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 a 10-day residency, followed by a semester of guided study. Students may enter the program in either semester.

Non-degree-seeking students may also apply to attend the residencies as part of the Residency Writers Conference. Learn More

Those planning to matriculate 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: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. 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. 

Application Materials

Submit your application form, creative manuscript, personal analysis and critical analysis directly to the MFA Program through the online portal or by email at You may also mail hard copies to the Pacific University MFA Program at 530 NW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209.

Application Form 
Complete the fillable PDF (best opened in Adobe Acrobat). Don't have Adobe? Print and complete a standard Application Form (pdf)

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

Creative manuscripts should 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. 

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

Personal essays should be typewritten in Times, 12 point, double-spaced with page numbers and your name on each page. 

Critical Analysis
Much of the learning within the MFA calls on students to engage with art crafted by others, both published texts and writing shared by colleagues in workshop. As part of your application, we ask you to submit a short critical essay about a piece of published writing—most likely in the genre you wish to study—that reveals your ability to write thoughtfully and with focus on another writer's work while exploring some aspect of craft.

For example, maybe you consider the writer's use of dialogue; perhaps you discuss the power of metaphor. Is there something you notice in the way the writer develops plot or setting? How has the work been structured, or, how is meaning organized in the work? These are just a few examples of approaches you might take. You could look at a single poem or an entire collection, a story or essay or a longer text, ideally by a writer whose work you admire.

We encourage you to consider this element of the application as an extension of the personal essay, written from the same point of view, only with a focus on work other than your own. You may find it useful to consider texts or writers that exemplify, through their craft, the kinds of strategies you are attempting to develop in your own writing. Maximum of three pages. You should feel free to use examples from the text.

Critical analyses should be typewritten in Times, 12 point, double-spaced with page numbers and your name on each page. 

Two Letters of Reference
Complete the fillable Reference Form (best opened in Adobe Acrobat)

Don't have Adobe? Print and complete the standard Reference Form (PDF).

Fill out the top portion of the form and email or mail to your references. They should send the completed form directly to the MFA office via email at or by postal mail at 530 NW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209.

References should be able to assess your qualifications for graduate study in writing. These can be from teachers, other writers, or professional associates.

Arrange for official transcripts of your undergraduate and/or graduate studies from the institutions where you earned degrees to be sent directly to the MFA office from your previous school(s), either in hardcopy or electronically. Mailing transcripts to Pacific’s undergraduate admissions office or other departments may cause your application to be delayed. Have your official transcripts sent to the Pacific University MFA Program, 530 NW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209.

Application Fee
A non-refundable fee of $50 is required for an application in one genre. A non-refundable fee of $75 is required for an application in two genres.

Payment options:

  • Go to our online marketplace
  • Call 503-352-1531 to use your credit or debit card
  • Mail a check payable to Pacific University


If you are reapplying to the Pacific in MFA Writing Program within one year of your previous application, submit the following:

  • A new or revised manuscript
  • A new or revised personal essay
  • A new or revised critical analysis
  • A new application form
  • A $50 fee for an application in one genre or $75 fee for an application in two genres.
  • Updated references and transcripts are optional. 

Due Dates

Students may begin their MFA in Writing program with the January residency and spring semester or with the June residency and fall semester.

The priority due date for the January/spring start is Sept. 1. Applications will be accepted until Dec. 1 as space allows.

The priority due date for the June/fall start is March 1. Applications will be accepted until May 15 as space allows.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Pacific offers scholarships to MFA students based on the quality of their 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 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.


Contact Us

Pacific University Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program
503-352-1531 |

530 NW 12th Ave., Portland, OR 97209
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday