Sarah Lawrence College
Poetry: Jay Deshpande, Anaïs Duplan, Suzanne Gardinier, Matthea Harvey, Marie Howe, Jeffrey McDaniel, Dennis Nurkse, R. A. Villanueva, Afaa Michael Weaver .
Fiction: Carolyn Ferrell, Myla Goldberg, Garth Risk Hallberg, David Hollander, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, K. Lorrel Manning, Julia Phillips, Victoria Redel, Nelly Reifler, David Ryan .
Nonfiction: Jo Ann Beard, Heather Harpham, Vijay Seshadri, Jacob Slichter, Cliff Thompson, Kate Zambreno.
The program offers partial funding. The program offers scholarships, grants, internships, and Sarah Lawrence gift aid.
The program also offers a track in speculative fiction, with faculty including Myla Goldberg, David Hollander, Nelly Reifler, David Ryan, and Maria Dahvana Headley.
The program features a literary colloquium series; mixed genre craft classes; biweekly one-on-one conferences with instructors; guest writer residencies; and regular student-faculty readings. Other features include the student-run Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival, the Summer Seminar for Writers, and opportunities to teach in local schools, community organizations, colleges, and correctional facilities through the Community Teaching Program.
A part-time degree is available and takes four years to complete.
Students are welcome to take classes outside of their genre. Undergraduate course auditing is also available as space allows.
The priority application deadline is January 10. The program offers rolling admissions thereafter.
Application Process, Tuition & Financial Aid: Master of Fine Arts in Writing
The application for Fall 2022 entry is available and can be found here: https://apply.slc.edu/apply. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2022.
Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:
- Details of your education history, including schools and dates attended
- A copy of your transcripts
- A copy of your CV
- The names and contact details of two people who can provide a letter of reference
- A personal statement
- Writing samples
- TOEFL results (for international applicants)
You can find detailed guidance on these application requirements below.
Applicants must have received a Bachelor of Arts or equivalent degree from an accredited college or university. Previous college work is expected to be at 3.0 or higher and should reflect advanced course study. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required for admission.
Official transcripts are not required in order to apply to Sarah Lawrence College. However, if an applicant is admitted and accepts the offer of admission, an official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended will be required prior to enrollment in the graduate program.
Unofficial transcripts for application purposes should be submitted to us via a scanned upload in the Academics section of the application. Official transcripts for enrollment purposes can be sent to us via your institution’s electronic transcript delivery or mailed to us from each undergraduate and graduate institution. Our mailing address is as follows:
Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Bronxville, NY, 10708
If your transcript is from a university where English is not the primary language of instruction, you must provide a translated copy of your transcript from a service such as WES or AACRAO. All grades must be converted to the US 4.0 GPA scale.
Please note: An “unofficial” transcript is a document that has been opened and examined by the student or printed from an institution’s website before being submitted to Sarah Lawrence College. Any transcript that you upload to your application is considered “unofficial.”
An “official” transcript is a document that has been prepared, authenticated, and sealed by the Registrar at your college or university. To be considered official, a transcript must be mailed, unopened, to our office or sent to us electronically directly from the institution.
Your one- to two-page curriculum vitae should accurately reflect your completed educational background and your professional and writing-related experiences to date.
Applicants will be asked to submit the names of two recommenders with their online application. Applicants should ask people who can give an informed opinion of intellectual ability for sustained academic effort.
If an applicant is unable to contact former teachers, we welcome letters from others, such as employers, who can make similar assessments. Preferably, one of those should be from a person in your field of interest.
Note: Please inform your recommenders that they will be receiving an e-mail from Sarah Lawrence College indicating that they have been asked to recommend you, and that the letter may be submitted electronically through a secure site.
Tell us something interesting about yourself and what led you to pursue an MFA at this time (500-1000 words)
- For fiction, creative nonfiction, and speculative fiction applicants, please submit a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 pages of writing samples
- For poetry applicants, please submit a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 15 pages of poetry
We also welcome any additional material that represents your ability to pursue graduate study.
TOEFL Results (for International Applicants)
Individuals whose native language is not English must include official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Information concerning TOEFL may be obtained by writing: TOEFL, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ 08541. Request that the results are sent to Sarah Lawrence College, ETS code 2810. For more information: www.ets.org/toefl.
For students who have limited access to taking the TOEFL, Sarah Lawrence College will accept the IETLS as an equivalent examination.
A nonrefundable application fee of $60 must be submitted; upon completion of the application, online payment will become available.
Payments may also be made by check or money order to Sarah Lawrence College, and submitted via mail.
Please note: All materials submitted become property of Sarah Lawrence College and cannot be returned. This application and all the materials shall not be disclosed to any person not concerned with the professional development of the student.
Tuition & Financial Aid
Visit the Graduate Financial Aid site for a basic outline of graduate tuition, costs, and financial aid.
For more information, please contact Graduate Admissions, or Roberta Daskin, Associate Director of Financial Aid.
