MFA in Creative Writing

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The Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at The Ohio State University is designed to help graduate students develop to the fullest their talents and abilities as writers of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Creative writing classes are conducted as workshops or tutorials, and there are numerous opportunities for related study both within and beyond the Department of English.  All students are fully funded for three years in a program that is well known for its sense of community and a faculty that is as committed to teaching as to their own writing.

Approximately 36 graduate students are taught by tenure track, visiting, and affiliated (Film Studies) faculty, who also teach in the undergraduate program. Graduate student TAs teach introductory and intermediate special topics undergraduate creative writing courses, undergraduate literary publishing, as well as first-year and second-year writing (required courses for all Ohio State undergraduates). TAs teach two classes a year, one in autumn and one in spring. In addition, they have the opportunity to work as editors of Ohio State's prize-winning, nationally distributed literary magazine, The Journal, and to serve on the editorial staff of our two annual book prizes, one in poetry and one in prose.

Course offerings are varied and numerous. Special topics graduate workshops (in the long poem, in characterization, in literary translation, in humor writing, and so on) ensure that, in addition to "regular" workshops, opportunities abound for experimentation. Our graduate program includes coursework designed for "crossing over," such as, poetry workshops for MFA fiction writers or essayists with little experience writing poems; and "forms" classes in prosody, the novel, the memoir, novellas, for example. 

Screenwriting for MFAs is offered regularly, and many students also elect to study playwriting or writing for performance as an elective. Some MFAs choose to pursue the Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in the Fine Arts (GISFA), which allows them to take graduate courses in other arts disciplines. Indeed, Ohio State's size and breadth offer our students the chance to explore many disciplines that enrich their study and practice of creative writing.

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ABOUT THE PROGRAM

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Core faculty

Photograph of Kathy Fagan Grandinetti

Kathy Fagan Grandinetti is the director of the Creative Writing Program and author of five books of poems: Sycamore (Milkweed Editions, 2017); The Raft, a National Poetry Series Award Winner; MOVING & ST RAGE, winner of the 1998 Vassar Miller Prize for Poetry; The Charm (2002); and LIP (2009). Her poems have been widely anthologized and her work has appeared in such publications as PoetryThe Paris ReviewFIELDThe Kenyon ReviewSlatePloughsharesThe New Republic and Blackbird. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, The Frost Place and the Ohio Arts Council. Director of the Creative Writing Program, she continues to serve as advisor to The Journal, for which she and Michelle Herman were awarded the 2004 Ohioana Award for Editorial Excellence. Fagan is also series editor for The OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Poetry Prize. Please visit Kathy Fagan's website.
Email: fagan.3@osu.edu

Photograph of Michelle Herman

Michelle Herman is the author of the novels MissingDog, and Devotion; the collection of novellas A New and Glorious Life; the essay collections The Middle of EverythingStories We Tell Ourselves, and Like A Song; and a book for children: A Girl's Guide to Life. Essays and short fiction have appeared in Conjunctions; American Scholar; O, the Oprah Magazine; The Southern Review; Creative Nonfiction; Redbook; Story Quarterly and many other journals. Her awards and honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a James Michener Fellowship, numerous individual artist’s fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and two major teaching awards — the University Distinguished Teaching Award and the Rodica Botoman Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring — both from Ohio State, where she has taught since 1988. Please visit Michelle Herman's website.
Email: herman.2@osu.edu

Photograph of Marcus Jackson

Marcus Jackson earned a BA from the University of Toledo and continued his poetry studies at NYU and as a Cave Canem fellow. His poems have appeared in such publications as The American Poetry ReviewThe New Yorker and Tin House. His first collection of poetry, Neighborhood Register, was released in 2011, and his second collection, Pardon My Heart (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books)came out in 2019. Please visit Marcus Jackson's website.
Email: jackson.2577@osu.edu


 

 

Photograph of Lee Martin

Lee Martin is the author of the novels The Bright Forever (a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction); River of HeavenQuakertownBreak the Skin; and Late One Night. He has also published three memoirs: From Our HouseTurning Bones and Such a Life. His first book was the short story collection, The Least You Need To Know, and a new collection, The Mutual UFO Network, was published in 2018. His craft book, Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life, came out in 2017. He is the co-editor of Passing the Word: Writers on Their Mentors. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper's, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, The Best American Mystery Stories and The Best American Essays. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He was the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching from Ohio State, where he is a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English. Please visit Lee Martin's website.
Email: martin.1199@osu.edu

Photograph of Elissa Washuta

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a writer of personal essays and memoir. She is the author of two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Exquisite Vessel: Shapes of Native Nonfiction, forthcoming from University of Washington Press. Her work has appeared in SalonThe Chronicle of Higher EducationBuzzFeed and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund and Hugo House. Please visit Elissa Washuta's website.
Email: washuta.2@osu.edu

