Program Details

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 information can be found here

How many students are admitted each year?
We typically admit 8-9 students per year for a total community of 16-18 writers.

What is your acceptance rate?
Our acceptance rate is under 5%.

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 MFA students. Each student has the opportunity to read twice during the semester.

Can I teach or work in publishing?
Every student admitted to the MFA program will be assigned a fellowship which carries a stipend and responsibilities in the area of outreach, publications, and/or teaching.

The publishing fellowships include the Sparks fellow, who works for the Notre Dame Review, and the Action Books fellow, who works for the international press, Action Books. The Sparks fellow is typically a prose applicant; the Action Books fellow is typically a poet. Students who hold other fellowships can still read for the Notre Dame Review and/or edit our two journals, ReVisions and The Bend.

We admit two students with teaching fellowships, one for a prose applicant and one for a poetry applicant. The teaching fellows typically work in the office the first year and teach creative writing the second year. However, there are often opportunities for students who hold other fellowships to teach one section of creative writing in their second year.

The remaining fellowships are associated with outreach and other duties. All students are warmly encouraged to participate in outreach projects.

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.

Can I work towards both an MFA and PhD in English?
Yes. However, if a student seeks simultaneous entry into the MFA and the MA/ PhD 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 PhD program.

Current MA and PhD students seeking admission to the Creative Writing Program should discuss their candidacy with the 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.

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 MFA 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.

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.

Does Notre Dame accept undocumented graduate students?
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.

Study Abroad?
There are no study abroad opportunities within the MFA creative writing program. It is a two-year residential program.

Program Requirements

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.