SAIC’s two-year Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFAW) program celebrates the unique potential of writing in an art school affiliated with a world-famous art museum. Unlike other workshop-driven programs, SAIC’s graduate projects are the heart of the curriculum. Adapted from studio art training, this old-world style mentorship, rigorous workshops, interdisciplinary seminars, and one-on-one extended dialogue with faculty leaves room to imagine longer, wilder, and more ambitious work. 

Artistic Freedom

Crossing freely between the genres of poetry, fiction, playwriting/screenwriting, nonfiction, and across the school (into painting, performance, film, sculpture, fashion, art history, sound, etc.)—writers design their own track of interests and learn to trust the authority of their own intuition. They get excited about micro-fiction, text-based art, epic verse, and artist books, and also write commercial novels, plays and screenplays.

Acclaimed Faculty Mentors

MFAW faculty are highly regarded as leaders in their disciplines with award-winning expertise. They maintain vibrant local, national, and international profiles, published recently by Random House, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Vintage, Pantheon, Broadview, Europa, Dramatists Play Service, Poetry Magazine, Seattle Review, Sara Ranchouse, New Yorker, McSweeneys, Penquin, Innova Records, and the New York Times. Equally extraordinary in the art of intuition, they offer challenging critique and insights that fold and unfold what is possible in the field. 

Professional Preparation

Though the focus is on process, writers prepare to lead and sustain a healthy career with an array of skills and connections gathered from critique panels, visiting artists such as George Saunders, Justin Torres, and Cristina Henriquez, and student-curated lectures, performances, salons, readings and exhibitions.

Trustee merit and dean scholarships are awarded by the Admissions committee based on exceptional promise. MFAW offers five writing fellowships for assisting Sophomore Seminars each semester as well as four teaching assistantships for undergraduate writing classes and a limited number of incentive awards and small project grants.

The program recently launched a one-year full-time teaching fellowship award for one distinguished alumni, and offers two MFAW fellowship awards for graduating writers. Writing students who demonstrate a studio practice can be included in the SAIC MFA Show and can apply for studio space. All graduating Writing students are featured in the artisan publication Collected and many gain editorial and performance experience with SAIC’s award-winning F Newsmagazine and other presses, journals, and theaters in the greater Chicago area.

Interested in learning more?

Click around the pages of this website for information on admissions and curriculum requirements, MFA in Writing faculty, students and alumni, and more.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing program is for writers of all genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting—as well as for writers and artists who work with both image and text. 

SAIC MFA Writing Program

The two-year program distinguishes itself from more conventional writing programs in that it both questions typical genre distinctions and nurtures traditional writing approaches. This inclusiveness is the program's unique strength: an approach that fosters a community of writers and artists who are encouraged to evolve according to their interests, be it poetry, story, essay, drama, or collaborative projects that meld diverse literary and visual disciplines into new forms of artistic expression.

SAIC's writing program does not track genre, and you are not limited in the ways in which you can work. The student-driven program provides the freedom to cross between media, and it emphasizes process, as you learn to sustain your career as an artist through seminars and one-on-one advising. The writing program is not situated within an English department, allowing you to experience a shift in thinking, more directed toward the process of creating.

Extracurricular Opportunities

A variety of opportunities exist for you to intersect with the institution, the museum, and its affiliate organizations.

  • Five writing fellowships, in which graduate students assist in teaching sophomore seminars, are available each semester
  • Four teaching assistantships for undergraduate writing classes
  • SAIC Graduate Thesis Exhibition includes the work of writing students who incorporate the visual in their production
  • Collected, an annual publication from the Department of Writing, features all graduating writing students
  • Other editorial opportunities exist for writing students with the award-winning F Newsmagazine

Adapting practices from their studio artist peers, our students have formed collectives, small presses, storefront galleries, and theater groups creating independent arts organizations and venues that outlast their tenure at SAIC and revitalize Chicago's literary scene.

Interested in learning more?

Click around the pages of this website for information on admissions and curriculum requirements, MFA in Writing faculty, students and alumni, and more.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.