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Thank you for your interest in our program! We hope that the following responses to frequently asked questions will prove useful. If you have additional questions, please contact Lavonne J. Adams, the MFA Coordinator (email@example.com, 910.962.3436), or Lisa Bertini, MFA Program Assistant (firstname.lastname@example.org, 910.962.3070).
How many new students are admitted each year? We generally receive 300–400 applications, out of which we enroll a total of 24–30 students (or 8–10 students in each of the three genres).
How many students are there in workshops? Workshop courses have a maximum of 14 students.
How can I find out about your courses? The Department of Creative Writing provides course descriptions for classes offered in the current/coming semester. You may also review the Graduate Catalogue for a complete course listing. (Select "College of Arts & Sciences" at left.) Aside from Creative Writing courses, you may also wish to review course offerings for English or Graduate Liberal Studies. The MFA program requirements allow for up to six, optional “interdisciplinary” credits (generally, two classes) to be applied toward the MFA degree.
What MFA opportunities do you offer with The Publishing Laboratory? Please see http://www.uncw.edu/writers/publab/mfaopps.html.
What are the MFA degree requirements? The overall course requirements for the MFA degree are as follows: 48 hours, broken into 21 hours of writing workshop (CRW 530, 542, 544, 546, 548, 550), 21 hours of electives (anything that's not a writing workshop), and 6 thesis hours. Most MFA students take courses full-time (9 hours) and finish their degree in 3 years (6 semesters). For more details about our MFA degree requirements, including the out-of-genre requirement, please see the FAQs for Current MFA Students.
I would like to visit your campus. Can I meet with faculty or students? Meetings with faculty or students can be arranged on a limited basis. We recommend visiting during our annual Writers Week—this is a great opportunity to get a feel for our vibrant writing community. Please see our resource guide for visitors and be sure to check out our events calendar for a listing of the current goings-on. We’re always happy to have visitors at our department events! Also, be sure to review the UNCW academic calendar for university breaks and closings, and visit our virtual campus tour. To find out more about events in the Wilmington area, check out this visitor’s calendar.
Can I enroll part-time in the MFA program? Our MFA program is a full-time, residency-based program. Most of our classes are held in the afternoons, and completion of the program requires 48 hours of coursework, generally completed within three years. While students occasionally take an extra semester or two to finish, a student who lives beyond daily commuting distance, or who works full-time during the day, will likely have difficulty completing the program. Perhaps more importantly, we encourage students to immerse themselves in the full range of events and opportunities offered by our literary community; we believe such involvement is as valuable to the life of the writer as what goes on in the classroom.
How do I apply? Your application to the MFA program in Creative Writing at UNC-Wilmington will be submitted online to UNCW’s Graduate School. Along with your online application, you are required to upload an electronic copy of your manuscript (the writing sample), your personal essay (also called a statement of interest, purpose, or intent), and email addresses for three recommenders. In addition to the application materials submitted online (manuscript, essay, and recommenders' email addresses), you will need to mail to the Graduate School your transcripts. More >
Be sure to review the Getting Started section of the Graduate School website for a step-by-step guide to applying for admission. Many of your questions will be answered there.
When are new students admitted? Applications received by January 1 are considered for August enrollment. New students are only enrolled in the Fall semester; we do not do mid-year (i.e. Spring) admissions.
What are the minimum admissions requirements? Applications for admission to the MFA program in Creative Writing must meet the general admission guidelines for the UNCW Graduate School. More details can be found in the Graduate Catalogue. (Select "The Graduate School" at left, and then the link at top for "Admissions.") Though a specific GPA score is not listed, guidelines suggest a 3.0 or better.
How many pages should my manuscript be? Should I send a cover page?
