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Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Sally Ball, Director of Creative Writing, Professor

Justin Petropoulos, Program Manager

The ASU MFA in Creative Writing is and has always been an unswervingly student-first program. Through small classes, intimate workshops, and one-to-one mentoring, the centuries-old apprenticeship model thrives within the New American University. Creative writing has been a part of the department of English since the 1930s. With the inception of the MFA degree in 1985, creative writing became an ascendant unit; the program was ranked within the top 20 MFA programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

ASU Creative Writing is distinguished by an outstanding faculty that has garnered national and international attention: Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, a Pulitzer Prize and several Pulitzer nominations, two Flannery O’Connor Awards, the Western States Book Award, PEN/Faulkner finalist recognition, the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, and two Medals of Achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

The program's alumni are equally impressive, having won the Iowa Short Fiction Award, the Pen Southwest Book Award, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award, and numerous Pushcart Prizes. They are the recipients of grants from the NEA and Fulbright and Stegner Fellowships.

Currently, all students admitted to the MFA program who submit a complete and approved teaching assistantship application are awarded a TA by the Department of English. Each assistantship carries a three course per year load and includes a tuition waiver and health insurance in addition to the TA stipend ($21,879 per year). Graduate students with assistantships must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours each semester.

In addition, students have diverse opportunities for additional financial and professional support via The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, including:

  • Graduate Assistantships in arts education and community programming (providing stipends and tuition remission)
  • Teaching Fellowships with the National University of Singapore
  • Writing Residency Fellowships in East and Southeast Asia
  • Creative Research Fellowships and other funding and scholarship opportunities
  • Travel Funding to support tabling and presenting during the annual AWP Conference
  • A robust visiting writer event series, with exclusive opportunities to learn from and engage with highly acclaimed authors
  • Free admission to the annual Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference
  • Opportunities to moderate author panels and read creative work during the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference and other events
  • A professional development program series for creative writing students, with a focus on creative lives, careers, and opportunities during and after graduation

The program requirements include 48 hours of study evenly divided between writing courses and literature courses designed to inform that writing. While students are expected to satisfy these requirements in the genre in which they were accepted, the program encourages cross-genre study, and electives can include courses taken outside of the creative writing program, even outside the English department. Courses such as “Creative Writing and the Professions” and “Internship for Community Outreach” encourage students to envision life beyond graduation. The Creative Writing Program at ASU has been able consistently to offer MFA students among the best funding packages in the nation through teaching and research assistantships, which are renewable for each of the program's three years. Additionally, in concert with the CWP, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing offers a variety of graduate assistantships, international writing and teaching scholarships, and thesis fellowships to continuing students. Students who accept the TA offer are required to take the TA seminar, a pedagogy and training course designed to assist graduate students during their first year. TA seminar is credited as a literature elective. Successful TAs have the opportunity to teach introductory creative writing to undergraduates, under the supervision of one of the program faculty. In the second year students assemble their thesis committees and identify a committee chair. The second year is also when one-on-one mentorship begins. In the spring of the third year, students typically focus on completing the thesis manuscript with their committee chair.

MFA Application period opens September 1, 2022

MFA Application deadline is January 1, 2023 

All applicants admitted during this period begin their degree in Fall of 2023.

Contact:

Justin Petropoulos
Program Manager of Creative Writing

Ross Blakley 152
Phone: 480-727-9130
E-mail: justin.petropoulos@asu.edu

Applicants should have an undergraduate major in English or Creative Writing, with a GPA of 3.00 or above; however, exceptional students who do not have either of these undergraduate majors may be admitted on the basis of writing excellence.

Applicants should submit all the following materials online via the Online Graduate Admissions Application along with the required application fee.

  • The application fee online via the Graduate Admissions Application ($70 domestic and $115 international)

  • Graduate Admissions Application

  • Personal Statement including your writing background, intended area of specialization, and a brief self-evaluation of recent work, (double-spaced, up to 3 pages or 750 words)

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • A personal Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

  • A Creative Manuscript Sample: up to 20 pages of poetry or 30 pages of prose (prose should be double spaced)

  • MFA Teaching Assistantship application materials include: an academic writing sample (10-15 pages, double spaced) and a statement of teaching philosophy (500-750 words)Please submit all materials for the Teaching Assistant Application packet in one .pdf file. Complete information available here: Teaching Assistant application packet).

  • Note: the Creative Writing Program offers tracks in fiction and poetry; we do not have a creative nonfiction track

  • Official academic transcripts must be sent in hard copy to Admission Services Applicant Processing (see below)

If sending by P.O. Box:

Admission Services Applicant Processing

Arizona State University

PO Box 871004

Tempe, AZ 85287-1004

 

If sending by FedEx, DHL or UPS:

Arizona State University

Admission Services Applicant Processing

1150 East University Drive Building C, Room 226

Tempe, AZ 85281

Applications that do not include complete transcripts and the application fee will not be considered.

