MFA in Creative Writing
Director: Justin Tussing
Associate Director: Robin Talbot
The Stonecoast M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing is a low-residency graduate program that brings together a faculty of nationally known writers from across the United States. The M.F.A. is a two-year program, alternating intensive ten-day residencies with six-month independent writing projects supervised by the faculty mentors. The M.F.A. offers an interdisciplinary curriculum, including creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and popular fiction, with possibilities for elective work in such areas as writing about environment, writing for young adults, dramatic writing, performance, and writing for social justice.
Low-residency programs give students significant flexibility in pursuing graduate work as they do not require a day-to-day presence on campus.
The cost of the low-residency graduate writing program is $8,000 per semester plus USM's unified fee and room and board. Tuition is subject to change without notice; however, we will post information about tuition changes as soon as it is available. The fee structure for this long-distance learning program is separate from the usual USM graduate tuition. The M.F.A. does not charge a higher rate for out-of-state students. Some scholarships are available.
For application instructions, go to usm.maine.edu/apply and find the Graduate Application Process.
Questions on the admissions process should be directed to the Office of Admissions at (207) 780-4386 or email@example.com. For more information on the curriculum or the program, contact the Stonecoast M.F.A. office at (207) 780-5262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The master of fine arts requires attendance at two, ten-day residencies per year for two years. These residencies are considered the beginning of each semester. Residencies are held on the Maine coast in Freeport, Maine and taught by faculty and visitors of national reputation. Students attend workshops, faculty seminars, graduating student presentations, conferences with the administration, and daily readings. The winter residency will be held in January and the summer residency in July.
The Stonecoast M.F.A. also requires students to complete four semesters of intensive long-distance work with a faculty mentor/writer. Each semester following the residency, at prearranged intervals, students send packets of creative writing and critical essays to their mentors by mail or e-mail. Faculty respond with extensive, in-depth critiques of the student work.
Students write a third-semester critical essay in one of six emphases (craft, creative collaboration, publishing, social action, teaching, and theory) and write a creative thesis in their third and fourth semesters. Students must also attend a final graduation residency at which they give a reading of their work, teach a graduate presentation, and can participate in a master class. Occasionally, leaves of absence will be approved for a maximum of two semesters.
Admission is highly selective; students will be accepted on the basis of writing samples and past educational experience.
Application Procedures and Required Materials
Complete applications for the two annual admissions cycles are due on March 1st and September 1st. Later applications may be considered in exceptional cases or until all places are filled.
Applicants are required to provide the following materials:
- Application: Online Application
- Application fee: Waived
- Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
- International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required
- Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
- Essays: 1) Please submit a one to two-page essay describing your writing background, your reasons for attending the M.F.A. program, and your goals following graduation.
2) Additionally, all applicants need a 500-750 word statement discussing the work of at least three writers in the genre in which you are applying who have influenced your own writing. This statement may involve close readings, critical analysis, and/or a more personal discussion of why and how you value these writers. Ideally, it should convey a sense of the literary heritage in which you situate your own work and of your skill as a reader.
Writing Sample: Applicants to the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing are required to submit a writing sample of your fiction, poetry or nonfiction. (Popular Fiction for this program does not include romance or children's literature.) Submitted material should be clearly marked to indicate applicant's name and the specific genre in which a student is applying. Send copies only, not originals. For Fiction, submit a short story or novel excerpt, maximum of 20 pages. For Poetry, submit a maximum of ten poems. For Creative Nonfiction, submit an excerpt from a memoir, a personal essay or a piece of literary journalism, a maximum of 20 pages. (Creative Nonfiction for this program does not include book reviews, letters, feature journalism or job-related documents such as memos, legal briefs, etc.) For Popular Fiction, submit a piece of science fiction, fantasy, horror, a mystery, or a thriller, maximum 20 pages.
- TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English may be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.
In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:
College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation
International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a
Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.
English Proficiency Test Scores
Official English proficiency examination scores are required from international applicants and/or applicants whose primary language is not English, unless the applicant has received a degree from an English-speaking institution. The University of Southern Maine accepts the following score reports sent directly from the testing agency. TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for a graduate program.
Where to send transcripts and application materials
Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:
Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412
Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to email@example.com. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation