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Uw madison mfa creative writing

MFA in Creative Writing

Founded in 2002, the Graduate Program in Creative Writing offers a two-year Master of Fine Arts Degree in the areas of fiction and poetry. Though small—we typically admit six new students each year—the MFA is just one part of a vibrant writing community including six post-graduate fellows, former fellows and alums, PhD candidates in contemporary literature, and a host of other artists and writers living and working in Madison. Our MFA is unique in that we have an “alternating genre” admissions policy: we accept fiction applications in the fall/early winter of odd-numbered years, and poetry applications in the fall/early winter of even-numbered years. This allows us to provide an almost unrivaled 2-to-1 student/teacher ratio that gives each class of students the full attention of the faculty in their genre for two solid years.

All of our MFA candidates receive generous financial aid, the opportunity to teach courses both in Creative Writing and English Composition, and a semester of teacher-training and support. Our MFAs also have the opportunity to take workshops in other genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, playwriting, and comics. While cross-genre writing certainly isn’t mandatory, many of our students report that taking workshops outside their primary area not only improves their writing in multiple genres, but also leads to even greater camaraderie among all the writers in the program.

Our MFAs have access to a truly multi-generational community of writers at every stage of their careers. MFAs interact frequently with our Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing fellows, who are some of the best recent MFA recipients in the country, and both the fellows and faculty are always on-hand to provide advice about publishing, teaching, and pursuing a career in writing.

To get some sense of the scope of the Madison writing community, and the diversity of nationally acclaimed poets and fiction writers who cycle regularly through town, we encourage you to take a look at our events and friends pages. Our MFAs have sat down for meals and conversation with visiting writers such as Michael Cunningham, Ayana Mathis, Eileen Myles, Mark Doty, Jonathan Franzen, Terrance Hayes, Adam Haslett, Alice Notley, Tommy Orange, Solmaz Sharif, Tiana Clark, and Claire Vaye Watkins, as well as regular visiting editors and agents on the lookout for the next generation of American literature. In Spring 2022 and Fall 2022, our program will host in-person manuscript consultations and readings by Lauren Groff and Jericho Brown.

MFA Alumni Spotlight: Lydia Conklin

Lydia Conklin graduated from the UW-Madison MFA Program in 2012, and is now the Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Fiction at the University of Michigan. They’ve received a Stegner Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, three Pushcart Prizes, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, a Creative Writing Fellowship from Emory University, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, the James Merrill House, and elsewhere. Their fiction has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, and The Paris Review and is forthcoming in One Story and VQR. They have drawn cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine, and graphic fiction for The Believer, Lenny Letter, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Their story collection, Rainbow Rainbow, will be published in May 2022 by Catapult in North America and Scribner in the UK.

Contact Us

MFA Administrator Sean Bishop
Program in Creative Writing
Department of English

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Funding: All accepted MFA candidates regardless of residency or nationality receive tuition remissions (i.e., free tuition), teaching assistantships, generous health insurance (the same as faculty) and other financial support. In addition to the approximately $12,500 paid to each MFA annually in exchange for teaching, every MFA candidate will receive another $9,500 in scholarships each year (paid out in early September, early February, and late May), for an annual total of $22,000.

Faculty: Amy Quan Barry, Sean Bishop, Danielle Evans, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Ron Kuka, Judith Claire Mitchell, Ronald Wallace, Lynda Barry, Anne McClintock, Rob Nixon

  • Manuscript: up to 10 single-spaced pages with each new poem on a separate page for poetry
  • Personal statement: approximately 500 words explaining reasons for pursuing this graduate degree
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts with undergraduate GPA minimum of 3.00
  • $75 application fee

Admission rate: “We admit poets and fiction writers in alternating years . . . we’ve just admitted our newest class of 6 poets, who were selected from about 300 applications. The year before was a fiction year, and we received about 650 applications for our 6 spots. These numbers have been pretty consistent over the past several years and seem to suggest that if we admitted poets and fiction writers in the same year we’d be receiving about 900 applications per year for 12 spots.” -Judith Claire Mitchell, MFA Director [May 6, 2015]

University of Wisconsin, Madison

Students who have earned a BA degree may apply for admission to the two-year MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program in poetry and fiction. Fiction writers and poets are admitted in alternating years. Fiction writers should apply by Dec. 15 of odd-numbered years, for enrollment beginning in August of even-numbered years; poets should apply by Dec. 15 of even-numbered years, for enrollment beginning in August of odd-numbered years. Twelve MFA students (six poets and six fiction writers) will be in residence in any given two-year period.

The two-year course of study includes 42 s/hrs comprised of 9 hours of required writing workshops, 15 to 21 required thesis hours, 3 hours of Creative Writing Pedagogy, and 9 to 15 hours of electives drawn from any appropriate courses across the University. Thus, while a student is expected to focus on, and produce a book-length thesis in, a primary genre of writing (poetry or fiction), the program encourages students to pursue secondary genres and other intellectual interests through their elective courses.

