Below is a list of frequently-asked questions, divided by topic, about Notre Dame's Creative Writing program. If you have a question not on the list below, please submit it to email@example.com.
Finances / Scholarships
The University of Notre Dame Graduate School maintains an FAQ. We encourage you to read their FAQ first.
Can I work towards both an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in English?
Yes. However, if a student seeks simultaneous entry into the M.F.A. and the M.A/ Ph.D. in English program, admission must be approved by both the Graduate Studies Committee and the Creative Writing admissions committee. For regulations of the graduate school concerning admission, see the regulations of the Ph.D. program.
Current M.A. and Ph.D. students seeking admission to the Creative Writing Program should discuss their candidacy with Director of Creative Writing, then submit a statement of purpose and writing sample, along with a brief letter indicating their wish to be considered for the program during the regular application period.
Is the GRE required for admission?
Yes. All applicants must take the GRE General Test. The Subject Test is not required for students pursuing only the M.F.A. degree. (Those students seeking entry into the M.A. or Ph.D. program options must also take the Subject Test in English). International students must complete the GRE general exam and the TOEFL.
What are the GRE codes?
The University of Notre Dame code is 1841. The Creative Writing code is 2503.
What is a typical GRE Score?
There isn't a typical score. The faculty committee considering your application places most emphasis on the portfolio of work submitted.
Do I need my official GRE and/or TOEFL scores when I submit my application?
No, a scanned copy of your GRE test scores uploaded through the Online Application will suffice for admission. Official test scores should be received within a week (more or less) of the application deadline.
Are my GRE scores too old?
GRE scores are accepted for five years from the date you took the exam.
What if I want to apply to the M.F.A. program in both Poetry and Prose?
In addition to the materials required by the Graduate School, the applicant must submit a writing sample which should be roughly thirty pages of fiction or creative nonfiction, twenty pages of poetry, or an equivalent amount of other appropriate writing. An applicant wishing to apply in both prose and poetry must submit two writing samples.
What qualifications do I need to be accepted?
Admission to the Creative Writing Program is based primarily on the writing sample and letters of recommendation. All writing professors consider the writing samples from all applications for their particular genre. It is by far the most important part of the application. However, you must also be accepted by the University of Notre Dame Graduate School, which requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. Exceptions can be made for outstanding writing samples.
Should I upload my writing samples as one document or more than one?
You can upload them all as one Word or PDF document, or you can upload them separately using the “Upload Additional Documents” button on the online application.
What is the application deadline and fee?
The application deadline is January 2. Applicants wishing to be considered for financial aid should make certain that all materials be sent by the deadline. GREs should be taken no later than the December test date. The application fee is $75, and there is no discount for submitting your application early.
Are there application fee waivers?
The Graduate School does not offer application fee waivers except to students applying for a second or third time consecutively, meaning that if you skip an application year, you will not qualify to receive a waiver. The waiver code for re-applicants can be obtained by contacting the Graduate School.
What is the most important part of my application?
The writing sample plays the biggest role in the selection process.
How many pages of poetry need to be submitted?
On average, 20 pages of poetry should be submitted. Anywhere between 18 and 22 pages is acceptable. These pages may consist of twenty or so individual short poems or several longer poems, as long as the work does not extend beyond the acceptable page limit.
Who should write the letters of recommendation?
Who you select to write your letters of recommendation is your choice, though they should be from individuals who can address your writing ability (not necessarily your teaching talents). They do not need cover letters.
Can I use a dossier service (such as Interfolio) to apply to the program or submit letters of recommendation?
Notre Dame allows the use of dossier services such as Interfolio in its application process so long as the services have the capability to upload documents to ApplyYourself. Therefore, you may use some dossier services to collect and submit your letters of recommendation. The service you are using should review ApplyYourself procedures and alert you to which parts of the application it can complete and which parts you will need to personally submit online. More information about the ApplyYourself process is available on the Graduate School FAQ page.
Information too late to be included?
We’ll accept late application information, such as recommendation letters or GRE scores, as long as this information gets to us within a week, more or less, of the deadline.
We offer only fall admittance to the graduate writing program.
If I am not offered admission and I reapply the following year, will my application materials still be on file?
You will have to fill out a new application and resubmit application materials (letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae, transcripts, a new statement of intent, and the writing sample). If the Graduate School has your official GRE scores from the previous year, you do not have to resubmit them.
Wait, so I have to start a new application entirely if I'm reapplying to the program?
Yes, you must. You will have to create a new application and re-submit your application materials (letters of recommendation, CV, transcripts, statement of intent, and writing sample). You cannot edit an old application or reactivate it to submit it again, you have to start a new application. Starting over fresh gives you the opportunity to think about your previous application materials, make edits, or change things you may no longer feel represent you at your very best.
I wasn’t an English major. Can I still apply?
Yes, as long as your application demonstrates an ability to succeed in an M.F.A. program.
I already have an MFA in Creative Writing, should I apply to this program?
We'd recommend to not pursue an additional MFA in Creative Writing. You might consider a PhD in Creative Writing elsewhere.
How many students are admitted each year?
Typically 5–6 poets and 5–6 prose writers are admitted each year for a total of 20-22 students at any given time.
What is your acceptance rate?
Our acceptance rate is under 5%.
Waivers of Access?
They can be obtained while filling out the AY application. There’s a box to check online that tells the recommender whether the applicant waives access or not.
Should I visit the campus before applying?
Although visiting the Notre Dame campus before applying is certainly not required, the Creative Writing Office is happy to aide prospective students who wish to visit by providing them with campus maps and area information. Guided tours of the campus are also available from the Eck Visitors Center.
