FAQs

And some rare (thank goodness!) questions, too:

Q: What is the application deadline?

A: Online applications for Fall 2018 admission will become available on September 1, 2017 and must be completed by January 12, 2018.

Q: Will you accept applications by mail or email?

A: Admissions will be handled exclusively online. Applications received by mail or email will be discarded without review.

Q: I applied last year. Do I need to resubmit all of the application materials?

A: Yes, you must apply again and submit all of your application materials. We dispose of all application materials at the close of each admissions cycle. New materialsincluding test scores and letters of recommendationmust be sent each year that you apply.

Q: Can I send my letters of recommendation via email?

A: No. Letters of recommendation must be uploaded online by the individuals who write them. You'll be asked to supply email addresses for your recommenders. They will then receive a request for letters and instructions on how to upload.

Q: How long is the program?

A: Our Master of Fine Arts degree requires sixty hours of coursework. All candidates for the MFA  produce a book-length thesis. Most spend four years completing the curriculum.

Q: Do I need to have a bachelor’s degree in English to apply?

A: To be admitted to our MFA program, you must hold a bachelor’s degree by the time the fall semester begins. Your bachelor’s degree can be in any field; we have accepted everyone from English majors to financial analysts to engineers.

Q: Are there any course prerequisites? I have never taken a creative writing course before.

A: No worries. We only require that you be a brilliant fiction writer, poet, or translator and that you hold a bachelor’s degree.

Q: I am a fiction writer, poet, and translator. Can I apply in more than one genre? Can I study more than one genre?

A: Your talents overfloweth. Our online application system will allow you to apply to more than one genre within a single application. However, if granted admission, you'll be admitted in only one genre for your MFA. We do not offer dual concentration MFAs. 

All of our MFA students are required to take some courses outside of their chosen concentration. For example, a fiction writer is required to take several poetry or translation courses. This is intended as a form of enlightenment, not torture.

Q: Can someone in the department read my work to let me know whether or not it is good enough to apply?

A: No. Be brave. Submit an application.

Q: Can you please return my creative writing sample with comments?

A: Nope.

Q: I do not have a copy of a research paper to send as a critical writing sample. What should I do?

A: We understand that some applicants have been out of school for a long time. The critical writing sample is used to determine whether you will receive a teaching assistantship to fund your time here. The reviewers are looking for evidence that you're a strong academic writer who can form a thesis, explore and support it through secondary sources, and properly cite those sources. If you don't have a paper that exhibits those skills, you might want to write one.

Q: I have several academic papers that add up to ten pages. Will this suffice for the critical writing sample?

A: Please send a critical writing sample that is approximately ten pages in length. This part of the application is important for securing a teaching assistantship, and the committee needs to see your ability to write academic papers similar to what you will assign as a TA.

Q: Can I schedule an appointment to visit with the faculty?

A: We strongly encourage MFA applicants to forgo a campus visit until they've received word on their admissions status in the spring. This ensures that our admissions process will be completely unbiased. Also, our faculty members have busy schedules, and much of their time is reserved for working with current students. They would be unable to accommodate every prospective student who requests a meeting.

Q: Do you have a low-residency or distance-learning program?

A: No. All of our MFA students are full-time students, and currently we do not offer any online courses.

Q: Does your program offer teaching assistantships?

A: If you are admitted to our program, it's likely that you will receive a teaching assistantship which will grant you a tuition waiver and a modest salary in exchange for teaching two course sections each semester. Most of our incoming students are awarded TAs.

Q: If I receive a teaching assistantship, what type of courses will I be required to teach?

A: All first year MFA students teach Composition I—Freshman English. After the first year, MFA students can apply to teach other courses such as Creative Writing I, Creative Writing II, World Literature, Essay Writing, and Advanced Composition. For more information about the teaching assistant positions and courses, please visit the Program in Rhetoric and Composition.

Q: Is the GRE required? Do I have to take a subject test? What scores are required?

A: You must send GRE scores from the general test. We do not require scores for the subject test.

Eligibility for the program is primarily based upon your creative work. However, high GRE scores can help us to obtain a distinguished fellowship in your name. Please aim for verbal GRE scores in the 85th percentile or above.

Q: Does your program offer any additional fellowships or scholarships?

A: Yes, there are a limited number of University of Arkansas Distinguished MFA Fellowships ($4,000 annually for qualifying MFA students). After your first year in the program, you will be eligible to compete for prestigious Walton Fellowships in Fiction, Poetry, and Translation ($13,000 for the following academic year), Lily Peter Fellowships in Fiction, Poetry, and Translation ($1,000), and more.

Q: If I am accepted, can I defer my admission?

A: No.

Q: Does your program work with genre fiction such as horror fiction, romance fiction, and historical fiction?

A: Not typically. Our fiction program is highly literary—focusing on character development, story arc, narrative structure, etc.

Q: What languages do the translation faculty work with?

A: Students in our program generally translate from Spanish, French, German, Italian, Arabic, or Russian as at least one of their languages.

Q: I am interested in translating academic and non-fiction texts. Does your program work with such texts?

A: Our programs focuses on the translation of literature (fiction and poetry) into English, and we expect each translator to be as good a stylist in English as our poets and fiction writers. Translators can enroll in non-fiction workshops and non-fiction courses, but their thesis must be composed of literature translations.

Q: Is it acceptable to send a translation of poems written in English translated into my native language?

A: No. Our program focuses on the translation of literary works from other languages INTO English, so your manuscript should do the same.

Q: For my translation samples, do I need to send examples of both fiction and poetry? Do I need to use just one source for my translations?

A: You can choose fiction or poetry, whichever you prefer to translate. You need not stick with a single source or author for the whole sample.

Q: English is not my first language. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

A: Yes.

Q: I am an international student. What do I need to do?

A: The application is the same for all students on our end—just complete your online application by the deadline. Admittance to the Graduate School (the second phase of admission) might be a little different for you as an international student, but you won't have to worry about that until you're accepted into the MFA program.

For more information, visit the university’s International Education page. 

Q: What is Fayetteville, Arkansas like? Is it true that I will have to wear a pig nose and perform the “Hog Call” cheer to graduate?

A: Check out our list of links about Northwest Arkansas.

Love for the Razorbacks is optional, but it is also highly contagious.