Admission to individual workshops is based on submission of a writing sample.

Currently enrolled PhD students, whose major field of study is in English and/or American literature or in Composition Studies or in English Language and Linguistics may apply to elect an internal Minor in Creative Writing, after gaining admission to and successfully completing three advanced undergraduate or graduate-level creative writing workshops. PhD students in other departments may elect an external minor in Creative Writing in the same manner. The requirement for the minor in Creative Writing is 9 hours of graduate or advanced undergraduate workshops and 3 hours of a related course. Application for admission to the minor consists of the submission (by November 15 of the fall semester, or April 15 of the Spring semester) of a writing sample in one or more genres (up to 25 pp. of fiction or creative nonfiction; up to 10 pp. of poetry), and a statement (1-2 pp.) justifying the Minor’s relevance to the student’s current or future research and career plans.

The Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing provides up to six $27,000 fellowships in fiction and poetry, for writers who have completed an MFA degree in creative writing but have published fewer than two books (candidates who have not published a book are, of course, eligible). The institute provides time, space, and an intellectual community during one academic year in residence (August 15-May 15). Fellows teach one creative writing course each semester, and give one public reading from work in progress.

Contact Information

600 N. Park St.
English Dept., Helen C. White Hall
Madison
Wisconsin, United States
53706
Phone: 206-491-1505
Email: [email protected]
http://creativewriting.wisc.edu/

Bachelor of Arts in English/Literature +

Undergraduate Program Director

Jesse Lee Kercheval
Creative Writing Program Director
600 N Park St
English Dept, Helen C. White Hall
Madison
Wisconsin, United States
53706-1474
Email: [email protected]
URL: creativewriting.wisc.edu

Undergraduate English majors may choose to pursue a Creative Writing emphasis. The required course of study is 28 s/hrs in the major, including 16 hours of literature courses and 12 hours of 300-level writing courses. Of the 12 hours of writing, 9 are devoted to creative writing workshops, and 3 are devoted to a Directed Creative Writing Thesis (a book-length collection of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction). Majors, non-majors, graduate students, and special students are eligible to apply for workshops. Majors only are eligible for Directed Creative Writing.

The undergraduate creative writing workshops, composed of 12-17 students, are designed to provide professional training in the writing of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and play writing. Some time is spent on theory and technique, some time is spent reading the work of established writers as models, and some short writing exercises are assigned. But the major focus of the courses is the analysis of student writing in the classroom and in frequent individual conferences.

Largest Class Size: 18
Smallest Class Size: 9
Genres: Fiction, Poetry
Unit of Measure: Hours
Other: 9 s/hrs of literature or writing are possible beyond the 28 s/hrs; 12 s/hrs science; 12 s/hrs social
Total Units for Degree: 120

Minor / Concentration in Creative Writing +

Undergraduate Program Director

Jesse Lee Kercheval
Creative Writing Program Director
600 N Park St
English Dept, Helen C. White Hall
Madison
Wisconsin, United States
53706-1474
Email: [email protected]
URL: creativewriting.wisc.edu

Undergraduate English majors may choose to pursue a Creative Writing emphasis. The required course of study is 28 s/hrs in the major, including 16 hours of literature courses and 12 hours of 300-level writing courses. Of the 12 hours of writing, 9 are devoted to creative writing workshops, and 3 are devoted to a Directed Creative Writing Thesis (a book-length collection of poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction). Majors, non-majors, graduate students, and special students are eligible to apply for workshops. Majors only are eligible for Directed Creative Writing.

The undergraduate creative writing workshops, composed of 12-17 students, are designed to provide professional training in the writing of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and play writing. Some time is spent on theory and technique, some time is spent reading the work of established writers as models, and some short writing exercises are assigned. But the major focus of the courses is the analysis of student writing in the classroom and in frequent individual conferences.

Type of Program: Studio/Research
Genres: Fiction, Poetry
Unit of Measure: Hours

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing +

Graduate Program Director

Amy Quan Barry
Creative Writing MFA Director
600 N Park St
English Dept, Helen C. White Hall
Madison
Wisconsin, United States
53706
Email: [email protected]
URL: creativewriting.wisc.edu

Students who have earned a BA degree may apply for admission to the two-year MFA (Master of Fine Arts) program in poetry and fiction. Fiction writers and poets are admitted in alternating years. Fiction writers should apply by Dec. 15 of odd-numbered years, for enrollment beginning in August of even-numbered years; poets should apply by Dec. 15 of even-numbered years, for enrollment beginning in August of odd-numbered years. Twelve MFA students (six poets and six fiction writers) will be in residence in any given two-year period.

The two-year course of study includes 42 s/hrs comprised of 9 hours of required writing workshops, 15 to 21 required thesis hours, 3 hours of Creative Writing Pedagogy, and 9 to 15 hours of electives drawn from any appropriate courses across the University. Thus, while a student is expected to focus on, and produce a book-length thesis in, a primary genre of writing (poetry or fiction), the program encourages students to pursue secondary genres and other intellectual interests through their elective courses.

