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MFA in Creative Writing

Application Guidelines

Step 1: Pre-application procedure

Before you formally apply to the graduate MFA program in Creative Writing or pay any fees, we ask that you tell us a little about yourself so we can help you decide whether the W is the right program for you and you are right for us. We plan to admit 6-10 students in the first year, possibly one or two more, and we want to find a the right mix of writers to get our community off to a great start. Of course we're looking for the best writers, and we are also looking for a diversity of writing styles and backgrounds. We also want to make sure the W's program is an affordable option for you.

Please send a brief, professional letter of intent (1-2 pages single-spaced) indicating why you are interested in our program, what your goals are for your writing, and who you are as a writer and as a person. In your letter, be sure to mention the relevant educational experiences you have had (degrees and/or classes), any publications you might have. Remember, you are required to have a bachelor's degree in hand by the time you enter our program. It isn't absolutely required that this be in English or Creative Writing, but some work in upper-level literature and writing classes can be beneficial. If you haven't studied much literature or writing, then you should account for that and discuss your background as a reader in your letter.

Include a writing sample that includes 10-30 pages of your best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or drama. Poetry pages should be single-spaced. Fiction, nonfiction, and drama should be double-spaced.  More pages aren't necessarily better. For a poetry sample, 10 pages should be sufficient. For other genres, one story, essay, or a short play should be plenty. If your stories, essays, or plays are under 15 pages, you might include a second example (or third if they're very short). Choose your best work that represents your writing and your goals for our program. A mixed-genre writing sample is allowed, but certainly is not required. Attach a cover sheet to your writing sample (do not include it in the page count) with your name and contact information: name, mailing address, phone number, and email address. Each subsequent page of the writing sample should include your name and the page number in the upper right. 

Email your pre-application packet (letter of intent and writing sample) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line "Creative Writing MFA Writing Sample" or mail a hard copy to:

Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg, Director of Creative writing
Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy
Mississippi University for Women
1100 College St, W-1634
Columbus MS 39701

I will email you to confirm the receipt of your packet. If you don't hear from me within a few days (bear in mind that snail mail can take awhile to be delivered and I might not check email every day on the weekend, over holidays, Spring Break, etc.), please feel free to email a brief query to see if I received it. Call me at 662-329-7169, if I don't respond to your email. Once I have confirmed receipt of your packet, please be patient.  It may take several weeks to review your application and get back to you.

Step 2: Application procedure

After reviewing pre-application packets, I will discuss with you whether the W's program seems right for you and whether you seem like a good fit for our program. As part of that discussion, you may be encouraged to apply formally to the MFA program. If we recommend against applying at this time, you are still welcome to apply if you feel the full application will better state your case. In order to apply, you will submit the following:

  • A completed Graduate Application form
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work from each institution attended, including any transcripts from MUW
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or other professionals who can assess your qualifications for graduate work in creative writing. Letters of recommendation will be submitted electronically through the Graduate Admissions application.
  • Proof of Immunization Form Applicants are required to show evidence of 2 doses of MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccination.
  • Application fee: $25 paid online with you Graduate Admissions application.

  • (GRE scores are not required for the MFA in Creative Writing)

See the Graduate Bulletin for a full description of current admissions requirements. A final admissions decision will be based on the writing sample, letter, and the full application packet. You will send your application packet (Application fee, Application form, and Proof of Immunization form) to Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg at the address above. Letters of recommendation may be sent by email, by mail, or by fax to Dr. Kendall Dunkelberg. Transcripts should be sent directly to Dr. Dunkelberg or to MUW's Office of Graduate Studies.

To be eligible for full admission to the program, students must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Students who have completed an advanced degree will be evaluated on the GPA of that degree.

Students with a lower GPA may be considered for conditional admission. Students admitted conditionally are not eligible for financial aid until the condition has been lifted, usually after the first successful semester or 6-9 hours of graduate study with a B or higher in all classes. 

There will be a priority deadline of March 1 for Fall 2017 applicants. Those who apply before the priority deadline will be considered first; others may still apply until June 30 and will be considered on a space-available basis. We anticipate accepting about 10-15 students per year to keep the program size manageable. Scholarship aid is limited and priority will be given to early applicants. Those interested in financial assistance must  submit a Graduate Studies Scholarship Application and/or a Graduate Assistantship Application. These may be submitted with the application or after the fact. Students should also fill out the FAFSA application, since they may qualify for federal student loans or student work-study awards.

For more information on the application process, including the writing sample, letter of intent, and letters of recommendation, see our Guide for Applicants to our MFA Program. Though it discusses our program, it may be a benefit to anyone thinking about a Creative Writing MFA.