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Funding & Policies

The Creative Writing Program is committed to providing three years of support to MFA students, contingent upon available funding. A "year of support" is defined as any year in which an MFA student receives a fellowship or two single-semester appointments of 50% each from any department or program. Funding sources include fellowships, grants, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and other forms of campus employment.

Teaching Assistantships

All admitted MFAs receive full funding, in the form of teaching assistantships or fellowships. MFAs will also receive extensive training in teaching and pedagogy for the full three years. Teaching assistantships carry a full tuition waiver (up to 14 credits per semester), health benefits, and a stipend. Insurance is also applied during the summer months.

Creative Writing Program Fellowships

The Creative Writing Program awards a variety of fellowships to graduate students.

  • CLA research/travel fellowships: CLA research/travel fellowships encourage graduate students in the creative writing program to spend the summer researching and/or traveling for work and writing related to the thesis. Recipients will be reimbursed for airfare, supplies, studio rental, ground travel (gas, car rental, taxi), and lodging (while traveling). These funds must be spent by the beginning of August.

  • Gesell Writing Residency Fellowships: These fellowships provide summer residencies for two MFA students at the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Red Wing, Minnesota. Endowed by the Gesell Family.

  • Graduate Research Partnership Program (GRPP): The CLA Graduate Research Partnership Program (GRPP) encourages graduate students enrolled in graduate programs housed within the college to partner with a College of Liberal Arts (CLA) faculty project advisor on projects of shared interest. The program provides GRPP fellows with a summer research stipend of $4,000 for summer 2017. GRPP fellows must be enrolled students in a graduate program housed in CLA.

  • Marcella DeBourg Fellowship: The fellowship is open to current graduate students (not in the final year of the program) in the English department. Work should “give creative expression to women’s lives.” Research and writing on the DeBourg diaries is encouraged. These diaries are archived in the creative writing office. The amount given varies from year to year.

  • Michael Dennis Browne Fellowship in Poetry (MFAs only): Awarded by the program to one poet each year.

  • The Winifred Fellowship in Fiction (MFAs only): Awarded by the program to an MFA student in fiction who is entering the third year of the program.

  • Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship: The Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship awards up to $4,000 in funds and up to an additional $1,000 in travel funds for an MFA student to undertake a short research project related to human rights. In addition to this project, the scribe will assist in organizing one human rights literary event for the summer or fall, and will contribute to the written publications of the human rights program. The internship runs for ten weeks any time between the spring and fall semesters of a given year. The award is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota.

  • O’Rourke Travel & Research Funds for MFA Students: Each year, O’Rourke Fellowship funds will be made available to MFA students for the purpose of creative research, registration and/or travel to readings, panels, residencies, conferences, etc. – including AWP. A certain percentage of the funds will be set aside each fall specifically for travel and registration to AWP.

Department and College Fellowships

The Department of English and the College of Liberal Arts award a variety of year-long fellowships to graduate students.

  • Luce Scholars Program: This is a national program that provides one-year internships in Asia to persons who have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability, and a clearly defined career interest with evidence of potential for professional accomplishment. Persons from all fields except Asian affairs may apply. Applicants must be under 30 when the internship begins. For more information, see the Graduate School's page on the LUCE Scholars Program.

  • Torske-Klubben Fellowship: The Torske Klubben, founded in 1933, is a Minneapolis luncheon club of men of Norwegian heritage who are deeply interested in Norway and Norwegian-American history and relationships. The organization funds University of Minnesota graduate fellowships for Norwegian citizens, as well as this award for Minnesota residents who have an interest in or connection with Norway and/or its culture. The overarching goal of the fellowship program is supporting future leaders. For more information, see the Graduate School's page on the Torske Klubben Fellowship.

  • Harold Leonard Memorial Fellowship in Film Study: The purpose of the Leonard Fellowship in Film Study is to provide stipend support for an academic year of well-defined research or study in which film history, criticism, theory, or aesthetics is the major focus of the research. For more information see the Graduate School's page about the fellowship.

The University of Minnesota Graduate School website also has a comprehensive list of external funding opportunities.


  • The Associated Writing Program's Intro Journals Project: Creative Writing faculty may nominate one work of fiction, one work of nonfiction, and up to three poems (not necessarily by the same writer) to the AWP, a panel of which determines the AWP-wide awardees; winners’ work is published in participating literary magazines.
  • Academy of American Poets' James Wright Prize for Poetry: This prize of approximately $100 is awarded to student poets through an annual competition. Eligible participants are undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota. To be considered, student poets will submit a writing sample of poetry. The James Wright award, sponsored by The Academy of American Poets, is judged during the fall semester by an established writer who is not on the permanent faculty at the University of Minnesota.
  • ArtWORDS: The contest is open only to undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota. Entries for this contest are short creative pieces written in response to the visual art in the permanent collection at the Weisman Art Museum. ArtWORDS is judged during the spring semester by writers not on the permanent faculty at the U of MN.
  • Gesell Award for Excellence in Creative Writing: Three prizes of $500 each are awarded in each of three qualifying genres: poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction. This competition is open to MFA students only and judged by writers who are not permanent U of MN faculty. Endowed by the Gesell Family.
  • The Michael Dennis Browne Poetry Fellowship: An annual award in poetry for a first- or second-year poet who shows exceptional potential in the field. There is no application process; the MDB Fellowship is awarded by Creative Writing faculty in spring 2017 and is an award stipend for summer 2017. This award will be announced in April 2017. The recipient of the Michael Dennis Browne Fellowship is not eligible for the Graduate Research Partnership Program or the CLA Fellowship.
  • The Winifred Fellowship for Fiction: An annual award for an MFA student in the fiction track who is entering his/her third year in the program and who shows exceptional potential in the field. Creative Writing faculty will award the Winifred Fellowship in spring 2017; it is an award stipend for summer 2017. There is no application process. This award will be announced in April 2017. The recipient of the Winifred Fellowship is not eligible for the Graduate Research Partnership Program or the CLA Fellowship.

Please contact the creative writing office for application materials and deadlines. The department encourages all students to seek out additional fellowship opportunities such as the GRPP, DeWitt, Stout, or Leonard Fellowships, FLAS and Humanities Institute awards, etc. Check the Graduate School website for more information on requirements and deadlines.