Graduate Admissions

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Creative Writing (MFA in English)

The MFA in English with a focus in Creative Writing is awarded by the Graduate College. The Creative Writing Program, also known as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, also offers  Nondegree Course Work . For the MFA in English with a focus in nonfiction writing, apply to the  Nonfiction Writing Program .

Applicants must meet the  Admission Requirements of the Graduate College  and the department offering the degree program (review the department's web site or the General Catalog for departmental requirements).

Tuition and fees vary by degree program and the type of student you are.

  • Fall semester—Dec. 15
  • Spring semester—not offered

The graduate application process has two steps

  • You must first submit the online application to the Graduate College and pay the $60 application fee by credit card ($100 for international applicants).
  • Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email instructing you on how to upload your supporting documents and submit letters of recommendation. A few programs require materials be sent directly to them. However, almost all supplemental material can and should be uploaded from your Admissions Profile in MyUI , our online service center for applicants and students. You can only access this AFTER you have submitted your application.

Degree Program Supplemental Materials

  • Mail manuscript of your best work, with a  Manuscript Cover Sheet (PDF) - address listed below Receipt of your manuscript will be noted on your Admissions Profile.
  • A Statement of Purpose
  • Application for Graduate Awards
  • Your General GRE test scores (optional but recommended)
  • Supplemental Financial Aid


The application requirement section of your Profile includes an electronic letter of recommendation feature. If your program of study requires letters of recommendation, you will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders including their email on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email giving them instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.

  • Three letters of recommendation

Materials to send to Admissions

  • A set of your unofficial academic records/transcripts uploaded on your Admissions Profile. If you are admitted, official transcripts will be required before your enrollment. For international records, all records should bear the original stamp or seal of the institution and the signature of a school official.  Documents not in English must be accompanied by a complete, literal, English translation, certified by the issuing institution.
  • Your official GRE scores are not required for admission to this program. However, applications that include GRE scores may be more competitive for a greater range of financial assistance (the University's institutional code is 6681).
  • International students may also be required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or DuoLingo scores to comply with the university's English Language Proficiency Requirements .
  • Once recommended for admission, international students must send a  Financial Statement .

Apply Online , the $60 application fee ($100 for international students) is payable by Discover, MasterCard, or Visa.

Creative Writing Program The University of Iowa 102 Dey House Iowa City, IA 52242-1000 [email protected] 1-319-335-0416

Enrollment Management The University of Iowa 2900 University Capitol Centre 201 S. Clinton St. Iowa City, IA 52242 [email protected] 1-319-335-1523

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

  • Departments & Divisions
  • For Students
  • For Faculty
  • Deans Office

Writers' Workshop

Graduate program.

Marilynne Robinson's Graduate Fiction Workshop

The Iowa Writers' Workshop is a two-year residency program which culminates in the submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of stories, or a book of poetry) and the awarding of a Master of Fine Arts degree. The program typically admits up to fifty graduate students each year - approximately twenty-five each in the fiction and poetry programs.

Each year the Workshop faculty selects a class of fiction writers and poets from a large and impressive pool of applicants. The manuscript is by far the most important part of any application. We do not look for any particular style of writing, but rather for strong work that shows evidence of talent and individuality. The Workshop is committed to a diverse educational environment.

How to Apply

Financial Aid

Course Offerings

Degree Requirements

For Admitted Students

The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of  consideration as an individual. The university also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to  university facilities. For additional information on nondiscrimination policies, contact the Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and  Diversity, the University of Iowa, 202 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA, 52242-1316, 319-335-0705 (voice), 319-335-0697 (TDD),  [email protected] . If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in these programs, please contact the Writers' Workshop at (319) 335-0416. 

  • Graduate Studies

MFA in Creative Writing and Environment

mfa creative writing iowa

Iowa State University’s three-year MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment emphasizes study in creative writing—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama—that encourages writers to identify and explore in their stories and lyric impressions the complex influences of place, the natural world, and the environmental imagination .

The human story finds its structure in geology and geography, in biology and chemistry—both natural and constructed—and in the complex and rapidly changing cultural and natural landscape.  With more people sharing our planet’s finite space, and with our planet and its systems imperiled, an educated attention to place in the broadest sense of the term is vital.

From Homer’s Odyssey to Melville’s Moby Dick , from Black Elk to Black Boy , from Virginia Woolf to Tobias Wolff, the literary arts acknowledge an inherent connection between the imprint of place and environment on the stories and images that shape the work of literary writers.

Through a program of study that includes a rigorous combination of creative writing workshops, literature coursework, environmental fieldwork experience, interdisciplinary study in courses other than English, and intensive one-on-one work with a mentor (major professor ), our MFA program offers gifted writers an original and intensive opportunity to document, meditate on, mourn, and celebrate the complexities of our transforming natural world.

Learn more about our program by meeting our current MFA students;  exploring our unique program assets, such as our Hogrefe Fellowships , Flyway Literary Journal , Everett Casey Nature Reserve , and Pearl Hogrefe Writer Series;  and learning about our alumni .

MFA Application Information

The Writing University

Menu drawer options, writing at iowa.

More than 40 Pulitzer Prize winners. Seven U.S. Poets Laureate. Countless award-winning playwrights, screenwriters, journalists, translators, novelists and poets. The University of Iowa’s writing programs shape the landscape of American literature.

iowa writers workshop writing university wave

Departments & Programs

Iowa Writers' Workshop

Iowa Writers' Workshop

Iowa Playwrights Workshop

Iowa Playwrights Workshop

downtown ped mall for writers iowa

Nonfiction Writing Program

Spanish Creative Writing MFA

Spanish Creative Writing MFA

International Writing Program

International Writing Program

Translation Workshop

Translation Workshop

Iowa Center for the Book

Center for the Book

Department of English Iowa

Department of English

School of Journalism and Mass Communication

School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Iowa Department of Rhetoric

The Department of Rhetoric

Screenwriting Workshop

Screenwriting Workshop

 Carver College of Medicine Writing and Humanities Program

Carver College of Medicine Writing

Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Iowa Young Writers' Studio

Iowa Young Writers' Studio

Undergraduate Certificate in Writing Iowa

Undergraduate Certificate in Writing

Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

Magid Center for Writing

The Iowa Review

The Iowa Review

Creative Writing Major Iowa

English and Creative Writing Major

a stack of books on a olive green background

The University of Iowa Press

arial view of epb with river

The Writing Center

students in a class

BA in Translation

flowers in golden sunlight on campus

Belin-Blank Summer Writing Residency

Brain sculpture made of a large stone

The Daily Iowan

child looking at comic

Iowa Youth Writing Project

Writing centers & resources.

