation. The 30 credit program takes two years to complete and requires an original and substantial thesis. Duke’s programs are highly respected, and admission is competitive.

Offered through Duke’s Division of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, the program’s intent is to bring together the classic documentary approach and “experimental production” that involves analog, digital and computational media.

The program stresses creative engagement with the arts and the role of the artist in society. Students will be thoroughly grounded in art theory, be exposed to classic forms of art history, and explore how these interact with new technologies. Students will be involved in new forms of recording, cataloging and curating art.

Among the courses in the degree program are Computational Media, Continuity and Change in Experimental and Documentary Arts, and Experiments with the Moving Image.

Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina.

Visit Duke University's website .

The George Washington University

The George Washington University logo

Through its Corcoran School of Arts and Design, The George Washington University offers a Master of Fine Arts in Fine Arts, as well as an MA in Art History. The degrees differ substantially. The MFA is a 60 credit program that takes two years to complete and is primarily designed for studio artists. The Art History MA degree is 36 credits and is designed for teaching, writing, and related careers.

The MFA covers a wide range of media, including digital labs, photography and video facilities, and a sculpture shop. Students have individual studio space. A portfolio is required for admission, which is competitive. The program focus is the development of professional skills and technique, including exhibition and publicity. The primary orientation is education and practice in the studio arts. Courses include Professional Practices, and Contemporary Art and Theory for Artists. There is no thesis, but substantial work and a critical statement about it is required.

The Art History MA concentrates on art history, theory, and interpretation. It is a much more academically-oriented program. Students will learn the genres and eras of art, themes and the relationship of art to society. Classes include Islamic Art and Architecture, Seminar in South Asian Art, and American art in the Age of Revolution. This program has a Museum Training Track, which emphasizes museum internships.

GWU is located in Washington, D.C.

Visit The George Washington University's website .

School of Visual Arts

School of Visual Arts logo

The School of Visual Arts in New York City offers an MFA degree in Fine Arts. The program has an interdisciplinary focus and classes are taught by internationally-known professional artists. The curriculum is a mix of seminars in art theory and history, professional development workshops, fieldwork in artist studios or galleries, and talks given by professional artists and curators. Students in the program have 24-hour access to private artist studios and will complete an MFA thesis featuring a body of work or a significant art project.

The program prepares students for careers as professional artists, offering professional exposure in the form of student gallery collections, group critiques, one-on-one meetings with a mentor within the program, artist talks, and visits to professional artist studios and galleries. Students generally complete this full-time degree in two years.

Visit the School of Visual Arts' website .

Creative Writing M.F.A.

English MFA Banner

A Good MFA Program is Hard to Find

A good MFA program is hard to find, but we believe the MFA Program at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Georgia offers unique opportunities for MFA students dedicated to the craft and purpose of creative writing. GCSU’s famous alumna, Flannery O’Connor, lived in Milledgeville on her farm, Andalusia, and of our beautiful, Southern town, she wrote "When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville." Our MFA students certainly get a lot done in their three years in Milledgeville.

What makes us unique? We take pride in the fact that the MFA Program at Georgia College is a fully-funded, full-residency 3-year MFA program. All students admitted to our MFA program receive a Graduate Assistantship for all 3 years that includes a stipend and tuition remission. Self-funded students are accepted in special circumstances. We offer everything you could find at flagship state universities, but because we are part of a small, public Liberal Arts university, our students are immediately welcomed into a close-knit, creative community. We sponsor a Visiting Writers series, bringing nationally-renowned writers to campus each semester, as well as a graduate student reading series. Our award-winning faculty work closely with students not only as workshop teachers, but as professional mentors.

The MFA Program offers workshops in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, and because we believe in expanding creative possibility and passions for our students, we require students to take cross-genre workshops. Students may write their thesis in fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction. In addition to workshops, students take creative writing seminars in Poetry & Poetics or Prose Forms, pedagogy classes on the teaching of writing, and courses on literature and special topics.

Additionally, we offer courses in journal design and editing, so students get hand-on publishing and graphic design experience. Students are able to put their practical skills to creative and purposeful good use while serving as members of the editorial staff of  Arts & Letters , our national literary journal, and one of the premier journals of the Southeast.

We are fully-funded: all students receive full tuition remission as well as a Graduate Assistantship. As part of this assistantship, students gain real-world teaching experience, and work at our Writing Center as tutors, teach undergraduate Composition, and teach in our Early College Program which is modeled on the Writers in the Schools Program. This real world teaching experience is essential for those students who hope to continue with teaching careers and/or community service careers.  We also participate in the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program which offers assistantships to Peace Corps volunteers.

Finally, the Arts & Letters Journal Editing Fellowship is open to applicants with at least one year of experience in journal publishing and/or editing, desktop publishing and design (preferably with InDesign), and/or marketing and promotion (including social media). The Fellowship offers recipients the opportunity to further develop both editorial and managerial skills over their three years in the MFA program, working closely with Arts & Letters’ Editor and Art Director (for more information about this specific fellowship, refer information under Assistantships ). 

Faculty and graduate students alike all practice what we preach and teach at GCSU!

Our 42-hour program is designed to be a three-year program (although other options may be possible for those students that already have an MA Degree) and most students follow a plan that emphasizes course work in the first year and thesis work in the second and third years.

We welcome you to learn more about our admission application process and opportunities for graduate assistantships and other financial aid.

Check out the new design of the  Arts & Letters   website !

We now have a dynamic platform that is more efficient and responsive, and we’ve packaged it in a prettier and more user-friendly design. We are also now connected across a number of social networks, including  Facebook ,  Twitter ,  Tumblr , and  Google+ , so that our readers can keep up on  Arts & Letters  news, reading periods, information on upcoming issues, and prizes.

Visiting Writer Series          

African writers festival.


                       This year’s application deadline

                           has been extended to,                               february 20, 2023.    .

Prospective students for our Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program usually apply late fall/early winter for the following fall semester. Applications must be complete by Feb.1 for students who wish to be considered for an MFA assistantship (learn more about assistantships and other financial aid available to graduate students). 

Application Process, Part One:

Domestic Applicants: Submit the completed  on-line graduate application  ($35 fee) and required materials to  Graduate Admissions . Application and required materials must be submitted by February 1 :

Questions? Contact  Graduate Admissions .

International Applicants: If you are an International Student please submit the completed  International Graduate Application For Admission  and required materials to the International Education Center . To ensure timely delivery of materials and for application to receive full consideration, application and required materials should be submitted by January 1 :

Questions? Contact the International Education Center .

Application Process, Part Two:

Domestic and International applicants, attach the following materials to the application or email to the  MFA Administrative Assistant,  [email protected]

A writing sample in your thesis genre (please label as fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction). Submission should indicate the genre to which you are applying: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. Submit up to 10 pages of poems (typed, single-spaced, no more than 1 poem per page); or submit up to 20 pages of prose, one or two short stories or creative nonfiction essays/memoir excerpt (typed and double- spaced). 

 Questions? Contact the MFA program . NOTE:  You will also need to provide verification of lawful presence (PDF ) to Graduate Admissions . Graduate admissions needs this information before we can accept students into the program. Additionally, before you can register for classes, the required  immunization certificate (PDF)  must be submitted to the Registrar's office . We do NOT require GRE scores.

The MFA program web pages provide program-specific information; however, you will find other important information at  graduate admissions , the university registrar , financial aid  and other GC web sites/offices. International students should contact the  International Student Center  for admission guidance. 

Evaluation of Your Application 

Your writing portfolio is the primary credential we review in evaluating your application for admission (writing samples are reviewed by a faculty committee who teach in the student’s thesis genre). Your letters of recommendation and statement of purpose are also important, since they will address your skill and accomplishment as a writer. Because our students also take required classes in Poetry & Poetics or Prose Forms, Teaching Creative Writing and non-creative writing courses in literature, criticism, linguistics or other subjects, your transcripts will also help us make our final, holistic evaluation of your application.  We begin to review applications after Feb.1. In order to maintain small classes and individual, intensive mentorship of thesis work, our admission process is competitive. Our first step is to inform students (usually early to mid-March) whether or not they’ve been admitted to our program. Our second step is to determine MFA assistantship offers and wait lists (see  Assistantships / Financial Aid  for details about graduate assistantships).

Any Questions?

Call us at 478-445-3509, or send an email . For Graduate Admissions questions, call 478-445-6289.

All application materials must be completed and received by Feb.1 if you wish to be considered for an MFA program-sponsored graduate assistantship (or “G.A.”). Please include a résumé with the application materials you send to the MFA program. Provide any information that best describes your skills and experience, including (but not limited to, and not necessarily in this order):

Applications received by Feb.1, and selected for acceptance to the MFA program, will then be reviewed to determine applicants that will be offered MFA-sponsored assistantships. Faculty committees (in each genre) review these applications holistically, based on the quality of the writing sample, potential for graduate study in an academic setting, and depth of experience (as reflected by the applicant’s statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, transcripts and résumé). The committee then ranks the accepted applications. When rankings are complete, the MFA Coordinator contacts applicants to make assistantship offers or to discuss and clarify a candidate’s placement on an assistantship waiting list. Once offered an MFA G.A., the applicant is encouraged to make a decision as soon as possible, but a final decision will be due no later than April 15.


Kinds of assistantships available to our graduate students:

Most MFA-sponsored first year graduate assistants  (or “G.A.s”) are assigned hours as “writing consultants” in the university  Writing Center. Other MFA G.A.s divide their hours between the Writing Center and the MFA/ Arts & Letters  office, the Flannery O’Connor Review  office, or our teaching writing in the schools  Early College  project. MFA-sponsored graduate assistantships include a stipend (current stipend is $8,600 per year) and full-tuition remission (but does not include mandatory student fees and, unless eligible to be waived, mandatory student insurance). The  GC Budget Office  posts current tuition and fees; information about student insurance is available at  United Healthcare .

