Generous, attentive focus on student work is fundamental to any MFA program. Students in our program benefit from the engaged attention of faculty and the support of a diverse cohort of talented peers.
Beyond the close attention we bring to student writing, our MFA program offers an intense, stimulating immersion in the many ways an author might shape, support and inform a 21st century writing life. Our faculty has distinguished itself in an array of genres and media, and we teach from our expertise in traditional and innovative genres and forms. As a program, our areas of special strength are global contemporary writing and its antecedents, translation practice and theory, USA minority and immigrant writing, digital media, writing and social concerns, and literary careers and publications.
In addition to workshop and the preparation of a booklength thesis, our candidates choose from Notre Dame’s wide selection of graduate courses, including gender studies, art and art history, book arts, languages and literatures, film, television and theatre. To complement their classes and writing projects, MFA candidates work on literary journals and presses, teach, facilitate outreach programs with our community partners, interact with visiting authors and artists, and conduct a reading series of their own.
Our Funding Package
Every student admitted to the MFA receives:
1) a full tuition scholarship
2) a fellowship which carries a full stipend (currently $15,000 per year) and responsibilities in the areas of publications, outreach projects, and/or teaching creative writing (NOT composition)
3) access to a 100% health insurance subsidy
The Creative Writing Program welcomes applications from undocumented writers. With our campus partners such as Letras Latinas—the literary arm of the Institute for Latino Studies—we strive to provide support, mentorship and community for undocumented students. Please contact us if there is any way we can support you in preparing your application, including an application fee waiver, if needed.
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Our Course of Study
Our two-year program entails four semesters of study. A typical per semester courseload for an MFA candidate at Notre Dame is one workshop, one graduate-level literature course or other course approved by the Director, and thesis hours, dedicated to writing.
Students must take at least three workshops during their time at Notre Dame, the first two in the genre of application. After that, students may apply to the Director for permission to join a workshop in the other genre.
We also offer practicum classes on such topics as literary publishing and teaching creative writing; translation is also a special focus of our coursework and an area of faculty expertise.
In their second year, students select a thesis director from the creative writing faculty and embark on the writing of a full-length manuscript—typically a novel, book of poetry, selection of short stories or essays, etc.
All plans of study must be approved by the Director.
For all other information regarding your course of study at Notre Dame, including information about courses, grades, transfer credits, incompletes and withdrawals, please consult the Graduate Student Handbook, (MFA Section).
At Notre Dame, our faculty represents a diverse array of aesthetics and approaches to writing, media, language, and genre, as well as a diversity of ethnic and national backgrounds and immigration stories. Each year we strive to admit a class diverse in gender, ethnicity, immigration status, economic background, abilities and disabilities. We strive to reflect this diversity in our reading series, our course work, and our events on campus and in the South Bend community.
In order to have as wide and various a conversation about writing and the arts as possible, we often sponsor events in collaboration with campus partners such as the Institute for Latino Studies’ Letras Latinas program, Gender Studies, the Department of Africana Studies, American Studies, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of German and Russian, The Higgins Labor Program in the Center for Social Concerns, and Multicultural Students Programs and Services. We are proud to be part of this vivid, diverse, multilingual conversation around arts and writing here at Notre Dame.
Recent collaborative events have included a visit by the Black Took Collective, the hosting of An Ofrenda of Voices: Celebrating the Dead, a reading by MFA students and faculty sponsored in collaboration with the Institute for Latino Studies, readings by 2016 MacArther Genius Grant Recipient Claudia Rankine, Iranian-American poet Solmaz Sharif, US Poet Laureate Phil Levine, Latino poet Dan Vera, Cuban poet Victor Fowler, and Mexican poet Valerie Meier.
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Readings and Events
Our current year’s schedule of readings and events may be found here. In past years, we’ve had events and appearances by the Black Took Collective, Jenny Boully, Raul Zurita, Paul Lopez, Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, and a diverse array of writers and artists. MFA students also conduct their own reading series, take courses in the department of Film, Television, and Theatre, and are asked to think critically and creatively about the role of performance in literary activity.
Our MFA program has three outreach coordinators who work tirelessly to set up and facilitate partnerships with our South Bend neighbors. MFA students currently conduct writing groups and clubs at the Juvenile Justice Center, the Robinson Community Center, and local public elementary schools, with other plans in the works. Our outreach endeavors diversify and sharpen our teaching skills, affirm our commitment to the arts as service, and help us to learn from our neighbors about the special character, history, challenges and resilience of our vibrant city, South Bend.
Our MFA program is home to The Notre Dame Review, Action Books, Revisions and The Bend. Many students and alumni participate in online journals and literary communities. Notre Dame is a great place to learn about the many ways 21st century writers publish and share their work as well as contribute to the conversation around contemporary writing taking place in print and online.
Fellowships and Awards
As of fall 2015, we are proud to be able to offer every admitted student full funding in the form of a tuition scholarship and a fellowship which comes with a stipend and responsibilities in the following areas: Publications (Notre Dame Review or the international press Action Books); Outreach (includes facilitating projects at the Juvenile Justice Center, Robinson Community Center and area schools, as well as on- and off-campus events); and Teaching (all teaching is in creative writing, not composition).
The Sparks Summer Fellows Program offers internships at New York publishing houses and literary agencies. All enrolled students are eligible to apply.
We offer one post-degree fellowship, the Sparks Prize, a residency intended to support the writing of a prose manuscript. Any student in poetry or prose may compete for this residency in the spring of their final year. The winner receives a stipend and remains in residency at Notre Dame for a third year while they complete their book. An outside judge selects the winner.