  • UI Writing Center
  • Iowa Writers Residence Hall
  • Writing Center at Iowa Law
  • The Teaching and Writing Center, History
  • The Judith Frank Business Communications Center
  • Journalism Writing Center
  • The Writing Resource at the College of Education
  • The Accountancy Writing Center
  • Hanson Center for Technical Communication, College of Engineering

The History of Writing at Iowa

typesetting close up

The University of Iowa’s tradition of great writing originates in its early and enduring commitment to the creative arts. Under the leadership of Carl Seashore in 1922, Iowa became the first university in the United States to accept creative projects as theses for advanced degrees. Traditionally, graduate study culminates in the writing of a scholarly thesis, but, under this new provision, works including a collection of poems, a musical composition, or a series of paintings could be presented to the Graduate College instead. Thus, Iowa established a standard for the Master of Fine Arts degree and secured a place for writers and artists in the academy.

The University of Iowa’s writing community flourished in the wake of this commitment to the arts. Though creative writing coursework was offered at Iowa as early as 1897, the curriculum expanded and diversified in the 1920s. Writers came from all over the country to enroll in courses in playwriting, fiction, and poetry writing.

paul engle leading a writers workshop

A new method for the study of writing emerged in these classes: the writing workshop. In a writing workshop, a senior writer leads a discussion about a work written by a member of the class; workshop students share impressions, advice, and analysis. As Paul Engle , director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and founder of the International Writing Program , observed: “the students benefited greatly from hearing a variety of attitudes toward their work. It was like publishing then being reviewed.” Workshop students receive honest and immediate feedback about their writing and become better critics of their own work. Many also discover the sympathetic but critical readers who they will turn to throughout their careers.

The Program in Creative Writing, known worldwide as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop , was founded in 1936 with the gathering together of writers from the poetry and fiction workshops. It was the first creative writing program in the country, and it became the prototype for more than 300 writing programs, many of which were founded by Workshop alumni. The Workshop remains the most prestigious creative writing program in the country and one of the most selective graduate programs of any kind, typically admitting fewer than five percent of its applicants.

Since its establishment, the Workshop has been the cornerstone of the writing community at the University of Iowa. In its early years, the program enjoyed a series of distinguished visitors, such as Robert Frost , Robert Penn Warren , Dylan Thomas , John Berryman , and Robert Lowell . Workshop students met with early success in publishing their work; thus began what Workshop director Frank Conroy would describe as the Workshop’s “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Talented writers teach and study here; this compels more to come and do the same. Iowa's perennial society of writers has grown considerably since the early days of the Workshop; this community has been a dynamic and sustaining force for growth and change. The logic of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” applies at an institutional level, as well as the individual. The University of Iowa set an early precedent for innovation in the study and practice of writing. This precedent created an environment where further advances, including the following, are possible, and likely:

  • Students and faculty in UI writing programs collaborate with International Writing Program writers to translate new works of poetry and fiction in English.
  • Each summer, students and alumni of the Writers’ Workshop mentor a new generation of authors at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio , a summer camp for gifted high school-aged writers from around the country.
  • A new Screenwriting MFA , where students are instructed on practical skills and knowledge needed to become successful members of the screenwriting industry
  • Students from a variety of programs explore and create interpretations of print and print culture by studying book arts in the UI Center for the Book .
  •   Nonfiction Writing Program organized “NonfictionNow,” a conference to explore the state of nonfiction writing.
  • The Patient Voice Project, created by students at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and Arts Share, offers creative writing classes to chronically ill hospital patients.

Iowa’s tradition of writing has been guided by the principle that, though writing is a solitary practice, it’s one significantly enriched by the presence of other writers. As Paul Engle wrote, “Our plan gives the writer a place where he can be himself, confronting the hazards and hopes of his own talent, and at the same time he can measure his capacity against a variety of others.” Through the years, some of the best writers in the world have come here to deepen their understanding of the craft of writing. Since 1939, 40 individuals with ties to the University of Iowa have been awarded Pulitzer Prizes ; four recent U.S. Poet Laureates have been either students or faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2006, Orhan Pamuk, a 1985 fellow of the International Writing Program, won the Nobel Prize in Literature. While the UI has been host to many award-winning authors, Iowa is known as The Writing University because countless numbers of writers at varying stages in their development have found a literary home here. High school students can study writing at the Young Writers’ Studio, and over 1,500 writers each year participate in over 130 workshops at the Summer Writing Festival. The departments of English, Journalism, Theater, and Cinema and Comparative Literature offer writing classes to undergraduates, and Iowa’s graduate programs in playwriting, nonfiction, translation, and journalism are some of the best in the country. The Writers’ Workshop is the country’s oldest and most celebrated graduate program in creative writing, and the International Writing Program hosts accomplished writers from around the world each fall. The following timeline provides an overview of important dates in the history of writing at Iowa. For more information about the writers who have taught and studied at Iowa, please visit the Writers page . or our LitCity project . A directory of all of the writing programs, as well as programs affiliated with writing at Iowa, is available from the Programs page.  

About the Writing University

The Virtual Writing University (VWU) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary initiative sponsored by the Graduate College and the Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa. The project launched in fall, 2006, with the mandate to create a virtual space for the University of Iowa's writing community. Its primary venue is the Writing University website ( ), a portal to the programs, news, and events associated with writing at Iowa, and a platform for special VWU Projects, such as LitCity, The Undergrad Writing Portal, First-Year Seminars and the Eleventh Hour Podcast .

People Support for the Virtual Writing University comes from many different areas of the University of Iowa community. We are grateful for the many staff and faculty members who have contributed their creative, technological, and administrative expertise to this initiative.  