Teaching Fellowships  require a secondary application process, due to additional credentials required for teaching college-level classes. Students who have been awarded MFA-sponsored G.A.s are eligible to apply for a Teaching Fellowship if a) they already hold an M.A. in English, or b) they have completed 18 hours of graduate credit in English, in addition to meeting other criteria. MFA students who are eligible will apply to the Department of English and Rhetoric (submitting materials through Georgia College & State University careers or some other means, as determined by the Chair). Note: Students are expected to teach during their second and third years of the program; failure to earn enough course credit to teach classes or failure to meet other expected criteria for teaching may result in the forfeiture of the student’s assistantship.

The  Arts & Letters Journal Editing Fellowship at Georgia College encourages graduate studies for students with at least one year of experience in journal publishing and/or editing, desktop publishing and design (preferably with InDesign), and/or marketing and promotion (including social media). Students interested in applying for this Fellowship should also have excellent organizational and proofreading skills. The Fellowship offers recipients the opportunity to further develop both editorial and managerial skills over their three years in the MFA program, working closely with Arts & Letters ’ Editor and Art Director. In the first year, the A&L Fellow works in the capacity of Assistant Managing Editor, helping the current Managing Editor in the completion of office duties—everything from social media postings to honing InDesign skills to updating the Web Site. In the second and third year, the Fellow takes over as Managing Editor. Managing Editor duties include distributing and monitoring reading (submission) loads, InDesgning the journal and readying it to send to the printer, managing Sendinblue campaigns, and running proofreading sessions. The Managing Editor also is encouraged to represent the journal at the annual AWP Conference, as funding allows. Qualified applicants who wish to pursue the Journal Editing Fellowship should initially contact Dr. Kerry Neville, who coordinates the MFA Program.

The Journal Editing Fellowship is awarded to an incoming student every other year, and includes a stipend for summer work, much of which can be done remotely. The Fellowship is typically awarded in the spring semester prior to the student’s first (fall) semester. The fellowship will be awarded to a qualified recipient in 2023.

Arts & Letters , a nationally known literary journal in continuous biannual print publication since 1999, publishes innovative fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by emerging and established writers, and offers annual prizes in four genres, as well a prize for ‘unclassifiable’ work. Recent representative authors include Wes Civilz, Marianne Boruch, Keith Wilson, Rodney Jones, James Allen Hall, Lina Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, and George Singleton.

In addition, other university assistantships outside the MFA program may be an option for students accepted to our program (typically, these G.A.s offer a lower stipend but still include a full in-state or out-of-state tuition waiver). The MFA coordinator will discuss this option with applicants accepted to the program but who do not receive an MFA-sponsored G.A.

Scholarships and other Financial Aid

Some MFA scholarships (subject to funding availability) are awarded, in addition to the stipend and tuition waiver, to students on MFA-sponsored assistantships. The program coordinator will discuss these awards (if available) with students offered MFA G.A.s. ALL enrolled and returning university students (in good academic standing) can apply for other scholarships (some related to the MFA in Creative Writing program, some not), such as the Flannery O’Connor Alumni Scholarship and the Dorrie Neligan Creative Writing Scholarships.

Student loans are also available to MFA students through the university Financial Aid Office. Whether or not you’re interested in applying for a student loan, accepted applicants may wish to complete the student loan  FAFSA application . Discuss your options with GC’s Financial Aid Office .

Quick Info For Assistantships:

MFA students are eligible for a variety of scholarships, some related, some not related, to Creative Writing, as well as student loans.  

Graduate Assistantships in the Writing Cente r  

Graduate Consultant

Interdisciplinary Writing Coordinator

Resources Coordinator  

The Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program at Georgia College encourages graduate studies for Returned Peace Corps volunteers (RCPV’s). Fellows who are accepted to participating graduate programs in their field are awarded assistantships that relate to their experience and training in the Peace Corps.

Upon successful completion of their Peace Corps Volunteer assignment, RCPV’s can apply to the Georgia College MFA Program (the application process is the same as for all applicants, but see the Peace Corps website for more information about RCPV eligibility requirements).

Peace Corps Volunteers who wish to pursue these Coverdell Fellowships should initially contact Kerry Neville , who coordinates the Coverdell Fellows Program on behalf of the university. 

Assistantships are typically awarded in the spring for positions beginning fall semester. For that reason, potential Coverdell Fellows should make formal application by Feb.1 prior to the fall semester they plan to matriculate. The formal application must include the Peace Corps Description of Service (DOS) Certification of Service document:…  " 

Early College

Typically,  Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows in the MFA program at Georgia College help to organize and mentor our Early College writing-in-the-schools project. Early College is a public school housed at the Georgia College campus, serving students from Baldwin and Putnam counties. Georgia College undergraduate majors, under the supervision of MFA students and faculty, mentor seventh graders in the Early College program and help them to publish a literary journal called  The Peacock’s Feather .

Georgia College Early College was initially supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for which the program remains grateful.

Most students complete the MFA program in three years. To meet MFA requirements, students take a minimum of 18 credit hours in the first year and 12 credit hours in the second and third years. Note: for students on MFA assistantships who are eligible to teach, there are additional teaching/pedagogy courses and other requirements designed to support and prepare Teaching Fellows.

A Typical Sample Plan for MFA Coursework : 

All students take 34 hours of coursework: ENGL-MFA 4-semester credit hour courses (28 hours); ENGL 3-semester credit hour courses (6 hours):

12 hours: 5000-level and 6000-level courses in the student's major writing genre (3 courses): ENGL 5021, ENGL 6021 and ENGL 6025 (poetry genre); ENGL 5012, ENGL 6012 and ENGL 6026 (creative nonfiction genre); ENGL 5022, ENGL 6022 and ENGL 6026 (fiction genre).

4 hours: Course in non-thesis genre workshop (1 course); ENGL 5011, 5012, 5021, or 5022. Note that 5000-level workshops in a genre are the prerequisite for 6000-level seminars in a genre (see electives section below).

12 hours: Electives chosen from ENGL 5011, 5012, 5021, 5022, 6012, 6021, 6022, 6024, 6025, 6026 (these courses are repeatable; some have prerequisites; approved ENGL 5950 MFA Special Topics may also be chosen (no more than 8 hours of MFA Special Topics courses may count towards elective requirements).

6 hours: Non-MFA ENGL 5000-6000 level courses (at least one course at the 6000 level).

All students also complete the MFA Thesis (8 hours). All students must complete a thesis, with the accompanying critical essay, as well as complete a successful thesis defense in order to graduate. The thesis is intended to be a book-length project. A prose thesis must be a minimum of 100 pages, and a poetry thesis must be a minimum of 35 pages. Students have to complete a thesis in the genre of their specialization; we do permit hybrid thesis projects that are written to be a singular combination, but we do not permit hybrid thesis projects that are a compilation of stories, essays, and poems thrown together to create page length. The thesis defense is an oral defense of your thesis, attended by the thesis director, the thesis committee members, and the student, and is scheduled at least 2 weeks before the end of your final term.

English Course Descriptions from graduate Course cAtalog

Total Credits required: 42

If I write in multiple genres, do I have to choose just one to submit in my application?

Yes, choose one for your application. Still our program does encourage study in a second genre -- in fact, we require each student to take at least one workshop out-of-genre. 

How do you choose which genre to apply in? Submit your best work. We accept candidates primarily on the merits of the writing sample. You will be expected to write your thesis in the genre you submitted.

For my writing sample, can I submit a chapter of a novel-in-progress? What if I don’t have a full 15 pages I’m proud of for my sample?

A chapter is fine, or a completed short story/essay. However, the more complete, the better. Quality over quantity.

Do I need a BA in Writing or English to apply?

No. We've had students in the past with various undergraduate degrees. If you have a strong sample, apply. However, we do review transcripts to see if students have completed some humanities courses (in English or other fields); and although there is no minimum G.P.A., almost all of our applicants have been successful students, earning 3.0 or higher in their academic studies.

How many courses do Teaching Fellows teach each semester?

Here’s the standard procedure (per semester) for G.A. Teaching Fellows:

1st year: Graduate Assistants work in the Writing Center as Consultants OR Writing Center + Journal office or Early College; and serve as readers for Arts & Letters Journal. 2nd year: Graduate Assistant Teaching Fellows teach 2 classes; OR Journal or Early College  + Teach 1 class; and serve as readers for Arts & Letters Journal. 3rd year: Teach 2 classes; and serve as readers for Arts & Letters Journal.

The exception is for candidates who already have an MA. They are eligible to begin teaching two classes the first year and continue that for all three years. However, all students on MFA assistantship must undergo a further application/review process before they will be assigned teaching duties.

What is the stipend and tuition remission that your students receive if offered an MFA graduate assistantship?

The current stipend given to those with an MFA assistantship is $8,600 per year. In addition, many MFA assistantships include scholarship funds (amounts vary). MFA assistantships also include full tuition remission for in-state or out-of-state tuition (student fees, however, are not covered).

There are also other university assistantships available to which MFA students may apply. These assistantships offer smaller stipends, but usually include full tuition remission (again, student fees are not covered).

There is a student health insurance plan that meets the requirements of the new Affordable Health Care Act that students purchase or they may waived the student insurance if they have another qualified insurance plan.

What is the difference between an MFA assistantship and Peace Corp Coverdell Fellows?

How many applications do you typically receive and how many do you accept.

We typically review over 100 applications each year for the program.  We enroll about 7 new students each year, with a balanced number in each of the three thesis genres (fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction). Typically, seven MFA assistantships are assigned to new students accepted in the program; other students might be offered other university assistantships or seek out other funding support. The three-year program enrolls about 25 students total.

What constitutes a good recommender?

It's important to have professional recommenders (i.e., employer supervisors, established writers, college professors). Ideally, these people can speak to your ability to work and handle graduate classes and speak to the quality of your writing. You may choose different sorts of people to speak to your different qualities. These should not be friends or family members.

If I’m reapplying, what do I need to do?

You will not need to re-submit everything, and there is no fee for second-time applicants. You will need to contact Graduate Admissions and the MFA program to announce that you are re-applying. We suggest submitting to the MFA program an updated manuscript and your statement of purpose and resume. You do NOT need to re-submit transcripts, unless you've taken a class at another college since you last applied.

