About our Graduate Program in Creative Writing

The Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing is a terminal degree awarded by the University of Illinois, a world-class research and teaching institution, and earned through our MFA program. The MFA program provides students with the opportunity for graduate study and professional training in the writing of fiction and poetry with our distinguished graduate faculty: Janice Harrington, Michael Madonick, Ted Sanders, Alex Shaka, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and David Wright. The University Library, with over 14 million volumes, ranks as the third largest in the country, and the English Department is routinely ranked among the highest in the nation.

The primary goal of the MFA in Creative Writing is to give literary artists time and space to work on perfecting their art. Upon completion of the program, students will have the pedagogical skills necessary to teach writing and will produce a book-length, publishable manuscript. Students will also have the opportunity to gain extensive experience in literary editing and publishing while enrolled in the program. Ninth Letter, the University of Illinois's innovative literature and arts magazine. The semi-annual publication features emerging and established writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and other genres undefined, as well as visual artists working in a variety of mediums. All of this collaborative energy comes together in a highly-designed format, both in print and on the web. Ninth Letter is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all interested MFA candidates. Students may enroll in the Ninth Letter-based literary publishing course and are eligible to apply for a range of semester-long and annual assistantships.

All students admitted to the graduate program are granted financial aid throughout the three-year program, as long as they remain in good standing and make reasonable progress toward their degree. Most awards are in the form of teaching assistantships, but some fellowships are available. All awards include tuition and partial-fee waivers, although students must pay some fees. Entering MFA candidates receive three years of support. The first year of support, set at 33% (teaching one class a semester), earns the graduate student $10,745; non-recurring fellowship funds, typically in the amount of $2,500, are given to first-year students to augment the stipend, making it around $13,245. In their second and third years, students receive 67% appointments (teaching two courses a semester) and earn approximately $21,817. These are 2017-2018 dollars, a number that usually goes up every year..

Go to the English Department's Graduate Admissions page for detailed information about financial aid, and to the university's Graduate College website for health care information. Applications for the MFA in Creative Writing Program must be submitted, complete with supporting materials, to the Graduate Admissions Office by 12 noon (CST), December 1. For up-to-date information about the application process, visit the Graduate Studies in English website.

Here is a brief description of the program requirements. If you have questions about the MFA in Creative Writing program that can be best answered from a student perspective, please feel free to email our graduate students who have included their contact information here.

To read the faculty statement regarding workshop ethics and expectations, click here.

graduate student Scott Nelson reading fiction graduate students sitting at a table with books

grad students at AWP conference professor harrington reading poetry


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