Writing University Senior Editor

Lauren Haldeman, Senior Editor, The University of Iowa

Writing University Advisory Panel

Aron Aji, director of the Translation Workshop Micah Bateman, Assistant Professor, SLIS Lynne Nugent, Editor-in-Chief, The Iowa Review Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Joan Kjaer, Strategic Communications Officer, International Programs Communications and Relations Amy Margolis, director of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program

Writing University Director

Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program

Writing University Archive

Thomas Keegan, Director, Digital Library Services Mark Anderson, Digital Initiatives Librarian

LitCity Project

Thomas Keegan, Director, Digital Library Services Jim Cremer, Consultant, Computer Science Department Loren Glass, Faculty, English Department Nicole Dudley, Lead Database Developer

History of Writing at Iowa

Robin Hemley Michael Allen Potter, Graduate Assistant

Technological Support

Wendy Brown, Web Production, University Relations Web Unit Ken Clinkenbeard, Instructional Services, Academic Technologies Ann Freerks, Designer, University Relations Web Unit Andrew Rinner, Research Services, Academic Technologies Paul Soderdahl, director of Library Information Technology, UI Libraries

Biographies of Writing University Project Leaders

Lauren Haldeman is the senior editor of the Writing University website. She is the author of Team Photograph , Instead of Dying (winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry), Calenday, and The Eccentricity is Zero . Her work has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, The Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Fence and others. A graphic novelist and poet, she’s received an Iowa Arts Fellowship, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award and visiting artist fellowships from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Carnegie Mellon University, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Christopher Merrill ’s books include four collections of poetry, Brilliant Water , Workbook , Fevers & Tides , and Watch Fire , for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak’s Anxious Moments and The City and the Child ; several edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O’Keeffe as Icon ; and three books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer , The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee , and Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars . His work has been translated into sixteen languages. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.

Iowa Writers Workshop

Iowa City , IA

Degrees Offered

Fiction, Poetry

Residency type

Program length, financial aid.

Fellowships, assistantships and Taships are available.