 

 

Image of Professor White

Nick White is the author of the story collection Sweet and Low and the novel How to Survive a Summer. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Literary Review, Indiana Review, Guernica and elsewhere. A native of Mississippi, he earned a PhD in English and creative writing from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Please visit Nick White's website.
Email: white.1615@osu.edu


Affiliated faculty

Photograph of Angus Fletcher

Angus Fletcher is the Black List and Nicholl award-winning screenwriter of MIDDLE EARTH (produced by Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, directed by Michel Apted), WEE FREE MEN (produced by Allison Thomas and Gary Ross, based on the novel by Terry Pratchett), and VARIABLE MAN (produced by Isa Dick and Electric Shepherd, based on the novella by Philip K. Dick). He earned his PhD from Yale and has published articles on dramatic ethics and practice in Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, The Journal of the History of Philosophy, and a dozen other academic journals. His book Evolving Hamlet appeared on Palgrave in 2011, and his research and writing has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanties, the National Science Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. Prior to coming to Ohio State, he taught at USC, Stanford, and Teach for America.
Email: fletcher.300@osu.edu

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Alumni of the MFA Program in Creative Writing have had their fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction appear in The Best American Essays, The Best New American Voices, The Best American Travel Writing, Tin House, Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Yale Review, Poetry, American Poetry Review, New Criterion, Field, Iowa Review, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Ploughshares, The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Quarterly West, Epoch, Five Points, and other notable venues.

Below are just a few of these outstanding alumni poets and writers.

Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith is the author of Weep Up (Tupelo Press, forthcoming 2018); The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press 2015), winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press 2005), winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award; and three prizewinning chapbooks. Her poems regularly appear in journals such as The Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Plume, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Guernica. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and elsewhere, Smith is a freelance writer and editor in Bexley, Ohio, and she serves as a consulting editor to the Kenyon Review. (MFA, 2003) Maggie Smith's website

Photo credit: Lauren Powell


Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins (MFA, 2011) is the author of the novel Gold, Fame, Citrus (2015) and Battleborn , a collection of stories (2012). Battleborn was awarded The Story Prize and the 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize and listed by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the Best Books of 2012. Watkins was awarded an American Academy Arts & Letters Prize in 2012 and has received fellowships from the Writers’ Conferences at Sewanee and Bread Loaf. Her stories and essays have appeared in GrantaOne Story, The Paris ReviewPloughsharesGlimmer TrainBest of the West 2011, and Best of the Southwest 2013. Watkins is an assistant professor at Bucknell University and the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

For more information about Watkins, her work, and the Mojave School, visit her website.

Photo credit: Heike Steinweg


Donald Ray Pollock

Donald Ray Pollock (MFA, 2009) is the author of the novel The Devil All the TIme (2011) and Knockemstiff (2008), a collection of stories. Pollock grew up in southern Ohio. At 17, He dropped out of high school to work in a meatpacking plant and then spent 32 years employed in a paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio. Knockemstiff won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowshi, and The De vil All the Time was listed by Esquire as one of the Three Books Every Man Should Read. Pollock's work has appeared in Third Coast, The JournalSou’westerChiron ReviewRiver StyxBoulevardFolio, GrantaThe New York Times Book ReviewWashington Square, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. He is the 2012 recipient of the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, the most prestigious award for crime and detectives novels in France.

For more information about Pollock and his work, visit his website.


Picture of Yona Harvey

Yona Harvey (MFA, 2001) is a literary artist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the poetry collection Hemming the Water (Four Way Books: New York), which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University.

She is also the recipient of an Individual Artist Grant in literary nonfiction from The Pittsburgh Foundation. Her poems can be found in jubilat, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, West Branch, and various journals and anthologies, including A Poet’s Craft: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Sharing Your Poetry (Ed. Annie Finch). She lives not far from where jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams grew up. Williams married the spiritual to the secular in her music, and is a regular muse in Yona’s writing. She is an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh.


 

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2019-2020

Visiting Writer Liza Wieland

Friday, September 13, 2019 at 4 p.m. in Denney Hall 311

Liza Wieland is the author of eight works of fiction and a volume of poems. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and the North Carolina Arts Council. She is the 2017 winner of the Robert Penn Warren Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Her novel, A Watch of Nightingales, won the 2008 Michigan Literary Fiction Award and her previous novel, Land of Enchantment, was a longlist finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. She lives in Oriental, North Carolina, and she teaches at East Carolina University.

