M.F.A. Creative Writing
The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Idaho is the premier fully-funding, three-year, three-genre MFA program in the Northwest. Situated in the panhandle of northern Idaho, we offer the time and support to train in the traditions, techniques, and practice of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. Our students enroll for at least nine credits per semester in a mix of genre workshops, techniques studios, and traditions seminars, as well as graduate literature courses, a practicum in literary magazine editing and production, a course in pedagogy and classroom practices, and other electives. Each student graduates as the author of a thesis manuscript of publishable quality after undertaking a rigorous process of thesis preparation and a public defense. Spring in Moscow has come to mean cherry blossoms, snowmelt in the creek, and the head-turning accomplishments of our thesis-year students.
Ours is a faculty that, collectively, has authored more than twenty books and has received NEA, Lannan Literary, and Stegner Fellowships; the Whiting and James Laughlin Awards; and Fulbright Scholarships and residencies around the world. More importantly, we are a cadre of active, working writers who relish teaching and mentorship. To supplement our offerings, each semester we invite a Distinguished Visiting Writer to teach a week-long intensive class and to give a public reading. Recent visitors include Maggie Nelson, Roger Reeves, Brian Evenson, Luis Alberto Urrea, Dorianne Laux, and Kate Zambreno. Aisha Sabatini Sloan is our Spring 2022 Distinguished Visiting Writer in Nonfiction.
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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.
Fully funded, our program offers teaching assistantships to all MFA candidates with tuition waivers.
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.
All students admitted to the University of Idaho’s MFA program are fully funded; each is offered a Teaching Assistantship, which comes with a full tuition waiver, and a stipend, which for the 2018-2019 academic year is $14,000.
We also award a variety of competitive and need-based scholarships to help offset 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).
- 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