Teaching opportunities

TAships are available

Cross-genre study

  • Allison Adair MFA (Poetry) 2002
  • Chris Adrian MFA (Fiction) 1995
  • Aamina Ahmad MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Daniel Alarcón MFA (Fiction) 2004
  • Pamela Alexander MFA 1973
  • Debra Allbery MFA (Poetry) 1982
  • Benjamin Anastas MFA (Fiction) 1993
  • Karen Leona Anderson MFA 1998
  • Alexia Arthurs MFA (Fiction) 2014
  • Nick Arvin MFA (Fiction) 2001
  • Jennifer Atkinson MFA (Poetry) 1985
  • Rick Barot MFA (Poetry) 1998
  • Richard Bausch MFA (Fiction) 1975
  • Dan Beachy-Quick MFA (Poetry) 2000
  • Geoffrey Becker MFA 1988
  • Leslee Becker MFA 1984
  • Marvin Bell MFA 1963
  • Karen E. Bender MFA (Fiction) 1991
  • Pinckney Benedict MFA 1988
  • Jill Bialosky MFA (Poetry) 1983
  • Louise A. Blum MFA 1988
  • Brian Booker MFA 2014
  • T. C. Boyle MFA (Fiction) 1974
  • Renée Branum MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Sarah Braunstein MFA 2000
  • Jamel Brinkley MFA (Fiction) 2015
  • Kevin Brockmeier MFA (Fiction) 1997
  • Kim Brooks MFA 2003
  • Stephanie Brown MFA (Poetry) 1986
  • Austin Bunn MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • David Busis MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum MFA (Fiction) 2000
  • Sigman Byrd MFA (Poetry) 1988
  • Drew Calvert MFA 2017
  • Marjorie Celona MFA (Fiction) 2009
  • Lan Samantha Chang MFA (Fiction) 1993
  • Katie Chase MFA 2007
  • Alexander Chee MFA (Fiction) 1994
  • Lisa Chen MFA
  • Marilyn Chin MFA 1981
  • Sandra Cisneros MFA (Poetry) 1978
  • Olivia Clare MFA (Poetry) 2008
  • Andrea Cohen MFA (Poetry) 1985
  • Lee Cole MFA (Fiction) 2019
  • Loretta Collins Klobah MFA 1992
  • Peter Cooley MFA 1970
  • Martin Corless-Smith MFA (Poetry)
  • Eduardo C. Corral MFA 1999
  • Martin Cozza MFA (Fiction) 1997
  • Justin Cronin MFA 1989
  • James Cummins MFA (Poetry) 1973
  • Michael Cunningham MFA 1980
  • Oscar Cásares MFA 2001
  • John D'Agata MFA (Poetry) 1998
  • Charles D'Ambrosio MFA 2009
  • Philip Dacey MFA 1970
  • Craig Davidson MFA 2006
  • Amber Dermont MFA (Fiction)
  • Stephen Dobyns MFA 1967
  • Rita Dove MFA (Poetry) 1977
  • Jennifer Dubois MFA 2009
  • Pam Durban MFA (Fiction) 1979
  • Stuart Dybek MFA 1973
  • Dina Elenbogen MFA (Poetry)
  • Lynn Emanuel MFA 1983
  • Josh Emmons MFA (Fiction) 2002
  • Nathan Englander MFA 1996
  • Danielle Evans MFA 2006
  • Anthony Farrington MFA 1988
  • Joe Fassler MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Patricia Foster MFA (Fiction) 1986
  • Bonnie Friedman MFA (Fiction) 1985
  • Rafael Frumkin MFA 2014
  • Amity Gaige MFA (Fiction) 1999
  • James Galvin MFA (Poetry) 1977
  • V. V. Ganeshananthan MFA (Fiction) 2005
  • Allen Gee MFA (Fiction) 1989
  • Abby Geni MFA 2003
  • Carmen Giménez Smith MFA
  • Douglas Glover MFA 1982
  • Albert Goldbarth MFA (Poetry) 1971
  • Kevin A. González MFA (Fiction) 2007
  • Regan Good MFA (Poetry) 1993
  • Jorie Graham MFA (Poetry) 1978
  • Garth Greenwell MFA (Fiction)
  • Debora Greger MFA 1974
  • Linda Gregerson MFA 1977
  • Allan Gurganus MFA (Fiction) 1975
  • Yaa Gyasi MFA (Fiction) 2014
  • Johannes Göransson MFA (Poetry) 2000
  • Jennifer Haigh MFA 2002
  • Sands Hall MFA (Fiction) 1991
  • J. C. Hallman MFA 1991
  • Patricia Hampl MFA (Poetry) 1970
  • C. G. Hanzlicek MFA 1986
  • Paul Harding MFA 2000
  • Joy Harjo MFA (Poetry) 1976
  • Cris Harris MFA (Fiction) 1995
  • Jeffrey Harrison MFA (Poetry) 1984
  • Kathryn Harrison MFA (Fiction) 1987
  • Wayne Harrison MFA 1998
  • Endi Bogue Hartigan MFA
  • Adam Haslett MFA 1999
  • Ehud Havazelet MFA (Fiction) 1984
  • Arna Bontemps Hemenway MFA (Fiction) 2012
  • Robin Hemley MFA (Fiction) 1982
  • Cristina Henríquez MFA (Fiction)
  • Michelle Herman MFA (Fiction) 1986
  • Juan Felipe Herrera MFA (Poetry) 1990
  • Brenda Hillman MFA (Poetry) 1976
  • Dennis Hinrichsen MFA 1977
  • Charles Holdefer MFA (Fiction) 1985
  • A. M. Homes MFA (Fiction) 1988
  • Carlynn Houghton MFA 2008
  • Carol Howell MFA 1985
  • Greg Hrbek MFA 1995
  • Andrew Hudgins MFA (Poetry) 1983
  • Jane Hufman MFA
  • Michelle Huneven MFA 1977
  • Vannessa Hutchinson MFA (Fiction) 2007
  • Mike Ingram MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • Katie Ives MFA
  • Lucy Ives MFA (Poetry) 2005
  • Naomi Jackson MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Evan James MFA 2012
  • Leslie Jamison MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • Mark Jarman MFA 1976
  • Gish Jen MFA (Fiction) 1983
  • Denis Johnson MFA (Fiction) 1974
  • Fenton Johnson MFA (Fiction) 1982
  • Kimberly Johnson MFA (Poetry) 1997
  • Bret Anthony Johnston MFA 2002
  • Sheba Karim MFA 2007
  • John Keeble MFA (Fiction) 1969
  • Ted Kehoe MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Victoria Kelly MFA 2009
  • Hannah H. Kim MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Suji Kwock Kim MFA (Poetry) 1997
  • William Kittredge MFA 1969
  • Sheila Solomon Klass MFA 1953
  • Lee Klein MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • Jamil Jan Kochai MFA (Fiction) 2019
  • Maria Kuznetosova MFA (Fiction) 2017
  • Robert Lacey MFA 1966
  • Zachary Lazar MFA 1993
  • Nam Le MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • Fred G. Leebron MFA 1989
  • Edan Lepucki MFA 2006
  • Philip Levine MFA (Poetry) 1957
  • Yiyun Li MFA (Fiction) 2005
  • Sandra Lim MFA (Poetry) 2004
  • Frannie Lindsay MFA (Poetry) 1979
  • Siqi Liu MFA (Fiction)
  • Jack Livings MFA (Fiction) 2000
  • Jill Logan MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • William Logan MFA (Poetry) 1975
  • David Wong Louie MFA (Fiction) 1981
  • Carmen Maria Machado MFA (Fiction) 2012
  • Alexander Maksik MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Dora Malech MFA (Poetry) 2005
  • Sarah Manguso MFA (Poetry) 1999
  • Anthony Marra MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Peyton Marshall MFA 2002
  • Cate Marvin MFA (Fiction) 1999
  • Sarah Thankam Mathews MFA
  • Kyle McCarthy MFA (Fiction) 2010
  • Maureen McCoy MFA (Fiction) 1983
  • Elizabeth McCracken MFA (Fiction) 1990
  • Shane McCrae MFA (Poetry) 2004
  • Molly McNett MFA 2001
  • Joyelle McSweeney MFA (Poetry) 2001
  • Jane Mead MFA (Poetry) 1988
  • Suketu Mehta MFA 1986
  • Andrew Malan Milward MFA 2008
  • Kevin Moffett MFA (Fiction) 2005
  • Patrick Moran MFA (Poetry) 1995
  • Grayson Morley MFA (Fiction) 2017
  • Michael Morse MFA 1992
  • Laura Mullen MFA (Poetry) 1985
  • Stuart Nadler MFA 2008
  • Dina Nayeri MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Marc Nieson MFA 1994
  • Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti MFA
  • Delaney Nolan MFA (Fiction) 2016
  • Alice Notley MFA (Poetry) 1969
  • Benjamin Nugent MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Matthew Neill Null MFA 2010
  • Mary O'Connell MFA (Fiction) 1995
  • Tim O'Sullivan MFA 2005
  • Chris Offutt MFA 1990
  • Chinelo Okparanta MFA 2011
  • Lance Olsen MFA 1980
  • Steve Orlen MFA (Poetry) 1967
  • Peter Orner MFA (Fiction) 1998
  • Julie Orringer MFA (Fiction) 1996
  • Ann Packer MFA 1988
  • Z. Z. Packer MFA (Fiction) 1999
  • Caryl Pagel MFA (Poetry)
  • Eric Pankey MFA 1983
  • Leslie Parry MFA 2005
  • Ann Patchett MFA (Fiction) 1987
  • James Pate MFA 2000
  • Alexandria Peary MFA (Poetry) 1994
  • Frances de Pontes Peebles MFA 2003
  • Jennifer Percy MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • Kiki Petrosino MFA (Poetry) 2006
  • Megan Pillow MFA (Fiction) 2001
  • Arthur Plotnik MA (Fiction) 1961
  • Mark Jude Poirier MFA (Fiction) 1997
  • Eileen Pollack MFA (Fiction) 1983
  • Dan Pope MFA (Fiction) 2002
  • Andrew Porter MFA (Fiction) 1998
  • C. E. Poverman MFA 1969
  • D. A. Powell MFA 1996
  • Susan Power MFA (Fiction) 1992
  • Lia Purpura MFA (Poetry) 1990
  • Jianan Qian MFA (Fiction) 2018
  • Mary Quade MFA (Poetry) 1995
  • Steven Ramirez MFA 2009
  • Adrienne Raphel MFA (Poetry) 2012
  • Margaret Reges MFA 2009
  • Natalia Reyes MFA (Fiction) 2019
  • Kathryn Rhett MFA (Poetry) 1989
  • Willa C. Richards MFA (Fiction) 2015
  • Matthew Rohrer MFA 1994
  • David Romtvedt MFA 1975
  • Margaret Ross MFA (Poetry) 2012
  • Clare Rossini MFA (Poetry) 1982
  • Emily Ruskovich MFA (Fiction) 2011
  • Michael Ryan MFA 1972
  • Marjorie Sandor MFA 1984
  • Colette Sartor MFA (Fiction) 2003
  • Sanjena Sathian MFA (Fiction) 2019
  • Robyn Schiff MFA
  • Stephen Schottenfield MFA 1998
  • Philip Schultz MFA (Poetry) 1971
  • Kaethe Schwehn MFA (Poetry) 2006
  • Salvatore Scibona MFA 1999
  • Ben Shattuck MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • David Shields MFA 1990
  • William Pei Shih MFA (Fiction) 2016
  • Peter Jay Shippy MFA 1987
  • Maggie Shipstead MFA 2008
  • Jeanne Shoemaker MFA 2010
  • Jane Shore MFA (Poetry) 1971
  • Robert Anthony Siegel MFA 1992
  • Bennett Sims MFA (Fiction) 2012
  • Curtis Sittenfeld MFA 2001
  • José Skinner MFA (Fiction) 2002
  • John Skoyles MFA (Poetry) 1974
  • Aria Beth Sloss MFA 2007
  • Jeff Snowbarger MFA 2009
  • Stephanie Soileau MFA 2002
  • Anna Solomon MFA 2005
  • Asali Solomon MFA (Fiction)
  • Gregory Spatz MFA 1996
  • David St. John MFA 1974
  • Micah Stack MFA (Fiction) 2014
  • Maura Stanton MFA (Fiction/Poetry) 1971
  • Pamela Stewart MFA 1974
  • Jon William Stout MFA (Poetry) 2016
  • Mark Strand MA 1962
  • Sarah A. Strickley MFA (Fiction) 2005
  • Elizabeth Stuckey-French MFA 1992
  • Ned Stuckey-French PhD 1997
  • Mark Svenvold MFA 1992
  • Mary Szybist MFA (Poetry) 1996
  • Santiago José Sánchez MFA
  • Nancy Takacs MFA (Poetry) 1976
  • Ron Tanner MFA 1986
  • James Tate MFA (Poetry) 1967
  • Brandon Taylor MFA (Fiction)
  • Merritt Tierce MFA 2011
  • Vu Tran MFA (Fiction) 2002
  • Tony Tulathimutte MFA (Fiction) 2012
  • Chase Twichell MFA (Poetry) 1976
  • Michael Tyrell MFA (Poetry) 1999
  • Michael Van Walleghen MFA 1965
  • Vauhini Vara MFA (Fiction) 2010
  • Abraham Verghese MFA 1991
  • Madhuri Vijay MFA (Fiction) 2012
  • Ellen Bryant Voigt MFA 1966
  • Matthew Vollmer MFA (Fiction) 2006
  • Liz Waldner MFA (Poetry) 1988
  • G. C. Waldrep MFA (Poetry) 2005
  • Jerald Walker MFA (Fiction) 1995
  • Michael Waters MFA (Poetry) 1974
  • Lisa Wells MFA (Poetry) 2014
  • Thomas White MFA 1999
  • John Edgar Wideman MFA (Fiction) 1967
  • Joy Williams MFA (Fiction) 1965
  • Antoine Wilson MFA (Fiction) 2000
  • Kathryn Winograd MFA (Poetry) 1983
  • S. L. Wisenberg MFA (Fiction) 1983
  • Thomas Wolf MFA (Fiction) 1975
  • Jane Wong MFA (Poetry) 2010
  • Daniel Woodrell MFA 1983
  • Charles Wright MFA (Poetry) 1963
  • Mario Alberto Zambrano MFA (Fiction) 2013
  • C. Pam Zhang MFA (Fiction)
  • Jenny Zhang MFA (Fiction) 2009
  • Rachel Zucker MFA (Poetry) 1996