Native Craft Reading Series presents Billy-Ray Belcourt

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 4 p.m. in Denney Hall 311

Billy-Ray Belcourt (he/him) is a writer and academic from the Driftpile Cree nation. He is a PhD candidate and 2018 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta; his doctoral project is a creative-theoretical one called "The Conspiracy of NDN Joy." He is also a 2016 Rhodes Scholar and holds an M.St. in women's studies from the University of Oxford and Wadham College. In the First Nations Youth category, Belcourt was awarded a 2019 Indspire Award, which is the highest honor the Indigenous community bestows on its own leaders. In January 2020, he will be an assistant professor of Indigenous creative writing at the University of British Columbia.

Visiting Writer Nicole Sealey

Friday, October 18, 2019 at 4 p.m. in Denney Hall 311
MFA Workshop: Saturday, October 19 in Denney Hall 311

Born in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include a 2019 Rome Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, the Poetry International Prize and a Daniel Varoujan Award, grants from the Elizabeth George and Jerome Foundations, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. Sealey holds an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Formerly the executive director at Cave Canem Foundation, she is a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

Visiting Writer Robert Fieseler

Friday, January 10, 2020 at 4 p.m. in Denney Hall 311

Robert W. Fieseler is the 2019 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association "Journalist of the Year" and the acclaimed debut author of Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation, winner of the Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime and Lambda Literary's Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers. He graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia Journalism School and lives with his husband and dog in New Orleans.

Visiting Writer Dan Kois

Friday, January 24, 2020 at 4 p.m. in Denney Hall 311
MFA Workshop: Saturday, January 25 in Denney Hall 311

Dan Kois is the author of How to Be a Family and the co-author of The World Only Spins Forward.

2018-2019

Amy Fusselman-Idiophone

Visiting Writer Amy Fusselman

Wednesday, September 12 at 4:30pm at the Wexner Center for the Arts Bookstore

Amy Fusselman is a writer, artist, and publisher based in New York City. She is the author of three books of nonfiction: Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted and Afraid to Die (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015); The Pharmacist’s Mate (McSweeney’s, 2013); and (McSweeney’s, 2013). Her new book, Idiophone, was released from Coffee House Press on July 3rd, 2018. Her writing has appeared in ARTnews, Ms., The New York Times, Artnet, The Believer, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Atlantic, among other places. Fusselman is the publisher at Ohio Edit, a digital art and literary journal that offers 99-cent downloadable essays  on thought-provoking topics. 

Danez Smith

Visiting Writer Danez Smith

Reading: Friday, September 14 at 4:30pm in 311 Denney Hall.
MFA Student Workshop: Saturday, September 15.

Danez Smith is a Black, queer, poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award & the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is also the author of two chapbooks, hands on your knees (2013, Penmanship Books) and black movie (2015, Button Poetry), winner of the Button Poetry Prize. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, and is a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow. Danez's work has been featured widely including in/on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. 

Alice McDermott

Visiting Writer Alice McDermott

Reading: Friday, September 28 at 4:30pm in 311 Denney Hall.
MFA Student Workshop: Saturday, September 29.

Alice McDermott’s first novel, A Bigamists' Daughter, was published to wide acclaim in 1982. That Night (1987), her second novel, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. At Weddings and Wakes (1992), her third novel, became a New York Times bestseller. Charming Billy (1998), won the National Book Award. Ms. McDermott's other books include Child of My Heart and After This.  Ms. McDermott received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Oswego, and her M.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She has taught at the University of California at San Diego and American University, has been a writer-in-residence at Lynchburg and Hollins Colleges in Virginia, and was lecturer in English at the University of New Hampshire. Her short stories have appeared in Ms., Redbook, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. The recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, Ms. McDermott is currently writer-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. 

Melissa Febos

Visiting Writer Melissa Febos

Reading: Friday, March 1 in 311 Denney Hall. Time: 4:00 p.m.
MFA Student Workshop: Saturday, March 2.

Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010) and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which The New Yorker called “mesmerizing,” and was an Indie Next Pick and named a Best Book of 2017 by Esquire, Book Riot, The Cut, Electric Literature, The Brooklyn Rail, Bustle, Refinery29, Salon, and The Rumpus. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University. She serves on the Board of Directors of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, the PEN America Membership Committee, and co-curated the Manhattan reading and music series, Mixer, for ten years. She curates literary events, teaches workshops, and speaks widely. The daughter of a sea captain and a psychotherapist, she was raised on Cape Cod and lives in Brooklyn. 

