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Matt Bell, Director
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 ($17,100 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:
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.
Program Manager of Creative Writing
Ross Blakley 152
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)
Please submit all materials for the Teaching Assistant Application packet (complete information available here: Teaching Assistant application packet), including an academic writing sample along with their statement of teaching philosophy
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.
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.
For additional information please contact Justin Petropoulos, Program Manager of Creative Writing
For information about the program please contact Justin Petropoulos, Program Manager of Creative Writing
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 ($15,000 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 two subsequent years as TAs, students will continue to teach composition, but may apply to teach beginning creative writing by submitting a request to the director of creative writing. Selection of teachers is 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.
Graduate College fellowships and a small number of Research Assistantships provide other sources of funding. RAs are not typically awarded for the first year.
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.