The manuscript should not be longer than 30 pages for fiction or creative nonfiction. It can be as short as you feel confident in the representation of your work, and may be made up of more that one piece of writing. Novel excerpts should be able to stand alone and feel like complete stories. Poetry manuscripts should not be longer than 10 total pages, with one poem per page (though multi-page poems are acceptable). Published work is fine but needs to be submitted in manuscript format, i.e., typed and double-spaced. (Poetry does not have to be double-spaced, but should be typed.) Please send a cover page with your name and the genre to which you are applying.
Is there a particular style or type of writing that you are looking for?
No. We look for originality and quality in the writing, though not perfection. Like editors and publishers, the writers on our faculty have widely varying opinions and lierary tastes, but ultimately are looking simply for the strongest writing. We do not generally admit students who want to focus exclusively in highly specialized areas such as children’s literature or science fiction/fantasy, because we do not offer writing workshops in these areas.
My manuscript is in a specialized genre (science fiction/fantasy, children's literature, etc.). Will this hurt my chances of being accepted? The writing sample is the most heavily weighted element of the application, and most represents your potential as a writer in our program. Submitting a manuscript in a specialized genre likely won’t help demonstrate your suitability, as we do not offer writing workshops in these areas and therefore do not generally admit students who want to focus exclusively in such areas.
Can I submit a screenplay for my manuscript? Though we occasionally do offer a course in screenwriting, since we don’t have a concentration or focus in screenwriting as part of our MFA program, submitting a screenplay may be viewed as too specialized by our faculty reviewers. It is, of course, up to you what you choose to submit.
Should I send a hard copy of my manuscript? A hard copy is not necessary or requested. We receive all application materials electronically from the Graduate School.
Can I apply to the MFA program in more than one genre? Mixed-genre manuscripts will not be considered. You will need to fill out an application twice (in affect, applying to the MFA program in each genre), and you will need to pay the $60 application fee twice. You won't need to submit two sets of transcripts or letters of recommendation (unless any of your letters of recommendation only address one genre of writing, in which case you’d need to provide a different letter in the second genre).
- You will create a second username and password to complete the second online application.
- Upload a Word document into the ‘Special Requests to Graduate School’ section of the first application. Outline specifically which documents you wish to have added/copied to your second application.
Can I work in more than one genre in the MFA program? We encourage cross-genre study in our MFA program (in fact, it's a requirement); however, students in the program must choose one focus genre: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. For more details about our MFA degree requirements, including the cross-genre study requirement, please see our FAQs for Current MFA Students.
Do I need to send my GRE scores? The UNCW Graduate School does not require GRE scores for admission; that requirement is up to individual graduate programs. The MFA program in Creative Writing does not require applicants to take the GRE. If GRE scores are included in an application, they will not figure in our admissions decision.
How do recommenders submit their letters online? Recommendations are accepted exclusively through the online graduate application; the process will become clear once you begin your application. (You will provide the email addresses of your recommenders, and your recommenders will receive emailed instructions via the application system to fill out a brief form and to upload their letter.) Please contact Kimberly Goerne in the UNCW Graduate School at email@example.com if you or your recommenders are having trouble, and be sure to review the Getting Started section of the Graduate School website for more details about submitting letters of recommendation.
How should dossier services (such as Interfolio) submit recommendation letters on my behalf? Recommendation letters from a dossier service are accepted through the online graduate application. The applicant should enter a contact email address for the dossier service as the ‘recommender.’
(Should you receive a notice from the dossier service of trouble with your online recommendation, please forward this information to them: In the evaluation portion of the online recommendation, the dossier response to the open-end ‘Questions’ section will be “Dossier Service Completion”; the response to the ‘Rating’ section will be “Inadequate opportunity to observe”; and the response to the ‘Overall’ section will be “Dossier Service Completion”.)
Will mailed recommendation letters be accepted? Recommendations are only accepted through the online application. Please see the Getting Started section of the Graduate School website for more details about submitting letters of recommendation.
