Prospective MFA Frequently Asked Questions

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How many students are in the MFA program?

The total number ranges from 20-25 students each year.

How large are the workshops?

The limit is 15 students, but workshops are usually smaller.

How many applications do you typically receive each year?

We receive over 250 applications and generally admit less than 5%.

Do you have a program in creative non-fiction?

The UW MFA program offers no track in literary nonfiction per se, but applicants may submit nonfiction as all or part of their prose writing sample, and once enrolled in the program, students are encouraged to explore the form. Works of creative nonfiction may be submitted in the graduate fiction workshops and prose students may include nonfiction in their final creative manuscript. Interested students should apply in the prose category.

Is a certain type of writing emphasized or favored in the University of Washington’s Creative Writing Program?

We do not have programs in any sort of genre writing. Within the category of literary fiction and poetry, our faculty write and teach in a wide variety of styles.

Can I apply in both prose and poetry?

When applying to the program, applicants must choose between either prose or poetry. Separate faculty committees review each genre, and should you be accepted, it will be in one genre only. Students may take workshops in the other genre, but their thesis must be in the genre in which they were accepted.

What is the admissions procedure? On what do you base acceptance?

The faculty members read the writing sample first (but only if the file is complete). If there is interest in the sample, the faculty will then review an applicant’s entire file. At that point, they are especially interested in statements of purpose and letters of recommendation.

What can I do to increase my chances of being accepted into the MFA program?

Submit your very best writing. Get letters of recommendation from people familiar with your creative writing and with you as a student. Make sure your application and all supporting material arrive by the deadline. 

Can I get advice from a faculty member or staff member regarding my application materials?

Unfortunately, due to the large number of applications we receive each year (and our focus on our current students), we are unable to offer advice for or critique of in-process applications.

Will I improve my chances for acceptance if I visit your campus?

No. Some applicants do choose to visit the UW campus to help them decide if they want to apply to the MFA program. As a rule, the Director of Creative Writing meets with applicants only after they have been accepted. The best time to visit is after we’ve accepted you. Then you can meet students, as well as get a sense of the faculty and the place so you can make an informed decision about coming here.

Is there any advantage to sending in an application long before the deadline?

No. The faculty members begin reading applications after the January 2nd deadline.

I am a non-native English speaker. Do I need to submit official test (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo) scores?

If submitting test scores, official TOEFL, IELTS and/or Duolingo test scores are required. Information on how to send test scores can be found on the UW Graduate School’s website here:

I am a non-native English speaker and meet the minimum admissions requirements. Why do I need to also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores?

The UW Graduate School has two policies in connection to this: Policy 3.2 and Policy 5.2.

Because we admit students to the MA/PhD program with funding in the form of an Academic Student Employee (ASE) teaching position, non-native English speakers must also meet the requirements listed in the UW Graduate School’s Policy 5.2 in order to be eligible to teach. 

There are a variety of ways to show English language proficiency in Policy 5.2. Typically, the best way to demonstrate proof of English proficiency is to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Can I submit Duolingo scores to meet UW Graduate School Policy 5.2?

No, Duolingo scores do not meet the requirements listed in Policy 5.2. If submitting Duolingo scores, you must also meet the requirements listed in the UW Graduate School’s Policy 5.2: Conditions of Appointment for TAs who are not Native Speakers of English to be considered for an ASE position.

How do I know if my official test scores have been added to my application?

You can confirm transmission of electronic test scores by logging into your application, and checking your Application Status Page > Tests section (successfully sent scores will show a date under “Date Received” column). 

Do my letters of recommendation have to be from college professors?

The most useful letters of recommendation come from teachers familiar with your creative writing and with you as a student. Letters from other college professors, who may be familiar with your habits as a student and with your academic writing for example, can also be helpful. Letters from employers, unless the work was directly related to writing, are less helpful to us.

Can I submit four letters of recommendation?

While the requirement is only three letters of recommendation, you do have the ability to submit four names of recommenders in the application portal.

Can my recommendation letters arrive after January 2nd application deadline?

While letters should arrive by January 2nd, we will still consider letters which arrive within 48 hours of this deadline. Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to communicate with their recommenders well in advance of the deadline, so as to ensure that letters can be uploaded on time.

My writer is having an issue with the recommendation link. What should I do?

If your writers are having issues uploading their letter, they are welcome to email it directly to Note: we are unable to upload recommendation letters until your application has been submitted.

Are there specific guidelines for formatting the resume?

We don't have any specific requirements for the formatting of the resume. In formatting a resume, the main concern is that your most important qualifications and experience should stand out on a quick perusal.

Even though they are no longer required, should I still submit my GRE scores?

If you have already taken the GRE and wish to submit scores you may do so. However, it will not disadvantage you in any way if you do not submit GRE scores.

Can I apply after the January 2nd deadline? Do you offer extensions?

The application is due at 11:59pm on January 2nd (if January 2nd falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the application is due the following Monday). We typically do not offer extensions.

Can the application fee be waived?

The UW Graduate School offers fee waivers to applicants who qualify for financial need; for more information, see the Graduate School's website:

Can I apply to the MFA and MA/PhD programs simultaneously?

You need to apply to each program separately, which means two separate applications and two fees.

What kinds of funding are available?

We offer a funding package to all admitted MFA students. The funding package includes a tuition waiver, health insurance, and a monthly stipend for two academic years, contingent on satisfactory academic progress and performance of duties. Funding includes a combination of teaching and fellowship quarters. During the teaching quarters, students will be responsible for teaching one class each quarter. Most classes will be in the composition program; there are are a limited number of opportunities to teach an introductory creative writing class in their genre. During the fellowship quarters, the monthly stipend amount may be lower.

What does the Teaching Assistantship involve?

During the first year, you will teach one section of freshman composition each quarter. While you are responsible for your own class, you will get lots of training and help from the Director of the Expository Writing Program. In the second year, TAs may be able to teach the introductory class in their genre, under the supervision of the Director of Creative Writing. In return, you will receive a tuition waiver, student health, dental and vision insurance, and a monthly stipend during the academic year.

Is there a foreign language requirement?


Can I transfer credits from another graduate school?

Once an applicant has been admitted, a limited number of credits may be transferred to apply toward the literature requirements of the degree. This evaluation is done on a case-by-case basis.

When will letters of acceptance be sent?

We typically send out letters of acceptance in mid-March.

What is a profile of the successful applicant?

Most successful applicants to our program have a GPA of 3.7, majored in English, completed at least two writing workshops in their genre at the advanced level, and have completed an undergraduate degree within the last 2-10 years.