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 in either semester. At the same time, we also accept applications for Residency Writers Conference participants.

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. 

Materials the Applicant Submits

Application Form (writable pdf) which is best if opened in Adobe.

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)

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 — Submit a critical essay that explores some aspect or element of craft in a literary work in the genre you wish to study. We encourage you to choose texts and writers that exemplify the kinds of strategies you are attempting to master in your own work. Maximum of three pages.

Two letters of reference Reference Form (writable pdf) which is best if opened in Adobe. 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 or postal mail. References should be able to assess your qualifications for graduate study in writing. These can be from teachers, other writers, or professional associates. (References are not required for those applying for the Residency Writers Conference.)

Transcripts — 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. (Transcripts are not required for those applying for the Residency Writers Conference.) 

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

How to Upload or Send Your Application Materials

Please use our online portal to upload your application form, creative manuscript, personal essay, and critical analysis. If you'd prefer to email these materials, feel free to send them to the MFA office at 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


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. 

Transcripts and Letters of Reference

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 reference
  • Official copies of undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts showing evidence of degrees earned

Letters of reference can be emailed to, or sent by mail to 530 NW 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97209.

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, 5) a $50 fee for an application in one genre or $75 fee for an application in two genres. Updated references and transcripts are optional. 


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. For the spring semester, we will accept applications until December 1 as space allows. For the fall semester, we will accept applications 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

We welcome the opportunity to speak with applicants and invite you to call or write us with any questions you may have.

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