* NOTE You will need to submit again a new application to the Graduate Admissions office.  You may use your old letters of recommendation, or submit new letters. . 

Our Current Students

Collin Bishoff, Caleb Bouchard, Timothy Connors, Marybeth Cooper, Keely Hopkins, Dalton Monk, Kelly Piggott, Courtney Schmidt, and William Warren.

 Mary Alsobrooks, Auden Eagerton, Avery James, Natalie Mau, and Lori Tennant. 


Paul Bryant, Mary-Kate Burns, Megan Duffy, William Gerdes-McClain, Nicholas Green, Charlotte Lauer, Amelia Longo, and Denechia Powell

Writers Who Publish

Although we don’t expect incoming students to have published their work, since our program began in 2001, our students have been publishing their poems, stories, and essays in many national journals. GC students have published in such journals as  Backwards City Review, Big Muddy, Bloom, Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Cream City Review, Descant, Dos Passos Review, Eclipse, International Poetry Review, McSweeney’s, Meridian, Nimrod, Pebble Lake, Poet Lore, Quick Fiction, Rattle, Redivider, River Teeth, Salt Hill, Santa Clara Review, Spinning Jenny, Thema, Touchstone  and many others.

Alumni Donors Thank You

Our alumni have been up to many great things, and we are excited to share just a few with you here.  In addition to being published in many journals, our alumni have been winning awards and publishing collections, including: 

Kristie Robin Johnson’s (creative nonfiction, 2018) essay collection, High Cotton, will be published in summer of 2020 by. One of her essays will appear in the forthcoming anthology, We Got This: Solo Mom Stories of Grit, Heart, and Humor, from She Writes press. She is the recipient of an artist grant from the Greater Augusta Arts Council, and her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received honorable mention in the AWP Intro to Journals Project. She teaches English at Oconee Fall Line Technical College and Georgia Military College.

Mike McClelland’s  (fiction, 2017) collection of short fiction, Gay Zoo Day : Tales of Seeking and Discovery" (2017) published by Beautiful Dreamer Press, won the Independent Book Publishers Association's Silver Benjamin Franklin Award for LGBT Literature. His creative work has appeared in publications such as the Boston Review, Entropy, Queen Mob's Tea House , and others, and has been widely anthologized, most recently in Gents: Steamy Stories from the Age of Steam , which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. His work has been recognized as a semifinalist for the Conium Prize and the Saints and Sinners Short Story Contest. In 2018, he was invited to read his work and present at the annual TEDMED conference in Palm Springs alongside speakers like NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and writer Nayomi Munaweera.

Miller Oberman’s  (poetry, 2006) poetry collection, The Unstill Ones , a collection of poems and Old English translations, was published in the fall, 2017 by the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. Oberman is a past recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His collection Useful was a finalist for the 2012 National Poetry Series. Read “Old English Rune Poem,” a new translation  published in "Poetry" (July/August 2013).

T.J. Sandella  (poetry, 2013) has been chosen as one of the Best New Poets 2014. He has also won awards including the William Matthews Poetry Prize (2014, Asheville Poetry Review), the Academy of American Poets Prizes and the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize. 

Will Torrey  (fiction, 2010) won "Zone 3's" 2011 Editors' Prize for his story "Trajabar." Read his August 2013 "Working Writers Series"interview online at "The Missouri Review."

Bill Torgerson ’s (fiction, 2007) most recent novel is  Horseshoe (Cherokee McGhee, 2012). He teaches at St. John’s University. Check out his blog “The Torg”.

Keep in touch with all our outstanding alumni as well as current MFA students and happenings at the program’s  Facebook page !

Milledgeville: A Literary Community

Georgia College offers a unique setting for students interested in pursuing their MFA in Creative Writing. Our university is small (about 6,500 students), located in historic downtown Milledgeville, former capital of Georgia from 1803-1868 and location of Andalusia, historic home of writer Flannery O’Connor.

Milledgeville  is in the heart of Georgia, only 90 miles from Atlanta and an easy drive to the beaches of Savannah and Tybee Island or to the foothills of North Georgia. Milledgeville was the state capital from 1803 to 1868 and is the site of the newly restored Old State Capitol and Old Governor’s Mansion.

The historic downtown features shops, restaurants and taverns just two blocks from campus. The climate is warm, with mild winters and "zero" annual average snowfall. Our community offers places where writers can have a cup of coffee, meet friends and relax. Downtown restaurants, coffee shops, and stores blend small town and college town living into an ideal setting for serious writers.

You might recognize a place or character from the short stories of Flannery O’Connor or Alice Walker (who grew up in nearby Eatonton). Andalusia is the farm where author Flannery O’Connor lived from 1951 to 1964. O’Connor was living at her farm when she completed all of her published books of fiction. Andalusia is open to the public (see their website for more information). 

Learn More About Milledgeville

Dr. Kerry James Evans

Dr. Kerry James Evans is the author of the poetry collection, Bangalore , a Lannan Literary Selection. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship from Sewanee Writers' Conference, and he has taught poetry workshops, poetic forms and theory, and other courses at Florida State University and at Tuskegee University where he was an Assistant Professor. His poems have appeared in Agni, Narrative, Ploughshares , and other journals.

Dr. Martin Lammon (Professor Emeritus) 

Martin Lammon has won awards for both his poetry and creative nonfiction. His collection of poems,  News from Where I Live , won the Arkansas Poetry Award, and his poems and essays have appeared in such journals as  The Gettysburg Review, Hotel America, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Poet Lore, Poets and Writers and The Southern Review . Poems published in  Nimrod  were awarded a Pablo Neruda Prize. His essays about living in Costa Rica have been published in  The Iowa Review , Zone 3 , and  The Chattahoochee Review  (winner of the Lamar York Prize for Creative Nonfiction).From 1997-2018, he was the Fuller E. Callaway endowed Flannery O'Connor Chair in Creative Writing. In 2007, he was selected for GC’s Distinguished Professor Award.

Dr. Kerry Neville

Kerry Neville received her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, her BA from Colgate University, and was most recently an Assistant Professor of English at Allegheny College.  She is the author of the short fiction collection,  Remember To Forget Me , and of the award-winning short fiction collection,  Necessary Lies .  She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The Fix.  Her essays and stories have been named Notables in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. She has twice received the Dallas Museum of Art Prize for Fiction, and has also been awarded The John Guyon Prize in Literary Nonfiction,The Texas Institute of Letters/Kay Cattarulla Prize for the Short Story, and the Short Story Book of the Year Prize from Independent Publisher Magazine. She is faculty for the FrankMcCourt/University of Limerick Summer Writing School. She was a 2018 Fulbright Scholar and taught in the M.A. Creative Writing Program at University of Limerick in Ireland

Laura Newbern

Laura Newbern's collection of poems,  Love and the Eye , won the 2010 First Book Award from Kore Press. She’s also received the prestigious Writer's Award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, which recognizes outstanding emerging women writers. She teaches poetry workshops, poetics, and other courses. Laura is currently the Editor of  Arts & Letters . Her poems have been published in such journals as  The Atlantic, Poetry, TriQuarterly  and other journals. Newbern also expresses her creative interests through black and white photography.

Peter Selgin

Peter Selgin’s latest essay collection, The Kuhreihen Melody (Serving House Books) was named a finalist for the 2019 BIG OTHER Book Award for Nonfiction and an excerpt from his novel Duplicity was a finalist for the 2019 Craft First Chapter Contest. His memoir,  The Inventors , (Hawthorn Press) was named a Best Memoir of 2016 by Library Journal. His essay, “My New York: A Romance in Eight Parts,” was chosen by Paul Theroux for inclusion in Best American Travel Writing, 2014. His memoir,  Confessions of a Left-Handed Man : An Artist’s Memoir (University of Iowa Press, 2011), was short-listed for the 2012 William Saroyan International Prize; the title essay was selected for Best American Essays 2006. He is the author of  Drowning Lessons  (University of Georgia Press, 2008), winner of the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction;  Life Goes to the Movies, a novel, two books on the craft of fiction writing, and several children’s books. He has had a dozen notable essay citations in BAE anthologies. His stories and essays have appeared in the  Missouri Review, Colorado Review, Boulevard, Glimmer Train, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction,, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Sun , and other publications. Other honors include the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, a Dana Award for the Essay, and a Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference Award for his play,  A God in the House , based on Dr. Kevorkian and his suicide machine. He teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, journal design, editing, and production, and other courses. He is also creative nonfiction editor of  Arts & Letters .

Dr. Chika Unigwe

Dr. Chika Unigwe is the author of Better Never than Late, De Zwarte Messias, Night Dancer, On Black Sisters Street, De Feniks, Meulenhoff-Manteau, and two children's Readers, Ije at School and A Rainbow for Dinner . Her short stories have appeared in different anthologies including in Watchlist, New Daughters of Africa, and Lagos Noir . Her fellowships include but are not limited to a  Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at the Bellagio Centre, Italy , a UNESCO-Aschberg Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Centre in Umbertide, Italy, a SYLT Fellow in Germany and a writing fellow at Cove Park, Scotland. She was a special guest  lecturer at Tubingen University, Germany, and a Bonderman Assistant Professor of Practice at Brown University.  She has won a BBC short story competition, a commonwealth short story prize, has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing and awarded a 2016 Pushcart Prize Special Mention. In 2012, she won the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa's most important literary prize. She has judged literary prizes including the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Graduate Assistantships in the Writing Center

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Undergraduate Admissions

Find endless opportunities to explore your interests and make new connections.

Graduate Admissions

Learn about requirements, deadlines, financial aid, and opportunities for professional preparation in our world-class programs.

MA & MS Applicants

PhD & MFA Applicants

Aid for MFA Students

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) awards generous financial aid packages to MFA  students in Creative Writing and Playwriting .  Newly admitted MFA students to these two programs will receive a full tuition scholarship , coverage for the basic student health insurance plan, and stipend support which may be a combination of a non-service stipend and/or teaching fellowship, depending on the program of admission.  Review detailed information about the fellowship awards and the policies and privileges associated with each fellowship by clicking any of the drop down menus below.