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University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop

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MFA Program

mfa creative writing iowa

Poetry: James Galvin, Mark Levine, Tracie Morris, Elizabeth Willis

Fiction: Jamel Brinkley, Ethan Canin, Samantha Chang, 

The Fall of 2023 visiting faculty includes poet Cody-Rose Clevidence, and fiction writers Kate Christensen, Tom Drury, and Carmen Maria Machado.

The Spring 2024 visiting faculty includes poet Wendy Xu, and fiction writers Sarah Mathews and Kevin Brockmeier.

The program offers full funding through fellowships and teaching assistantships.

Iowa Review , University of Iowa Press

During the academic year, the program offers readings, master classes, question and answer sessions, and short courses with visiting writers, as well as opportunities to meet agents and editors. Other draws include a community outreach & youth writing program, the opportunity to earn a certificate in literary translation, and collaborations with other departments, such as the theater department and the Center for the Book.

The application fee for international students is $100.

Raymond Carver, Sandra Cisneros, Justin Cronin, Rita Dove, Nathan Englander, Angela Flournoy, Jorie Graham, Garth Greenwell, Yaa Gyasi, Paul Harding, Joy Harjo, Adam Haslett, Cristina Henríques, Juan Felipe Herrera, John Irving, Leslie Jamison, T. Geronimo Johnson, Philip Levine, Yiyun Li, Ayana Mathis, Shane McCrae, Jane Mead, Alice Notley, Flannery O'Connor, Z.Z. Packer, Ann Patchett, D.A. Powell, Robyn Schiff, Jane Smiley, Wallace Stegner, Mark Strand, James Tate, Justin Torres, Abraham Verghese, Joy Williams

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Why Writers Love to Hate the M.F.A.

mfa creative writing iowa

By Cecilia Capuzzi Simon

  • April 9, 2015

It was peak reading season, and Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, was gamely juggling a call from a reporter, interruptions from her 7-year-old as well as a 10 percent surge in applications to the University of Iowa’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing. Ms. Chang was in the thick of decisions about who would fill 50 spots evenly divided between the fall fiction and poetry workshops.

“I’m deluged,” she said, surprised by the number of applications she was sorting through — 1,380 — especially in a year with a stronger economy, a condition that typically causes graduate school applications, never mind those to fine arts programs, to drop. “I have a tub of manuscripts,” she said. “It’s weird!”

Perhaps, she speculates, the surge is a result of the juggernaut HBO series called “Girls,” the one where the neurotic aspiring novelist Hannah Horvath, played by Lena Dunham, takes off to the Iowa cornfields and shines a bright light on the venerated program.

More likely, the swell in applications is not so weird.

“Explosive” is the word routinely used to describe the growth of M.F.A. programs in creative writing. Iowa was the first, established in 1936. By 1994, there were 64. By last year, that number had more than tripled, to 229 (and another 152 M.A. programs in creative writing), according to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs . Between 3,000 and 4,000 students a year graduate with the degree; this year, about 20,000 applications were sent out.

