How to Apply
THE MFA PROGRAM
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia is a three-year graduate program that admits five poets and five fiction writers each academic year. Our program is full time and residency is required.* Because the program is so small, our admissions process is extremely competitive. Over the last five years, we have averaged 700+ applicants per year for our ten fellowships. We believe students apply to our program because of our consistent top rankings in Poets & Writers, the Atlantic, U.S. News and World Report, and elsewhere; our diverse creative writing faculty; the significant financial support all our MFA students receive; and the outstanding reputation of the University of Virginia, its libraries and special collections, and its renowned English Department.
Our system will open for applications for 2023 in October 2022. Those 2023 applications must be complete and submitted before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 15, 2022 (of course, we advise submitting earlier in case of last-minute technical glitches). We do not have any rolling admissions or allow accepted students to defer to a subsequent year.
HOW TO APPLY
The full instructions for the online application appear on the Graduate School’s admissions system. Your online application will include a digital version of your writing sample, basic biographical information, your academic history, a statement of purpose, college transcripts (which can be unofficial versions), two letters of recommendation, and an application fee.
Writing Samples: fiction samples may include one short story, several short stories, or a section of a novel, but must not exceed 20 pages in length using 12-point type and a coventional font like Times New Roman, one-inch margins, and standard double-spacing. Poets should send a sheaf of poems of no more than 12 pages. Formatting is the same as fiction, except that poems can be single-spaced. Again, please keep your fonts conventional and at-or-above 12-points. Please do not exceed our page maximums, which could result in your application being denied.
- Applicants to the UVA MFA Program do not need to submit Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. GRE scores are not part of our evaluation process. Please focus on your writing sample, statement of purpose, and recommendations.
- For the purposes of your application, unofficial transcripts are fine. You will only need to send official transcripts if you receive an admission offer and accept it.
- The online system accepts recommendation letters from Interfolio. It can also prompt your recommenders for individual uploads. All recommendation letters must be submitted online.
- The University of Virginia does not send notice of receipt of materials. The online system allows you to check the status of your application.
You can apply to our program in both fiction and poetry, but in the event of acceptance, you would be admitted to just one and will not have the option of enrolling in the other genre. Should you choose to apply to both genres, you only need to submit one online GSAS application with its associated fee. Due to the large volume of application materials received, the Creative Writing Program asks that applicants do not phone or email us to confirm receipt of a complete application. If there are missing materials we will contact you.
International students are welcome to apply (we have a long history of enrolling fiction writers and poets from abroad, and we have international students currently enrolled) but all international students applying should carefully review U.S. immigration and visa regulations. Our program's funding for international students is the exact same as it is for U.S. citizens. Some of our students seek outside employment in addition to their fellowship support, but educational visas limit most international students to on-grounds UVA employment only, even in the summer months. Our program does not fund travel costs or allow for semesters abroad. International students with questions about TOEFL scores or other admissions requirements should contact the UVA Arts & Sciences Graduate Admission Office. As a graduate writing program, we make offers based on your writing sample, your statement of purpose, your online resume, and your references. Your actual eligibility to enroll at the University of Virginia is determined by the graduate school, so please contact them with questions about foreign degree programs, degree transfers, TOEFL, application fee waivers, etc. U.S. tax treaties with other countries often require mandatory withholding from international students' fellowship and wage income.
APPLICATION FEE WAIVERS
The criteria and procedures for application fee waivers appear on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Diversity Program webpage. In general, these are the only fee waivers available to our applicants.
We almost never do program-based “waivers” because any we grant cause our program to get billed for the associated application (so it’s not a waiver; it is a cost transfer to us), and we do not have adequate discretionary funds at this time to pay for those fees.
PRE-ACCEPTANCE VISITS AND SESSIONS
Applicants often ask if they can visit our offices, sit in on classes, or get in contact with current students or faculty. Given limited resources, we can only help coordinate these visits and correspondence for applicants with current offers. However, the University of Virginia is a public institution, open to self-guided tours and visits.
Decisions on admission into the Creative Writing Program will be announced by April 1 of each year, though we generally try to make our notifications several weeks before that date. If an applicant does not respond to their offer by noon EST on 15 April, we will assume that the offer is being declined. There will be a waiting list. We do not allow students to defer admission.
Our applicants include some of the strongest student writers in the country, and many are accepted by several writing programs. These programs sometimes ask for an early decision. According to the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution, no student accepted at any of its hundreds of member institutions should be under obligation to respond to an offer of financial support prior to April 15. For more information, the full text of this resolution and its signatories appears here.
Additional work-study opportunities and student loans are administered by Student Financial Services, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400204, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4204 and can be reached at (434) 982-6000, or by visiting their website. Please contact that office directly for application forms and information.
Please contact the UVA Arts & Sciences Graduate Admission Office with any questions about application fee waivers. As a program, we only evaluate your writing sample. The Graduate School makes all decisions on applicant eligibility and fees.
Our MFA students must remain in full-time graduate student status to receive fellowship and wage support. Students who do not complete coursework and successfully defend their theses on time may have to finish their degrees at their own expense.
In accordance with federal law, the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the policies of the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, the university does not discriminate in any of its programs, procedures, or practices against any person on the basis of age, citizenship, color, handicap, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era. The University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.
* By "residency is required," we mean that we are a full-time, traditional "in residence" graduate program and expect our MFA students to live in/near Charlottesville and attend classes and program events. We have had students live in nearby cities like Richmond or Lexington due to family or other needs, but we cannot alter academic class or teaching times to accommodate students who choose to commute.