The department of World Languages & Literature offers merit scholarships to our MFA in Literary Translation applicants based upon the strength of each applicant’s credentials. All admitted domestic and international applicants are considered for scholarship of up to 50% of full-time tuition and will be notified of the scholarship offer in the admission letter.

Non-Service Stipends

Non-service stipends permit for exceptional students to focus primarily on their degree coursework with no departmental teaching responsibilities. Students awarded non-service fellowships are required to enroll in a full load of academic courses as determined by their program or department.

Teaching Fellowships

A Teaching Fellowship provides both a stipend and full scholarship and an opportunity for graduate students to gain classroom experience under the close supervision of the faculty members who have the formal responsibility for the courses to which the teaching fellows are assigned. Your obligation in this fellowship would include instructional duties assigned by your department and for some programs, participation in a specific course in the pedagogy of your discipline. Instructional and other duties total approximately 20 hours per week. Fellows may register for no more than 18 credits per semester.

The scholarship will be credited directly to your student account and covers tuition costs only for courses needed to fulfill degree requirements plus mandatory fees (Student Services Fee and the Health & Wellness Fee).  There is no service required in return for the scholarship portion of this fellowship.

Additional details relevant to fellowship aid and policies can be found below:

Stipend Payments

For information on stipend payments, please visit our Stipends FAQ page.

Tax Information

Information regarding your stipend and taxes can be found here .

Cost of Attendance

For a breakdown of the tuition and fees for an academic year at Boston University as a student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences as well as an estimated cost of attendance, please check the GRS Financial Aid page.

Medical Insurance

As part of your fellowship award, the University will cover your individual participation in the Boston University Basic Student Health Insurance Plan (cost is $3,235). Students who opt to purchase the Boston University Student PLUS Plan will be responsible for payment of the additional premium amount of $1,088 by the Fall payment deadline . Please refer to  Student Health Services  for more information. The University will not cover any medical insurance costs for dependents. Family coverage is available at an additional cost to the student.

Health insurance coverage extends from August 15, 2022 through August 14, 2023 for students who are enrolled in the Fall semester 2022. Please note that coverage takes effect once fall registration has been processed or on August 15, whichever is later.

Students who are required to have medical insurance are automatically enrolled in the Boston University Basic Student Health Insurance Plan.

Who is required to have medical insurance?

Under the laws of Massachusetts, the following students are required to participate in a qualifying medical insurance plan:

If a student wishes to waive the insurance, a medical insurance waiver form must be submitted. For more information about insurance coverage and deadlines for enrollment/waivers, please consult  Student Health Services .

Dental Care

Students have the option to purchase Dental Care through the University, which is not included in the fellowship award.

Employment Policy

During the period of the fellowship, you may not be employed outside the university nor be otherwise employed within Boston University. If you have been or are awarded any fellowship or other financial support for your studies from outside Boston University, you must inform the   Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Financial Aid Office .

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Fellowships will continue for the duration of the five-year commitment if the student is making satisfactory academic progress each year, confirmed by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

The GRS minimum standard for Satisfactory Academic Progress is:

Department of English

College of humanities and sciences, mfa in creative writing.

Our selective and academically rigorous 48-credit, three-year program is designed to provide talented writers with the opportunity to work closely with both outstanding faculty and gifted peers.

Students will strengthen their craft, develop their literary aesthetics, enrich their understanding of existing traditions and compositional possibilities, and participate actively in the life of the literary community at large.

The primary tracks are poetry and fiction, and admission is highly competitive. In addition to the poetry and fiction workshops, there are courses available that focus on writing drama, nonfiction, and screenplays, as well as courses that provide practical experience in editing.

The basic requirements to complete the MFA degree program are simple and straightforward, and include 12 semester hours of writing workshops, 12 hours graduate literature courses, and six to 12 hours of thesis work. Thesis hours enable students to produce a substantial creative writing thesis, a requirement of graduation.


In addition to completing a thesis, fiction students will learn effective approaches for creating sustained works of fiction distinguished by a nuanced use of appropriate narrative elements, techniques and conventions and will demonstrate a highly developed proficiency in understanding and creating story structures.

Degree Details

Learning Outcomes

How to Apply

Students in the poetry concentration will gain skillful use or knowledge of major poetic devices and classic poetic forms in addition to completing a thesis.

We have expanded creative nonfiction/CNF work and created the new dual genre concentration to allow our MFA students to formally add CNF to their academic concentrations.

Program Highlights

Increased financial support.

Graduate assistantship stipends have greatly increased, and now range from $12,500 up to $24,000 a year (plus tuition waiver). All current full-time MFA students are funded.

Teaching Opportunities

Assistantships not only offer teaching opportunities in writing and rhetoric coursework, but also undergraduate creative writing classes as well.

Travel Funding

We have newly established travel stipends for MFA students for summer writing conferences and study abroad travel, as well as yearly travel funding and registration waivers for students attending the annual AWP conference.

Assistantship Options

Assistantship assignments also include the opportunity to coordinate VCU’s national literary awards , including the Cabell First Novelist, Levis Reading Prize, and Tarumoto Prize in short fiction.

Dual Genre Concentration

Independent study and internships.

We offer three-year course requirements that enable MFA students to design up to six credits of independent study and six credits of professional internships, including opportunities to work in electronic publishing (editorial, web design, digital sound editing, and more) via the program’s nationally prominent online literary journal, Blackbird .

Small Workshops

We boast an excellent 4 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Our program has nine full-time MFA faculty and approximately 30 graduate students.

Coursework Options

We have additional and regular offerings in screenwriting, form and theory coursework , and literary editing/publishing seminars.

Active Authors

Every one of our full-time faculty members has a recent or forthcoming book publication .

Faculty Specialties

We have recent faculty hires in both fiction and creative nonfiction.

A polished, book-length creative thesis is the capstone project of the MFA curriculum. Assessment of learning outcomes are conducted through a comprehensive review of each student’s thesis by the student’s thesis director and second reader (always a member of the MFA faculty ). In addition, to determine each student’s comprehension of the literary antecedents and cultural contexts of their work, and to evaluate the written and oral articulation of personal aesthetics, an exit interview (or in some cases, a traditional “thesis defense”) will be conducted by members of the MFA faculty.

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MFA Funding, Awards, and Research

Given our robust community, Mason is able to offer two paths of potential funding and several other opportunities for support during the MFA program.

At present, the program funds approximately 65% of its graduate students. The main forms of funding are Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) and Graduate Professional Assistantships (GPAs). The GTA application process is a formal part of the program application; the newer GPA positions are managed by the Program Director. Both GTAs and GPAs work 20 hours/week and receive a stipend, full tuition waiver (up to 18 credits per academic year equalling a nearly $34,000 value over the course of the program), and optional healthcare coverage.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

MFA candidates note on their applications whether they want to be considered for a GTA position and submit the required additional material. GTAs spend their first year tutoring in Mason's Writing Center and taking a course in Composition Pedagogy; together, along with a thorough support system, students are prepared to enter the classroom in their second year. GTAs teach two sections of ENGH 101 in the fall and, in the spring, can opt to take the Literature Pedagogy course while teaching ENGH 101 (comp) and/or ENGH 201 (literature). Based on need, MFA students may also have opportunities to teach ENGH 396 Intro to Creative Writing in their third year.    Note: MFA applicants interested in a Graduate Teaching Assistantship for the Fall semester should apply by January 15 . Required additional material includes a 1000-word nonfiction writing sample, preferably a literary analysis. Ideally, you should select an essay or sample of an essay that demonstrates your facility with undergraduate-level discourse about literature or a closely related field. Questions, email us at [email protected]

Graduate Professional Assistantships (GPA)

Meanwhile, limited GPAs are available for students who may be interested in gaining other types of professional experience with the Creative Writing Program's publishing practice or literary citizenship efforts (Fall for the Book, Stillhouse Press, Poetry Daily , Cheuse Center for International Writers, etc.). The number and type of GPA positions available are flexible depending on program needs. For example, GPA positions have been created to support editorial and research initiatives with Poetry Daily , the management of Stillhouse Press, the administration of the Cheuse Center, and coordinating social media for the Creative Writing Program.  For more information, email the Program Director (Gregg Wilhelm at [email protected] ).

Once enrolled and part of the community at Mason, students may pursue other opportunities for support.

MFA Student Fellowships

The program offers four fellowships that students apply for in the spring of their second year for third-year funding. These fellowships allow students to focus on their theses at the same level of support as GTAs/GPAs without the responsibility of working or teaching. Three "Thesis Fellowships" are awarded to two prose writers and one poet. The "Heritage Writer Fellowship in Poetry" is open to poets only.

Eligible students must have 9-12 credit-hours remaining in their degree program. Full-time student registration required for the fall semester. Spring semester requires full-time registration unless a student has fewer than 9 credit-hours to complete the degree program, in which case the student registers for the number of credits he or she needs in order to graduate.

Again, the primary intent of the fellowships is to support students as they work on their theses, so the application process mirrors the thesis proposal process in that students submit a proposal and a writing sample, and the package represents the student’s proposed project for the coming year. GTAs/GPAs and non-GTAs/GPAs may apply. Students may not hold two positions; therefore, students holding GTAs/GPAs who are awarded a fellowship must resign the assistantship.

Learn more about the MFA Student Fellowships and the application process.

Spring Writing Contests

Each spring, the Creative Writing Program manages a total of ten different writing contests. Some have restrictions, such as being open to MFA students only or poets only, but most are open to the entire Mason student community. Each contest, however, comes with a $500 prize and is judged by an accomplished writer of note. Therefore, winning a Spring Writing Contest award (and using a comment from the judge that accompanies the decision) can be a great boost for a student writer. 

Learn more about Spring Writing Contests and contest deadlines.