A graduate writing degree, unsurprisingly, turns out a lot of opinionated writing. Sample manifestoes from blogs and chat rooms: “Why you should hate the creative writing establishment (…as if you needed any more reasons)” and “14 Reasons (Not) to Get an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (and Two Reasons It Might Actually Be Worth It).” In scholarly circles, the boom and its implications have been a subject of heated debate since at least 2009, with the publication of Mark McGurl’s “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing.” In it, Dr. McGurl, a Stanford English professor, describes the M.F.A. as the single biggest influence on American literature since World War II, noting that most serious writers since then have come out of graduate-school incubators.

Chad Harbach followed with a 2010 essay , “MFA vs. NYC,” in the journal n+1. Last year, he edited a book of essays , with the same title, on the credential’s influence. Mr. Harbach describes two centers of American fiction: New York City, the traditional hub, and M.F.A., the encroaching university writing program, or “the M.F.A. beast,” as he calls it. Even writers without the degree, writes Mr. Harbach, who earned his from the University of Virginia, have “imbibed the general idea and aesthetic. We are all M.F.A.s now.”

That’s not necessarily a negative notion, according to Dr. McGurl and Mr. Harbach (who received a $650,000 advance for his first novel, “The Art of Fielding”). But it seems to trouble many others, especially aspiring novelists and poets. With so many highly tutored creative writers already out there, is success possible without the instruction and literary connections that are cultivated in M.F.A. programs and that a volatile publishing industry — now evolved around program graduates and sensibilities — has come to look for and expect?

To M.F.A. or not to M.F.A.?

“It is a deadly question,” says the literary critic Anis Shivani, author of the 2011 book “Against the Workshop: Provocations, Polemics, Controversies.” “Everyone who wants to be a writer in this country has to confront it, even if you rebel against the M.F.A.,” he says. “If you do the degree, opportunities open up.” Without it, he warns, you may be able to publish in small presses but are more likely to be “condemned to obscurity,” particularly if you write literary fiction and poetry. And your writing will change, he says, and not necessarily for the better.

Detractors like Mr. Shivani say the degree is responsible for so-called program fiction — homogenized, over-worskshopped writing void of literary tradition and overly influenced by the mostly upper- and middle-class values and experiences of its students. Others describe an inherently unfair system that all but requires aspiring writers to attend schools many cannot afford or otherwise access. They see a self-generating track to the literary establishment, on which the most fortunate jump to fellowships, writing colonies, agents, publishing deals and professorships, where they are indoctrinated into the status quo.

Of course, one doesn’t need an M.F.A. to write. “Just ask Samuel Delany, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, Colson Whitehead, Hilton Als and Emily St. John Mandel, who is not only M.F.A.-less, she’s B.A.-less,” says Junot Díaz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and M.F.A.-holder who has been a vocal critic of the degree.

With so much seemingly working against it, it is astounding the degree has gained traction at all. But there is another argument, and another list — prominent literary writers and poets with M.F.A.s and a diverse pool of work: Jhumpa Lahiri (Boston University), Phil Klay and Gary Shteyngart (Hunter College), Michael Chabon (University of California, Irvine), Ayana Mathis (Iowa), Jay McInerney (Syracuse University), Saeed Jones (Rutgers) Manuel Muñoz (Cornell), Ocean Vuong (New York University), David Foster Wallace (University of Arizona). The list could go on. And on.

In an essay in the book “MFA vs. NYC,” George Saunders, a professor in Syracuse’s program, writes that there are so many negative myths about the M.F.A. that they have become clichés. “Most critiques I read of creative writing programs or writing in the academy are kicking entities that don’t actually (in my experience) exist.”

Karen Russell, whose book “Swamplandia!” was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize when she was 29, is similarly inured to the critics. What did Columbia’s M.F.A. program do for her? “Basically everything,” she says. “I’m not even sure what I’d be writing now if I hadn’t gone.”

Success stories like Ms. Russell’s or Mr. Harbach’s fuel the fantasy. “It’s no surprise that the promise of the M.F.A. — to make you, if you’re lucky, a famous, well-paid author — strikes so many people with even the smallest literary dream as utterly irresistible,” Mr. Díaz says.

Other realities conspire to make the M.F.A. one of the fastest growing graduate degrees. Among them: the pervasiveness of digital media and celebrity culture, where anyone with a blog feels like a best-selling novelist-in-waiting; the rise of memoirs, a natural extension of the online selfie writing culture; the popularity of magical realism and noir fiction novels, which have turned many 20-somethings on to literature; and changes in generational attitudes, aspirations and culture.

“The younger generation is making career choices determined by quality of life,” says Jeannine Blackwell, dean-in-residence at the Council of Graduate Schools and a professor at the University of Kentucky. That, she says, goes hand in hand with a focus on reinvigorating urban communities through theater, art installations, food culture and centers for literature and writing.

Jean McGarry, a chairwoman of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, says that the teaching of creative writing has taken on even more significance because the way we learn has changed. Evolution in the Hopkins program reflects that. The program started as a one-year Master of Arts and attracted students older than the average 26-year-old in today’s full-residency programs. They were mainly writers with material in need of guidance and derailed by career or family, says Ms. McGarry, who earned an M.A. at the school under John Barth in 1983. Mr. Barth, a National Book Award winner in 1973, called his students “advanced apprentices.”

M.F.A. students today, Ms. McGarry says, are less developed writers; faculty “are doing more of the work of writing” for them. She sees that as a reflection of undergraduate education that emphasizes specialization and pre-professionalism, with little room for the arts, reading or writing. Students have come to expect education to be prescriptive, she says. In 2006, Hopkins changed the program to an M.F.A., adding a year because students needed more time to develop.

“Our understanding of what it takes to be an artist is geared to an era’s myths,” Ms. McGarry says. What the rise of the M.F.A. tells us about our era’s myths, she says, is that “the arts are more inculcated than they were before. It’s no longer the genius coming out of the ground fully fledged.”

Every program has its own character. Hopkins is known to be cerebral; Brown, experimental; Boston University, at one year, intense; University of Arkansas, at four years, academic. The best provide a temporary respite from a fast-paced culture unsympathetic to the pursuit of art for art’s sake, and an opportunity to find a community of like-minded people who validate your work and motivations. They allow students to test their stamina (and talent) for what Timothy Donnelly, chairman of the Writing Program at Columbia, calls a “radical lifestyle choice.”

