Please note that the deadline for applications varies by genre:

  • Prospective Fiction students' applications and supporting material must be submitted by 12:00 noon (CST), December 1.
  • Prospective Poetry students' applications and materials must be submitted by 12:00 noon (CST), December 15.

We admit students for the Fall semester only.


Applicants to the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing are required to:

  1. Application   Submit an online Application for Admission to the Graduate College. Please note that this requires an application fee, which you can read more about here
  2. Intent to Specialize   Indicate your intent to specialize in Poetry or Fiction under the heading "Application Information," Field(s) of Specialization on the online application.
  3. Transcripts   Submit one copy of each transcript of all previous college-level work.  The transcript must indicate the name of the applicant, name of the institution, and show grades by semester/quarter. You are required to upload one copy of all previous college-level work to your online application. Please include a copy of the transcript legend or university key (back page in most cases) for each institution. English translations should be included if the credentials are not in English. Official transcripts are not required at initial time of application; however, the University of Illinois reserves the right to require official academic credentials at any time during the admissions process, and may rescind any offer of admission made if discrepancies between unofficial and official transcript(s) are found.  Additional details about uploading are available on the graduate college website.   Only if you are recommended for admission will you need to provide official credentials (sent to us by mail directly from the institution). Your offer of admission will be contingent upon the receipt and verification of these official documents which must show the award of degrees. Please do not send these official records until we request them from you.  
  4. Letters of Recommendation   Submit three letters of recommendation, preferably from instructors of your college English courses. Letters may be electronically uploaded to your online application by your recommenders, or through Interfolio. Letters can also be mailed with a sealed envelope with the recommender's signature across the seal. 
  5. Academic Statement   Please write a statement that answers the following questions (1,000 words max): 
    1. How has your academic background, including any training, research, or other educational experiences, prepared you for graduate study? 
    2. What are your intellectual interests, and what scholarly questions are you interested in exploring in graduate study? 
    3. Are there any specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own with whom you would like to work? 
    4. How will our program help you achieve your academic and professional goals? 
  6. ​​​​​Short Personal Statements (250 words max) 
    1. Required   Please describe any experiences and/or challenges that may have shaped your intellectual and personal development.  
    2. Required   Provide insight into your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively.
    3. Optional   Please address any concerns you may have in your application. If, for example, you do not believe that your academic credentials demonstrate your true capabilities, please explain why. Also, describe any gaps in your academic career and work experience or any extenuating circumstances in your profile of which the admissions committee should be made aware.

    4. Optional   If there is something that you would like to highlight that you have yet to discuss in other areas of the application, please do so here. 

  7. Statement of Purpose   The Creative Writing MFA Statement of Purpose (300-500 words) should be a precise and powerfully-written intellectual biography. What writers or authors, courses, literary works, critical texts have influenced you? What critical questions, historical or national issues, disciplinary or interdisciplinary interests do you hope to pursue in graduate school and beyond? Why? Why at Illinois in particular? 
  8. Writing Sample   Upload a Writing Sample. No more than 20-25 pages of fiction or 15 pages of poetry are to be uploaded to your online application. Please include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available).  Please upload to your online application in the “Writing Sample” area.

As of 2020, the GRE General Test is no longer required for MFA applicants.

Application Materials

Statement of Purpose

This statement (300-500 words) should be a precise and powerfully-written intellectual biography. What writers or authors, courses, literary works, critical texts have influenced you? What critical questions, historical or national issues, disciplinary or interdisciplinary interests do you hope to pursue in graduate school and beyond? Why? Why at Illinois in particular?

Writing Sample

For M.F.A. applicants, the writing sample should include the material that best represents the strength and range of their creative work. The length of your Writing Sample should vary by the genre you intend to study: poets should submit 15 pages of poetry and fiction writers should submit 20-25 pages of fiction.

Resume or CV

In addition to the information included in the Statement of Purpose and on the application form, you are encouraged to send a concise résumé which indicates your academic honors, your participation in department and university communities, your teaching or tutoring experience, and your work and volunteer experience.  If you are currently enrolled in school, you may want to note the courses you are currently taking and plan to take in the following semester since these will not appear on your transcript.