Master of Fine Arts in Writing at Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence’s nationally recognized MFA Writing program gives you the opportunity to work in close collaboration with faculty members who are both distinguished writers and devoted mentors. While we offer concentrations in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or speculative fiction, students are encouraged to take classes outside their concentrations and to explore their writing fearlessly, transcending genres and positioning them for success in an ever-changing unbounded world.
Why pursue your MFA in Writing at Sarah Lawrence?
- Bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with faculty devoted exclusively to you and focused exclusively on your work
- A vibrant community of writers features student readings, a student-run annual poetry festival, and our literary colloquium, a weekly series of talks by faculty members, visiting writers, and publishing-industry professionals.
- Small, intimate classes around a round table
- An ethos of generosity that guides our program—a belief that thriving as a writer can go hand in hand with helping other writers thrive.
- The College’s proximity to the New York Cityliterary scene and our strong connections to the publishing industry
- Students choose to concentrate in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or speculative fiction.
- Each semester, full-time students participate in a workshop and a craft class and attend the literary colloquium.
- In workshops, students practice their writing and receive thoughtful feedback on their work. During their course of study, they take four workshops, usually with four different writers. This encourages students to explore an array of perspectives and techniques.
- Each student meets bi-weekly with workshop faculty in one-on-one conferences.
- In craft seminars, students discuss published writing and learn to read as writers.
- Sarah Lawrence MFA students can take full advantage of the College’s proximity to the New York City literary scene.
One of the program’s distinguishing features is our conference system: bi-weekly, one-on-one meetings between student and workshop teacher. In these half-hour conferences, students and teachers talk about student work in great depth and detail. They also explore wider questions in conference. Whether a student wants to talk about the mysteries of art or the mechanics of publishing, no literary topic is off-limits. Through these ongoing conversations with teachers in conference, students gain a stronger sense of their own literary aspirations and of the possibilities of the writing life.
The Literary Colloquium
The MFA literary colloquium is a weekly series of talks given by writing faculty members, visiting writers, and publishing professionals, touching on every aspect of the writing life. Recent speakers have included Joshua Bennett (“This Bridge Between Starshine and Clay: Towards an Aesthetics of Black Joy”); Eula Biss (“Writing from Information, Metaphor, and Lived Experience”); Durga Chew-Bose (“Unofficial Observations”); Vinson Cunningham (“Thought, Emotion, and Politics in Prose”); Ross Gay (“The Poetics of Gratitude”); Vivian Gornick (“On the Joy and Peril of Rereading”); Garth Risk Hallberg (“A Second Self: Fiction as a Vocation”); Hua Hsu (“The Identity of the Critic”); Sarah Manguso (“Writing Between Will and Surrender”); and Gregory Pardlo (“Improvisation as a Generative Tool”).
Every spring, second-year students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with literary agents. Students submit query letters and samples of their work beforehand, and at the meetings agents provide responses and advice.
Graduate Teaching Opportunities
Students in the Graduate Writing Program enjoy a wide variety of teaching opportunities. Many of our second-year students teach introductory writing courses at the Purchase campus of the State University of New York, and both first- and second-year students serve as tutors at Westchester Community College. MFA writing students also have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in colleges throughout the five boroughs of New York City in association with the CUNY Start program.
On the Sarah Lawrence campus, three or more MFA students work as mentors every year in the undergraduate Writing Center. The MFA Writing Program also places students in teaching positions in local high schools and prisons. And through Sarah Lawrence’s non-credit Writing Institute, four or more of our second-year MFA students teach writing workshops in local libraries.
Guest Writer Residencies
Each year, a guest writer from each genre—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or speculative fiction—spends two days on campus giving master classes, lectures, and readings.
Past resident writers have included the poets Mark Doty, Bhanu Kapil, and Tracy K. Smith; nonfiction writers Geoff Dyer, Melissa Febos, and Phillip Lopate; fiction writers George Saunders and Elizabeth Strout; and speculative fiction writers N.K. Jemisin and Victor LaValle.
The resident writers for the 2020-21 academic year will be announced soon!
The annual Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival is the largest free, student-run poetry festival in New York State. The festival is organized by members of both the MFA Writing Program and the undergraduate class at Sarah Lawrence.
Happy Hour Readings
Graduate writers come together to read their work at the monthly Happy Hour in the Slonim House living room, in a casual atmosphere where refreshments are shared while students read. One faculty member reads at each Happy Hour as well.
A few days before commencement, writers from the graduating class read from their culminating body of work in a formal setting. Families, friends, faculty members, and writing peers are invited to attend the graduate thesis readings.
Assistance for students in our Graduate Writing Program is available through three scholarships: Grace Paley Scholarships (for fiction writers), Jane Cooper Scholarships (for poetry writers), and Randall Jarrell Scholarships (for nonfiction writers).
More than half of Sarah Lawrence’s graduate students work on campus in a variety of positions: as research assistants for undergraduate faculty; as assistants in the Writing Program; in the college library or financial aid office; and in other sites on campus.
Each year, three MFA writing students serve in paid positions as mentors in the undergraduate Writing Center.
A total of 44 course credits is required to receive an MFA in Writing. The program can be completed on a full-time basis in two years or part-time in three years or more.