Oregon State University

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MFA PROGRAM

General Questions

Is the GRE required for admission?

The GRE is not required; however, you are welcome to send your scores if you have taken the test.  The GRE code for OSU is 4586.

Am I able to apply to the MFA program in two separate genres?

Yes, however, applicants are only accepted in one genre. Applicants wishing to apply to both the MFA in Poetry and the MFA in Nonfiction, for example, should submit separate applications to the Graduate School, including separate writing samples and statements of objectives. If you are submitting one application, please send only the writing sample that reflects your genre of choice.

What qualifications do I need for admission?

The writing sample is the most important part of the application.  Beyond the writing sample, admission to OSU’s Creative Writing Program is also based on three letters of recommendation, the student’s personal statement of objectives, and college transcripts. Applicants must have a four year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and a combined GPA of at least 3.00 on the last 90 quarter (60 semester) credit hours of graded undergraduate work toward the first baccalaureate degree plus all work completed thereafter.

Can I apply to the MAIS (Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies) with Creative Writing as one of my three fields?

No. Graduate study in Creative Writing is only available through the MFA Program.

Can I upload my writing sample with my online application?

Yes. The writing sample, statement of objectives, resume, and recommendation letters may be submitted online. This is the preferred method. Alternatively, you may send these materials via the postal service to the following address:

School of Writing, Literature, and Film, Oregon State University, 238 Moreland Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331

What application materials are required?

Please visit the Graduate Admissions page on our website for a list of application materials and guidelines:
http://oregonstate.edu/cla/english/admissions-graduate-program.

How do I apply?

To apply for a graduate degree at Oregon State University, simply use the online portal. You will be able to save your application and continue at your convenience.

What is the application deadline and fee?

The application deadline for the 2014-2015 school year is January 8, 2014. The fee is $60.

Are there application fee waivers?

The Graduate School does not offer application fee waivers.

What is the most important part of my application?

The writing sample plays the biggest role in the selection process.

How many pages of poetry/prose need to be submitted?

The poetry sample should consist of no more than 10 to 12 poems. The prose sample (fiction or creative nonfiction) should be between 15-20 pages in length.

What are the requirements for letters of recommendation?

Three letters of recommendation should written by individuals who can discuss an applicant’s creative writing in detail, as well as academic interests and aims; letters for teaching assistant applicants should include discussion of teaching potential.

Will you accept application materials past the deadline?

We will accept late recommendation letters, as long as this information gets to us within about a week of the deadline. Please encourage your recommenders to send their letters on time.

Does the MFA program offer spring admission?

There are no spring admissions to the graduate MFA program.

If I am not offered admission and I reapply the following year, will my application materials still be on file?

To be absolutely certain that your materials reach us, we recommend that you complete a new application and re-submit relevant material, including letters of recommendation, writing sample, personal statement of objectives, and transcripts.

I wasn’t an English major. Can I still apply?

Absolutely. Our MFA students come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds.

How many students are admitted each year?

The MFA Program received over 370 applications in 2012 for our six seats in Fiction, four seats in Creative Nonfiction and four seats in Poetry.

What is your acceptance rate?

Our acceptance rate is under 4%.

Is Oregon State University a signatory to the Council of Graduate Schools Resolution Regarding Graduate Scholars, Fellows, Trainees and Assistants?

Yes.

Program Details

Overview

Creative writing at OSU is a 2-year, 60-credit program. OSU runs on the quarter system. Most quarters, a student takes a 4-credit workshop in their genre (poetry, prose, or nonfiction), a 4-credit literature or craft course, and 4 credit hours of thesis advising and/or teaching-practicum credits, for a total of 12 credits each quarter. Click here for more.

What is the teacher/student ratio?

The teacher student ratio is approximately 1:3. Professors are devoted to students’ work and accessible for out of class attention and guidance.

Is there a reading series?

Our MFA program features three reading series. The Visiting Writers Series brings 4-5 nationally known writers and poets to campus each year. With each visiting writer, colloquiums, craft talks, and other related events are scheduled specifically for the MFA students.

Our Literary Northwest Series celebrates the burgeoning literary scene in the Willamette Valley and the Northwest.

Our program also hosts a monthly reading by our MFA students.

Can I teach?

All our MFA students are fully funded through Graduate Teaching Assistantships. In addition to teaching courses in composition, our MFA students have the opportunity to teach creative writing during their second year.

What is the size of the program?

We typically admit 3-4 poets, 6 fiction writers, and 3-4 nonfiction writers a year, for a total of 24 - 28 students at any given time.

What is the demographic of your students?