My recommender misplaced the link to upload their recommendation to my online application. What should I do? The recommender may contact the applicant to send a re-notification from the applicant’s online application. The applicant may access the application with the established user name and password, and follow the directions under the recommendation section to send a re-notification. The re-notification would include the link with password/PIN. This is the preferred method. The Graduate School can send a re-notification if the above method fails; the applicant’s full name and the recommender’s name will be required. Please see the Getting Started section of the Graduate School website for more details about submitting letters of recommendation.
Some of my recommenders' letters are several years old, or from work supervisors rather than professors. Is this a problem? More recent is better, of course, but it is appropriate for recommenders to submit letters that are a few years old. The most effective recommendation letters come from individuals who are experienced at assessing writing, who know your work and your potential for graduate-level study, and who have some knowledge of the nature of MFA programs.
Do I need to include transcripts from all colleges attended? The Graduate School requires official transcripts of all college work (photocopies are not accepted). If you received a transcript from an accredited institution (this includes community colleges, junior colleges, etc.) you need to send it to the Graduate School. The only exception is study-abroad credit that is transcripted by your home institution (i.e. you went on a UNCW study abroad trip and received UNCW credit for the trip). If you matriculated in a study-abroad institution or any other institution (this includes audit credit) you are required to include these transcripts. Please see the Getting Started section of the Graduate School website for more details about submitting transcripts.
Can I send a résumé? You may upload any supplemental materials that you feel are relevant to your application. A résumé is fine.
Will you accept CDs or videos to accompany my application? Creative materials (such as CDs or tapes) are generally not considered by our faculty reviewers. Application materials must be sent to the UNCW Graduate School via the online graduate application.
Can I check the status of my application or request confirmation of receipt of my application materials?
Please visit http://uncw.edu/gradschool/admissions/checkstatus.html.
I have missing items in my application. What can I do?
Please visit http://www.uncw.edu/gradschool/missingitems.html.
I would like to change part of my online application. Is this possible? If you haven’t yet submitted your application, you may log in to your in-progress application and delete the file you’d like to change and replace it with the corrected file.
I’ve already submitted my application. Can I review it? Can I make changes? Once an application has been submitted, an applicant may only update the recommendation module (e.g., substituting a recommender). The applicant may review other parts of the application (with the exception of transcripts and completed recommendations), but no changes can be made.
How do I ask that previously submitted supplemental documents be merged with my most recent application? If you previously attended UNCW or submitted an application to Graduate School within the last year, you may have documents [i.e. transcripts, recommendations] that you wish to recycle. Upload a Word document into the ‘Special Requests to Graduate School’ section of the most recent application and outline specifically which documents you wish to have added.
I am a previous applicant, and when I try to begin a new application for this year, I am routed to my old application from last year. What should I do?
- Create a new account/application https://app.applyyourself.com/?id=UNCW-GRAD
- Click ‘CONTINUE’ if you wish to start a new application
- Complete the graduate application
- Upload a Word document into the ‘special request to the Graduate School’ outlining which documents you wish to recycle from your previous application
- Submit prior to the published program deadline & pay the application fee (UNCW faculty/staff/dependent submit waiver through HR)
If I applied last year do I have to pay the application fee this year? Yes, you will need to submit a new application and pay the $60 application fee. (It may be in your best interest to send new materials!)
Can I request an application fee waiver? Application waivers are only accepted for UNCW Faculty/Staff & Dependants, McNair Scholars, accepted-deferred applicants, and active duty military personnel. Details at http://uncw.edu/gradschool/admissions.html.
I am an international student. What special information do I need to know? For details regarding international student requirements, please review the information found in the online Graduate Catalogue (click on Graduate School at left, then Admissions). For further details, including financial information and requirements for working on campus, please visit the International Student and Scholar Services page. Please note there is no special funding for international students through the Department of Creative Writing—all applicants are considered for all available departmental funding; the FAQs listed below give more detail regarding financial aid. UNCW's code for the TOEFL is 5907. For the department code, list 98 for "other humanities." IELTS scores may be submitted in lieu of TOEFL scores.
