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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing|Department of English

Contact Us

College of Arts & Science
Department of English 3353
M.F.A. Creative Writing Program
1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-6453
Email: cw@uwyo.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

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What type of student funding is offered?

All of our full-time MFA students are fully funded with two-year graduate assistantships. Currently, assistantships include a stipend of $11,349 per academic year, a tuition and fees waiver, and student health insurance. The teaching load is excellent: one course per semester. Our students also receive summer stipends in the amount of $2,000 for the summer between the first and second years of the program. Beyond assistantships and summer stipends, we offer a range of other benefits. Each student in our program has access to several hundred dollars of support for travel, publication, research, and other needs each year. Second-year students receive a week-long writing retreat at the Shortgrass Steppe station in Northern Colorado, funded by the MFA. We also actively seek other opportunities for our students once they've arrived in the program, and we regularly collaborate with students on grant applications for research, travel, and writing support. Our students win numerous departmental and university scholarships, including English department scholarships, ENR program grants, and coveted Arts and Sciences Independent Study Awards that support summer writing projects. Recent students have traveled, with UW support, to Mexico, China, Uzbekistan, France, Paraguay, Spain, Lebanon, Romania, India, Iceland, and Uruguay.

The UW MFA program is committed to full funding. For Fall 2014, we'll welcome a fully funded class of 9.

Further information about graduate assistantships is available in the MFA graduate handbook. Contact our director, Beth Loffreda, with any other funding-related questions.

How many applicants are accepted each year?

We expect to accept 3 to 4 students in each area--poetry, fiction, and nonfiction--but this may vary in a given year, depending upon the applicant pool, range of genre interest, acceptance rates in the year before, and funding levels. For our fall 2013 class, we accepted 7 fully-funded students from a pool of just under 300 applicants.  This year we'll admit a minimum of 9.

On what do you base admission?

Faculty members in your genre review all the parts of your application package. The primary emphasis is on your writing sample. Be certain to include writing that you not only feel is your finest, but also representative of the kind of writing that you want to continue pursuing here. We aren't looking for any particular aesthetic; instead, we're looking for serious writers who have made their own aesthetic commitments and are working rigorously to fulfill them.

What if I work in more than one genre, or in a hybrid genre?

The UW MFA program encourages cross-genre work.  We ask all of our students to explore by taking a workshop outside of their primary genre, and our MFA Project and thesis design both invite you to work in multiple genres/hybrid genres if you wish.  We also love working with writers who identify strongly with only one genre.  We're flexible.  For applicants interested in more than one genre, here are some guidelines: if you feel comfortable identifying a primary concentration for your application, then please send us a writing sample in that genre, and include in the personal statement a discussion of your secondary interests as well your primary one.  If you wish to be considered in two primary areas of concentration, please contact the program directly for instructions regarding the writing sample.  And if you work in a hybrid genre, please submit a writing sample that reflects your work and use your personal statement to explain your approach to genre.

What is the curriculum?

Four workshops (including cross-genre opportunities); one course in pedagogy; 3-5 elective courses (may include further workshops or courses in any university department or program); the MFA Project; thesis. A minimum of 40 credit hours are required for the degree.

We encourage interdisciplinary exploration. For example, MFA students can minor in American Indian Studies or Gender and Women's Studies. An affiliation with the Helga Otto Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources enables MFA students to double major in creative writing and ENR. For more information on this major, see the ENR website.

How long will it take to complete the program?

The program is completed in two years.

-also-

The program accepts a limited number of part-time students. Part-time applicants are evaluated on the same basis as full-time applicants.

If I have a master's degree, do I need to submit GRE scores?

No, your transcripts will be enough and will confirm the master's degree.

What is it like to live in Laramie?

Laramie (population 27,000) is situated on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming, two hours north of Denver, near the foot of the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains. Laramie has an old-west charm but also a funky college-town feel: it's home to some fine independent bookstores and coffee shops, and the restaurant options include vegan, Thai, Indian, and more. Laramie was also recently named by Outside magazine as one of the 40 best college towns in the United States, and for good reason: the rugged mountains of the Snowies and the Medicine Bow National Forest to the east and west of town offer boundless opportunities for hiking, camping, trout fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing, and skiing.

Are their opportunities for MFA students to work with magazines, presses, or other publications?

Interested students will have opportunities to work with Essay Press and The Conversant, both newly arrived to UW, under the direction of faculty member Andy Fitch.

The UW MFA program also hopes to foster diverse publishing projects dreamed up and sustained by our students on their own terms. We invite our students to ask: what kind of audience do you wish existed for your work, or for the work of other writers, or for the subjects that you believe deeply matter?  The answer can include the creation of a wide range of publishing activities: journals, blogs, websites, etc.  In building these projects from the ground up, students (individually or in collaboration) gain experience that joining an already-existing magazine doesn't necessarily cultivate. To support students who wish to pursue such publishing opportunities, the program allows students to earn coursework credit (through the MFA Project) as they work, and to tap MFA student support funds.  Previous students created the MFA Blog and the online fiction publication The Other Room, for example.

Lastly, the University's Office of Student Publications also produces the Owen Wister Review, which MFA students may apply to work with. This literary and arts magazine is published twice a year. Independently managed and produced by university students, it features poetry, short stories, essays, photography and artwork.  Various opportunities for MFA students also exist at UWYO magazine, the Environment and Natural Resource's program new publication, and Wyoming Public Radio (see FAQ below).

Tell me about the MFA program's partnership with the Ucross Foundation.

The MFA program enjoys the good fortune of a partnership with the Ucross Foundation in northern Wyoming. Each year, one new graduate of the MFA program is awarded a residency at Ucross. The Ucross Foundation Residency Program offers the gift of time and space to individuals working in all artistic disciplines. The program provides living accommodations, individual work space, and uninterrupted time to approximately 85 individuals each year. At any one time, there are up to nine individuals in residence, a mix of visual artists, writers and composers. The MFA program also collaborates with the Ucross Foundation to bring Ucross residents to Laramie for readings and events with MFA students, to place MFA students in internships and community-outreach projects, and to offer Ucross residencies to our Eminent Writers in Residence. For more information about Ucross, visit www.ucrossfoundation.org.

Tell me about the Eminent Writer in Residence.

Thanks to an endowment from the State of Wyoming, the UW MFA annually invites Eminent Writers in Residence to join our work. The first Eminent Writer in Residence, for the year 2007-08, was Terry Tempest Williams; the second, for the 2008-09 year, was Joy Williams. In recent years, we’ve been joined by Edward P. Jones, Philip Gourevitch, Claudia Rankine, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Jan Zwicky, Robert Bringhurst, Rebecca Solnit, Colson Whitehead, John D’Agata, Ed Roberson, Maggie Nelson, and Mark Nowak.  This year we are delighted to be joined by Dinaw Mengestu and Sherwin Bitsui. And Joy Williams and Rattawut Lapcharoensap continue on with the program as deeply involved part-time writers in residence.  Holders of the residency in the future will continue to include distinguished writers from all three genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry).  We hope to announce our 2014-2015 plans by this summer.

Tell me about the opportunities the MFA program has with Wyoming Public Radio.

The MFA program has placed numerous students in extended internships with Wyoming Public Radio.  Interns get hands-on experience in all aspects of WPR’s work, and their reporting frequently appears on the air and on WPR’s website.  The partnership creates rare opportunities, especially for writers interested in pursuing future work in journalism and nonfiction reporting.

How do I apply?

MFA in Creative Writing application instructions.

Have a question?

We're happy to answer it.  Please e-mail cw@uwyo.edu

Have questions about admissions practices?  Check our Note to Applicants.

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