Applicants should be aware that UNCW is not a signatory of the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution, which mandates a decision deadline for applicants of April 15. Based on our intention to consider all applicants in a timely and fair manner, such a late deadline is not a practical option for our program and indeed presents a hardship for the great majority of our applicants who may be qualified for admission but may not be chosen in the first round of financial aid packages. Instead, our process allows a more realistic timeframe in which to either accept an offer or pass it on to the next applicant.
Here is how it works: We normally make our first round of offers near March 1st. Offers that include departmental funding (teaching assistantships, fellowships, etc) include a three-week decision deadline. This three-week grace period allows the applicant time to receive initial responses from the other programs to which he/she has applied. Should the applicant decide to accept another program’s offer, we will redirect our financial aid package to the next finalist on our list. [We don't disclose to finalists the ranking on our list.] These second-round offers have at least a two-week grace period in which to make a decision. As we near the end of the admissions process (typically the second half of April), that grace period will shorten. UNCW finishes classes and enters the exam period at that time, and we need to have our incoming class decided before we adjourn for the summer. Since we are able to fund only approximately 50% of our incoming class, it is crucial that we place these offers in the hands of those who will accept them as soon as possible.
We strongly encourage any applicant who has questions or concerns, whether or not he/she has received an offer from us, to contact our MFA Coordinator or assistant directly and we will get back to you just as quickly as we can. This can be especially helpful if the applicant has received other offers but is still awaiting UNCW’s decision, or vice-versa. Our goal is to help each applicant find the best program match while attracting the highest caliber of MFA writers to our program, and we will do all we can to expedite our process and allow as much leeway as we realistically can in helping any applicant decide among competing offers.
Should an applicant initially be offered admission to our program without funding, he/she will be given no deadline for acceptance until 1) we are able to provide some form of departmental funding, or 2) all funding has been allocated to, and accepted by, other applicants. If an applicant is offered admissions without funding and accepts our offer, he/she will still be considered for funding as it becomes available.
We encourage all those who apply to MFA programs to thoroughly research the schools to which they are applying, to make campus visits if necessary, and to be prepared to make final decisions in a timely manner. This research should be done prior to hearing from the programs, not after receiving an acceptance. Remember, for every applicant holding on to multiple offers, a much greater number of applicants are anxiously waiting to hear if they will be offered a spot in those same programs.
No process is perfect. Since the signatories of the CGS resolution typically do not make second-round offers until after April 15th, many applicants are unlikely to have received offers of admission and financial aid from all of the programs to which they applied, even by that date. Still, we will do what we can to help applicants make an informed and timely decision about this important stage of their writing lives.
**Special note for gmail users: This year we have been receiving word that emails sent from our Department and the UNCW Graduate School have been routed to gmail spam folders. Please monitor your email settings and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you don't miss important communication from us, including the status of your application and funding offers!