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Creative Writing

A fully funded M.F.A. program that combines creative and scholarly work, undergraduate teaching, and professionalization opportunities.

The M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing is nationally ranked and our graduates are the recipients of many distinguished awards and fellowships.

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Our Faculty

Elizabeth Arnold

Professor, English

3101 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-9658

Lindsay Bernal

Academic Coordinator, English

2116E Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3820

Maud Casey

Professor, English

3112 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

Michael Collier

Professor, English

3103 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3819

Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes

Assistant Professor, English

3120 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

Emily Mitchell

Associate Professor, English

3122 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-9652

Rion Scott

Assistant Professor, English

3234 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

Joshua Weiner

Professor, English

3113 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3797

Program Overview

Dear Prospective Students,

Each fall, we welcome four poets and four fiction writers into the MFA Program, a studio-based fine arts program devoted to the development and mentoring of the next generation of poets and fiction writers.  

Our attention is to your original writing and to you, the writer; our aim is to help you become the writer you envision for yourself.  

As fully funded writers, selected by the program faculty from an applicant pool of over 200, you’ll spend two to three years taking workshops, literature courses, and creative forms courses, meeting one-on-one with our faculty, and gaining valuable experience teaching undergraduate workshops, academic writing, and literature courses.

Our varied individual teaching philosophies share the conviction that the hard work of drafting and revising original stories and poems is grounded in reading and studying exemplary works.  Literary history, innovative poetic and narrative form, and the experience of the writer all come into play through the shaping hand of art.

During the second and third years of the program, MFA students develop a thesis (a book-length collection of poetry or short fiction, a novel, or a hybrid project) under the direction of the MFA faculty. Students have the opportunity to work closely with each program faculty member in the genre of concentration during their time at UMD. 

Completion of the thesis culminates in the occasion of a thesis defense with several faculty members, and a celebratory public reading, at which each student is introduced by their faculty mentor.
 
The MFA core curriculum includes practica in teaching creative writing (in the first semester) and finishing the thesis (in the last semester), plus a set of professionalization courses to prepare you for a career in creative writing.  Our program emphasizes one-on-one mentoring and personal attention to your development as a writer in the world.  

The “Writers Here & Now” reading series, co-sponsored and -curated by the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House (UMD’s undergraduate residential college devoted to creative writing), brings writers of national and international prominence to the University of Maryland each year, both to read and meet with students in the graduate and undergraduate workshops. Recent visiting writers include Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jos Charles, Alexander Chee, Jennine Capó Crucet, Natalie Diaz, Danielle Evans, Ross Gay, Louise Glück, Terrance Hayes, John Keene, Yiyun Li, Claudia Rankine, Evie Shockley, and Ocean Vuong.  We also invite program alumni to read in the series and visit with the MFAs.

Our program faculty and alumni include winners of

  • Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize
  • Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship
  • Guggenheim Fellowship
  • Italo Calvino Prize
  • National Book Award
  • National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship
  • NAACP Image Award
  • National Jewish Book Award
  • National Poetry Series competition
  • New York Public Library Young Lions Prize
  • Rome Prize
  • Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award
  • Whiting Writers’ Award
    and many other honors.

They have received Stegner, Hodder, Radcliffe Institute, and Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center fellowships. Their work has been featured in publications such as

  • The Atlantic
  • Best American Poetry
  • Harvard Review
  • Los Angeles Review of Books
  • The Nation
  • The New Republic
  • The New Yorker
  • New York Review of Books
  • New York Times
  • Paris Review
  • Poetry
  • Threepenny Review
  • Washington Post
  • Yale Review
    and many others.  

Our alumni have started their own literary journals, online and in print, such as

  • The Account
  • Asian American Literary Review
  • AzonaL
  • B O D Y
  • Smartish Pace
  • Oversound and
  • Sakura Review   

They have continued their formal studies in doctoral programs at Houston, Missouri, Utah, and other top programs.  And they have taught in universities, colleges, and high schools around the country, serving communities and fostering the literary arts.

Currently, we are engaged in developing a new MFA program committed to social justice and antiracism that decenters whiteness, amplifies BIPOC voices, institutes a space of equality for writing and collaboration, and that extends creative practices into the world.  What is the writing that is happening now, that is looking to the future, and creating a viable community?  The answer starts in the work of your imagination, your dedication to the craft, and your sense that this matters beyond the act of writing.  Our commitment is to you.  

We thank you for your interest in our program.  We urge you to review the department website to get a further sense of whether or not the MFA at Maryland is right for you.  And we wish you the very best in your writing.

All best,

The Faculty of the MFA Program in Creative Writing
University of Maryland

 

M.F.A. Application Instructions

Submit the complete application and all supporting materials by January 5, 2021––for Fall 2021. (We do not accept applications for the Spring term.) Please note that the system will close promptly at midnight, so you will be unable to edit your application past 11:59pm on January 5, 2021. The system is set to Maryland time (EST). If you are uncertain about what time that the system will close in your timezone, please look it up. We are unable to make exceptions for late applications based on timezone.

University of Maryland's Graduate Application Process

The University of Maryland’s Graduate School accepts applications through its application system. Before completing the application, applicants are asked to check the Admissions Requirements site for specific instructions.

As required by the Graduate School, all application materials are to be submitted electronically:

  • Graduate Application
  • Non-refundable application fee ($75) for each program to which an applicant applies.
  • Unofficial transcripts of your entire college/university record (undergraduate and graduate), including records of any advanced work done at another institution. Electronic copies of these unofficial transcripts must be uploaded along with your online application. Official transcripts will be required after an applicant is admitted to the program.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation. In your online application, please complete fully the information requested for your recommenders and ask them to submit their letters electronically.
  • Statement of Goals, Research Interests, and Experiences. The statement, which should not exceed 1000 words, should address relevant aspects of your educational experience, your creative interests, and your reasons for applying to our program.
  • A single Creative Writing Sample in the genre in which you are applying: for fiction, 15 pages (double-spaced); for poetry, 10-15 pages (single-spaced). To ensure that your application package is processed accurately, you must specify your genre (fiction OR poetry) in the online application.