2017-2018

Tommy Pico

Native Craft Reading Series presents Tommy Pico

Friday, April 13, 2018 at 4:00pm in Denney 311

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is the founder and editor-in-chief of birdsong, an antiracist/queer-positive collective, small press and zine that publishes art and writing. The author of absentMINDR (VERBALVISUAL, 2014)—the first chapbook APP published for iOS mobile/tablet devices—Pico was a Queer/Art/Mentors inaugural fellow and a 2013 Lambda Literary fellow in poetry and has published poems in BOMB, Guernica, [PANK] and elsewhere. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn, where he co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker.

Gabe Habash Stephen Florida

Visiting Writer Gabe Habash

Friday, April 6, 2018 at 4:00pm in Denney 238

Columbus native Gabe Habash comes back to read from his debut novel, Stephen Florida.  Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, says, "In Stephen Florida, Gabe Habash has created a coming-of-age story with its own, often explosive, rhythm and velocity. Habash has a canny sense of how young men speak and behave, and in Stephen, he's created a singular character: funny, ambitious, affecting, but also deeply troubled, vulnerable, and compellingly strange. This is a shape-shifter of a book, both a dark ode to the mysteries and landscapes of the American West and a complex and convincing character study."  Gabe is currently the fiction reviews editor for Publishers Weekly. He holds an MFA from New York University.

Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas

Visiting Writer Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas (creative nonfiction)

Friday, February 23, 2018 at 4:00pm in Denney 311
MFA Student Workshop: Saturday, February 24

Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas received a 2016 Writer’s Award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Her nonfiction book, Don’t Come Back, was released in 2017 from Mad River Books, an imprint of the Ohio State Press. She has MFA degrees in both creative nonfiction and literary translation, both from the University of Iowa. She is also the author of Drown Sever Sing.

Toni Jensen

Native Craft Reading Series presents Toni Jensen

Reading:  Monday, November 13, 2017 at 4:30pm in 311 Denney Hall

Toni Jensen’s first story collection, From the Hilltop, was published through the Native Storiers Series at the University of Nebraska Press. Her stories have been published in journals such as EcotoneDenver Quarterly, and Fiction International and have been anthologized in New Stories from the SouthBest of the Southwest, and Best of the West: Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri. She’s working on a collection-in-progress, called Cowboyistan, about fracking and the sex trafficking of Indigenous women. She teaches in the Programs in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas. She is Métis.

Garth Greenwell

Visiting Writer Garth Greenwell (fiction)

Reading:  Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 5:00pm in 311 Denney Hall
MFA Student Workshop:  Saturday, November 4, 2017

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, and is being translated into eleven languages. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris ReviewA Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review, among others. He lives in Iowa City.

Molly Patterson

MFA Alumna Molly Patterson

Reading:  Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 4:00pm in 311 Denney Hall

Molly Patterson was born in St. Louis and lived in China for several years. Her work has appeared in several magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly and The Iowa Review. She was the 2012-2013 Writer-in-Residence at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel, Rebellion, was published by Harper (HarperCollins) in August 2017.

Tarfia Faizullah

Visiting Poet Tarfia Faizullah

Reading:  Friday, October 20, 2017 at 4:30pm in 311 Denney Hall
MFA Student Workshop:  Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Faizullah’s honors and awards include an Associated Writers Program Intro Journals Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Copper Nickel Poetry Prize, a Ploughshares’Cohen Award, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Margaret Bridgman Scholarship in Poetry. A Kundiman fellow, she lives in Detroit where she teaches at the University of Michigan and is an editor for the Asian American Literary Review and Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Series. Her second book is Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf Press, 2018).

Camille Dungy and book cover

Visiting Writer Camille Dungy

co-sponsored by Project Narrative

Panel Discussion "A Conversation about Camille Dungy's Writing": Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00pm in 311 Denney Hall
Reading:  Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 11:00am in 311 Denney Hall 

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry: Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006). Her debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017). Dungy’s honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and a California Book Award silver medal. Her poems and essays have been published in Best American Poetry, The 100 Best African American Poems, nearly thirty other anthologies, and over one hundred print and online journals.

2016-2017

Lia Purpura and books

Lia Purpura

April 7-9, 2017

Lia Purpura is the author of three collections of essays (Rough Likeness, On Looking, and Increase) in addition to a collection of translations and three books of poems. A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (for On Looking), she has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship (Translation, Warsaw, Poland), and three Pushcart Prizes. Lia Purpura is Writer in Residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in Baltimore, MD and teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop  in Tacoma, WA. Recently, she has served as Bedell Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa’s MFA Program in Nonfiction. www.liapurpura.com

Carl Phillips and books

Carl Phillips

October 22-23, 2016

Carl Phillips is the author of numerous books of poetry, including ReconnaisanceSilverchestDouble ShadowQuiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, and Riding Westward. His honors include the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress. Phillips served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2006 to 2012. He is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the Creative Writing Program.