Selection

All application materials must be received by January 1. Selection is based on talent and promise, as demonstrated in the manuscript sample; the academic record; evidence of dedication and potential for growth, from the recommendations and personal statement; and compatibility of the applicant’s goals with the purpose and design of the ASU degree program. In recent years, we have been able to accept the top 3% of applicants.

Transfer of Credits

Subject to the recommendation of the MFA steering committee and the program director, a maximum of nine credit hours taken before admission, not as part of a completed degree at ASU and/or another institution, may be used to fulfill MFA degree requirements. All course work for the ASU Master of Fine Arts in creative writing must be completed within a six-year time limit. Financial aid is not extended beyond the third year.

MFA - Fiction | MFA - Poetry 

MFA COURSE REQUIREMENTS - FICTION

A 48-hour Program of Study

For additional information please contact Justin Petropoulos, Program Manager of Creative Writing 

justin.petropoulos@asu.edu

WRITING COURSES (24 hours)

Students are expected to satisfy the degree requirements in the genre in which they are accepted. Exceptions must be approved by the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee, the dean of the Graduate College, and the instructor. Electives may be taken out of genre, with the permission of the instructor.
Required (15 hours)
ENG 592 Research (Fiction) (6 hours)*
ENG 593 Applied Project (Fiction) (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Fiction) (3 hours)
ENG 563 Forms of Fiction (3 hours)
*Research Hours are dedicated the development of a student's creative thesis with the support of their committee. 
Electives (choose 9 hours)
ENG 505 Writing Workshops (Special Topics)(3 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar, Selected Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Fiction) (3-6 hours)
ENG 663 Fiction Genres* (3 hours)
ENG 680 First Book Seminar (3 hours)

LITERATURE COURSES (24 hours)

Required (9 hours)
ENG 538 Studies in Modern and Contemporary American Literature (3 hours)
ENG 539 Studies in Modernist and Postmodern Literature and Theory (fiction topics, 3 hours)
ENG 665 Creative Methods, Fiction (3 hours)
Electives (choose 15 hours)
Any 400, 500, or 600 level English course relevant to the student’s program of study, and up to six hours of credit in class work outside the department of English (for example, courses at the 400, 500, or 600 level in theater, music, dance, photography, fine printing and bookbinding, papermaking, or editing and publishing), subject to the approval of the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee (if designated), and the dean of the Graduate College.
 
Possible English courses include:
ENG 537 Studies in Modern and Contemporary British Literature (3 hours)
ENG 543 Studies in Anglophone Literatures (3 hours)
ENG 545 Studies in Women’s Literature (3 hours)
ENG 550 Translation (3 hours)
ENG 584 Internship* (3-6 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar (Selected Topics, 3 hours)
ENG 593 Pedagogy (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (TA Seminar) (4 hours)
ENG 598 Special Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 667 Writing for the Professions (3 hours)
 
*May be repeated for credit if topics are distinct. 

MFA COURSE REQUIREMENTS - POETRY

A 48-hour Program of Study

For information about the program please contact Justin Petropoulos, Program Manager of Creative Writing 

justin.petropoulos@asu.edu

WRITING COURSES (24 hours)

Students are expected to satisfy the degree requirements in the genre in which they are accepted. Exceptions must be approved by the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee, the dean of the Graduate College, and the instructor. Electives may be taken out of genre, with the permission of the instructor.
Required (15 hours)
ENG 592 Research Hours (6hours)*
ENG 593 Applied Project (3 hours)
ENG 594 Graduate Poetry Workshop (3 hours)
ENG 562 Forms of Poetry (3 hours)
 
*Research Hours are dedicated the development of a student's creative thesis with the support of their committee. 
Electives (choose 9 hours)
ENG 505 Writing Workshop (3 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar, Selected Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (Poetry) (3-6 hours)
ENG 662 Poetic Genres* (3 hours)
ENG 680 First Book Seminar (3 hours)

LITERATURE COURSES (24 hours)

Required (9 hours)
ENG 538 Studies in Modern and Contemporary American Literature (3 hours)
ENG 539 Studies in Modernist and Postmodern Literature and Theory (poetry topics, 3 hours)
ENG 665 Creative Methods, Poetry (3 hours)
Electives (choose 15 hours)
Any 400, 500, or 600 level English course relevant to the student’s program of study, and up to six hours of credit in class work outside the department of English (for example, courses at the 400, 500, or 600 level in theater, music, dance, photography, fine printing and bookbinding, papermaking, or editing and publishing), subject to the approval of the director of creative writing, the chair of the student’s supervisory committee (if designated), and the dean of the Graduate College.
 
Possible English courses might include:
 
ENG 537 Studies in Modern and Contemporary British Literature (3 hours)
ENG 543 Studies in Anglophone Literatures (3 hours)
ENG 545 Studies in Women’s Literature (3 hours)
ENG 550 Translation (3 hours)
ENG 584 Internship* (3-6 hours)
ENG 591 Seminar (Selected Topics, 3 hours)
ENG 593 Pedagogy (3 hours)
ENG 594 Conference and Workshop (TA Seminar) (4 hours)
ENG 598 Special Topics* (3 hours)
ENG 667 Writing for the Professions (3 hours)
 
*May be repeated for credit if topics are distinct.