International Research

Launched in 2016 by Creative Writing Program representatives and the family of the late Alan Cheuse—acclaimed writer, critic, and long-time Mason professor—the Cheuse Center for International Writers hosts literary artists from around the world and collaborates with other organizations that share its global vision. the center also manages the Cheuse Fellows program, a competitive award that supports MFA students whose emerging work or thesis subject matter requires research abroad.

Learn more about the Cheuse Center and past Cheuse Fellows. 

What Is an MFA Degree?

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An MFA degree is a graduate degree in a creative field such as writing, acting, film, painting, or graphic design. Short for Master of Fine Arts, an MFA program typically includes rigorous coursework in an artistic field as well as a significant capstone project in which students demonstrate their accomplishment in their chosen area of study.

MFA Degree: Key Takeaways

A student will typically need a bachelor's degree before entering an MFA program, and programs typically take two to three years to complete although both longer and shorter options exist. Numerous modes of delivery exist for MFA programs including on-campus, low-residency, and online options.

An MFA or Master of Fine Arts is a graduate degree with a focus on artistic practice. While students will likely learn some history and theory in an MFA program, the primary emphasis is on the practice and development of one's craft. For this reason, only certain areas of study offer MFA degrees including writing, painting, dance, acting, and music. Fields that are more technical, professional, or academic do not have an MFA option. For example, you cannot earn an MFA in history, biology, or finance.

Students can enter an MFA program straight from a bachelor's degree program, or they can begin after having been out of college for years. Applications for admission to MFA programs will often require letters of recommendation, a college transcript, and an essay, but the most important component will be a portfolio or audition. Admissions decisions are typically made by experts in your area of artistic interest, and the admissions folks will use your portfolio or audition to assess your potential for making a meaningful contribution to the field.

MFA degrees can take between one and four years to complete, with two to three years being the most common. An accelerated one-year program is likely to require year-round work and provide some credit for either previous coursework or experience. A long four-year program is likely to include professional internship experience such as work at a film studio or fashion design studio.

Historically, an MFA was considered a terminal degree . In other words, the MFA represented the highest level of educational achievement in an artistic field. For this reason, an MFA was usually the required qualification for teaching fine arts at four-year colleges and universities. However, with the proliferation of graduate programs in recent decades, many fields such as acting and creative writing have PhD options, and some MFA students will continue on to doctoral-level study. For many faculty positions today, employers will consider MFA applicants but give preference to applicants with a PhD.

Note that an MA (Master of Arts) or MS (Master of Science) degree is not at all like an MFA degree. An MA or MS can often be completed in a year or two, and its focus is going to be on the academic study of a field much more than the practice of art. MA and MS students typically take a year of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree, and they are also likely to complete an independent research project. MA and MS degrees can be found in nearly all academic fields, and they have value for people looking to expand their knowledge, increase their salary potential, gain specialized knowledge, or gain teaching credentials. MFA programs, on the other hand, are much less about professional advancement than they are about becoming a more accomplished artist.

Similarly, a PhD program has a stronger academic and scholarly focus than an MFA program. Doctoral students often take two or three years of coursework and then devote another couple years to researching and writing a dissertation—a book-length study that contributes new knowledge to one's field.

MFA Concentrations and Requirements

MFA degrees are offered in a wide range of creative and artistic disciplines, and the exact requirements for an MFA will vary significantly from school to school and discipline to discipline. Broadly speaking, students typically take two to three years to complete an MFA, and during that time they will take roughly 60 credits of coursework (compared to about 120 hours of coursework to earn a bachelor's degree).

MFA coursework will involve a range of classes so that students graduate with skills not just in their craft, but also in pedagogy and critique. Nearly all programs conclude with some kind of thesis or capstone project. For example, a student in an MFA in writing program will need to complete a portfolio of poetry or fiction, and a film student will need to create an original film. Students often present this projects in a public forum where they are critiqued by experts in the field.

MFA programs in professional disciplines such as fashion and film may also have a practicum or internship requirement so that they gain real-world experience and begin to make the professional connections that will be valuable in their future careers,

The number of MFA programs in the United States is constantly growing both because of demand and because technology has made programs accessible for more people. MFA opportunities exist in dozens of areas of study that can be grouped into several broad categories:

Types of MFAs

Whether you are looking for a traditional degree program on a college campus or one that you can balance with work and family responsibilities, you'll find a range of MFA program options.

High-Residency Programs: A high-residency or full residency program is one in which students work and study on campus much like undergraduates do at residential colleges. MFA students typically don't live in dorms unless they get jobs as residence directors. Instead, they are likely to live in designated graduate housing or off-campus apartments. Unlike undergraduate classes, MFA classes often meet just once a week for several hours, and the rest of the week is spent doing independent work in the studio or lab. Living on or near campus and attending in-person fulltime has advantages, for students can often get stipends or tuition waivers for serving as research assistants, teaching assistants, or graduate instructors. The most prestigious and selective MFA programs are almost all high-residency programs.

Low-Residency Programs: For students who hope to earn an MFA but don't have the luxury of relocating and devoting years exclusively to the degree, a low-residency program might be a good choice. Much of the program will be delivered online—synchronously, asynchronously, or both—and then students will have brief but intense visits to campus once to several times a year. During these on-campus residencies, students participate in workshops, critiques, and craft seminars. They also meet with their professors and professional advisors to discuss their work and goals. Although most work is done from home, the better low-residency programs are designed to create peer groups and foster a sense of community.

Online Programs: For some students with limited financial resources or unforgiving work and family obligations, even the short on-campus commitment of a low-residency program is a challenge. There are, however, more and more MFA programs that are 100% online. The convenience of such programs is attractive, but students do lose the benefits of the campus's resources. This may not be a huge detriment for a field like creative writing, but students in fields such as film and the fine arts students won't have access to the studios and lab spaces that are often central to the field.

Along with the above options, you'll find that many schools offer joint degree programs in which you can earn your MFA and PhD. This can save you a year or two of study from what would be required to earn the MFA and PhD separately, and the joint degree program combines the artistic focus of an MFA program with the scholarly research focus of a PhD. This type of joint degree can be ideal if your goal is to work in higher education since doctoral students will often have an advantage when competing for professorships.

Pros and Cons of Getting an MFA

Before you apply to an MFA program, be sure to balance the pros and cons, and you'll see that these vary depending on the type of MFA program.

mfa programs with stipends

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College of Liberal Arts

English Department

Funding and Assistantships

Home › Academics › College of Liberal Arts › English Department › Graduate Programs › Creative Writing, MFA › Funding and Assistantships

mfa programs with stipends

Financial support takes the form of administrative, research, or teaching assistantships. We have seen increases in funding over the past few years and hope to continue this trend.  We are currently able to provide at least partial assistantships to all our matriculating students. Our average administrative assistantship upon entering the program comes with partial tuition and fee waivers, as well as a stipend. The stipend for those awarded teaching is $9,154.00.  A number of our students are able to secure additional assistantships through other departments and programs on campus. Visit the Bursar’s Office for complete information on fees and stipends.

Administrative Assistantships

Our administrative assistantships are a unique feature of the program. They provide rich and varied opportunities to gain experience in publishing, editing, and the teaching of writing at a number of exciting literary and community organizations in Boston. Incoming students are automatically considered for administrative assistantships. Below are some of our recent opportunities.

The Black Seed Writers Group

The Black Seed Writers Group, dedicated to the work of homeless, transitional, and recently housed writers, has been holding its weekly sessions in downtown Boston since 2011. Not a classroom, not a workshop, it is above anything a space—a space in which the writers themselves, along with a volunteer staff, create the conditions for authentic and fearless literary expression. The BSWG publishes a quarterly magazine, The Pilgrim, and distributes the work of its writers in broadsheet or pamphlet form via its private imprint, No Fixed Address Press. 

Arrowsmith Press Editorial Intern

Begun in 2006, this micro-press with ambitions has published chapbooks by such award-winning writers as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Etnairis Rivera, Donald Hall, Amira El Zein, George Scialabba, Daniel Berrigan, and Romeo. Our books have been lauded by James Wood, Tracy Smith, and the late Derek Walcott. We are looking for someone interested in learning all aspects of publishing. Candidates must have excellent organizational, copyediting, typesetting and design skills, and be fluent in social media. Working with Askold Melnyczuk, founding editor of Agni.

Co-Editor/Editor at the Breakwater Review

The MFA program has created an online journal edited by graduate students and open to submission to all writers. SinceBreakwateris run and staffed by UMass Boston MFAs you have a large say in its continuing evolution. Your job as editor involves assisting the editors in all aspects of their work. This may include duties such as production, design and e-distribution of the journal as well as calling and overseeing editorial meetings and decision. AAs will work informally with Faculty Advisor Askold Melnyczuk as they develop their editorial visions.

826 Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Students provide writing support for 826 Boston’s programs. Among other things, this can take the form of working with field trips that visit Boston-area schools, after-school tutoring, or in-school support.

CONSEQUENCE Magazine Editorial Intern

CONSEQUENCE Magazine was started by UMass Boston MFA alum George Kovach to take a closer look at the culture of war in America. It publishes fiction, poetry, photography, interviews, and non-fiction.

Hanging Loose Press Editorial Intern

Started in 1966, Hanging Loose has published 172 titles and 97 issues of Hanging Loose magazine. Hanging Loose stresses work by new writers and by older writers whose work deserves a larger audience. In 1968, the magazine introduced a feature which has become celebrated over the years, a regular section devoted to writing by talented high school writers. 

Write on the DOT

Write on the DOT is a reading series and literary platform run by UMB MFA students in Dorchester, Boston's largest and most diverse neighborhood (colloquially called "Dot"). Coordinators work together to host readings at neighborhood venues and produce a journal of local writing, as well as maintain social media and community partnerships. The coordinator(s) will work with Aaron Devine, co-founder and Program Advisor to Write on the DOT. Learn more about Write on the DOT at .