Our graduate students come to us from top-ranked universities all over the country, from a wide variety of academic majors and post-collegiate careers. We have accepted students of all ages and backgrounds. We welcome diversity, and seek to attract a diverse graduate cohort by actively recruiting, as well as offering Diversity Recruitment Bonus scholarships.

Do you teach creative nonfiction writing?

Yes. We offer grad-only creative nonfiction workshops and magazine writing courses.

Do you admit playwrights?

No. At this time, we do not offer a playwriting workshop, or have a playwriting concentration.

Do you teach screenwriting?

A screenwriting workshop is offered once a year.

Do you accept students who write fantasy, science fiction, or other “genre fiction?”

The MFA program welcomes experimentation with literary forms new and old. While we do not wish to restrict our students from pursuing the writing that most excites them, the workshop emphasizes literary fiction, and encourages students to complicate generic conventions and subvert clichés, rather than recreating and reinforcing them.

Does the MFA program offer opportunities to study abroad?

Study abroad is not a part of our program at this time.

What is the Stone Award?

The Stone Award in Lifetime Literary Achievement is one of the nation’s most generous life-time achievement prizes in the field of literature. Our inaugural recipient was Joyce Carol Oates who visited Corvallis in May, 2012, meeting our graduate students in a small group session, and giving an evening public reading. The award will be granted every other year.

Program Requirements

What is required to graduate?

Creative writing at OSU is a 2-year, 60-credit program. OSU runs on the quarter system. Most quarters, a student takes a 4-credit workshop in their genre (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction), a 4-credit literature or craft course, and 4 credit hours of thesis advising, for a total of 12 credits each quarter. Here for more.

Within the 60 required credits, each MFA candidate must take at least 1 pre-1800 English course.  Students holding a GTA position must also complete at least 1 composition theory course as part of their coursework.

Students produce a thesis at the end of their second year of study. The thesis is a sustained piece of imaginative writing of literary merit. Generally, length, form, and content are mutually agreed upon by the student and the thesis advisor, depending on the student's needs and goals, with final approval resting with the advisor. Typically, however, a  thesis is between 75 and 120 pages in length for fiction and nonfiction, and may be a short-story or essay collection, a novel, or a sustained nonfiction work. Poetry theses are between 35 and 48 pages in length.

An oral examination, or “thesis defense” is given in the student's final term of study. It measures a writer's growth and tests ingenuity and academic knowledge. The defense typically involves questions on theory and technique, on the history of the genre, on the student's own creative work, and on the student's grasp of the contemporary situation in the field of Creative Writing. The committee consists of the student's thesis advisor, a second representative from Creative Writing, a representative from Literature or Rhetoric and Writing (or, in some cases, from another field of study in which a student has a particular interest), and a Graduate School representative.

Does your MFA program have a language requirement?

No.

Do I have to take comprehensive finals?

No. The MFA degree culminates, for each student, in a 2 hour Thesis Defense. See above, under “What is required to graduate” for more details.

Finances / Scholarships

What types of funding do you offer?

Our program is committed to providing full funding for all admitted MFA students through Graduate Teaching Assistantships.  For 2013-2014, the annual salary is $10,249.  MFA GTAs receive stipends of approximately $1138 per month, along with full tuition remission and a $300 stipend-supplement each quarter (excluding summer) to defray roughly half of student fees.

Though the GTAship is offered to students on a yearly basis, it is extremely rare that a student’s contract is not renewed for the second year of study. As a GTA, you are often the sole instructor for the courses that you teach; you may also apply to be a teaching assistant in an introductory literature course. First-year GTAs teach an introductory composition course capped at 25 students. Second-year GTAs have the opportunity to teach creative writing (fiction or poetry). OSU’s academic calendar is on a quarter system, and GTAs typically teach 1/1/2 (one section for two of the terms, and two sections for one of the terms).

Is tuition waived?

Yes, tuition is covered for all admitted GTAs.

Do you offer Health Insurance?

OSU provides health care coverage through an 85% GTA-only health insurance premium subsidy.

How long can I teach and how do I apply for a GTA position?

All GTA positions are for two years. To be considered for a GTA, be sure to check "Yes" next to "Graduate Teaching Assistant" in the Additional Graduate Questions module of the application. 

Any chance of receiving additional funding?

Additional stipends can be sought through The Graduate School. We also submit our top candidates for prestigious university-wide fellowships, scholarships, and the Diversity Recruitment Bonus. In order to qualify for the Diversity Recruitment Bonus, a student must belong to an acknowledged minority group. Students who may qualify are strongly urged to indicate their ethnic identity on the Graduate School web application. On rare occasions, students receive additional funding by working with other departments.

Contact Info

Writing, Literature, & Film 238 Moreland Hall 541.737.3244
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