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Undergraduate Degree and Grades

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

I am an international student, and my undergraduate institution grants a three-year Bachelors Degree. Am I eligible to apply?
Unfortunately, no. The Graduate School accepts degrees from four-year institutions only. You must complete at least one year of a Masters program in addition to the three-year Bachelors to be considered.

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

I don’t have a BA in English. Will that affect my application?
We accept students from a variety of academic backgrounds. As long as you have an undergraduate degree, you can be considered for admission. If you don't have any English courses, submit the GPA application sheet with "not applicable."


What is the teaching assistantship?
All admitted MFA students receive teaching assistantships for three years. You will be assigned to teach literature, creative writing, and courses within Writing Studies. The teaching assistantship includes a stipend (currently $17,500), health benefits, and tuition waiver. Students are responsible for Student Services fees, which currently amount to about $850 per semester.

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

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

Are international students eligible for funding?
All of our students receive full funding for all three years of the program; however, the U.S. government requires proof of a minimum amount of financial support to issue a student visa. For the 2018-19 academic year, that minimum is $18,841. Our current funding package falls slightly short of this minimum. The applicant would therefore be required to show proof (savings, employment, etc.) of that additional funding. (See the Graduate School's I-20 information page for details.)


Is the December 1 deadline firm?

Yes. All of your materials to the Graduate School and to the Department of English, including test scores, must be included in your application, and your application submitted, by 11:59 p.m. on December 1. (An exception is made for letters of recommendation, which must be received by 11:59 p.m. on December 7 to be included in your portfolio.)

When will I be notified of the program's admission decision?
We expect to send out all notifications by the end of February 2019.

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

What if my GRE test date is late and my scores won't arrive until after the 1st?
By the December 1 deadline, all of your materials to the Graduate School and to the Department of English must have arrived online, including test scores. We highly recommend taking the GRE several months before the deadline if you plan to submit a GRE score. We cannot consider incomplete applications. (An exception is made for letters of recommendation, which must be received by December 7 to be included.)

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

How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
All letters should be submitted electronically, directly into the online application. 

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

Can my TA write me a letter of recommendation?

Do you accept letters of recommendation through postal mail?
No, all letters must be submitted electronically into the online application. 

Do you accept letters of recommendation from a dossier service such as Interfolio?
Yes, we do accept materials through dossier services such as Interfolio. Please follow the dossier service's instructions on uploading letters directly into your application; do not have them emailed to the creative writing program.

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

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

Do you grant application fee waivers?
Unfortunately, the English department, which houses the creative writing program, does not grant application fee waivers.

MFA Program Specific

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

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

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

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

If you experience problems with the online application, please contact the application contractor's tech helpline. We are unable to provide tech support.