College Reading and Writing at the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay

South Bay is a facility that houses people convicted of crimes with sentences of two and a half years or less. Your administrative assistantship would be to work with Prof. Jill McDonough to receive orientation, observe some classes, and then teach the class yourself. The women’s class is 90 minutes Friday mornings, followed by the men’s class. Continuity and consistency is important in this position; while Prof. McDonough can substitute teach for you some weeks, you’ll be expected to teach through academic breaks from September through the end of the academic year in May. You’ll also prepare the lesson plans, write weekly reports, and review student work with Prof. McDonough. Current lesson plans can be found at .

Teaching Assistantships

UMass Boston’s MFA Program provides some of the best teacher training in the country. After successfully completing course work and a teaching apprenticeship (a lower-level Teaching Assistantship) with an experienced faculty member, students may teach their own creative writing class by qualifying for a limited number of teaching assistantships. Teaching typically occurs in the third year. 

Tools & Resources

Two students in Macbeth

About the Program

Make your way into the spotlight with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House’s Master of Fine Arts in Acting program. This highly competitive, tuition-free, three-year training program prepares you for a career in regional theater, touring companies, Broadway and Hollywood alike. You’ll not only get to work with internationally regarded faculty to hone your skills, but you’ll also put those skills into practice along the way at the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House (CPH), located just minutes from our main campus.

Student Resources

Whether you’re looking for information about education abroad opportunities, have questions about visas, or are interested in international opportunities on campus, these quicklinks will help you quickly navigate some of the key resources our website offers for students.

What to Expect

Case Western Reserve’s Department of Theater is one of the country’s oldest accredited programs, and our partnership with Cleveland Play House—America’s first regional theater—makes this program a showstopper. Only eight students are accepted every other year, so you'll be in esteemed company.

Start your program learning about your fellow actors—a small cohort with whom you’ll spend most of your time. You'll work collaboratively, with each of you bringing your distinctive strengths to the training program and growing together as an ensemble. You’ll be immersed in the study of performance, from acting styles to training the voice and body to performance history, working alongside professionals in the field for all three years of your program. Each incoming cohort is different, so the curriculum is deep-rooted yet flexible, and performance selections are tailored to fit the ensemble.

Your three years are filled with rigorous training in movement, text, speech, acting, voice, singing, workshops and, of course, public performances. You’ll also spend your third year in residency at Cleveland Play House, performing and understudying in its Mainstage season. CPH not only acts as a place to showcase your talents through performance, but it also hosts classes such as a new play development workshop with visiting professionals. 

Your training culminates in a solo show that best represents your aesthetic and showcases your range.

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Beyond the classroom.

Your grand finale is an actors’ showcase in New York City—a chance to demonstrate your acting prowess for agents, managers, casting directors and other industry professionals to launch your career.

In addition to Cleveland Play House and other local theaters, Case Western Reserve is just minutes from the renowned Playhouse Square—the largest performing arts district outside New York City, and our faculty members’ connections can help you when you venture outside of Ohio.

Bonus: If you successfully complete the program, you’ll earn membership to Actors’ Equity Association through your work with Cleveland Play House.

By the Numbers

tuition-free program, plus a living stipend and healthcare

drama program in the world, The Hollywood Reporter

faculty to student ratio

production nominations in educational theatre, Broadway World

largest performing arts center in the U.S. just minutes from campus

Students performing in Middletown

Admissions Requirements

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

Through the application process, we're looking for:

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Thank you for your interest in the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program! We look forward to meeting you. We will welcome a new class in fall, 2023.

The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program provides completely tuition-free training. There is also a generous yearly living stipend as well as health insurance provided. All students receive the same financial package.

This recruitment season, the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program will be seeing candidates through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions as well as through Private Auditions by appointment.

For information about URTA’s National Unified Auditions and Interviews (NUAI), please go to . For actors who are NOT participating in the URTA auditions, Private Auditions will take place in Cleveland, New York City, Chicago, as well as remotely.

If you are participating in the URTA National Unified Auditions, we will not be able to schedule you a private audition until after we have seen your work during the URTA process. We will schedule callbacks with selected candidates after the URTA preliminary auditions.

We will be holding two remote open house information sessions in Fall 2022.

Information Session #1:  Oct 6 from 6:00-7:30pm EST Register  in advance for this meeting.

Information Session #2:  November 12 from 11:00 am-12:30 pm EST Register  in advance for this meeting.

Audition Dates & Locations

Cleveland:  December 10-11, 2022. By appointment only. In person. 

International Auditions:  December 17-18, 2022. By appointment only. Remote.

Los Angeles: Jan. 14-15, 2023, through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions and Interviews. *Hybrid Auditions: candidates in-person; recruiters remote (live-online)

New York City: Jan. 19-22, 2023, through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions and Interviews. In person.

New York City: January 18-23, 2023 - Private Auditions. By appointment only. In person.

Chicago: Jan. 28-31, 2023, through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions and Interviews. In person.

Chicago: Jan. 28-31 and February 1-2, 2023 - Private auditions. By appointment only. In person.

Virtual URTA Auditions: Feb. 5, 2023, through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions and Interviews. Remote.

Cleveland: February 18-19 - Final callbacks. Information in the FAQs below.

If you are unable to do an in-person audition, please contact Program Director  Donald Carrier to discuss what options might be open to you.

COVID-19 Audition Safety Requirements

Applicants who audition in person will be updated on any requirements in response to the university’s latest COVID-19 policies. We will let all candidates know as quickly as possible if COVID-19 related factors impact our ability to hold in-person auditions. We appreciate everyone’s willingness and ability to be adaptable during this unprecedented time.

Program Requirements

All candidates must possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Required Material for Private Audition Appointment

The material uploaded in advance should include:

We also require two letters of recommendation which are to be scanned and sent to  Donald Carrier . The letters of recommendation are not part of the uploaded audition appointment material. They must be emailed separately.

The Audition

Each candidate must present two contrasting memorized audition pieces - one contemporary, one Shakespearean verse — not to exceed a total of four minutes. The candidate should be prepared to present additional audition pieces if requested — both contemporary and classical. The candidate may be asked to sing a short unaccompanied song. For audition requirements for URTA, please visit their website at .

What kind of actor is the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program looking for?

We are looking for committed young artists who possess a vivid imagination, a love of language, an empathy for the human experience, the firm belief in the collaborative process and the desire to develop the necessary physical and vocal skills for a successful and sustained career in the ever-evolving performing arts scene. We want people who are committed to change and growth and who understand the rigor required to excel in a professional acting training program.

When can I send in my application material to schedule a private audition?

Your material can be uploaded starting September 1, 2022. The form is found on this page.

Do I have to use the uploading process? Can I send in my material in hard copy form by mail?

No. Material must be uploaded and not sent as a hard copy.

When is the final date that material can be submitted?

The deadline for submission is midnight, January 13, 2023. Late submissions are accepted based on audition appointment availability. 

Is there flexibility with audition scheduling?

As we will audition over a number of days, we do our best to honor a candidate’s specific request of day and time.

Am I able to change my appointment time once I have scheduled it?

If you need to alter or cancel an appointment, please contact Donald Carrier . We do our best to work with your schedule.

How soon will I be contacted about my audition request?

We usually respond within a week of receiving the material in order to schedule your audition.

What do I have to prepare for the audition?

Each candidate must present two contrasting memorized audition pieces - one contemporary, one Shakespearean verse — not to exceed a total of four minutes. The candidate should be prepared to present additional audition pieces if requested. The candidate may also be asked to sing a short unaccompanied song.


U/RTA auditions allow students to audition for more than 40 different universities and drama training programs at one time for one fee.  To learn more about the auditions, contact the U/RTA office in New York at 212.221.1130 or visit their website at

I am NOT planning to audition through the University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA). Can I schedule a P rivate Audition?

Yes. You are able to book a private audition. If requesting a private audition, you must send in the materials requested above. You are only permitted to schedule a Private Audition in advance if you are NOT auditioning through URTA.

I will be auditioning at the University/Resident Theatre Association ’ s (URTA) National Unified Auditions. Can I also schedule a P rivate Audition?

No. If you are already scheduled to audition through URTA, we are unable to grant you a private audition in advance. However, we welcome hearing from you and your interest in our program so that we can be aware of you at URTA’s National Unified Auditions. After seeing the URTA National Unified Auditions, we will call back actors the same day for a more extensive session.

Preliminary URTA auditions are very short - two minutes.  If I get a callback with CWRU/CPH, will I be permitted to do longer pieces or longer versions of the same pieces?

Yes. You will be asked to present two contrasting memorized audition pieces - one contemporary, one Shakespearean verse — not to exceed a total of four minutes. You should be prepared to present additional audition pieces if requested — both contemporary and classical. You may be asked to sing a short unaccompanied song.

Do you have advice on the type of pieces I should present?

Ideally the audition process should be helping us get to know you, and who you are as an artist. Choose material that is active with high stakes for the character, that  shows your strengths and passions. Finding material that you have a personal connection with is always preferable. Avoid pieces that are passive or story telling that lack strong dramatic intention. It’s important that we see YOU through the work - what you feel good acting is and what kind of work excites you. Always choose material that you really love to do. Choose two pieces that are contrasting so we can see your range. For example, one piece that is serious and the other that is light. Or one that shows strength and another that shows vulnerability. The contrast need not be dramatic and comic. Your unique voice is important to us.

Am I obliged to take my contemporary piece from a play? Can I use material from film or TV?

The monologue tends to be more common and organic in work written specifically for the stage. However, there is strong material in film and TV that might be appropriate. Ultimately, you should choose something you connect with and serves you as an artist, regardless of the medium from which it comes.

What do you consider “ contemporary ” in terms of material?

“Contemporary” has a flexible definition but we encourage people to do material written after 2010. Ideally, you need to choose material that gives us a clear idea of your strengths and who you are as an artist.

Can I present a classical piece besides Shakespeare?

Your first classical piece must be Shakespearean verse but if further audition material is requested, you may draw from other classical dramatists.

What do you consider classical if I do an additional piece that is not Shakespeare?

