Master of Fine Arts in Writing

The Master of Fine Arts in Writing (MFAW) 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.

Use the accordions (+) below to learn more about the graduate admissions requirements.

Application Deadline: Accepting Applications - $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 Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

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

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds. 

500-700 words. An artist’s statement that addresses your writing/artistic practice, your reasons for applying to a creative writing MFA program, and your creative and critical influences.

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

A current résumé is required.


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

Submit no more than 30 pages, in a single PDF.  While we recommend submitting your strongest work,  you may include, within the page limit, any number of pieces in any number of genres, including: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playscript, comics, hybrid text, multimedia, etc.

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: 85 

IELTS: 6.5


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 department conducts interviews by invitation only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an interview in Mid-February. Notification will be sent by late January. For students at a distance or unable to travel, interviews may be conducted remotely.

View the MFA Writing Program Brochure

The MFA in Writing Curriculum includes:

Graduate Projects are the heart of the Writing MFA program. 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. Graduate students may work closely with advisors from both within the Writing Program and across the School to expand the critical vocabularies that are pertinent to their practice. Explore our faculty profiles to learn more about SAIC's award-winning faculty members.

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. Writing 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. Students in the graduate writing program 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.

Student Benefits

Scholarships and Grants: Merit scholarships are awarded to applicants of exceptional promise by the Admissions Committee as part of the admissions process. Our MFAWs may apply for teaching assistantships both in the Writing Program and across the School to gain experience in the teaching environment. We also offer incentive awards and small project grants. Three MFAW fellowships are awarded to graduating MFAW students each year.

Professional Preparation: Our students often work as editors and journalists on SAIC’s F Newsmagazine, as well as on independently edited and produced publications. They create podcasts for Free Radio SAIC, a student-run radio station, which broadcasts daily to a global audience. MFAWs present their work in a student-organized lecture series and graduating students participate in a culminating Thesis Reading. MFAWs who demonstrate a studio practice in addition to their creative writing practice may take part in the annual school-wide MFA Thesis Exhibition or time-arts events.

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or