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MFA in Creative Writing

The MFA international program at UNLV enables writers to begin recognizing themselves and their art in relation to a larger understanding of writing. The program’s commitment to world literature provides a unique MFA experience that differs from many traditional creative writing programs. Admitted students follow a three-year program that includes literature and writing courses, time abroad, completion of a poetry or fiction manuscript, a literary translation, and a critical essay. In addition, the MFA program at UNLV is the nation’s only creative writing program that gives credit to students who wish to spend their time abroad in the Peace Corps. The program’s international emphasis is derived from the belief that the best writing is done by individuals who know that literature is something created from more than mere self-expression, and that great books are written by the few who know their gift is connected to the world they live in and strive to create dialogue between private imagination and public concern. Graduates of UNLV’s MFA program have gone on to secure tenure track teaching jobs, gain admission to Ph.D. programs in creative writing, publish books, and enter the workforce as editors, writers, and arts administrators. UNLV also routinely supports recent graduates with part-time teaching opportunities in the department.

For more information, please visit the UNLV/Black Mountain Institute Creative Writing Program web site. . .

How to Apply

For more information on applying to the program, see our admissions page. The program's structure is detailed on our degree requirements page.

Application Deadline

January 15: Deadline for applications for Fall admission to the program.

Application Decisions

Decisions for Fall admissions will be made in March, with students notified on a rolling basis through early April.

Program Composition

Each year the MFA program aims to matriculate 12 students, 6 with an emphasis in fiction and 6 with an emphasis in poetry. The composition of each matriculating class may vary from year to year depending on a variety of factors, including how students respond to their offers of admission and the relative strengths of an application cohort of one genre or another. Since 2007, the program has averaged 150 applications in fiction, for a 4% acceptance rate, and 100 in poetry, for a 6% acceptance rate.

Graduate Assistantships, Benefits, and Fees

Every student in the MFA program is supported for three years by an annual $13,000 graduate assistantship. MFA candidates teach two courses each semester in composition, business and professional writing, and/or creative writing, or are otherwise given an equivalent assignment in the university’s writing center. The program also offers a few opportunities for students fulfill their graduate assistantships through administrative duties to the English department or literary editing internships with Interim and Witness. Students are paid monthly from September through May and are not expected to teach during the summer.

Graduate assistants may opt to enroll in the student health insurance program. Depending on the funding sources, GAs may receive $1,000 toward the annual health insurance premium. Visit the Student Health Center to learn more about student health insurance.

Out-of-state graduate students who become graduate assistants are not required to pay out-of-state tuition while under GA contract. It should be noted, however, that out-of-state tuition is waived only during the time the student holds an assistantship. Hence, once a student is no longer a GA, he or she will be considered an out-of-state student (and pay out-of-state tuition), unless he/she has applied for and received Nevada residency, as defined in the residency regulations established by the Board of Regents.

For a full explanation of benefits to graduate assistants, visit the benefits portion of the Graduate College web site.

A complete outline of graduate student fees, as well as a tuition and fee calendar, is available from Cashiering and Student Accounts.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The MFA program has been able to assist select students in finding support for their experience abroad in the form of scholarships, teaching positions, and private funding. Many students receive support from UNLV's Office of International Programs, which offers study abroad grants. Additionally, students have applied for and received funding for travel, research, and/or conference presentations from the English Department or the Graduate & Professional StudentS Association.

Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

UNLV offers a dynamic and stimulating writing environment, shaped by a creative writing faculty that includes poets Donald Revell and Claudia Keelan and novelists Douglas Unger, Richard Wiley, and Maile Chapman. Recent visiting writers to the creative writing program, each with a one-year teaching appointment, have been Cristina Garcia (2009-10) and Timothy O'Grady (2010-11).

The program is affiliated with Black Mountain Institute (BMI), an international center for creative writers and scholars led by UNLV President Emerita Carol C. Harter. BMI supports a number of literary programs and publications, including a Readings & Panels series, the Diana L. Bennett Fellows program, City of Asylum Las Vegas, Rainmaker Translations, and the literary journals Witness and Interim.

BMI hosts up to fifteen writers each year to its Readings & Panels series, and guests to that program often join creative writing students for private receptions and, on occasion, craft talks. Recent guests to the series have included Chris Abani, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, T.C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, Junot Diaz, Susan Faludi, Alexandra Fuller, Yiyun Li, Tim O’Brien, Katha Pollitt, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Robert Stone, and A.B. Yehoshua.

BMI’s Bennett Fellows interact frequently with students and are available to visit classes and serve as mentors. Since 2007, the program has supported Uwem Akpan, Daniel Brook, Tom Bissell, Donna Hemans, Josip Novakovich, Robert Rosenberg, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, among others. BMI also sponsors the Ghanem Chair in Creative Writing, offered to a distinguished writer who gives a master class workshop and a craft talk to creative writing students and delivers a public reading. Previous Ghanem Chairs have been Russell Banks, E.L. Doctorow, Joyce Carol Oates, Wole Soyinka, and Derek Walcott.

BMI founded its newest program in 2011, an emerging writers series that brings four writers each year for a public reading and brown bag craft talk with students. The creative writing program occasionally brings authors to campus under the auspices of the University Forum; guests to that program meet socially with students and have included Richard Burgin, Maxine Chernoff, Paul Hoover, Malena Morling, Laura Mullen, Alice Notley, D.A. Powell, George Saunders, and Liz Waldner.