2014-2015 General Catalog 
    May 20, 2018  
2014-2015 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

English Creative Writing, M.F.A.

Click HERE for Learning Outcomes


The M.F.A. program in creative writing is small and selective. Creative Writing students have the opportunity to study literature, take part in a series of intensive writing workshops, and work within a close community of writers. They may focus their literature coursework in any area of English or American literature.

During their residence M.F.A. students are expected to work closely with members of the writing staff. M.F.A. students will take nine courses: four workshops; a Form and Theory course in the chosen genre; and four literature courses.

The thesis is to be a book-length piece of writing of publishable quality–a novel, a collection of stories, or a collection of poems. The application deadline for entry into the M.F.A. program with or without financial aid is December 15 for the following fall semester.

Admission Requirements


Students applying for the M.A., M.F.A., or Ph.D. degree programs must hold a B.A or B.S. degree from an accredited college or university, and have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 or higher. Students holding an M.A. or M.F.A. in English are eligible for admission into the Ph.D. program.

The B.A. to Ph.D. direct track option is available to applicants to any program who do not hold a master’s degree in the field. A candidate with a B.A. will submit application materials at the same time as other candidates (December 15). If accepted, the student receives a teaching assistantship for the first year.

Applicants who do not meet the above criteria may, in some cases, be admitted to the program on either a regular or probationary basis. Those denied admission into the Ph.D. direct-track program may instead be offered admission into the M.A. or M.F.A. program.

Instructions for Application Submission

Please read the following instructions carefully and submit a complete application by the English Department deadline of December 15 each year for the following fall semester. Since there is now only one application period each year, all applications will be considered for funding.

Please be sure to indicate in the appropriate places your name, address, and the specific program to which you are applying. If you are applying for admission to our doctoral program but will not have a master’s degree in the field of English upon entering our program, please choose “English-PHD,” and in the section labeled “Additional Information” indicate that you are applying for the B.A. to PHD track. Applicants who do not hold an M.A. or M.F.A. in English will automatically be considered for admission to the appropriate master’s program if they are not admitted to the doctoral program.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The application software permits applicants to list up to three areas of interest. These areas are in fact discrete tracks in our graduate program. The English Department graduate admissions committee treats applications that list multiple areas of interest as separate applications to different tracks. The graduate committee will consider applications only in the first two areas listed. If you want to apply to a third track in our program, you must submit a separate application, and pay a second application fee. 

Applications that are not submitted by the department deadline date of December 15th, will not be considered. Student portions of applications that are not complete by the appropriate deadline, or that are filled out incorrectly, will also not be considered. Please be sure to put your name on all application materials.

  1. All applications must include a completed electronic University of Utah Graduate Application Form; there is no separate English Department application.

The English Department will not accept any applications that are mailed in; all application materials must be submitted and/or uploaded via the online application which can be found at: https://app.applyyourself.com//?id=utahgrad .

  1. All applications must include a substantial critical writing sample (at least six pages). The critical sample should demonstrate your ability to elucidate the critical issues pertinent to a text and to conduct a sustained reading of a text or texts.
  2. Applications for creative writing must include, in addition to the critical sample, a creative writing sample, either poetry, fiction, or non-fiction (approximately 10 pages). For the poetry sample, a small collection of poems is acceptable. For fiction or non-fiction samples, a short story, or a chapter or selection from a novel, a memoir, or an essay is acceptable. If your fiction and/or non-fiction samples are short, you can submit more than one piece. If you are applying to one creative genre only, please do not submit samples of different genres.
  3. These writing samples must be uploaded into your electronic online application which can be found at: https://app.applyyourself.com//?id=utahgrad .

IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you are submitting both a creative and a critical writing sample, please note that the application software allows applicants to our program to submit two files. Upload one critical and one creative file. If your creative sample, for example, consists of a few short pieces, be sure to incorporate them into one file. 

  1. All applications must include three academic letters of recommendation from faculty who can assess your ability to do English graduate work; most recommendations, therefore, will come from faculty who know your work. You must submit the email addresses of your three recommenders via the online application which can be found at https://app.applyyourself.com//?id=utahgrad
  2. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  All applicants must include a statement of purpose explaining professional interests and goals. Please indicate what issues are raised in the criticism or writing of literature. What is the task of criticism? Or, what does creative writing seek to accomplish and how does it achieve effects?
  3. International applicants who are not native speakers of English should note that they must demonstrate proficiency in English before they can receive financial assistance that involves teaching English Composition. Proficiency is partly demonstrated by a TSE or SPEAK score (40 on the TSE, 180 on the SPEAK). In addition, when considering international students for financial aid, the graduate program will attend carefully to the prose applicants submit.
  4. The University must receive scores on the general GRE exam directly from ETS. The English graduate program sets no minimum cut-off score on this exam, but we are interested in applicants’ performance overall, especially on the verbal portion of the general exam. Please note that GRE scores tend to arrive approximately three weeks after the date of the exam. Therefore, if one is submitting an application for the December 15 deadline, the exam should be taken by the middle of November at the latest. If the exam is taken in December, your scores may not arrive in time, incurring some delay as we wait for scores to arrive. To expedite the arrival of your GRE scores, please use the University of Utah institution code (#4853) and the English Department code (#2501 for literature programs or #2503 for creative writing tracks).
  5. International applicants must upload the appropriate fee, one official set of transcripts, and TOEFL results to: https://app.applyyourself.com//?id=utahgrad .

Applications will be distributed to members of the English Department graduate admissions committee soon after the application deadline. The English Department should be able to inform students of its decisions via email in the second week of March. The University of Utah Graduate Admissions Office will send official confirmation of this decision later. 

Deadlines for Application Submission:

The following deadlines may differ from the general University admission deadlines. Please follow the deadlines listed below if you are applying to the English graduate program.

Beginning September 2011, the English Graduate Program will no longer have two application deadlines for the following fall semester; there will be one application deadline ONLY each year: December 15th for the following fall semester (i.e., December 15, 2014 for entry fall of 2015). Applications for admission to all programs, with or without funding, will be reviewed only once each year. All application materials must have been entered into the Apply Yourself system no later than December 15 for fall semester admission (https://app.applyyourself.com//?id=utahgrad). Note: If a deadline falls on a holiday or weekend, applications will be accepted through the following business day.

Applicants who apply for admission by the December 15 deadline will, by the end of February, be notified by mail of their admission status.

Please also note that there is NO Spring Semester admission to the English Department.


Complete 4 courses

Literary History or Special Topics in Literary and Cultural Study

At least 3 courses at 6000- or 7000-level (and either a fourth course or a second course in theory other than Narrative Theory and Practice or Theory and Practice of Poetry).

Theory and Critical Problems

Narrative Theory and Practice or Theory and Practice of Poetry, depending on the genre of the thesis.

Note: A second course in form or theory, other than Narrative Theory and Practice or Theory and Practice of Poetry, is an alternative to a fourth course under the Literary History or Special Topics rubric.

Thesis and Thesis Defense

The thesis will be a book-length piece of writing of publishable quality - a novel, a collection of stories or essays, a memoir, or a collection of poems. An acceptable draft of the thesis should be submitted to the committee chair at least three weeks before the scheduled defense. The completed thesis must be approved by the three members of the committee. After the thesis has been approved, the student and his or her chairperson choose a defense date, and this date is then cleared with the other committee members. Please see the Policies and Requirements for the M.A. and M.F.A. page for details on this process.