May I sit in on a course or meet with M.F.A. faculty before applying?
University of Notre Dame policy prohibits visitors from sitting in courses, so you will not be able to attend a course before you are an accepted student. If you visit the university after being accepted to the program, you may sit in on a class if invited by the course instructor.
Due to the large number of campus visits arranged each year, our program generally does not schedule official meetings between visiting applicants and faculty members. Our professors are engaged in their roles as instructors, advisors, and authors, and, as such, are often unable to meet with each prospective student. Nevertheless, the faculty at Notre Dame is supportive and willing to meet with applicants when time and scheduling permit. Visiting students can determine the potential free times of professors via this link.
Here’s a quick overview—the Creative Writing program at Notre Dame is a 2-year, 36-credit program. Most semesters, students take a 3-credit workshop in their genre (poetry or fiction), a 3-credit literature course, and 3 credit hours of thesis advising, for a total of 9 credits each semester. More.
What is the teacher/student ratio?
The teacher student ratio is 1:4, and you can receive as much attention from the professors as you want.
Is there a reading series?
We have a full reading series of outside, published writers each semester, and every student is welcome to participate—by suggesting writers, helping set up the readings, picking writers up from the airport, meeting with writers over a meal, meeting with them one on one, etc. We also have a full series of readings by current M.F.A. students. Each student has the opportunity to read twice at Quincy’s, a local café.
Can I teach or work in publishing?
There are three assistantships available for incoming students. One incoming poet and one incoming fiction writer each year receive a teaching assistantship, where they teach creative writing courses their first year here. They are the instructors of their courses and design and implement the courses themselves. Their second year, these students work in the Creative Writing office. Another student (a poet or fiction writer) receives the Sparks Fellowship, which allows them to work at the Notre Dame Review for two years.
In addition, the Creative Writing Program produces two student-run journals, which students may volunteer to work on: Re:Visions and The Bend.
What is the average demographic of your students?
We have had students of all ages and all circumstances. Some are right out of an undergraduate environment; others have come to the program after establishing careers in English and other fields. English majors tend to make up the majority, but we have many students who majored in other disciplines.
Do you teach nonfiction writing?
While we don’t offer a separate workshop in nonfiction, we do accept people in the genre, and we regularly address both fiction and nonfiction in the prose workshop. We have had a number of M.F.A. theses in nonfiction, and some of our students have won and have received honorable mentions in the AWP Nonfiction Intro Award category.
Do you admit playwrights?
We have never admitted a playwright as a playwright, because we do not currently offer any play writing classes. However, plays may be included as a part of your writing sample, and we have had a number of students write plays during their time here and submit plays as a part of their final theses.
Do you teach screenwriting?
We sometimes offer screenwriting classes in conjunction with the Film, Television, and Theatre department.
How do pieces of speculative fiction (fantasy/science fiction) fit into the program? Is there room for writers of speculative works or is it geared more towards authors of mainstream fiction?
While genre fiction is not an advertised part of our program, and our emphasis is pretty much in literary fiction, the professors and writers here tend to be all over the board when it comes to styles and genres, so anything goes.
There are no study abroad opportunities within the M.F.A. creative writing program. It is a two-year residential program.
What is required to graduate?
A book-length thesis in poetry, fiction (short fiction or a novel), or non-fiction is required for graduation, as well as a public reading from that thesis. There is no comprehensive examination or language requirement.
Is there a language requirement?
Do I have to take comprehensive finals?
What are the class requirements?
Most semesters, a student takes a 3-credit workshop in their genre (poetry or fiction), a 3-credit literature course, and 3 credit hours of thesis advising, for a total of 9 credits each semester. Electives may also be taken. Students must take at least three workshop courses, four literature courses, and four semesters of thesis advising.
What types of financial aid do you offer?
All students admitted into the program, whether international or U.S. residents, receive a full tuition scholarship. Additional fellowships and stipends are available for some students.
What additional fellowships/stipends are available?
One poet and one prose writer each receive a teaching assistantship, where they teach creative writing courses their first year here. They are the instructors of their courses and design and implement the courses themselves. Their second year, these students work in the Creative Writing office. Another student (poet or prose writer) receives the Sparks Fellowship, which allows him or her to work at the Notre Dame Review for the two years here. Two additional students each receive a fellowship to work for Action Books or to work with the current director. There is a possibility of receiving a Dean’s Fellowship, which is awarded through the Graduate School. All of the stipends are $12,500 over the course of 10 months. That’s plenty of money for living in South Bend.
Tuition is waived?
If you are admitted into the graduate M.F.A. program you will receive a tuition scholarship.
Health insurance is available to graduate students through the university, and tuition scholarships do NOT cover it. The cost is about $1500 a year. If you choose to use an alternate insurance company, you must provide proof of that insurance to Health Services.
How much will I receive if I qualify for a stipend?
The stipends are worth $12,500 over the course of 10 months. That’s plenty of money for living in South Bend. Students who receive a stipend also receive a 50% subsidy on their Notre Dame health insurance.
How long can I teach and how do I apply for an assistantship?
All assistantships are for two years and each applicant is automatically considered for them. No separate application is needed.
Any chance of receiving additional funding?
Additional stipends can be sought through the Graduate School. Our students sometimes receive them by working with other departments.
What is the Sparks Prize?
All graduating M.F.A.s from Notre Dame are invited to apply for the Sparks Prize, which awards one student $20,000 to live and write for a third year. The only requirements are residency in South Bend and one public reading.
The government will pay the interest on a subsidized loan. The Stafford loans are need-based and the financial aid office must follow federal guidelines.
See our Resources link for additional general information.