Indiana University Creative Writing Program
Creative Writing Program
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Application deadline: January 2, 2016

International Application deadline: December 1, 2015

January 2 is the deadline for receiving all admission materials. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, materials will be accepted on the first working day following the deadline. All materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation and GRE scores must be received by January 2, 2016. Letters of recommendation will not be accepted after midnight, EST, on January 2, 2016.

Please note that all of your materials must be submitted online with the exception of university transcripts.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: Please be aware that all non-U.S. citizens are considered international applicants. Only students currently studying at Indiana University are exempt from this rule. International Applicants may want to consult the webpage for the Office of International Services before applying:

NOTE FOR DOMESTIC APPLICANTS: We suggest you submit your application form and fee by the beginning of October in order to give your recommenders substantial time to write and submit your letters. Place transcript requests and GRE orders well in advance of the deadline since many institutions are closed at the end of the year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Application Materials Checklist

Students who have earned a B.A. or equivalent degree may apply for admission to the M.F.A. program in fiction or in poetry.

Applicants to the M.F.A. in Creative Writing are required to submit the following online (except transcripts). All materials must be received by January 2, 2016:

  • a personal statement (500 word limit).
  • a statement about teaching creative writing (500 word limit).
  • three letters of recommendation from those who know you and your potential for graduate school (uploaded online or submitted through Interfolio. If sent through Interfolio, send to
  • one set of official transcripts sent directly from all attended institutions to the Creative Writing Program (address below). Place transcript requests well in advance of the deadline since many institutions are closed at the end of the year.
  • one set of official GRE General Test scores submitted online and sent directly from ETS (School Code: 1324, Dept. Code: 2503). Request GRE scores from ETS at least 2 weeks prior to the deadline to ensure that they arrive on time.
  • a portfolio with 5,000 to 7,500 words (25 - 30 pages) in fiction; 12-15 pages of poetry.
  • TOEFL Scores (for foreign applicants only)

Please read the FAQ's below before completing your application.

SCHOOL CODE: 1324 DEPT. CODE: 2503 (for GRE scores and Transcripts)

All materials with the exception of the transcripts must be uploaded to the online application. Transcripts must be mailed directly from the attended institution to:

Administrative Assistant
Creative Writing Admissions
1020 E. Kirkwood Ave.
Ballantine Hall Rm. 442
Bloomington, IN 47405

Please also see the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of the page.

Selection Process

Our admissions committees in fiction and poetry are made up of faculty writers who read all the applications carefully, with a decided emphasis on the manuscript portion. We look for talent that genuinely excites us and that we feel we can work with and develop. We strongly encourage applicants to read the published work of the Faculty in their genre since these are the writers the students will be working with in the program.

Though we do not require the GRE subject test in English, we encourage applicants who have taken the subject exam to have the results sent to us (note: we do require the GRE general test). Our Admissions Committees look for evidence that prospective students can successfully take graduate-level courses in literature, language, or culture, since four graduate-level courses in these areas are required for our M.F.A. degree.

Both the personal statement and the teaching statement are also very important. Please note that the teaching statement is separate from the personal statement, because our admissions committees are especially interested in hearing how applicants might teach a beginning-level creative writing course in poetry and fiction. Applicants should feel free to include a brief description that details their thoughts on how they would teach such a course and why. Actual teaching experience is certainly of interest but not at all a requirement.

Please note that we read applications to our program only once a year, for admission beginning in the fall semester only.

Frequently Asked Questions in Admissions:

--Do I need to have all of my materials by January 2 deadline, or just the application?

The application and all supplementary materials, including letters of recommendation, must be uploaded and transcripts received by January 2, 2016.

We encourage applicants to have their official transcripts and GRE scores sent to the Creative Writing Program at least one month prior to the deadline to ensure that they arrive by January 2, 2016 (many institutions are closed at the end of the year).

--Can I apply for the Spring semester?

No. We read applications once a year, and admit students only during the Fall semester.

--Can I apply to both poetry and fiction?

You may, but you must submit separate applications, with a writing sample specific to each genre, and separate application fees. Please don't send both poetry and fiction with a single application.

--Can I apply to nonfiction?

No. We offer tracks only in poetry and fiction. We do, however, offer workshops in nonfiction, and our students in both poetry and fiction have benefitted greatly from these courses.