The definition is flexible, but you should consider anything written before 1900 as classical material. There are many writers that you might consider from world theatre including Lope de Vega, Congreve, Webster, Calderón, Racine, Hannah Cowley, Corneille, Aphra Behn, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Kalidasa, Vyasa, Schiller and Shaw. All speeches must be presented in English. We are interested in how you approach heightened text so that it, like a piece of contemporary material, is a product of given circumstances and connected to thought and action. We are less interested in how beautiful or poetic you deliver the language. It must be active, connected to a specific situation and ideally, how you affect your imaginary scene partner(s).

How are Private Audition days structured?

We will be seeing applicants from 9:00-3:00 pm for preliminary auditions. Candidates will be informed by 3:00 pm whether we would like them to come back later in the day for a callback. Callback auditions will be held from 4:00-6:00 pm. Please leave your schedule open for that possibility.

How long should the song be, if I am asked to perform one?

It should not exceed 16 bars of music. There can be no live or recorded accompaniment. It can be any genre of music. It is an opportunity for the candidate to show another aspect of their personality or skill set. A song is another opportunity for us to get to know you. A trained singing voice is not a requirement for admission to the program.

Do I need to send in my transcripts with my material?

No. Official transcripts are only required after a candidate is made an offer to join the program.

If I have auditioned for the program in the past, can I be seen again this cycle?

Yes. However, applicants who have auditioned twice for the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program without being offered admission are discouraged from re-applying to the program.

Who should I get letters of recommendation from, and what should they include?

The two letters of recommendation should ideally be from a theatre professional (director, artistic director) and an instructor who are familiar with your work. A letter of recommendation should include your recommender’s title, contact phone number as well as their institutional or corporate email address. It should be sent electronically as a PDF document. The content should speak to your ability as an artist and your work ethic. All recommenders are contacted when a candidate is being seriously considered for acceptance to the program.

Should the recommender send in the letter of r ecommendation?

The letters may be emailed by the candidate or by the recommender. They should be in PDF format. We contact the recommender directly if we are seriously considering a candidate.

I am auditioning through URTA. Do I need my letters of recommendation at this audition?

No. However, if you are in consideration for our program, we will request them.

Can I provide more than two letters of recommendation?

Yes, but we only need two.

Can I upload the letters of recommendation as part of the submission package?

No. Letters of recommendation must be sent separately. They can be emailed to Donald Carrier .

We will accept your letters of recommendation up to the date of your audition. You should submit all other material through the uploading process and we will add the letters of recommendation to your file when we receive them.

What should the Personal Statement contain?

A Personal Statement is an opportunity for us to get to know you a little better. It should detail why you are pursuing graduate training and specifically why you want to study with the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program. It is also useful to know what your interests and hobbies are and what drew you to the performing arts in the first place. We truly want to know who you are through this short essay and what the life of an artist means to you. These essays are read only by the audition panel and as such, the material is confidential.

How long should the Personal Statement be?

It should be a maximum of two pages – typed and double-spaced.

I am auditioning through URTA. Should I have have my Personal Statement at this audition?

No. However, if you are in consideration for our program, we will request one.

Should I fill in my Audition R equest Form under my legal name?

Yes. Please avoid using nicknames or stage names on the Audition Request Form.

Are there audition fees?

No. At this time, there are no fees to audition for the CWRU/CPH MFA Program. If you are auditioning for multiple schools through URTA, there is a fee listed on their website:

Does my undergraduate degree need to be in theatre?

No. You can have an undergraduate degree in any discipline in order to apply to the program.

Do you accept audition requests after the cutoff date?

We will consider late applicants based on the availability of appointments.

I am auditioning through URTA. Do you have a callback process?

During the URTA process, we see actors after each day’s preliminary auditions for another opportunity to meet you. After this, we may ask you to submit a taped audition or request to see you again remotely or in-person prior to “offer day.”

Do you hold final callbacks?

We are holding final callbacks in Cleveland on February 18-19, 2023. Between 16 and 20 candidates will be invited to Cleveland for a two day intensive callback session. Candidates will get the opportunity to see our facilities, meet current students, participate in information sessions and work with faculty. Candidates will also attend a performance at Cleveland Play House, our MFA Program partner. .

How long does the initial Private A udition last?

This depends on the candidate but each audition can take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes. Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule, candidates should be prepared to wait up to 30 minutes in case appointments have fallen behind.

Is there an age limit for candidates?

There is no age limit for candidates to apply. All applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Do you provide travel stipends to International students who wish to audition for the program?

Are students required to take the GRE?

No. We do not require students to take the GRE.

May I audition if English is not my first language?

Yes. However, all candidates must demonstrate a complete fluency in the English language. Auditions are conducted entirely in English.

Do you accept international students?

Yes. International students who have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution are eligible. We are only involved in the student visa process if the candidate is accepted into the program.

When will I know whether I have been accepted to the program?

All applicants should be notified of their status by mid-April through email contact. Please note that this is a tentative timeframe, as notification can be delayed by the selection process. Candidates who are selected to join the program will be notified by phone in February or March, 2023. If a student is offered a place in the 2026 cohort, they will first be contacted by phone, followed by a formal letter of acceptance by email.

I am planning to audition through URTA. When would I know my status?

As an URTA participant, we are obliged to follow its guidelines around offers to those candidates who auditioned through URTA. On a date stipulated by URTA, we are able to approach candidates regarding their status. No URTA member program should be making you an actual offer before that date.

On URTA’s designated “offer day”, we are free to make you an offer or update you on your status as an alternate or waiting list candidate. The offer will be made by phone, followed by a formal letter of acceptance through email. You will have a finite time period, stipulated by URTA, in which to decide whether to accept an offer. After this date, we may move on to other candidates, as any delay will hamper our recruitment efforts of other strong candidates.

I did not audition through URTA. Will a potential offer follow the same URTA guidelines?

No. If you did not audition through URTA, we are free to make you an offer at any point. The initial offer will be made by phone, followed by a formal letter of acceptance. Once an offer is made, we will agree on a date by which you will need to make a decision whether you wish to join the program.

How many people do you accept?

We accept eight students every other year. Our next class intake will be fall of 2023. Auditions will be held in December 2022, and January and February of 2023.

Is there financial aid

How long is the program?

The MFA Program runs three consecutive years.

Are classes held on the CWRU campus?

No. Classes are held at Cleveland Play House, which is not on the campus of CWRU.

Do you provide housing?

No. There is a living stipend to help defray living expenses. Cleveland has plentiful and affordable housing options.

Can I visit the CWRU/CPH MFA facilities?

At this point, there will be no in-person visits, due to COVID protocols.

Will you be holding Information Sessions?

Yes. We will be holding two remote open house information sessions in Fall 2022.

Information Session #1: Oct 6 from 6:00-7:30pm EST Register in advance for this meeting.

Information Session #2: November 12 from 11:00 am-12:30 pm EST Register in advance for this meeting.

Do I need to apply to Case Western Reserve University at this point?

No. Only candidates that are accepted into the program make an official application to Case Western Reserve University.

Can I get feedback for my audition?

Unfortunately, due to the number of candidates, it is not possible to provide individual feedback.

For any further questions and information please contact  Donald Carrier . 

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Our Theatres

Allen Theatre

Allen Theatre

Helen Theatre

Helen Theatre

Outcalt Theatre

Outcalt Theatre

The Allen, Helen and Outcalt theatres are located at Playhouse Square 1407 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115

Administrative Offices and Education Center 1901 E. 13th Street, Suite 200 Cleveland, OH 44114 (216) 400-7000

Production Center 7401 Detour Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103


/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="mfa programs with stipends"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Stipend rates.

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2023-24 Graduate Student Assistantship and Fellowship Stipend Rates

Effective August 21, 2023  ( View 2022-23 rates )

[1] Weekly hours spent on summer appointments must comply with University Policy 1.3, and stipend rates must meet the Board of Trustees mandated minimum (nine-month) stipend rate, prorated for the number of weeks of the summer appointment. The length of the summer appointment (number of weeks) is determined by the Principal Investigator, department, unit, college, or other source of funding.

[2] The maximum academic-year stipend amount that a graduate student may receive when any portion of the stipend comes from any funds held at Cornell (university accounts, college accounts, department accounts, unit accounts, or Principal Investigator sponsored funds) is $49,824. The increase may be from the same funding source as the basic stipend (an “adjustment”) or from a different source (a “supplement”). The limit applies to support from any combination of fellowships or assistantships when part of the stipend is paid from funds held at Cornell. There is no restriction on summer stipends and fellowships.

Prorated Stipends for Non-Standard Appointments

Minimum stipend rates for non-standard appointments classified as graduate assistantships (TA, GA, RA, or GRA) must be proportional to the board-approved stipend. Examples are provided in the table below.

Partial assistantships must include tuition proportional to the stipend. That is, if a student receives a partial TAship with 50% stipend for the semester, the hours must be limited to 7.5 or less per week and he or she must receive 50% tuition for that semester in addition to the stipend. Awards that do not provide tuition and stipend in amounts proportional to the hours expected of a regular assistant are not assistantships and should not be portrayed as such.

Examples – Adjusted Stipend Rates for Non-Standard Appointments

Assistantships for professional degree students.

Students who are enrolled in professional degree programs are generally ineligible for assistantships outside of their graduate field of study, unless the director of graduate studies for the student’s program requests an exception based on the student gaining experience directly supporting the student’s ability to teach the subject matter of the profession. Requests for exceptions must be approved in advance by both the dean of the Graduate School and the dean of the college in which the professional degree program is housed. The college that administers the professional degree in which the student is enrolled is responsible for payment of the full tuition. Professional degree students may be appointed as graduate teaching/research specialists (GTRS) (see below). They may not accept an assistantship without:

Graduate Teaching/Research Specialists 

Students in the professional degree programs may be appointed as graduate teaching/research specialists (GTRS). The GTRS is not an assistantship; GTRSs receive a stipend in proportion to the percent time of their appointment as compared to a full-time graduate assistantship but not tuition and health insurance. Hours are limited to no more than 10 per week. Before a program may begin using the GTRS title, approval must be given by the Graduate School.

