Don’t Write Alone | Toolkit

So You Want to Apply for an MFA

For our Application Week series, MFA directors and professors discuss common misconceptions, how they support students, and answer that ubiquitous question: Is getting an MFA worth it?

As a director for an MFA program, what is the most important way you support the students in your program

m setting an example as teacher, a mentor, and a writer in the world. I want the students in our program to know that it is possible to have a job, a family, and a writing life.

As a professor for an MFA program, what do you believe is the most important part of your job?

What’s a common misconception about MFAs that you wish people understood?

really talk

What makes your MFA program unique? What makes you excited about working for this program?

Workshop is the first creative writing MFA program in the country. Almost ninety years after its founding, it remains a one-of-a-kind, diverse, deeply idealistic studio program focused on writing and writers. I feel very lucky to have such a meaningful job.

As an MFA professor, in what ways do you teach your students (or describe to your students) the practical realities of being a writer?

not writing

own theirnot

When you Google “creative writing MFA,” one of the most popular questions that pops up is “Is it worth getting an MFA in creative writing?” As someone who works for an MFA program, how would you answer this question?


s worth getting an MFA if you are required to take out loans. There are plenty of ways to become a writer without enrolling in an MFA program.

havingHow good could I be, if I gave myself to it fully?

For your program, how much do letters of recommendation factor into admissions decision-making? And how related must they be to creative writing?

t use letters of recommendation in admissions, but they are required for a few of our University-based fellowships.


Any additional words of wisdom or suggestions you’d offer to those who are planning to apply to MFA programs this year?

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The Family ChaoAll Is Forgotten, Nothing Is LostInheritanceHungerThe Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares,The Best American Short Stories

Sugar StreetThe PrivilegesHarpersThe New YorkerThe New York Times MagazineThe Paris Review

The Faith Between UsLife in Year OneLight Without FireThe Harriet Jacobs Family PapersGesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy.

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