Admission to individual workshops is based on submission of a writing sample.

Currently enrolled PhD students, whose major field of study is in English and/or American literature or in Composition Studies or in English Language and Linguistics may apply to elect an internal Minor in Creative Writing, after gaining admission to and successfully completing three advanced undergraduate or graduate-level creative writing workshops. PhD students in other departments may elect an external minor in Creative Writing in the same manner. The requirement for the minor in Creative Writing is 9 hours of graduate or advanced undergraduate workshops and 3 hours of a related course. Application for admission to the minor consists of the submission (by November 15 of the fall semester, or April 15 of the Spring semester) of a writing sample in one or more genres (up to 25 pp. of fiction or creative nonfiction; up to 10 pp. of poetry), and a statement (1-2 pp.) justifying the Minor’s relevance to the student’s current or future research and career plans.

Type of Program: Studio/Research
Largest Class Size: 9
Smallest Class Size: 6
Genres: Fiction, Poetry
Duration of Study: 2 years
Unit of Measure: Hours
Criticism and Theory: 3
Workshop: 9
Other: 15
Thesis: 15
Total Units for Degree: 42
Other Requirements: 9 hours workshop, 3 hours creative writing pedagogy, 15-21 hours thesis, 9-15 hours electives from any area at the University, subject to approval by the MFA Director.
Application Requirements: Transcripts, Writing Sample, Application Form, Letters of Recommendation, Cover Letter

Quan Barry

AMY QUAN BARRY, Professor (MFA: University of Michigan) is the author of the poetry collections Asylum, Controvertibles, Water Puppets, and Loose Strife, as well as the novel She Weeps Each Time You’re Born. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Missouri Review, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and other literary publications. She is the recipient of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize (for Asylum) and has received fellowships from Stanford University, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Amaud Jamaul Johnson

AMAUD JAMAUL JOHNSON, Associate Professor (MPA: Cornell University) is the author of the poetry collections Red Summer and Darktown Follies. His poems have appeared in The Cave Canem Anthology, The New England Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Daily, and other literary publications. He is the recipient of The Dorsett Prize (for Red Summer) and has received fellowships from Stanford University and Cave Canem.

Jesse Lee Kercheval

JESSE LEE KERCHEVAL, Zona Gale Professor of English (MFA: University of Iowa) was the founding director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing from 1994–2010. She is also an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program. She is the author of the 13 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction in English. She also writes and publishes poetry in Spanish and is a translator of Spanish language poetry. Her books include the short story collections The Dogeater, which won the Associated Writing Programs Award, and The Alice Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize; the novella Brazil, winner of the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Prize; the novel The Museum of Happiness; the poetry collections Cinema Muto, which won the Crab Orchard Open Poetry Award, Dog Angel and World as Dictionary; the poetry chapbooks Chartreuse and Film History as Train Wreck, winner of the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Award; the memoir Space, which won the Alex Award from the American Library Association; and the creative writing textbook Building Fiction. Her most recent book is the novel, My Life as a Silent Movie. Her translations of the Uruguayan poet Circe Maia have appeared in Agni, the Gettysburg Review, the American Poetry Review, jubilat and Pleiades among other magazines, and she is the editor of América invertida: an anthology of younger Uruguayan poets, which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Research and Study Center at Harvard, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the James A. Michener and Copernicus Society of America.

Ron Kuka

RON KUKA, Faculty Associate & Creative Writing Program Coordinator (MFA: University of Iowa) has published short stories in the Iowa Journal of Literary Studies, Toyon, and Pavement. His teaching has been recognized with the Chancellor’s Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Judith Claire Mitchell

JUDITH CLAIRE MITCHELL, Professor (MFA: University of Iowa) is the author of the novels A Reunion of Ghosts (2015) and The Last Day of the War. Her stories and poetry appear in anthologies and literary magazines such as Best of the Fiction Workshops, Shaping the Story, Behind the Short Story, Barnstorming, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, StoryQuarterly, and others. She has received fellowships from the James A. Michener and Copernicus Society of America, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Wisconsin Arts Board. She is currently the College of Letters & Science’s Jartz Fellow. More information is available on her website, judithclairemitchell.com.

Sean Bishop

SEAN BISHOP, Faculty Associate & Creative Writing Program Administrator (MFA: University of Houston) is the founding editor of Better: Culture & Lit. His collection of poems, The Night We’re Not Sleeping In, won the 2013 Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and appeared from Sarabande Books in 2014. He has received fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and his poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and other literary publications.

Danielle Evans

DANIELLE EVANS, Assistant Professor (MFA, University of Iowa) is the author of the short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Her work has received the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Paterson Prize, and the Hurston-Wright Award, and is a National Book Foundation “5 under 35” selection. Her writing has appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, and Callaloo, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and New Stories from the South.