Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

How to Apply

Admission Requirements:

Admission is highly selective. Students will be accepted on the basis of manuscript samples and past educational experience in creative writing. Applications are reviewed during two annual admission cycles. The first review cycle begins in late February, for those being considered to start our program at our summer residency/fall semester. The second review cycle begins in late August, for those being considered to start our program at our winter residency/spring semester.

We encourage all applicants to submit their materials early. It is not uncommon for transcripts to take six to eight weeks, and sometimes longer, to be sent out. Often in the summer it is difficult to get letters of recommendation, as many college faculty are traveling on their break. It is in your best interests to obtain these materials as early as possible.

For those applying for admission in summer we highly recommend initiating the online portion of the application form by February 15th and completing their application with the submission of all required materials no later than March 1st. For all those applying for admission in winter/spring we recommend submitting the online portion of the application form by August 15th and to have all of the required materials in place by September 1st. Applications completed later than these recommended dates may still be considered, as long as space is available. If not, consideration will be rolled over in to the subsequent semester's admission review cycle. Those applying closer to or after these recommended dates should inquire with the program regarding availability. We do not consider applications for early admission.

Transferring Students

Incoming Stonecoast students may request to transfer up to one semester's work from another graduate creative writing program into the Stonecoast MFA program, with the approval of the Director.  Students interested in transferring credit should mention this fact in their application and should include relevant transcripts.


For admission, please submit the following to:


Application Processing Center

University of Maine System

P.O. Box 412

Bangor, ME 04402-0412


Electronic transcripts and other application materials can be emailed to:


  • A 1-2 page essay describing your writing background, your reasons for wanting to enroll in our MFA program, and your goals after graduation. We'd prefer this essay, and all three written submissions, be sent as separate Word or pdf documents, either attached to one or separate emails to or as hard copies sent in the mail to the Application Processing Center address listed above.
  • A sample of your writing (see guidelines below), clearly marked to indicate the genre in which you are applying: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Poetry or Popular Fiction. Manuscript samples will not be returned; do not send originals.
  • Official transcripts of all previous undergraduate and graduate work must be requested and sent directly from each institution attended.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a published writer. Each letter must be accompanied by a recommendation form. Once completed, the online application form will automatically send each of three references you've listed a copy of the recommendation form along with instructions regarding how they can submit a letter on your behalf.
  • A 500-750 word personal statement discussing the work of at least three writers who have influenced your own writing in the genre in which you are applying. 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.
  • Application fee is free!

GRE scores are not required. Please do not use any staples when submitting your application.

Writing Samples

For Creative Nonfiction, submit a sample of memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, or longform narrative nonfiction of 20 pages or fewer. Creative Nonfiction for this program does not include book reviews, letters, short journalism features or job-related documents such as memos, legal briefs, etc. If you send an excerpt from a memoir, please include a brief synopsis of the entire work.

For Fiction, submit a short story or novel excerpt, maximum of 20 pages. If you choose to submit a novel excerpt, please include a short synopsis.

For Poetry, submit a maximum of ten poems.

For Popular Fiction, submit a piece of fantasy, horror, mystery, science fiction, romance, or thriller, maximum 20 pages. If you submit a novel excerpt, please include a brief synopsis.

All writing samples should be double-spaced, with 1 inch margins, in 12 point font.  You may submit as many short pieces of Fiction, Popular Fiction or Creative Nonfiction as you like, provided that the entire submission does not exceed the 20 page limit.



Students and faculty must have Internet capabilities on home computers in order to participate in Web-based workshops and conferences. In addition, all Stonecoat MFA students must use their email address while enrolled in Stonecoast MFA, as all communication from University of Southern Maine will be sent to that address. Stonecoast also has a Blackboard community, where we post community documents, host chat forums, and maintain a calendar of important program deadlines.

University of Southern Maine  

The University of Southern Maine, with campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, has gained a national reputation for the breadth and quality of programs that serve the population center of the state. Over 4,800 students attend classes during the summer and the academic year enrollment is over 11,000. Approximately 2,000 students are graduate students.



Tuition for students entering the Stonecoast MFA program can be between $8,000.00 and $9,000.00 per semester, plus USM's Unified Fee. Tuition is subject to change without notice; however we will post information about tuition changes as soon as it is available. If you have any questions about tuition, fees, and student billing, please contact USM Student Billing.


Financial Aid

To be considered for financial aid, the University of Southern Maine requires students to complete a FAFSA form. The priority deadline for filing the FAFSA form is February 15. For financial aid information and applications, visit the Office of Financial Aid website at


Stonecoast MFA Scholarships

A small number of partial scholarships are available each year. Currently enrolled students and applicants are encouraged to apply.  While all applicants may apply, awards are only considered for, and granted to, matriculated students.


Stonecoast MFA Scholarship Categories

Maine Resident (available to Maine residents only): In an essay of up to 500 words, explain how Maine has influenced your writing and/or how your writing might contribute to the culture of Maine. Applicants will be evaluated on the quality of the writing, applicability to specific goals of the scholarship, and/or the student's financial need.

Cultural Diversity: In an essay of up to 500 words, explore how living in a culturally or ethnically diverse environment has affected your writing and/or how your writing might enhance awareness of cultural or ethnic diversity. Applicants will be evaluated on the quality of the writing, applicability to specific goals of the scholarship, and/or the student's financial need.

Social Action: In an essay of up to 500 words, describe a specific writing project you plan to work on at Stonecoast and explain how your project will contribute creatively to positive social change. Applicants will be evaluated on the quality of the writing, applicability to specific goals of the scholarship, and/or the student's financial need.

Academic Merit: In an essay of up to 500 words, discuss how your writing relates to the traditions and conventions of your genre and/or how your work might change or contribute to the genre. Applicants will be evaluated on the quality of the writing, applicability to specific goals of the scholarship, and/or the student's financial need.


Stonecoast MFA Scholarship Application Deadlines:

We now accept applications for scholarship awards twice a year, once during each admissions cycle. Materials for spring semester awards must be postmarked by October 1st and for fall semester awards by April 1st.

We do not accept electronic materials. Please send your completed  Stonecoast MFA Scholarship Application to:


University of Southern Maine

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Attn: Scholarship Committee

PO Box 9300

Portland, ME  04104


Guidelines and Information:

You must submit your completed Stonecoast MFA Scholarship Application and writing materials for the spring semester by October 1st and for the fall semester awards by April 1st.

When you complete the application process, a committee will read and evaluate the quality of the writing, applicability to specific goals of the scholarships, and/or the student's financial need.

Students are selected for these scholarships solely upon the criteria developed by the committee in accordance to University of Southern Maine policies. However, if you receive financial aid, Federal regulations require the University to include any scholarships received into your financial aid package.

Scholarship recipients will receive an award letter.

The University of Southern Maine confirms its commitment to recognize and reward students' achievements both inside and outside the program.


For More Information about the overall application process:

Stonecoast MFA applications are administered by the Graduate Office of the University of Southern Maine. The graduate office will be processing your application, so if you have questions about the application process or about the status of your application, please contact USM Graduate Admissions at (207) 780-4386. 

The Stonecoast MFA staff are also happy to talk with you at any time to address your questions. You may contact us at