Graduate Assistantships

Currently, all students admitted to the MFA program who submit a complete and approved teaching assistantship application are awarded a TA by the Department of English. Each assistantship carries a three course per year load and includes a tuition waiver and health insurance in addition to the TA stipend ($19,172 per year). Graduate students with assistantships must enroll in a minimum of six credit hours each semester.

During the first year of teaching, TAs can expect to teach three sections of ENG 101 or 102 and to be enrolled in the teaching assistant seminar, which may be used to fulfill three hours of literature elective credit.

During the two subsequent years as TAs, students will continue to teach composition and will also begin teaching creative writing. Teaching assignments are made by faculty in the appropriate genres. The first semester of teaching creative writing is done under supervision of a member of the creative writing faculty, and includes a required pedagogy component.

Financial Aid

Graduate College fellowships and a small number of Research Assistantships provide other sources of funding. RAs are not typically awarded for the first year.

Awards

Each year eligible MFA students are invited to participate in award programs sponsored by various donors and organizations inside and outside the university. These include (but are not limited to) the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award in Creative Writing, the English Department’s Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Awards in Writing, and the Katharine C. Turner Award from the Academy of American Poets. The Virginia G. Piper Center  for Creative Writing offers summer travel fellowships and other awards.

Poetry for the People at ASU is a program modeled after the one founded by late poet, scholar, and activist June Jordan at UC Berkeley. Focused on poetry as a medium for telling the truth and building beloved community, the program offers an introductory poetry course for students at ASU, the opportunity for students to meet and work with established poets, and workshops and readings for the greater Phoenix metro area.

Directed by Assistant Professor Solmaz Sharif, the program is developed each year in concert with three graduate June Jordan Teaching Fellows. A yearly graduate pedagogy course provides MFA students the chance to study and develop radical pedagogical models in creative writing, closing the gap between the university and the wider world. 

 

The June Jordan Teaching Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year are: 

Jade Cho is the author of In the Tongue of Ghosts (First Word Press, 2016). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has appeared in Apogee, BOAAT, The Offing and elsewhere. As an MFA candidate at Arizona State University, she has received the Virginia G. Piper Creative Engagement Fellowship, the Virginia G. Piper Creative Research Fellowship, and two Swarthout Awards. Jade holds a BA in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley, where she studied and taught in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People and learned how to write, perform, and organize in Bay Area spoken word communities. She has been on two nationally-competing slam teams, representing the Bay Area at Brave New Voices 2010 and UC Berkeley at College Unions Poetry Slam 2013, where she and her teammates won “Best Political Poem” and “Best Writing as a Team.” She is a co-founder of Ghostlines, a collective of artists and educators, and The Root Slam, a free poetry venue in her hometown of Oakland, California. The granddaughter of Hoisanese immigrants who settled on Ohlone and Tongva land, she is currently at work on a project tracing memory, grief, and desire through the archive of Chinese Exclusion and the Chinese Confession Program. 

Julian Delacruz is a queer Dominican poet hailing from New Jersey. Julian had no idea how he would become a poet, but he began writing at the age of 12 after encountering the poem “Mushrooms” by Sylvia Plath. He studied piano performance and poetry formally at Bennington College. His poems have appeared in both Silo: A Journal of Arts and Letters and as a feature on Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight. Julian is the recipient of a third place Swarthout award in 2019 and he is also the winner of the Mabel Lyon Award for winter 2020, which culminated in a celebration reading alongside esteemed poets Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, fei hernandez, Raquel Gutierrez, and Monica Teresa Ortiz.  Julian is also the co-host of Equality Arizona’s Queer Poetry Salon, the fastest growing queer reading series in the southwest. He has had the pleasure to feature such esteemed poets as CA Conrad, Ariana Rheines, Richard Siken, Eduardo Corral, Tommy Pico, Fargo Tbakhi, and jada renee allen, alongside a burgeoning cast of poets across many identities and ethnicities. Julian is honored to be able to carry on the life and activism in poetry that June Jordan so courageously represents.

Avery Meinen was born and raised between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and Lake Erie. They are a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and former editor of Sampsonia Way Magazine, a publication of City of Asylum Pittsburgh. They have worked as a teaching artist with high school youth, and coached a team of spoken word poets in the Philly Slam League. They were a fellow with Crescendo Literary's Emerging Poets Incubator in 2017 and a Winter 2021 Tin House Scholar. In their time as an MFA candidate at Arizona State, they have received a Virginia G. Piper Creative Research Fellowship and a Swarthout Award. In addition to their fellowship with Poetry for the People, they are currently a graduate research fellow with the Recovering Truth Project, a project of the Center for the Study of Conflict and Religion at ASU. Their current project examines the intersections of extractive industry and physical and sexual violence, particularly in the bodies and worlds of children. Their work is oriented towards radical queer and trans ecologies, holds survival to be a profoundly creative act, and aims to reconsider ruin, both embodied and ecological, as a site of possibility.

 

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