Master of Fine Arts – Acting

mfa programs with stipends

Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre offers a MFA in Acting which prepares professional actors as well as future academicians. An audition and interview are required for acceptance into the program. No GRE required.

We are not currently recruiting for MFA Actor until Spring of 2024.  Contact Rob Roznowski at  [email protected]  with any questions.

The Master of Fine Arts in Acting is designed as a terminal degree providing rigorous training in theatrical performance to students preparing for careers in the professional theatre and future academicians. Extensive training in voice, movement and acting provide a foundation for student’s development as both artist and educator. Given the program’s unique focus on preparing the artist as educator, an emphasis on the student as teacher is fundamental in most classes.

The MFA acting program at Michigan State University offers individualized and challenging advanced actor training. Intensive scene study and studio work cover a wide range of theatrical materials from the classics to contemporary. Training in voice and movement is an integral part of the program. All MFA students must complete at least six required “advisor-approved” performance credits (one per role) in order to receive the degree.

Acceptance into the program is contingent upon a completed application to the Michigan State University Graduate School as well as the successful completion of an audition/interview. All acting candidates must demonstrate their potential at either larger unified auditions or through an audition before the Acting/Directing faculty while visiting Michigan State University.

MSU offers numerous performance opportunities for graduates in one 3,700-seat concert auditorium, two 600-seat theaters (one thrust, one proscenium), one 200-seat arena theatre, one 150-seat studio theatre, one 70-seat studio theatre and the opportunity to perform in MSU’s popular outdoor Summer Circle Theatre. While casting is not guaranteed in Department productions, MFA Actors are required to perform in an “advisor-approved” project each semester. A performance based thesis role or project must be completed in the MFA Actors’ final year of study. We offer a variety of acting assistantships with very competitive stipend levels, and our graduate program works in tandem with a thriving undergraduate theatre program. Prior to graduation, MFA acting students will also receive exposure to the professional theatre world as well as academia.

All Master of Fine Arts Actors must audition for all departmental mainstage productions even though there are no guaranteed roles in these productions. If a student is not cast in a mainstage production, the MFA Actor must perform in an “advisor-approved” performance project. One exception to this casting policy is the master thesis role or project to be completed in the MFA Actor’s final year of study chosen in consultation with the student’s guidance committee.

MFA Actors will meet each semester with his/her chosen committee to evaluate the work over the semester and also complete performance juries at the end of each semester that showcase the actors’ work.

Department of Theatre Recruitment Brochure (PDF)

Acting (60 credits) All of the following classes:

THR 801 Practicum: Acting (18 credits) THR 804 Practicum: Voice (6 credits) THR 805 Practicum: Movement (6 credits) THR 830 Introduction to Graduate Studies (3 credits) THR 831 Students in Theatre History (3 credits)

THR 832 Comparative Drama and Criticism (3 credits) THR 834 Professional Aspects (3 credits) THR 841 Advanced Directing Practices (3 credits) THR 870 Collaborative Studio in Theatre (3 credits) THR 894* Special Projects in Theatre (6 credits)

Electives approved by the student’s guidance committee: (7 credits) *Students must enroll in 1 credit increments for Theatre 894. Each credit is associated with one of six major performance projects. Students must participate in production activities during each semester of enrollment in the program.

Assistantship Information

We are not currently recruiting for MFA Actor until Spring of 2023.  Contact Rob Roznowski at  [email protected]  with any questions.

Each year the Department of Theatre sets aside a number of Graduate Assistantships for entering MFA students. In the current academic year, graduate assistants received a total financial package of at least $26,867 for a level 1, ½-time assistantship. This package includes a full tuition waiver (up to the 60 credits required) as well as the following benefits:

College, University, and Departmental Fellowships are also available. Students recruited with assistantships may expect three years of support so long as they make satisfactory progress in their studies.

Subsidized Child Care Stipends

mfa programs with stipends

Stipend Resources

Child Care Resources

Child Care and Development Links  


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  1. Top 41 Fully Funded MFA Programs in 2023

    Fully funded MFA programs are highly competitive, especially those that offer stipends. You'll have to apply for the program and beat out other students for the assistantship or fellowship. At some schools, all MFA students are fully funded, but there are only a few slots available each year.

  2. Fully Funded MFA Programs in Creative Writing

    Awards include a full tuition waiver and annual stipend of $18,915. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI): All MFA students accepted into the program are offered a full tuition waiver, a stipend of $23,000/yearly as well as $5,000 in summer funding, and health care benefits.

  3. MFA in Creative Writing Programs Guide

    The University of New Orleans and Columbia University offer two popular creative writing degrees. UNO's yearly graduate tuition is $8,892 for Louisiana residents and $13,462 for non-residents. Columbia charges $28,230 per semester. MFA programs operate under the jurisdiction of the college of liberal arts or arts and sciences.

  4. Best MFA Degree: The Top 26 Schools for Master of Fine Arts Programs

    The Ivy League school's MFA program is ranked second-best in the country by U.S. News and World Report, tied with the Art Institute of Chicago. School Overview Annual tuition: $44,500 Credits required: 60 Faculty-student ratio: 1:6 Visit School Website 2 Cornell University Ithaca, New York Graduation Rate: 94% Points: 79

  5. 10 MFA Programs for the Budget-Conscious

    The University of Florida, Gainesville MFA program is a fully funded three-year program, and receives upwards of 500 applications a year. It admits only six students in each genre of poetry and fiction. Founded in 1949, UF is a well-ranked, established program and has maintained the very low application fee of $30.

  6. What is an MFA Degree?

    The Poets & Writers MFA programs database identifies those programs that offer stipends, partial or full scholarships - and the teaching requirements necessary to receive MFA financial assistance. A program with a teaching component can give you valuable experience if you plan on teaching at the university level after you graduate.

  7. Fully Funded MFA Programs in Studio Art and Visual Art

    Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana): All MFA students are accepted with full scholarships comprised of a tuition waiver and an additional assistantship stipend. The tuition waiver covers the full cost of tuition for both years of the MFA program. The additional stipend is divided up into 20 bi-monthly payments each year.

  8. Medical Financial Assistance Program

    Improving health care access for people with limited incomes and resources is fundamental to Kaiser Permanente's mission. Our Medical Financial Assistance program helps low-income, uninsured, and underserved patients receive access to care. The program provides temporary financial assistance or free care to patients who receive health care ...

  9. 25 Best MFA Programs 2020

    25 Best MFA Programs 2020. The 25 schools on this list offer the top MFAs in fine arts, based on median salary one year after graduation. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania tops the list with a starting salary of $44,200 for MFA graduates. University of Oregon students in this program graduate with $29,274 of student debt, the lowest median ...

  10. Creative Writing M.F.A.

    We take pride in the fact that the MFA Program at Georgia College is a fully-funded, full-residency 3-year MFA program. All students admitted to our MFA program receive a Graduate Assistantship for all 3 years that includes a stipend and tuition remission. Self-funded students are accepted in special circumstances.

  11. Aid for MFA Students

    Newly admitted MFA students to these two programs will receive a full tuition scholarship, coverage for the basic student health insurance plan, and stipend support which may be a combination of a non-service stipend and/or teaching fellowship, depending on the program of admission.

  12. MFA in Creative Writing

    The basic requirements to complete the MFA degree program are simple and straightforward, and include 12 semester hours of writing workshops, 12 hours graduate literature courses, and six to 12 hours of thesis work. ... Graduate assistantship stipends have greatly increased, and now range from $12,500 up to $24,000 a year (plus tuition waiver ...

  13. Creative Writing

    The GTA application process is a formal part of the program application; the newer GPA positions are managed by the Program Director. Both GTAs and GPAs work 20 hours/week and receive a stipend, full tuition waiver (up to 18 credits per academic year equalling a nearly $34,000 value over the course of the program), and optional healthcare coverage.

  14. What Is an MFA Degree?

    Most MFA programs take two to three years to complete. Common fields for MFA programs include creative writing, painting, music, acting, and film. Full-time, on-campus MFA programs may be the least convenient, but they are likely to be the least expensive because of teaching assistantships and stipends.

  15. Funding and Assistantships

    Our average administrative assistantship upon entering the program comes with partial tuition and fee waivers, as well as a stipend. The stipend for those awarded teaching is $9,154.00. A number of our students are able to secure additional assistantships through other departments and programs on campus.

  16. Acting

    About the Program. Make your way into the spotlight with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House's Master of Fine Arts in Acting program. This highly competitive, tuition-free, three-year training program prepares you for a career in regional theater, touring companies, Broadway and Hollywood alike.

  17. Auditions

    Thank you for your interest in the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program! We look forward to meeting you. We will welcome a new class in fall, 2023. The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program provides completely tuition-free training. There is also a generous yearly living stipend as well as health insurance provided. All students receive the same financial package.

  18. Stipend Rates : Graduate School

    GA - An academic appointment requiring 15 to 20 hours a week, averaging no more than 15 hours per week for the base stipend as established by the Board of Trustees. Graduate assistants receive full tuition credit and a stipend. $32,494. Not required, but if offered must be $10,832 for 13-week term or appropriately prorated.

  19. What Is a Stipend and How Does It Work?

    Stipends often have these characteristics: Fixed amount paid to interns, apprentices, clergy and trainees. Does not depend on services or hours worked. Not subject to minimum wage requirements. Not taxed by the employer (recipient must withhold own) Keep in mind additional benefits a salary position or stipend may offer.

  20. Master of Fine Arts

    We offer a variety of acting assistantships with very competitive stipend levels, and our graduate program works in tandem with a thriving undergraduate theatre program. Prior to graduation, MFA acting students will also receive exposure to the professional theatre world as well as academia.

  21. Subsidized Child Care Provider Stipends

    CDSS anticipates releasing these stipends in winter 2023. Providers who served children receiving subsidies from the following programs in April 2022 will be eligible for a $1,442 per-child stipend: Child Care and Development Services for Children with Special Needs (CHAN) Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children (Bridge Program)