Creative Writing

Admissions Process

Here is how it works: We normally make our first round of offers near March 1st, notifying applicants who have been accepted, waitlisted, and rejected. Our process of offering departmental funding will commence about a week later and may take several weeks to conclude; those who receive the first round of funding offers will be given a deadline to respond, usually between two and three weeks from receipt of the offer. This grace period allows the applicant time to receive initial responses from the other programs to which the applicant has applied. Should the applicant decide to accept another program's offer, we will redirect our funding offer to the next applicant on our list. [We don't disclose to applicants the spot they inhabit 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 since it is crucial that we place these offers in the hands of those who will accept them as soon as possible. (Waitlisted applicants will also be considered for admission around mid-April.) UNCW finishes classes and enters the exam period at the end of April, and we need to have our incoming class decided before we adjourn for the summer.

We encourage any applicant who has questions or concerns, whether or not an offer has been received from us, to contact our MFA Coordinator or program assistant directly and we will reply 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, there will be no deadline for acceptance given 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/they will still be considered for funding as it becomes available.

All applicants, including those for whom we cannot offer a spot in the program, will receive an email from the Department of Creative Writing as soon as an admissions decision has been made. We also will send an email to waitlisted applicants, though we don't give out specifics on where a particular applicant falls on the waitlist.

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. Applicants for whom we wish to extend the invitation to join our MFA program will receive a notification email from the MFA Coordinator, that states the applicant has been recommended by the Department of Creative Writing for acceptance to the UNCW Graduate School. (Thus, you may be accepted by the Department of Creative Writing to the MFA program, but you must satisfy all admissions requirements of the Graduate School in order to be admitted to UNCW; i.e., your application must be complete.) Please add the following UNCW email addresses to your contact lists: (,,, and 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 do our best to 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.

We encourage all those who apply to MFA programs to thoroughly research the schools to which they are applying, and to be prepared to make final decisions in a timely manner. This research should be done prior to hearing from the program, 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.

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 offered funding 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.

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: 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 deadline has passed; we'll most likely begin to offer admission near the 1st of March and conclude in early May.