Master's of Fine Arts in Fiction and Poetry
About the Program
The Writing Seminars offers a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in fiction and poetry. M.F.A candidates are chosen on the basis of a manuscript evaluation, college transcripts, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation that testify to an ability and willingness to undertake serious study in the literary arts. Since all students will receive financial aid in the form of full tuition and a teaching assistantship, applicants should be able to demonstrate aptitude for college teaching.
Students admitted to the M.F.A. program enroll in two years of course work, and produce a substantial manuscript either in the form of a novel, novel excerpt, or collection of fiction; or a collection of poetry. The program requires two full years of residency in Baltimore. Students enroll each semester in two courses: a writing workshop in poetry or fiction and a second course in craft or literature taught within the department. Poets will study with James Arthur, John T. Irwin, Mary Jo Salter and David Yezzi. Fiction-writers will take courses with Alice McDermott, Jean McGarry, Eric Puchner, Brad Leithauser and Matthew Klam.
Students will be assigned a Director of Thesis at the beginning of study, a faculty member in the student’s genre who serves as his or her advisor for the two years. Before the beginning of the second year, a Reader will be assigned to the student—a faculty member from a second genre—who serves as a voting member of the student’s thesis committee.
At the end of the first year, students will present a first-year portfolio, approximately half the length of the projected thesis, for faculty review. This conversation with faculty will give the student feedback on the portfolio and an evaluation of performance as a student and a teacher. Successful completion of the first year is of course assumed, but it is a requirement for continuation in the second year.
Students applying to the M.F.A. program should have a reading knowledge of a foreign language at the second-year college level. Having a second language allows a writer the syntactic flexibility to experiment with the first language and permits development of a literary voice through a deeper understanding of language function. Students may show foreign language proficiency in the first semester by passing a placement exam or a translation test. Those who do not pass in the first semester have the option of enrolling in a full year of college-level foreign language study, to be passed no later than the end of the first semester of the second year. Failure to pass the language requirement by the spring of the second year may delay graduation.
The M.F.A. degree in The Writing Seminars is designed for students committed to the study and practice of literary writing at the highest level of accomplishment. Approximately four poets and four fiction-writers are admitted annually. They will maintain continuous enrollment in workshops, forms courses, and electives in literature studies. Our program emphasizes genre-informed discussions, faculty conferences, independent readings of various texts, and interactions with visiting writers. Work culminating in a thesis, guided by faculty, offers immersion in the practice of writing that is intended to establish habits and skills necessary to lead the life of a writer.
In its 60 year history, The Writing Seminars has hosted visiting writers from around the world in the belief that engaging craftspersons who read from their work and discuss their art with students is a primary form in instruction. T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, J.M. Coetze, Edna O’Brien, Julian Barnes, Douglas Dunn, Paul Muldoon, William Gass, Robert Stone, C.K. Williams, Carol Frost, Stephen Dunn, Robert Coover, ZZ Packer, Max Apple, W.S. Merwin, Richard Ford, James Salter, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Garrett Hongo, Tom Franklin, and Beth Ann Fennelly are only a few among the 6 to 8 readers we have hosted every year.
Applicants interested in obtaining information about the part-time MA writing program should visit the website for Advanced Academic Programs (AAP), which is a separate, though related, entity at Johns Hopkins.
Prerequisites for Admissions to the Writing Seminars
Any applicant to the graduate program must have earned a bachelor's degree.
Online applications are required. Apply here.
(application fee of $75 charged to credit card)
The supporting documents consist of the following:
- Three recommendation letters
- Writing sample
- Statement of purpose (critique of work)
- GRE scores
- TOEFL or IELTS scores (for those applicants whose native language is not English)
For information on submitting supporting documents, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#application.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants must insure that three former teachers (or editors familiar with the applicant's writing) write letters of recommendation. At least one letter should specifically address the applicant's writing. For more information on letters of recommendation, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#recommend.
The writing sample consists of the following: MFA Poetry applicants must submit ten poems (not to exceed 25 double-spaced pages); MFA Fiction applicants must submit a maximum of three short stories or a self-contained section of a novel (40 double-spaced pages maximum). The writing sample must be sent electronically as part of the on-line application--do not mail. For writing sample submission information, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#samples.
Statement of Purpose (Critique of Work)
The statement of purpose (critique of work) should consist of a two-page (at most) introduction and critique. This statement should give admissions faculty a view to the scope and thoughtfulness of the work submitted and a sense of the student's ability to contribute in the writing workshops. It must be sent electronically as part of the on-line application--do not mail. For information on submitting the statement of purpose, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#purpose.
The Writing Seminars requires transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work (including overseas study and college work which may be shown as transfer credits on another transcript). For information on uploading transcripts, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#transcripts.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Applicants must have taken the GRE within the last five years and direct the Educational Testing Service to submit official notification of the scores directly to Johns Hopkins University. Please note: JHU Institution code is 5332; Department code is 2503. Any application lacking GRE scores will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. The applicant must take the GRE no later than December. For information on submitting GRE scores, please see the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/apply/index.php#gre.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about the application process, please see the following link and you will likely find the answers: http://grad.jhu.edu/faqs/
January 15 is the application deadline. The applicant is advised to request letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GRE notification long before the deadline.
For information on mailing application materials, please use the following link: http://grad.jhu.edu/admissions/mailing/.
International applicants should visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services web site for pertinent information.
All application documents must be provided in English (either the original or translations of the original documents). If you are unable to secure translations to English, we recommend that you contact World Education Services.
Contact: Yvonne Gobble, email@example.com , 410.516.6286