Master of Fine Arts in Writing

The Master in Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing welcomes writers of all genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting—as well as visual artists who work with language as an integral component of their practice. The two-year program provides a rigorous yet flexible curriculum to challenge and accommodate individual explorations of process and form.

Graduate Portfolio Day Chicago
Saturday, November 2
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
 
Meet one-on-one with graduate program faculty and learn more about the curricula, faculty, and application procedures from a number of colleges.
 

Application Deadline: January 10 - $90 Application Fee

Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee

Apply online via Slideroom

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to gradmiss@saic.edu. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Write a 500 to 700 word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experience in your program of choice. Include your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, as well as any potential goals for the future.

A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

2 Letters of Reference are required.

You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at gradmiss@saic.edu.

A current résumé is required.

 
 

A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

Your portfolio should include a sample of your recent writing from at least one of the following genres (in .pdf format, up to 10MB each):

  • 8-10 Poems
  • 2 Short Stories
  • 1 Excerpt from a novel
  • 1 Play or performance text
  • 1 hybrid text from multi-genres
  • 1-2 Short works of nonfiction

If your work incorporates other media - images, video, sound, comics or performance - you can upload video, audio recordings, or digital files to supplement your writing sample.

Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submission specifications:

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB ea

TOEFL: 100 

IELTS: 7

DUOLINGO: 120

International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

The Writing department conducts interviews by invitation, only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an on-campus interview in February. Notification will be sent by late January.

MFA Writing Brochure Cover

View MFA Brochure

Curriculum includes:

Graduate Projects are the heart of the MFAW. Modeled on the tradition of artists’ studio visits, MFAW students meet one-on-one with faculty advisors who offer intensive, focused insight and feedback on independently driven projects. Students may work with advisors from both within the Writing Program and across the School to expand the critical vocabularies that are pertinent to their practice.

Workshops might focus on process, or on a specific topic or literary theme, for example, Process/Project, Narrative Design, Text in Space and Literary Animals. Workshops may include interdisciplinary participants who help to foster creative workshop methodology and innovative in-class exercises.

Seminars stretch across genre to present models and histories of literary practice and frequently include a generative, creative component. Current seminars include Code Switch & Reclaim, Systems of Writing, and Literature of the Senses, among others.

Electives offer students an opportunity to engage with interdisciplinary study in the context of an acclaimed school of art and design. MFAW students are encouraged to work with their advisors to develop a plan that takes advantage of adjacent fields of study, such as performance, film, sculpture, arts journalism and art history, as well as many other possibilities, to best support their continued growth.

Thesis is the major creative project that all MFAW students submit during their final semester. There are no restrictions on genre or content--for some, it reflects an overall plan and design of a finished book; for others, it’s a means of documenting their graduate work and/or process; yet others use it as an opportunity to put together a collection that adopts variant strategies in relationship to their engagement with interdisciplinary work. Please visit the SAIC Thesis Repository at the Flaxman Library to view recent MFAW thesis abstracts.