Benjamin Percy and books

Benjamin Percy

September 23-25, 2016 

Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, the most recent among them The Dead Lands  (Grand Central/Hachette, April 2015), a post apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga. He is also the author of  Red Moon (Grand Central/Hachette, May 2013) and The Wilding (Graywolf Press, 2010), as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh (Graywolf Press, 2007) and The Language of Elk (Grand Central/Hachette, 2012; Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006).  His craft book — Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction — will be published by Graywolf Press in October of 2016. And his next novel, The Dark Net, is due out in 2017 with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He also writes the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series at DC Comics.  His honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whiting Writers’ Award, two Pushcart Prizes, the Plimpton Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. He is a member of the WGA screenwriters’ guild and has sold scripts to FOX and Starz. He currently has several film and TV projects in development. 

2015-2016

Stuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek

November 20-22, 2015

Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection.  Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. 

Meghan Daum

Meghan Daum

January 29-31, 2016

Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion. She is also the editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. Her other books include the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a memoir. Since 2005, Meghan has been an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times, covering cultural and political topics. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and is currently an adjunct associate professor in the M.F.A. Writing Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz

February 19-21, 2016

Natalie Diaz was born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community. She is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012). Her honors and awards include the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf, the Narrative Poetry Prize, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Diaz lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she works with the last speakers of Mojave and directs a language revitalization program. 

2014-2015

Books that Cook bookcover.

BOOKS THAT COOK: The Making of a Literary Meal, A Food Writing Extravaganza

Thursday, March 26, 2015, Denney Hall 311
Food Writing Panel at 3:00pm
Reading at 4:00pm
Cooking Class (off-campus) at 6:00pm

(more details below and on this flyer [pdf])

Organized like a cookbook, Books that Cook:  The Making of a Literary Meal is a collection of American literature written on the theme of food.  The literary works within each section are an extension of these cookbooks, while the cookbook excerpts in turn become pieces of literature — forms of storytelling and memory-making all their own.  Each section offers a delectable assortment of poetry, prose, and essays, and the selections all include at least one tempting recipe to entice readers to cook this book.    Edited by OSU alumni Jennifer Cognard-Black and Melissa A. Goldthwaite, and including work by OSU creative writing professor Kathy Fagan.

Food Writing Panel from 3:00pm-4:00pm featuring:

Melissa Goldthwaite, Editor, Books that Cook
Jennifer Cognard-Black, Editor, Books that Cook
Colleen Leonardi, Managing Editor, Edible Columbus
Mike Bierschenk, Food Writer, Optional Kitchen
Nancy Yan, Lecturer, OSU Newark
Jonathan Buehl, Associate Professor, OSU English

Literary Reading from 4:00pm-5:00pm featuring:

Jennifer Cognard-Black, Editor, Books that Cook
Melissa Goldthwaite, Editor, Books that Cook
Kathy Fagan, Poet & Professor, MFA Faculty, OSU

Cooking Class (Hors d'Oeuvres) from 6:00pm-8:00pm

with Sarah Lagrotteria, Cooking Instructor & Recipe Editor for Edible Columbus at The Seasoned Farmhouse Cooking School in Clintonville

Gail Caldwell.

Gail Caldwell

Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 8:00pm
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street

Gail Caldwell was the chief book critic for The Boston Globe and the winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Her work was noted for “her insightful observations on contemporary life and literature.” She wrote A Strong West Wind: A Memoir (2006) about her native Texas, and Let's Take the Long Way Home (2010), a memoir of her friendship with author Caroline Knapp. Her latest book, New Life, No Instructions, was released in April 2014.  She has a Samoyed named Tula. 

Zadie Smith.

Zadie Smith

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Mershon Auditorium/Wexner Center for the Arts
1871 N. High Street
5:00pm

As of 2012, Zadie Smith has published four novels, all of which have received substantial critical praise. In 2003, she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors, and was also included in the 2013 list.[ She joined New York University's Creative Writing Program as a tenured professor on September 1, 2010. Smith has won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2006 and her novel White Teeth was included in Time magazine's TIME:  100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005 list.

Presented by the President and Provost's Diversity Lecture and Cultural Arts Series, with co-host The Humanities Institute.

 

Jamaal May.

Jamaal May

Friday, January 16, 2015 at 7:00pm
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street

Jamaal May is a poet, editor, and educator from Detroit, where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. He is the author of Hum (2013), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award, and two poetry chapbooks (The God Engine and The Whetting of Teeth). A graduate of Warren Wilson's MFA program for writers, Jamaal teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.  

Photo of Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

Friday, February 6, 2015 at 8:00pm
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels, Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, she was named one of “20 Under 40” fiction writers by the New Yorker. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Otis College of Art and Design. 

