How to Apply

How to Apply


The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia is a three-year graduate program that admits four poets and four 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. We believe students apply to our program because of our 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.

Poets 2019


Our system will open for applications for 2024 in October 2023. Those 2024 applications must be completed and submitted before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 15, 2023 (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.


The full instructions for the online application appear on the Graduate School’s admissions system. Your online application will include

  • your basic biographical and contact information and your academic history
  • a writing sample
  • a statement of purpose
  • a personal narrative
  • college transcripts (which can be unofficial versions)
  • two letters of recommendation


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 conventional font, 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. The writing sample is the primary focus of our evaluation process. 

  • 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. 

Please do not send us additional materials by email or other means. All materials need to be in your online application. You can write [email protected] for queries about modifying an existing application.


After our December 15 deadline, we distribute the applications to faculty readers in an online system. In this first round of reading, each manuscript is read and evaluated by its assigned faculty member. The program often recruits alumni or outside readers to provide additional input on these first-round manuscripts. The faculty members then nominate applicants for a second round of reading by all faculty members in a genre. In late February or early March, our faculty members convene for selection meetings and collaboratively decide which applicants will receive initial offers and to establish our waitlists. We do not release ranked waitlists or our waitlist sizes. If an existing offer is declined, the faculty reconvenes to decide on the next offer. 


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.


The criteria and procedures for application fee waivers appear on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Diversity Program webpage. Applicants eligible for fee waivers include those with certain organizational affiliations, with veteran status, with need-based eligibility, or who come from minority-serving institutions (see the fee waiver page above for full details). Applicants who indicate citizenship of any of the folllowing listed countries will automatically have an application fee waiver applied at the time of application submission and will not be prompted for payment: Afghanistan, Madagascar, Angola, Malawi, Bangladesh, Mali, Benin, Mauritania, Bhutan, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Burundi, Nepal, Cambodia, Niger, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, Comoros, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Solomon Islands, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Gambia, Sudan, Ghana, Timor-Leste, Guinea, Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Tuvalu, Haiti, Uganda, Kiribati, United Republic of Tanzania, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Yemen, Lesotho, Zambia, Liberia, and Zimbabwe.


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, and if you come to our offices in Bryan 422, we'll do our best to give you a brief overview of the program, resources permitting.


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 11:59 p.m. 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. After April 15, we typically require any new offer to respond within forty-eight hours.


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 and other application materials. The Graduate School makes all decisions on applicant eligibility and fees.

* 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 our curriculum or teaching times to accommodate students who choose to commute.