The best also hone technique and train students to read analytically. Ideally, as Mr. Donnelly puts it, students develop an appreciation for the “sensuous aspect of language” and the ability to translate their experience of life onto the page. “I look at this very idealistically,” he says. “And then I think, ‘Well, let’s roll up our sleeves.’ ”

Creative writing programs are designed as studio or academic models. Often, programs combine aspects of both. They typically offer fiction and poetry tracks, though “creative nonfiction” is gaining ground, as are screenwriting and playwriting. Some distinguish themselves by focusing on thematic writing. Antioch University, Los Angeles, has a social justice emphasis; Chatham University in Pittsburgh emphasizes environmental writing; Pratt Institute in New York has social justice and environmental tracks.

About a fifth of M.F.A. programs are low-residency — they meet for about two weeks on campus or some other on-ground spot (New York University, for example, gathers low-residency students in Paris); the rest of the semester is conducted online.

Studio programs mimic conservatories and focus exclusively on the writing craft. Academic programs require other coursework, sometimes literature, foreign language or translation courses.

At the core of every program is the writing workshop, the so-called Iowa model because it originated there. In its strictest form, it works like this: Classmates evaluate and write detailed comments about students’ work, then sit around a table and “workshop” the piece. The writer sits silently while classmates comment first on what is working, then go back around to comment on what is not. The instructor weighs in. Only then can the author respond.

In the workshop, writing is deconstructed and put back together. Relationships are formed. A skilled instructor can point out flaws and suggest techniques it might otherwise take years to figure out. “You develop a keener sense of your readers,” Ms. Russell says. “When 14 people tell you something isn’t working, you listen.”

The workshop is so central to the experience that programs often screen out applicants who could be problematic. “We read the personal statement closely,” says Ellen Tremper, chairwoman of Brooklyn College’s English department. “We try to see if a person seems rational and, frankly, unneurotic, because if you get someone with a screw loose, it can be disruptive to the group.”

Achieving workshop harmony can be a challenge. John McNally, an Iowa graduate who based a satirical novel, “After the Workshop,” on a washed-up graduate of the Iowa program, has described his own experience there as affected by “bitter jealousies, competition” and writing to please instructors and classmates.

Writing can get “workshopped to death,” Mr. Shivani says. He also points out that criticism is coming primarily from peers who “are people who don’t know anything about writing, which is why they are in the program.”

The workshop can take getting used to. David Win-grave, a New York University student, says that at first the camaraderie, the attention on his work and the mounds of feedback were “thrilling.” But it was easy to lose focus and feel frustrated, and he learned to rely on only a few trusted readers.

Most famously, Junot Díaz wrote in a New Yorker essay last year about racial and ethnic insensitivity during his time in Cornell’s program in 1992. “Too white,” he wrote, “as in my workshop reproduced exactly the dominant culture’s blind spots and assumptions around race and racism (and sexism and heteronormativity, etc.).”

Cornell’s current director, J. Robert Lennon, says that while the program lacked a diverse faculty 23 years ago, half of today’s tenure-track faculty members are “writers of color” and split evenly between men and women. And, Mr. Lennon notes, Mr. Díaz’s student cohort was “100 percent writers of color,” which Mr. Díaz did not report.

“I don’t doubt that Junot had a hard time here; some students do,” Mr. Lennon says. “The workshop can be a contentious and at times hurtful environment, and I’d imagine that it can be particularly vexing for students who experience discrimination every day outside of class.”

One equalizer has been the availability of more financial aid. Some elite, smaller programs waive tuition and provide a stipend (Hopkins pays $30,000 a year, Cornell $26,000) for every student, typically requiring work in a related position, such as being a teaching assistant. Iowa, Syracuse University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Michigan also have fully funded programs.

With tuition high for a degree not known for its marketplace potential — on average $27,600 for a two-year program at a public university, $72,600 at a private — funding is often the deciding factor in program choice.

Financial aid at most M.F.A. programs is likely to be partial, if available at all. Low-residency programs typically offer no grants or T.A. slots.

Brooklyn College may seem a bargain at $14,580 in tuition for its two-year program ($20,700, out of state) but the program loses talent to schools that provide full tuition remission and stipends, Ms. Tremper says.

The class entering Boston University’s one-year creative writing program this fall will be the first in which all students receive a full tuition waiver and a $12,800 stipend. Before that, says Leslie Epstein, who was the director for 36 years before stepping down last year, it too lost students to schools with better aid packages, prompting it to up its game.

But Mr. Epstein and some others in the M.F.A. community get impatient with the discussion of whether it’s worth taking on debt for an M.F.A. Debt is important to consider, he says, but so is passion. “It’s art! It’s not so bad to make a sacrifice.”

Still, there is reality. Few will write the great American novel or, let’s face it, even publish work. In fact, the surge in M.F.A.s has intensified the competition.

The monthly magazine Poetry receives 100,000 submissions a year and publishes 300 poems. “The number of writers has increased, but the number of readers has not,” says Joseph Harrison, senior American editor for Waywiser Press. Mr. Harrison is coordinator of Waywiser’s Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize . This year, the competition drew 33 percent more submissions.

“We can only publish so much,” Mr. Harrison says. “I have to sound a cautionary note: M.F.A. programs make money off of people’s dreams. Everyone in the system is implicated. Writers, too. It’s a bit of a house of cards. One hopes people at least understand the odds and how difficult it can be.”

Including the odds of teaching at college, which many hope to do with the terminal degree. Last year, there were just 112 tenure-track creative writing positions.

Rahul Kanakia, who graduated from Hopkins’s M.F.A. program last May, says that once out of the cocoon, degree holders face a tough adjustment to the unstructured writing life, and the grind of sending work to multiple journals and receiving multiple rejections, if they hear back at all. “It’s like, is anybody out there even reading this stuff?” he says. “Often it doesn’t feel very productive.” ( Mr. Kanakia is more fortunate than most, with pending publication of a young adult novel begun at Hopkins.)

Chris Brecheen, who blogs on the M.F.A. and is contemplating pursuing the degree, says: “What writers don’t understand is that there is little pragmatic about the M.F.A.” Of a dozen writer friends who went on to earn M.F.A.s, most, he says, are now doing “whatever they might have done before getting the degree,” including restaurant management, real estate and writing Web content. One person “leveraged” the M.F.A. to work as an organizer of literary open-mike events.