2013-2014

Dan Chaon.

Dan Chaon

January 25, 2014
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street
8:00pm

Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington PostChicago TribuneSan Francisco ChronicleThe Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short StoriesPushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing. 

Joy Castro.

Joy Castro

November 25, 2013
311 Denney Hall
164 W. 17th Avenue
3:00pm

Born in Miami, Joy Castro is the author of the novel Hell or High Water and the memoir The Truth Book. She teaches literature, creative writing, and Latino studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her work has appeared in Fourth Genre, Seneca Review and The New York Times Magazine

 

Terrance Hayes.

Terrance Hayes

November 16, 2013
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street
7:30pm

Terrance Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina in 1971. He received a BA from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, and an MFA. from the University of Pittsburgh writing program. He is the author of Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; Wind in a Box (2006); Hip Logic (2002), which won the 2001 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has received many honors and awards, including a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, three Best American Poetry selections, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is professor of creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Hope Edelman.

Hope Edelman

October 20, 2013
OSU Bookstore - Barnes & Noble
Event Space, Second Floor
1598 N. High Street
4:00pm

Hope Edelman holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's degree in writing from the University of Iowa. She is the author of six nonfiction books: the international bestseller Motherless Daughters (1994), which was published in sixteen countries and translated into eleven languages; Letters from Motherless Daughters (1995), an edited collection of letters from readers; Mother of My Mother (1999), which looks at the depth and influence of the grandmother-granddaughter relationship; Motherless Mothers (2006), about the experience of being a mother when you don't have one; and The Possibility of Everything (2009), her first book-length memoir, set in Topanga Canyon, California, and Belize. In 2012 she collaborated with actors and filmmakers Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez to help them write their father-son memoir, Along the Way.   

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To find dates, times and locations for these events, check the event calendar.

  • Alumni Writers Extravaganza
    The Alumni Writers Extravaganza is a celebration of Ohio State alumni creative writers and of creating writing at The Ohio State University. This major event takes place every three years. The next AWE will be in 2021. Please check back for more information as it becomes available. 
  • Editors Panel
    This event, coordinated by the Writer's Guild, provides MFA students, as well as the greater university and Columbus community, with the opportunity to get firsthand advice from editors and, in some cases, literary agents. MCs ask questions provided to them by students. 
  • Epilog

    Epilog is an annual public performance which showcases creative work by third-year students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Epilog is an opportunity for the public to discover the prose and poetry that is being created by current MFA students. Following brief introductions by creative writing faculty, participating students give readings of their poetry, essays and stories in a formal, gala-like atmosphere. Chapbooks including selections from each of the presenting students are available at the event. This event is sponsored by the Writer's Guild.

  • Student-Faculty Readings
    Twice each semester, a faculty member teams up with several MFA students to give a reading that is open to all. These events are a special showcase for the MFA students to read their work.
  • Mother Tongue (MoTo)
    Mother Tongue evenings offer MFA students an opportunity to read work to their peers in a spirited setting off campus. Students often dedicate much time and creativity to their introductions of one another, fostering an entertaining evening rich with camaraderie. This event is coordinated by the Writer's Guild.
  • Native Craft Reading Series
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Writer's Guild

Each Ohio State University MFA candidate is a member of Writers Guild, an organization dedicated to enhancing student life and the university community through fundraisers, social activities, industry panels and recognition of graduating classmates. Its board serves as a liaison between graduate students and faculty to discuss developments and communicate news.

English Graduate Organization

The English Graduate Organization is a professional development, networking and advocacy group for all graduate students in the English department. EGO allows graduate students to have a tangible impact on departmental decisions and policies. Elected to specific committees, EGO officers coordinate academic and social events, serve on faculty committees and act as liaisons between graduate students and administration, providing a crucial voice in discussions that affect students’ day-to-day lives and future careers. In addition to promoting the interests of a dynamic graduate student body, EGO offers a valuable opportunity for its officers to prepare for service responsibilities in a profession that thrives on self-governance. EGO officers can vote at monthly English Department Council meetings, which all graduate students can attend.

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The award-winning literary journal of The Ohio State University, The Journal contributes significantly toward the literary landscape of Ohio and the nation. The Journal seeks to identify and encourage emerging writers while also attracting the work of established writers to create a diverse and compelling magazine. 

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The Young Writers Workshop is a week-long summer program for high school students in Columbus City Schools, charter schools in the City of Columbus, South-Western City Schools, and Reynoldsburg City Schools. Each year, the Ohio State creative writing faculty choose 30 students from the application pool to come live on campus and study writing with writers from around the country, including current students in and alumni of the Department of English's MFA Program in Creative Writing. Students are selected based on the promise of their writing — we don’t ask for grades or letters of recommendation, just a statement of intent and writing samples. The program is entirely funded by a generous donor, and all participating students receive full scholarships. 

