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M.F.A. Admissions

The M.F.A. in Creative Writing

The Creative Writing program has been a vital part of the Vanderbilt Department of English for nearly a century. Each year, a small, select class of talented writers of fiction and poetry enroll in Vanderbilt’s three-year, fully-funded M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. We invite you to join us as we continue to build upon the tradition of excellent writing at Vanderbilt.

Our faculty of distinguished creative writers works closely with eighteen M.F.A students—half of whom work in poetry, and half in prose—who are enrolled in the program at any one time. Since each class contains only six students, admission is highly competitive, and no one’s work gets lost or overshadowed.

The M.F.A program has been ranked among the top 15 M.F.A Programs in the country by Poets and Writers magazine, ahead of many better-known graduate programs. We earn high marks for the quality of our prize-winning faculty, for Nashville’s affordable cost of living, and for the financial support we give our students.

  • A full, three-year 12-month funding package for every M.F.A. student.
  • Opportunity for second year students to teach an introductory creative writing workshop
  • Opportunity to serve on the editorial board of Nashville Review
  • The Gertrude and Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series. Each semester, this program invites distinguished writers for readings and discussions with students. In some years, a distinguished writer in residence visits for a semester and teaches a workshop in his or her genre. 
  • A supportive atmosphere in which to write: Nashville is a place that respects creative activity. All over town people are busy making things—writing songs and playing music as well as creating art. Vanderbilt’s 350-acre, tree-filled campus—located less than a mile from downtown and just a few blocks from Music Row—is a registered National Arboretum. Vanderbilt’s campus may be peaceful and beautiful, but the action isn’t far away.
  • Students in the M.F.A. program work harmoniously and productively with students and faculty in the English Department’s doctoral program. The Department of English Graduate Reading Series, which takes place in the spring, features the work of one M.F.A. student and one Ph.D. student. The English Department’s faculty welcomes M.F.A. students into their literature classes.


Applying to the Program

The application deadline for fall admission is December 15, 2023. Applicants should complete their application by that day, using the electronic application form. On the Program page, applicants should indicate area of interest (fiction or poetry). Fore more information on how to apply, please visit our FAQ page

  • Statement of purpose (no more than 3-5 pages) 
  • Length Requirement for Creative Writing Sample: If your primary interest is fiction, please provide a fiction writing sample, double spaced, of no more than 25 pages—short story or novel excerpt acceptable. If your primary interest is poetry, please provide a poetry sample of up to 15 pages.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial college transcript(s); admitted applicants will be required to submit official and final transcripts, with prior degrees posted, as a condition of enrollment at Vanderbilt
  • Graduate School Application Fee of $95; for details on the application fee and application fee waiver policy, visit the Graduate School’s website
  • Applicants whose native language is not English either must have received a degree at an English-speaking university or must submit TOEFL scores. We require a minimum score of 570 on the paper-based test, 230 on the computer-based test, or 88 on the Internet-based test. Note that scores usually take 4-6 weeks to reach the university, so we recommend that you take the test no later than November 19 in order to meet the December 15 application deadline. Please send inquiries and your requests for applications to TOEFL, P.O. Box 6151, Princeton, New Jersey, 08541-6151.
  • The M.F.A program does not require GRE scores.



Check out our alumni books poster at the link below, which features various writers who studied in the Creative Writing program.

Alumni Books Poster