MFA Program

The MFA Program at Washington University in St. Louis is a two-year program where 30 students are working toward MFA degrees in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Our world-renowned faculty will mentor you and your writing to develop to your full potential. In addition to working with our faculty, our reading series brings a diverse group of poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers to the department, and the Hurst Professor program brings distinguished visitors each year to present their newest work, lecture on the craft of writing, and work one-on-one with our MFA students. Alison Bechdel, Claudia Rankine, George Saunders, Patricia Hampl, Kelly Link, Joy Williams, and Terrance Hayes are just some of our recent Hurst Professors.

The two-year program is rigorous and challenging, but fosters a close-knit community of support that continues long after the degrees have been granted. At the heart of the program are the fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry workshops, with craft courses in all genres, access to the department’s courses in literature, and many other courses in the College of Arts & Sciences also available to MFA students. Students may also take graduate courses from other departments when appropriate to their creative endeavors (and with the permission of the faculty).

Entry into the program is highly competitive—out of hundreds of applications received, we accept only 15 students (five each in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction). Our students come from all over the US and around the world and generally include a mix of recent undergraduates and older students, with a diversity of writing styles that continues to surprise us.

Learn More about Life in St. Louis

Eileen G'Sell Portrait

The Latest Publications from MFA Alum and Faculty Member, Eileen G'Sell

"The last month has been busy in terms of publications..."

Funding and Fellowships

Financial Support

Because of our selectivity and size, we are able to offer all our new students full and equal financial aid for both years in the program in the form of a University Fellowship, which provides a complete tuition waiver plus a stipend sufficient for students to live comfortably in our relatively inexpensive city. There are also two university-wide fellowships for graduate students, which applicants to the MFA Program are urged to apply for separately: the Spencer T. Olin Fellowships for Women and the Chancellor's Graduate Fellowships. All MFA students receive health insurance through Washington University.

Learn more about financial support and funding opportunities

Program Structure

The Writing Program leads to the Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFA). It is a two-year program, requiring satisfactory completion of 42 semester hours, a thesis (usually a volume of poems, short stories, a novel, a collection of essays or a book-length nonfiction manuscript), and an oral examination dealing principally with the thesis.

Learn More About the Program Structure


Please note that, beginning in 2017, we no longer require the GRE for admissions.

Admission to the Writing Program at Washington University is highly competitive. Each year, we are able to accept only between 3 and 5 percent of applicants, and there are always many more qualified and promising writers than we can accommodate.

Applicants must apply by December 15. Applicants must follow standard Graduate School procedures and apply online. The online application will allow you to submit the following material:

  • Application Fee
  • Applicant Information Form
  • Transcripts
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing Sample 
  • Curriculum Vitae

Typed manuscripts should consist of 6 to 12 poems or up to 35 double-spaced pages of fiction or nonfiction. Please note the decision-making committees admit students and decide on financial aid without regard to gender, sexual orientation, age, race, color, creed, national origin, or disability.

WUSTL is also home to the students who founded MFA App Review, an initiative that offers free, informal manuscript review to POC, Indigenous, Trans* and Nonbinary writers and poets applying to fully funded MFA programs. To learn how to apply to have your materials reviewed, please visit

Please note that, following the graduate school’s policies, we very rarely accept students who have already received an MFA from another institution, even if the applicant is applying in a different genre.

Ready to apply?

Visit the Online Application


Our Alumni

We've long been fortunate to have outstanding students come through The MFA Program at Washington University, and we're very proud of how much our MFA alumni have gone on to accomplish since graduating.

Learn more about our graduates

Internship Opportunity

Dorothy, a publishing project—a nationally acclaimed independent press publishing works of innovative fiction—offers a one-year internship for an MFA student in creative writing. Students can apply in the spring of their first year to begin the internship the following fall. The intern chosen will work directly with Danielle Dutton, the press's editor, on mutually agreed upon projects that take into account the intern's interests and strengths. In general, however, the internship is designed to give students a wide range of experience with literary publishing, and so will likely involve a mix of editorial work (e.g., reviewing submissions, writing reader’s reports, copyediting manuscripts in layout), marketing, design, and book production and distribution. The intern will also have opportunities to represent the press publicly, including at the annual AWP conference (travel and hotel expenses will be covered), and his or her name will appear on the press's masthead.

Interested students should submit a letter of application and a CV to Professor Dutton ( and Program Director David Schuman ( no later than March 15 of the spring semester of their first year. The Course Master will be Danielle Dutton; David Schuman will be the Site Supervisor.