Students attend daily workshops and courses taught by Ohio State faculty, graduate alumni and graduate students and have time to work on their own writing every day as well as attend readings, sessions with visiting writers in various fields, and other events, and participate in an open mic reading of their own work. The program concludes with a capstone event honoring the students and their families.

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Email your submission to cwmfa@osu.edu. The deadline for all awards is Monday, February 8, 2021, at 5:00 pm EST. Late submissions will not be considered.

  • The Haidee Forsyth Burkhardt Award in Creative Nonfiction ($100): For the best essay or nonfiction book chapter by a graduate student.
  • The Tara M. Kroger Award ($1,000): For the best short story by a student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.
  • The Vandewater Poetry Award ($1,000): For the best poem or group of no more than three poems by a graduate student.
  • The Helen Earnhart Harley Creative Writing Fellowship Award in Fiction ($600): For the best body of fiction (a story, multiple stories or an excerpt of a book-length work—totaling no more than 25 pages) by a second-year student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.
  • The Helen Earnhart Harley Creative Writing Fellowship Award in Nonfiction ($600): For the best body of non-fiction (an essay, multiple essays or an excerpt of a book-length work—totaling no more than 25 pages) by a second-year student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.
  • The Helen Earnhart Harley Creative Writing Fellowship Award in Poetry ($600): For the best body of poetry (of no more than 15 pages) by a second-year student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.
  • The Academy of American Poets Award (The Arthur Rense Prize) ($100): For the best poem or group of no more than three poems (open to graduate and undergraduate students).

To view a list of award winners, visit the Graduate Student Awards page.

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Students in the MFA program must complete 39 semester hours of graduate-level course work, including:

  • Fifteen (15) hours of graduate creative writing workshops (we encourage, but do not require, 3 hours in a genre other than the student's declared major genre). Workshops are repeatable.  (Students may take more than the minimum number if they choose, and when working outside their "home" genres may take either the .01 or .02 sections.  The .02 sections are designed for writers with little experience in those genres.)  The workshops we offer are:
    • English 6763.01 Graduate Workshop in Poetry (3 credits)
    • English 6763.02 Graduate Workshop in Poetry for MFA Students in Fiction or Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
    • English 6765.01 Graduate Workshop in Fiction (3 credits)
    • English 6765.02 Graduate Workshop in Fiction for MFA Students in Poetry or Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
    • English 6768 Graduate Workshop in Creative Nonfiction (3 credits)
    • English 6769 Graduate Workshop in Creative Writing - Special Topics (3 credits)
    • English 6764 Graduate Workshop in Screenwriting (3 credits)
  • Nine (9) hours of English other than creative writing courses. A maximum of 3 hours of Independent Study may be counted toward fulfilling this requirement.  English 6781 (Introduction to the Teaching of First-Year English) may be counted toward  this total. Students are encouraged, but not required, to choose additional courses from OSU's broad offerings in literary studies, including the study of narrative, as well as folklore, film, linguistics, and other areas.
  • Three (3) hours of a course in literary forms (English 7871). Forms of Poetry and Forms of Fiction or Nonfiction are offered every year.  Topics vary; this course may be repeated.
  • Three (3) hours of electives in related areas (e.g., other art forms such as music, theater, or the visual arts; philosophy; history; literature as offered by departments other than our own, such as foreign language departments; comparative studies–or another relevant course approved by the student's advisor).  Courses must be taken at the graduate level (5000 level or above).  (Other elective courses, not counted toward credits required for graduation, may be taken at any level.)
  • Nine (9) hours of creative thesis tutorial (English 8998); and an approved creative thesis, followed by an oral defense.

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APPLICATION INFORMATION

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All admitted students are fully funded for our three-year MFA program in Creative Writing. In addition, all students receive either a graduate teaching associateship, a Graduate School fellowship or a combination of the two. Funding is renewed on a yearly basis as long as the student maintains satisfactory academic progress.

  • Graduate teaching associateships: Departmental funding is most often in the form of a graduate teaching associateship, for which the student receives a stipend of at least $17,000 for the nine-month academic year. The Department of English also subsidizes 85% of student health insurance premiums and provides a tuition waiver for all GTAs. Students are responsible for COTA bus, student activity, Student Union and Recreation Center fees. Students on GTA appointments teach one course per term during the regular academic year.
  • Graduate School fellowships: In addition to the funding provided by the Department of English, the Graduate School awards University and Enrichment Fellowships on a competitive basis to students who are new to graduate education at Ohio State. The Department of English's admissions committee submits nominations to the Graduate School’s competition, and a selection committee reviewing nominations from across all graduate programs in the university awards the fellowships. Students may not apply directly for fellowship support. Each graduate program has a limited number of students who may be nominated for fellowship consideration. All Graduate School fellowships provide a monthly stipend, academic tuition and fees and a subsidy of 85% of the student health insurance premiums. These fellowships are nonrenewable and may not be deferred. 
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The Graduate Admissions Committee for the Department of English will accept applications to the MFA program from students with a bachelor's degree in English or a minimum of 40 quarter hours (27 semester hours) of English coursework from an accredited college or university. 