--What should I write in my personal statement?

There is no single formula for personal statements, though we are interested in hearing how you view your writing in relation to a larger world (this might be through questions of identity, place, culture, or whatever most prompts you to write). Think of your personal statement as the way you introduce yourself to us, not only as a writer and a reader, but also as a human being. We want to hear an honest voice that articulates in its own individual way your interests in writing and reading and learning, and how those interests mesh with our graduate program description, as well as your goal to pursue an M.F.A. degree. This statement helps us determine whether applicants will be productive and valuable members of our community.

--What should I write in my teaching statement?

As with the personal statement, there is no single formula for teaching statements. Regardless of your experience, you are being asked to describe your ideas about the teaching of creative writing, along with rationales for such choices. Some of these ideas may be generated from your own experiences as a student with good teachers. We want to hear a voice that resonates with our own unequivocal emphasis on the importance of teaching as a part of a well-rounded M.F.A. education.

--What should I include in my writing sample?

The choice is completely yours, of course, but it's recommended that you choose your strongest work, and which maybe other readers, like teachers, agree best represents your abilities. Fiction and poetry must both be typed. Fiction must be double-spaced, using a conventional 12-point font. For fiction, you may include a longer self-contained piece, an excerpt from a larger work, several shorter works, or a combination thereof.

--If my writing sample is shorter or longer than the stated page ranges, will my application be disqualified?

While we will consider applications whose writing samples fall just outside the preferred range, we urge applicants to observe those ranges as closely as they can, using standard formatting and font, appropriate to your genre. In some situations, you may wish to submit an extract from a longer work (ie, one complete 18-page story and a 10-12 page extract from a second story).

The committee is interested in reading a substantial quantity of your strongest and most polished writing. Please send only the writing that you consider to be your best. Both quality and quantity matter.

--How important are the three letters of recommendation?

Very important. Letters of recommendation help us get a better picture, and to contextualize your application in important ways, so, yes, the letters matter. It's generally a good idea to ask for letters from those who can write specifically (not just generally) on behalf of your interests and goals, and tell us why you would make a good candidate for our program. Again, there is no formula for the letters of recommendation, but it's recommended that you choose letter writers who can speak in specific detail about your readiness for graduate study and why.

--I applied last year and wasn’t admitted. I want to apply again this year. What do I need to do?

You need to submit a new application form. You are also advised to submit new statements and writing sample that demonstrate developments in your thinking and writing from the previous year.

--How do you run your workshop?

Our workshop is a place for total immersion in the art and craft of writing. It is a lively arena where the actual written material of the student-writers takes center stage, where that writing is explored and discussed in a productive and encouraging atmosphere and where students also read and discuss work by published authors to gain insights into their own craft.

We’ve designed our teaching schedule to ensure that students, regardless of when they enter the program, will have an opportunity to take workshops with different faculty members in the program. We are proud of the diversity our faculty bring in their approaches to the workshop. What this also means is there is no one way in which the workshop is “run.” In fact, we discourage prospective students from “workshop shopping,” i.e., determining beforehand whether a workshop will be to their liking. An M.F.A. in Creative Writing, in our view, is an opportunity not only to consolidate your strengths but also to stretch yourself into new areas of exploration. Some of our best writing happens in moments of discovery. A pre-determined approach to the workshop shuts out new avenues and new directions that could lead to truly exciting art.

--Do I need to have majored in either English or Creative Writing in order to gain admission to your program?

No. In fact, many of our students come from areas other than English or Creative Writing. Even so, it's assumed that reading and knowledge of literature goes hand in hand with writing, and that those admitted to the program will bring with them a rich reading background and knowledge, and solid critical thinking skills. In addition, our program is built around the academic/studio model and includes a strong literature component. Our M.F.A. program is a studio/academic program, including academic coursework; we encourage prospective applicants to review recent graduate literature course offerings here. Our students teach both creative writing and composition (which invariably involves exploration and discussion of literary texts). Therefore, we look for evidence that prospective students can be successful in talking and writing about literature, both in the classes they take and in the classes they teach.

--Will I ever be in classes with Ph.D. students?

Yes, the literature classes, as well as some of the creative writing special topics courses and nonfiction workshops, are open to all of our graduate students.