Note: We no longer require--or recommend--that applicants to the MFA Program in Creative Writing submit GRE scores.

The electronic submission of application materials helps expedite the review of an application. Completed applications are reviewed by a faculty admissions committee in each genre. The recommendations of the poetry and fiction committees are submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School, who will make the final admission decision. Students seeking to complete graduate work at the University of Maryland for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the Dean.  To ensure the integrity of the application process, the University of Maryland authenticates submitted materials through TurnItIn for Admissions.

Information for International Graduate Students

The University of Maryland is dedicated to maintaining a vibrant international graduate student community. The Office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) is a valuable resource of information and assistance for prospective and current international students.  International applicants are encouraged to explore the services they offer, and contact them with related questions.

The University of Maryland Graduate School offers admission to international students based on academic information; it is not a guarantee of attendance.  Admitted international students will then receive instructions about obtaining the appropriate visa to study at the University of Maryland which will require submission of additional documents.  Please see the Graduate Admissions Process for International Applicants for more information.

Contact

Applicants are encouraged to direct any technical issues and questions related to the admissions process to the Graduate School (gradschool@umd.edu; 301-405-3644)

 

Prospective M.F.A. Student FAQs

If, after reading this list, you still have unanswered questions, please contact us.

  • Where do I apply on-line? You can apply now via the Graduate School's website.  
  • When is the application deadline? January 5, 2021 at 11:59 pm (EST).
  • Does your program admit students for the Spring semester. No. 
  • What is the most important part of the application? The creative writing sample is the single most important element of a successful application to the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Of course, the Creative Writing faculty look closely at all of the other materials in the application file: statement of goals, research interests, and experiences; three letters of recommendation; transcripts.
  • Is it possible to meet with the Creative Writing faculty and/or staff to discuss the admissions process? Unfortunately, the faculty and/or staff do not have the time to meet with prospective applicants. We do, however, strongly encourage applicants who have been accepted into the program to visit in March to meet with faculty, staff, and current students and attend a graduate-level course.
  • When are admissions decisions made? Admissions decisions are made in February and March.
  • Should the fiction writing sample be one piece or several pieces? The fiction writing sample can be either a novel excerpt, a short story, or several short stories, as long as the writing sample does not exceed 15 double-spaced pages.
  • Can I submit creative work in more than one genre and/or apply in more than one genre? No. All MFA applicants must apply within one genre (fiction or poetry) and submit work only within that chosen genre.
  • Does Maryland offer an MFA in Creative Nonfiction? No. However, a workshop in Creative Nonfiction is offered occasionally, and MFA students are welcome to take it as an elective.
  • Does the program offer a low-residency option.  No.
  • What kind of financial aid packages does the program offer? Each year, the program accepts 8 applicants (4 fiction writers and 4 poets), who are fully funded by Teaching Assistantships for up to three years of graduate study. Our aid packages include a stipend of about $20,000 per academic year and 60 credit hours of tuition remission (10 credit hours of tuition remission per semester). As Teaching Assistants, our MFA students teach one class during their first year (in the spring semester), three classes during their second year (two courses in the fall semester and one course in the spring semester), and four classes during the optional third year of study (two courses per semester). Our MFA students typically teach an undergraduate creative writing workshop initially (in the spring semester of the the first year) and teach ENGL 101 and/or serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate literature courses during their second year and third years.
  • How do I put myself in the running for aid? No separate application is required. Please see the answer to question 12 (above).
  • When are decisions made about program-awarded aid (fellowships and teaching assistantships)?  In February and March. We fully fund all 8 applicants who we've accepted. Our offer letter details the program-awarded aid package.
  • Where can I find information on tuition and fees? Student Financial Services and Cashiering provides a chart of tuition and fees for Graduate Students by credit hour and residency classification (resident and non-resident).
  • Do MFA students ever attend the program part-time? No. Since our MFA students are fully funded by Teaching Assistantships, they must remain enrolled on a full-time basis (taking at least 6 credit hours of graduate-level coursework per semester) throughout the first two years of the degree. That said, once they've completed coursework, many of our MFA students choose to extend their Teaching Assistantship (and remain fully funded) for a third year to complete the thesis, at which point they take 1 to 4 credit hours per semester of English 799, Master's Thesis Research, with their respective thesis advisors, and they continue to teach in the English Department. The typical teaching load for a third-year MFA student is two courses in the fall and two courses in the spring.
  • What time do the MFA students take classes? ​​Most graduate English classes are offered once a week, Monday-Thursday, either from 3:30-6pm or from 6:30-9pm.  Fiction and poetry workshops are always Wednesdays from 3:30-6pm.  Students must be enrolled continuously--unless they petition the Graduate School for a medical leave of absence or for a waiver of continuous registration and such petitions are approved.
  • Does your program accept letters of recommendation via Interfolio? The Graduate School does not accept letters of recommendation via Interfolio. However, if Interfolio is your only option to submit your letters of recommendation, then please arrange for Interfolio to send your dossier electronically to the MFA Program Coordinator, Lindsay Bernal: lbernal@umd.edu. (Lindsay will confirm the receipt of the dossier.) Please note that this alternative is a work-around: though the MFA faculty reviewers will be given access to your Interfolio dossier, your letters will continue to appear as missing from your application in Hobson's.
  • Does your program require applicants to submit GRE scores? No.