Perhaps the definition of post-M.F.A. success needs to include work like that of Dr. Ronald H. Lands, a professor at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Knoxville. He earned an M.F.A. from Queens University of Charlotte, in North Carolina, at 53; publishes stories and poems about patient experiences in JAMA and other journals; and created a course in narrative medicine for medical students. Or Jane Monteagle, an Antioch graduate, who pioneered creative writing programs in Los Angeles correctional facilities.

Many graduates, Ms. Tremper says, are likely to return to “normal jobs.” If highly motivated, they will try to squeeze in writing in hopes of the big break, and they will struggle. Prospective M.F.A. candidates, she says, need to ask: “Am I prepared for that kind of life?”

David Wingrave is willing to roll the dice to find out. He is finishing his first novel, will graduate from N.Y.U. in May and will then look for an agent.

“Before,” he says, “I had no contacts in the literary world, no sense of the process a book must go through, no ability to discuss the craft of literature, and on a day-to-day basis, no time to dedicate myself to it. At N.Y.U., I got those things.”

At the same time, he harbors no illusions about the road ahead. “I definitely need employment very soon,” he says. “Do you know of anything?”

Cecilia Capuzzi Simon teaches writing at American University’s School of Communication.

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University of Iowa (Nonfiction Writing Program)

Iowa, united states.

The Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa is the nation's oldest and most selective MFA in literary nonfiction.

With an emphasis on both the deep history of the genre as well as its most recent innovations, the Nonfiction Writing Program strives to foster an environment of diverse aesthetics, challenging conversations, and supportive feedback.

The Nonfiction Writing Program is a three-year program and offers full funding through teaching assistantships in both literature courses and creative writing workshops. A limited number of competitive post-graduate fellowships are available to help students complete their first books after finishing their MFAs.

Graduates of the program have recently published in such magazines as The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, McSweeney's, and The Believer; they have published books with Knopf, Random House, Simon and Schuster, Little Brown, W.W. Norton, Graywwolf, and Sarabande; and they have won Whiting Writers Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships, Pushcart Prizes, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, Guardian Book Prizes, PEN Foudation Awards, National Book Critic Circle Awards, and a MacArthur.

The requirements of the program are 48 semester-hours, which are flexible enough to allow extensive work both inside and outside the program; the degree culminates in a thesis, a work which may present a sustained piece of literary nonfiction or a collection of shorter pieces.

Most program courses are either "forms" or "workshop" courses. The forms courses are centered on a version of literary nonfiction (e.g. the travel essay) or on a special topic (e.g. unreliable narrators). The forms courses consist of both readings and writing projects. The workshop courses focus primarily on the writing of workshop participants.

Contact Information

308 English-Philosophy Building Nonfiction Writing Iowa City Iowa, United States 52242 Phone: 319-335-0440 Email: cherie[email protected]

Bachelor of Arts in English/Literature +

The Department of English includes a selective-admission Undergraduate Creative Writing Track. The hub of the Writing Track is a cluster of intimate Writers' Seminars that will give students the opportunity to creatively engage the relationship between reading and writing and to explore questions of craft, literary traditions, and aesthetics in a manner that is both inspiring and rigorous.

\nWe also offer translation, in addition to those genres checked above

Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing +

We also offer translation, in addition to the genres of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting.

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing +

Graduate program director.

The University of Iowa's Program in Nonfiction Writing, known informally as the Nonfiction Writing Program, is home of Iowa's MFA in nonfiction, a degree program that provides accomplished and promising students the opportunity to study and write literary nonfiction. The requirements of the 48 semester-hour MFA are flexible enough to allow extensive work both inside and outside the program; the degree culminates in a thesis, a work which may present a sustained piece of literary nonfiction or a collection of shorter pieces. Graduates of the program have recently published in such magazines as the New Yorker, Harper's, the Georgia Review, and Creative Nonfiction; they have also published book-length collections of literary nonfiction.

Most program courses are either "forms" or "workshop" courses. The forms courses are centered on a kind of literary nonfiction (e.g. the travel essay) or on a special topic (e.g. unreliable narrators). The forms courses consist of both readings and writing projects. The workshop courses focus primarily on the writing of workshop participants.

Financial aid is available in the form of teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Such appointments are usually quarter- or third-time appointments, which qualify the holder for resident tuition. A limited number of tuition fellowships have been available in recent years and they have been added on to appointments otherwise held. Occasionally other fellowships are available on a competitive basis, but that is not something we can count on from year to year.

Teaching assistantships are the predominate form of financial aid in the Nonfiction Writing Program. An appointment to teach three courses for the academic year is referred to as a half-time teaching assistantship. A teaching assistant usually teaches in the Rhetoric Department. Experienced teaching assistants and applicants with appropriate teaching experience are also eligible to teach the elective nonfiction writing course in the Department of English. A quarter-time or more appointment qualifies a teaching assistant for resident tuition.

Research assistantships are occasionally available when the department identifies a faculty member who needs assistance with a research project or with a literary journal such as the Iowa Review. Such appointments are usually quarter- or third-time appointments, which qualify the holder for resident tuition. A limited number of tuition fellowships have been available in recent years and they have been added on to appointments otherwise held. Occasionally other fellowships are available on a competitive basis, but that is not something we can count on from year to year.

John D'Agata

On Knowing & Not. The Lifespan of a Fact. About a Mountain. Halls of Fame. The Lost Origins of the Essay. The Next American Essay.

Bonnie Sunstein

Fieldworking: Reading and Writing Research. What Works: Designs for Teacher Inquiry. Composing a Culture.

Inara Verzemnieks

Among the Living and the Dead; regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine

Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, WHIP SMART (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, ABANDON ME (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a Best Book of 2017. Her second essay collection, GIRLHOOD, a National Bestseller, was published by Bloomsbury on March 30. A craft book, BODY WORK, will be published by Catapult in March 2022.

Publications & Presses +

The Iowa Review

The Essay Review

The Krause Essay Prize

Visiting Writers Program +

Recent guests have included John McPhee, Allison Bechdel, Geoff Dyer, Vivian Gornick, Eliot Weinberger, Phillip Lopate, Jenny Boully, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Rebecca Solnit, Richard Rodriguez, Cheryl Strayed, David Shields, Terry Tempest Williams, Lawrence Weschler, Eula Biss, Wayne Koestenbaum, Jo Ann Beard, Bernard Cooper, Gretel Ehrlich, Ander Monson, Anne Fadiman, Donovan Hohn, Susan Orlean, David Rakoff, Honor Moore, Maggie Nelson.

Reading Series +

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Anthology ( )

Speakeasy ( )

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