I am an international student, and I am not sure if my degree/my credits meet requirements. The UNCW Graduate School requires a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. Foreign transcripts must be evaluated and reviewed by an accredited foreign credential evaluation service. Credit evaluations determine the institution accreditation, number of credits earned and how courses transfer into the U.S. educational system. Evaluation reports must be received directly from the approved evaluation service. UNCW accepts "Course by Course" evaluations from the accredited foreign credential evaluation services of WES.org and ECE.org.
Can I transfer-in graduate credits? You may not transfer-in coursework that has counted toward another degree. If you have taken graduate-level courses that did not count toward another degree, a maximum of six hours may be eligible to count as transfer credit. However, all requests regarding transfer credit must be made in person to our MFA coordinator after you are admitted to and enrolled in our program. We will not consider or process transfer credit during the application process.
How are MFA applications reviewed? Applications are reviewed by our graduate faculty in each genre. The manuscript—i.e. your writing sample—is given the most consideration. We also review your statement of purpose, academic transcripts, and letters of recommendation, but your writing is the most important component. (To learn more about our admissions process, click here.)
I did not major in English or creative writing as an undergraduate. Will this hurt my chances of being accepted? Our MFA students come from widely varying academic and professional backgrounds; a major in an unrelated field will not hurt your chances.
When and how will I be notified whether I am admitted? Official notification letters are sent from UNCW’s Graduate School via an emailed hyperlink to your application, but because these letters take several business days to process, as a courtesy we will also email you directly as soon as we have an admissions decision regarding your application. Please add the following UNCW email addresses to your contact lists: (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com). You might also want to keep an eye on your SPAM folder* as some servers tend not recognize the “.edu” suffix. We admit on a rolling basis** and generally notify all applicants by April 15. We request that you please do not contact us to ask for the status of your application—you'll receive a call and/or email just as soon as we have made a decision on your application. We won't be able to give additional information until that time.
*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!
**We will not review applications until after the January 1 deadline has passed; we'll most likely begin to offer admission in March and conclude in April. Please see our admissions process for more details.
I have been accepted at another program and must respond by a deadline, but I haven’t received notification from UNCW yet. What should I do? Please contact our MFA Coordinator, Lavonne Adams, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (910.962.3436), and let us know the details of your competing offers.
If I am accepted, can I defer and enroll next semester or next year? We do not permit deferrals. New students are only enrolled in the Fall semester; we do not do mid-year (i.e. spring) admissions.
If I am not accepted, can I reapply? Yes. Applicants often reapply and are admitted on the second or third try. Having previously applied will in no way affect your chances of being admitted.
If I am not accepted, can I find out why? Can I get comments on my manuscript and/or application, so I know how to improve it? The high volume of applications and confidential nature of the review process make it impossible for us to provide comments or feedback.
How is residency assigned? Your application is reviewed by the UNCW Graduate School and coded for an initial residency decision. This residency determination will be included in your acceptance letter from the Graduate School. If you do not agree with the determination you may fill out an online residency form, which the Associate Dean of the Graduate School will review. This form is to be filled out only as an appeal after admission is offered and an initial residency determination is made.
How much does the program cost? What if I am out-of-state? If you are classified as an in-state student, the amount for graduate tuition and fees is approximately $6335 per year (out-of-state is around $18,237). For specifics, please see the current tuition and fees schedule and the estimate of total living expenses.
The UNCW Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid’s out-of-state student page also provides useful information. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
All MFA students (even those who receive funding) are responsible for covering their own student insurance & required immunizations, parking permits, and the student ID card fee. (see Below)
Do I need to fill out a FAFSA to apply for federal loans? Yes. You can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. UNCW's university code is 002984.
As a grad student, the most need-based financial aid UNCW can offer, through the financial aid office, is in the form of a federal subsidized student loan. The government pays the interest on federal subsidized student loans while you are in school and through your six-month grace period. This year, the interest during repayment is 4.5% on these federal subsidized loans.
