6 Tips for Applying to MFA Creative Writing Progams

While the MFA degree seems more popular today than ever, it’s not for everyone. Remember that the MFA is an artistic degree and not a strictly professional degree. It’s dedicated to improving the craft of writing. That said, an MFA can help open professional opportunities in the private and academic work environments.

Here are my top tips for MFA Creative Writing applicants:

  • Apply to 5-10 programs. Don’t pin all your hopes on one or two programs when there’s a good deal of competition for slots. If multiple programs accept your application, that’s a better problem to have than choosing from zero.
  • Take the GRE. Not every program requires the GRE, but taking the GRE gives you more possible programs to consider. Don’t worry if you’re a bad test taker, most programs place little emphasis on your scores.
  • Make your writing sample amazing. The most important part of your application is your writing sample (or portfolio). If your writing is amazing, that’s what matters most. Why? Because MFA programs look better if they have students that go on to write amazing books.
  • Match your needs with MFA programs. Before you select where to apply, make a list of things you want from an MFA program. Think about teaching opportunities, faculty, visiting writer programs, literary journals, location, and price. Make sure you’re happy when you finish your MFA by picking a program that aligns with your specific needs.
  • Get relevant letters of recommendation. That means letters of recommendation from English professors and/or writing-related employers. It’s better to choose reliable people over famous, because the writing sample counts for so much. And yes, follow up with your people to make sure they write and submit the letters.
  • Avoid getting cute with the personal statement. Your writing sample should display your creativity; your personal statement should display your professionalism. In 1-2 pages, explain your writing goals, history, and expectations from participating in the program.


Put together an amazing application with the MFA Prep course!

If your goal is to get accepted in an MFA program, then you need to take the MFA Prep course. In addition to covering how to choose which program is the best fit for your goals, this course covers what writers need to include in their applications and how to present them to find success.

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