M.F.A. Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at the University of Idaho is an intensive, three-year course of study offering degree tracks in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Our program is young but robust, and we are immensely proud of the features that set us apart. These include a rich variety of studio and academic course offerings (including unique long-form fiction and nonfiction classes), cross-genre and interdisciplinary opportunities, internships and editorial positions with Fugue literary journal, and our Distinguished Visiting Writer series, which brings two eminent writers to campus each year for a week of craft talks, readings and master classes. Past Distinguished Visiting Writers include the likes of Charles Baxter, Lia Purpura, Mark Doty, David Foster Wallace, Stephen Dunn, Gary Soto, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Kathy Acker, Carolyn Forche, Terry Tempest Williams, Ann Beattie, Dorianne Laux and Robert Boswell. As for the coming 2016-2017 year, we look forward to welcoming three all-star visitors to the program: Claire Vaye Watkins, Benjamin Busch, and Mary Szybist.
That our program is rigorous should certainly be noted. That it is also intended to foster an intimate, supportive and collaborative community is perhaps the most important feature of all. Small by design, the University of Idaho Creative Writing program is limited to approximately 30 students across all three genres. Each year, we welcome about 12 students total in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction, all of whom will complete a set of core requirements (including five graduate-level writing workshops, five graduate-level literature courses, one Techniques course, one internship credit with Fugue literary journal and two Distinguished Visiting Writer credits). The degree culminates with a thesis of publishable quality (approximately 90-110 pages of prose or 48 pages of poetry), to be defended in the spring of each candidate’s third and final year in the program.
The Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at the University of Idaho admitted its first class of seven students in the fall of 1994 with a faculty of four: Mary Clearman Blew, Tina Foriyes, Ron McFarland and Lance Olson. From the very beginning, the program was conceived as a three-year sequence of workshops and techniques classes. Along with offering concentrations in writing fiction and writing poetry, the University of Idaho program was one of the first in the nation to offer a full concentration in the just-emerging genre of creative nonfiction. Also from its very beginning, and unlike many such programs in creative writing, the University of Idaho program not only allowed but encouraged its students to enroll in workshops in genres not their own.
Situated just west of Moscow Mountain amid the rolling hills of the Palouse, our location in the vibrant community of Moscow, Idaho, boasts a lively and artistic local culture. Complete with independent bookstores, coffee shops, art galleries, restaurants and breweries, (not to mention a historic art house cinema, organic foods co-op, and truly exceptional seasonal farmer’s market), Moscow is a friendly, progressive and affordable place to live. Outside of town, we’re lucky to have many opportunities for hiking, biking and general exploring—from nearby Idler’s Rest and Kamiak Butte to renowned destinations like Glacier National Park. As for more urban getaways, Spokane, Washington, is only a ninety-minute drive, and our regional airline, Alaska, makes daily flights to and from Seattle that run just under an hour.
Any writing program is only as good as the people—both faculty and students—who show up each day to make it happen. Here at the University of Idaho, we pride ourselves on a present, engaged and accessible faculty. As for our students, they are the lifeblood of the program: a generous, creative, inclusive and diverse cohort varying in age, experience and background. Each year, we seek out applicants who will draw inspiration from this culture of collaboration and who are driven by a sincere desire to strengthen others’ work in the process of strengthening their own. In addition, we look for writing that demonstrates some spark of excitement and momentum (in everything from theoretical abstraction to the level of the sentence) that promises to intrigue and challenge our literary community.
That this community extends beyond the three-year duration of the program itself is a valuable (and valued) asset to our graduates. Each year, alumni return to Moscow for readings, workshops and the pleasure of reconnecting with friends and mentors in a place all of us, at one point or another, have been lucky enough to call home.
Our program is committed to providing as much support as possible in the form of teaching assistantships, scholarships and fellowships. At this time, we can offer teaching assistantships on a competitive basis to approximately 60 percent of our graduate students (each of which comes with an in-state fee waiver and a stipend, which for the 2016-2017 academic year is set at $13,500). Among these, a very few may include full fee waivers. For this reason, and like the majority of graduate programs, we rank incoming students to determine the distribution of these offers. We also award a variety of competitive and need-based scholarships to help offset graduate fees and general living costs. In addition, we offer three outstanding graduate student fellowships: The Hemingway Fellowship, Centrum Fellowship and Writing in the Wild Fellowship. Finally, our Graduate and Professional Student Association offers extra-departmental funding in the form of research and travel grants to qualifying students throughout the academic year.
See details regarding scholarships, fellowship applications and teaching assistantship responsibilities.
The University of Idaho’s Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing admits students for entry in the fall semester of each year. The application deadline is January 15. The application fee is $60. Candidates should apply in one genre only. We usually notify applicants of their status in early March. In the interim, please feel free to follow the progress of your application on the graduate website.
- Bachelor's degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized accrediting association.
- Undergraduate grade‐point average of 3.0 or higher for the last 60 semester credits (or 90 quarter credits) or an undergraduate cumulative grade‐point average of 3.0 or higher.
- At least a 3.0 grade‐point average in subsequent academic work, if any.
- A TOEFL score (or equivalent English test) of at least 560 (paper test) or 83 (internet test) for non‐English speaking students who have not graduated from an English‐speaking institution.
- Note: The Master of Fine Arts program does not require the GRE.
- Graduate Admissions online application.
- Three confidential letters of recommendation (preferably from professors who can speak to your aptitude for graduate study and the particular genre to which you are applying).
- Note: Recommenders should send letters directly to the College of Graduate Studies at the address below. There is no departmental form for recommendations. Letterhead is preferable; if letters do not come directly from the references themselves, recommendations should be signed, by the reference writer, across the envelope flap. If you are seeking a teaching assistantship, letters should also speak to your potential as a teacher of college writing.
- Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate courses completed at each college or university you have attended.
- Note: Please confirm that your transcripts have been received by our College of Graduate Studies. Even one missing transcript from a semester of community college can cause your application to be held and not released to the program.
- Statement of Purpose (no longer than two double-spaced pages) that discusses your desires and goals. The statement should also explain your interest in the study of creative writing and in the University of Idaho's program in particular.
- Curriculum Vitae or resume
- Area of Emphasis form to indicate your chosen genre (select only one)
- Critical essay:
- 20 pages (maximum) of literary criticism
- 20 pages (maximum) of fiction
- 20 pages (maximum) of nonfiction
- 10 pages (maximum) of poetry