UNCW also offers federal unsubsidized loans. The interest on federal unsubsidized loan funds is 6.8% and begins accruing when the funds are disbursed. Students may pay the interest on the unsubsidized loan or allow it to accumulate. Finally, to bring you to the $20,500 per academic year loan maximum, if necessary, UNCW offers federal, credit-based graduate PLUS Loans. The interest rate on graduate PLUS Loans is 7.9%.
Your cost of attendance budget includes allowances for tuition & fees, room & board, books & supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. A breakdown of the cost of attendance budget is available on the financial aid website.
For information about loans and federal aid programs, please see the Office of
Scholarships & Financial Aid website at http://www.uncw.edu/finaid and be sure to check out the Apply
for Federal Aid portal at the bottom.
Does your program offer teaching assistantships and scholarships? How do I apply for these? Currently, we support approximately 40 percent of our MFA students with teaching assistantships and other types of awards; we continue to work energetically toward our goal of providing support for all MFA students. All applicants to our MFA program are automatically considered for available teaching assistantships and scholarships, which are awarded on a competitive basis. Teaching experience is not necessary.
Teaching assistantships currently pay $15,000 per year ($1500 per month August–May), and in the first year we also award scholarships and remissions to cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for all TAs, whether in- or out-of-state. In the second and third year of the program, teaching assistants are responsible for paying their own tuition, but all MFA students (who are U.S. citizens) are eligible to apply for in-state residency after the first year.
We do not offer full fellowships (or "full-ride" funding) at this time. Please see our Scholarships and Financial Aid page for more details.
How many and what type of classes do teaching assistants teach?
- First year: Along with the other new teaching assistants, you will be co-teaching (under the guidance/mentorship of a professor of record) CRW 201, Introduction to Creative Writing. The class meets twice a week: once for a lecture featuring the professors in the department, the other in break-out sections of 10 students—each led by a GTA—that reinforce the topic of the previous lecture through discussion and writing exercises. In the fall semester, you will also enroll in CRW 503, Creative Writing Pedagogy: Theory and Practice, our class which teaches how to teach. The professor of record arranges the lectures, writes the syllabus, creates the exams, and teaches the pedagogy course.
- Second year: You will have a similar experience. In the fall, you will be co-teaching CRW 203, Forms of Creative Writing, followed in the spring by FNA 102, Explorations in the Creative Process. Since you now have teaching experience, the enrollment for the break-out sections will increase to 15 students (still a very small class). At the same time, you will have the opportunity to teach an independent section each semester of either CRW 201, or an introductory-level writing course specific to your genre (CRW 207, Fiction Writing; CRW 208, Poetry Writing; CRW 209, Nonfiction Writing).
- Third year: Even more independent teaching. Each semester, you will be assigned two courses from the following list, based on the needs of the undergraduate program: CRW 201, CRW 203, CRW 207, CRW 208, CRW 209.
By the time you graduate, you will have acquired teaching experience in four different courses. Every GTA will have the opportunity to teach in their specific genre. Though we have the right to make revisions to this plan as dictated by enrollment and programmatic needs, we will make every effort to adhere as closely as possible to these guidelines.
**TAs who do not have either an MA or a teaching license must take a total of 18 hours in their first year in order to qualify to independently teach a course in their second and third years. The Pedagogy course counts towards the 18-hour requirement.
Will teaching experience help my chances of getting a teaching assistantship? We consider all students whom we admit to our MFA program to be well-qualified for assistantships, regardless of prior teaching experience or lack thereof.
If I am not awarded a teaching assistantship, can I get one in my second or third year? Because our teaching assistantships are based on a three-year training trajectory, we do not award them in the second or third year. However, other types of assistantship positions occasionally do become available. Our department’s Publishing Laboratory employs a small number of second- and third-year MFA student assistants; interested students should enroll in a publishing class or internship in the first year. Second- and third-year MFA students may also apply for part-time tutoring positions in UNCW’s Writing Center; these positions come with a small stipend. Keep reading to the next FAQ.