The Graduate School requires that those admitted have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4 (where 4.0=A) and at least a 3.0 on all previous graduate work. Our departmental criteria are higher: A GPA of at least 3.2 overall is preferred. Coursework in a foreign language is not required for admission.

If you have already earned an MFA in creative writing or are in the process of completing an MFA program in creative writing, you are not eligible for admission to our program. 

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Submit all following items through the Graduate Admissions Office:

  • Application form and fee: If you are interested in a fee waiver, please visit this Graduate and Professional Admissions webpage.
  • Three letters of recommendation: Please have your recommenders submit letters electronically using the link that will be provided when you select this option in the online application. Our preference is that your recommenders be faculty who have taught you or writers familiar with your work, as these are likely to be most useful to us.  But we understand that for those who have been out of school for some time and those who have not participated in writing workshops or conferences, this may be impossible. You will not be penalized for this, but we do ask that you choose your recommenders carefully from among the options you do have — those who have had the opportunity to work with you or supervise your work, for example. 
  • Transcripts or record of marks for each university-level school attended: Visit this Graduate and Professional Admissions page for detailed information about transcript submission. Send transcripts to the Office of Graduate and Professional Admissions; do not send transcripts to the Department of English. Include English translation of each of any foreign documents. Please do not send transcripts of course work taken at Ohio State as the Office of Graduate and Professional Admissions will obtain them directly from the Office of the University Registrar (at no cost to you).
  • Personal statement (one to two single-spaced pages): that describes your background as a writer and your purpose in pursuing this degree; this statement should address your writing interests and can also briefly describe your interest and/or experience in teaching.
  • Creative writing sample: 15 to 25 pages of poetry; or 20 to 40 double-spaced pages of fiction; or 20 to 40 double-spaced pages of nonfiction. On the application uploader, upload your creative writing sample to the “Writing Sample” option. The writing sample is the most important part of your application. Please note that admission is to a single genre, so applicants should choose carefully the genre in which they wish to be considered.
  • Curriculum vitae/resume of no more than two pages.

Please note: As of autumn 2018, the Department of English at Ohio State no longer requires GRE scores for applications to its PhD or MFA programs. 

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

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If your native language is not English:

  • 600 Paper-based TOEFL 
  • 100 Internet-based TOEFL (IBT)
  • 86 MELAB
  • 8.0 IELTS 
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All admissions to the MFA program are made for the autumn semester only; the application portal for autumn 2021 will open October 1, 2020. The application deadline for domestic applicants is December 7, 2020. NOTE: The application deadline for international applicants is November 30, 2020.

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  • Do you accept applications for genre fiction?
    While we don’t in any way dislike or discourage genre fiction, our program is known for its literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry instructors and graduates. Familiarizing yourself with them and their work might be your best and most productive research as you consider to which programs you will apply.
     
  • Can I talk to current students and/or faculty at Ohio State?
    We very much appreciate your interest in our program, and we wish that all prospective students had the opportunity to speak with current students and/or faculty. With the volume of applications we receive each year, however, we are unfortunately unable to accommodate these requests. Admitted students are invited to attend our open house in the spring and meet current students and faculty members at that time.
     
  • I don’t have the required amount of English coursework listed on this page. What should I do?
    We would encourage you to apply. If your writing sample and application materials match what the committee is looking for, the credit requirement will be waived. It will not negatively impact your application in any way.
     
  • Can I apply for a fee waiver?
    If you are interested in applying for a fee waiver, please visit this webpage. Please note that the “PGD Program” option is unavailable to students applying for admission to the Department of English.
     
  • What if my recommenders don’t know me in a creative writing capacity?
    Our preference is that your recommenders be faculty who have taught you or writers familiar with your work, as these are likely to be most useful to us. However, we understand that for those who have been out of school for some time, and those who have not participated in writing workshops or conferences, this may be impossible. You will not be penalized for this, but we do ask that you choose your recommenders carefully from among the options you do have — those who have had the opportunity to work with you or supervise your work, for example.
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For questions that can't be answered by the information above, the Creative Writing Program can be reached by email or phone (614-292-4363).

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