Application Procedure & Forms | Master of Fine Arts in Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing program accepts new students twice a year for semesters beginning with the January and June residencies; students may enter the program at either time.

For priority consideration, submit all application materials by September 1 for the semester beginning in January, or by March 1 for the semester beginning in June. Applications received after these dates will be considered as space allows and may be processed for the following semester.

Qualified applicants should hold an undergraduate degree or be close to completing one at the time of application. Admission is based primarily on the quality of the applicant's original creative writing in one of the program areas: fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry. In addition, the Admissions Board looks for promise exhibited in the critical and personal essays. In the latter, applicants should address their ability to participate productively and supportively in a writing community and to sustain commitment through extended independent work periods during the guided study. 

Materials the Applicant Submits

Application form (pdf) — Please type or print in ink.

Creative manuscript — Submit work in the genre you wish to study. Students in the MFA program must choose one primary genre. If you are not sure which genre to choose, you may submit work in two genres and let the Admissions Board decide for you.

  • Poetry: 10 pages (no more than one poem per page)
  • Fiction: Up to 4000 words maximum (double-spaced)
  • Nonfiction: Up to 4000 words maximum (double-spaced)

Personal essay — Maximum of three pages, addressing the following:

  • Your background in the study of creative writing and literature
  • Additional writing or workshop experience
  • Literary influences on your writing, including the titles of books in your genre by writers you feel have shaped your thinking (not including our MFA faculty)
  • How your schedule will accommodate devoting 20 to 25 hours per week to your writing and to the completion of program requirements
  • Reasons why a low-residency MFA program suits your level of experience and your goals for future development as a writer

Critical analysis — Maximum of three pages exploring some aspect of or element of craft in a literary work.

Two letters of reference — Fill out the top portion of the reference letter form (pdf) and send to your references. They should mail the completed form directly to the MFA office. References should be able to assess your qualifications for graduate study in writing.

Transcripts — Arrange for official, sealed transcripts of your undergraduate and, if applicable, your graduate studies, showing evidence of degrees earned to be sent to the MFA office from your previous school(s). Mailing transcripts to Pacific’s undergraduate admissions office or other departments may cause your application to be delayed.

Application fee — A nonrefundable fee of $50 is required with your application materials. Please include a check payable to Pacific University, or call 503-352-1531 to use your credit or debit card.

Formatting

The manuscript, personal essay, and critical analysis must be typewritten in Times, 12 point, with page numbers and your name on each poem, story, essay, or chapter. With the exception of poetry manuscripts (which should be single-spaced, one poem per page), all pages should be doubled-spaced. 

Summary of Materials Applicant Submits

  • Application form
  • Manuscript (3 copies if mailing)
  • Personal essay (3 copies if mailing)
  • Critical analysis (3 copies if mailing)
  • A $50 non-refundable application fee

Materials Sent Separately by the Applicant's References and Universities

These are not required if you are applying only for the Residency Writers Conference. For students applying for the full program, please arrange to have the following materials sent separately to the MFA in Writing program: 

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official, sealed copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts showing evidence of degrees earned

To Applicants Who Are Reapplying

If you are reapplying to the Pacific in MFA Writing Program within one year of your previous application, submit the following: 1) a new or revised manuscript, 2) a new or revised personal essay, 3) a new or revised critical analysis, 4) a new application form and $50 fee. Updated references and transcripts are optional. 

Deadlines

For priority consideration, submit all application materials by September 1 for the semester beginning in January, or March 1 for the semester beginning in June. Applications are accepted after these dates as space allows.

Where to Send All Application Materials

To save paper we prefer you email your application, creative manuscript, personal essay and critical analysis to the MFA office at mfa@pacificu.edu. Application materials that must be mailed should be sent to the following address:

MFA in Writing Administrative Office
Pacific University
530 NW 12th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Pacific offers MFA scholarships based on the quality of creative manuscripts. No additional application is required.

If you are applying for financial aid, early application is suggested. For more information, see Cost, Scholarships and Financial Aid or contact the Financial Aid Office at financialaid@pacificu.edu. We recommend that you not wait for your financial aid letter to enroll in the MFA program. Spaces are limited, and once you are accepted they are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Questions?

We welcome the opportunity to speak with applicants and invite you to call or write us with any questions you may have. Please contact the MFA office at 503-352-1531 or mfa@pacificu.edu or contact assistant director, Sara Violante, at 503-352-1533 or violante@pacificu.edu.