Are other types of financial aid or awards available for students who don’t receive
teaching assistantships? We offer some partial scholarships, as well as a limited number of tuition remissions for out-of-state students. All applicants are automatically considered for all available financial awards, though in the case of specialized assistantships such as those in The Publishing Laboratory or directing one of our outreach programs, a supplemental statement of interest and relevant experience may prove helpful to faculty reviewers.
The Graduate School and our Department also provide travel funding on a competitive basis for currently enrolled MFA students to do thesis research and attend or present at conferences.
Please see our Scholarships and Financial Aid page.
Job openings in other departments on campus are listed on UNCW’s Human Resources website, and the Graduate School frequently announces available graduate assistant positions. For information about loans and federal aid programs, please see the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid website at http://www.uncw.edu/finaid and be sure to check out the Apply for Federal Aid portal at the bottom.
How can I get help finding a job? The Career Center has great resources.
I already have an MA in English or creative writing; will that help my chances of admission and/or getting a Teaching Assistantship? Having an MA won't necessarily affect your chances of being admitted or receiving an assistantship. Your manuscript (writing sample) is the part of your application we consider to be most important. All applicants are automatically considered for all available scholarship and assistantship awards.
Does UNCW provide health insurance for MFA students? UNCW graduate students have free access to the university's Student Health Center, which includes the Counseling Center, Disability Services, and the Crossroads substance-abuse program. We recommend that students use the Health Center as the first stop for most illnesses and tests, because many services there are covered by student fees, while others (including many medical tests) are offered at dramatically reduced rates. Also, the Health Center has a pharmacy that fills most prescriptions at lower costs than commercial pharmacies do.
Beginning on August 1, 2013, Student Blue, underwritten by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) will be the insurance carrier for the Student Health Insurance Plan.
As in past years, all students will need to go online and either enroll in the insurance plan or complete a waiver by showing proof of other insurance coverage. The enrollment/waiver system will go live on June 3, 2013. In the meantime students can go to the insurance website (www.bcbsnc.com/uncw) and enter their name and email address, and as soon as the enrollment/waiver system is up the system will send the students an email letting them know that they can go online and complete the process. Students are encouraged to complete their waiver by July 1, 2013 if possible so that the charge will never show up on their tuition bill. The deadline to waive this year is September 10, 2013.
**Special note: as of July 2010, NC legislation requires all students on campus to provide proof of health insurance. The health insurance fee will automatically be added to your student account (payable by semester and monthly installments) unless you complete the waiver that details your own private policy.**
What immunizations are required? Please see the list on the Student Health Center immunization form found at http://uncw.edu/healthservices/shc_records.htm. You would need to submit this form within the 30 days following your registration for classes.
What type of housing is available for MFA students? Dining options? Housing is available both on-campus and off-campus. (There is no on-campus housing exclusively for graduate students.) Most MFA students prefer to live off-campus and with roommates as a less expensive housing option, often in historic downtown or at Wrightsville or Carolina Beach. The Wilmington area offers a wide range of affordable, attractive housing options. Wilmingtonforrent and Craigslist are good sources for listings. Available rentals are also regularly publicized by current MFA students and faculty via e-mail.
UNCW's Campus Dining provides a variety of options within walking distance of Kenan Hall. Though not typically utilized by graduate students, campus meal plans are also available.
How much does it cost to register my car to park on campus? Information about parking permits can be found by visiting Parking & Transportation Services. Parking fees, depending on which option you choose, currently range from $75–360 per year.
What is the UNCW One Card? Information about the student ID card can be found at http://uncw.edu/onecard/.
What can I do with an MFA in Creative Writing? Poets & Writers offers many helpful resources, including this overview and Joshua Herkin's noteworthy article, "In Defense of MFA Programs," which appeared in the November/December 2007 issue.
What kind of job could I get with a degree in Creative Writing? The UNCW Career Center gives some insight.