Prospective Graduate MFA Students


Creativity, Culture, and Community at Mason

Founded in 1980, Mason's MFA program boasts a national reputation with internationally recognized faculty who you will work with directly to develop your literary art. In addition to being regularly published, our faculty are active members in organizations like PEN/Faulkner, the Academy of American Poets, and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which are exactly the associations you need to sustain a vibrant writerly life.

The most important factor in choosing an MFA program is the faculty with whom you will study. Check out our highly acclaimed MFA faculty here!

This 48-credit-hour, residential program offers concentrations in three genres--fiction, nonfiction, and poetry--and is typically completed in three years. The curriculum is designed to deliver a balance of scholarship and production with a generous amount of electives so that students can chart a path through the program that both adheres to our tradition and is unique to them.

For students of both poetry and prose, the Forms course (3 credits) is intended to provide core learning of written forms and literary traditions, and we advise students to register for the appropriate class in their concentration during their first semester. The course requires extensive and varied reading and considers the historical aspects of each form, frequently progressing across time to contemporary published works. In addition, each Forms course requires that students experiment with style and technique in a workshop-type setting.

Program architecture includes 6 credits of craft lecture (hybrid classes that offer a combination of reading and writing, and focus on a specific aspect of each genre), 6 credits of literature, 15 credits of electives, and 9 credits of workshop, the fundamental MFA experience.  

Unique program requirements include an "other concentration" course (3 credits) and a Visiting Writers course (1 credit). Regarding the former, our philosophy is that experimenting across genres creates more fully-formed writers, bringing together practitioners of different disciplines in order to facilitate a richer artistic dialogue. As for the latter, Mason brings two accomplished Visiting Writers in each concentration to campus each semester for unique in-class exchanges, a public reading, and social time for further conversations to between visiting authors and MFA students. Enrollment for Visiting Writers courses is capped at 10 to ensure highly engaging experiences for our students.

The program concludes with 6 credits of Thesis taken in consecutive semesters and directed by a faculty member in students' appropriate concentration. 

By choosing Mason, you will not only be challenged academically and creatively, but you will have opportunities to engage in publishing practice and literary citizenship. Our program supports several associated efforts: a nationally prominent literary festival (Fall for the Book), a student-managed “teaching press” (Stillhouse Press), a highly regarded online journal (Poetry Daily), a center for international writers (Cheuse Center), an annual writers’ conference (New Leaves), and two acclaimed literary journals (phoebe and So to Speak).

Given our robust community, Mason is able to offer two paths of potential funding: Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) and Graduate Professional Assistantships (GPAs).

Students note on their applications whether they want to be considered for a GTA position and submit the required additional documentation. GTAs spend their first year tutoring in Mason's Writing Center and taking a course in Composition Pedagogy; together, along with a thorough support system, students are prepared to enter the classroom in their second year. GTAs teach two sections of 101 in the fall and, in the spring, can opt to take the Literature Pedagogy course while teaching 101 (comp) and/or 201 (lit). Based on need, MFA students may also have opportunities to teach 396 Intro to Creative Writing in their third year.   

[MFA applicants interested in a Graduate Teaching Assistantship for the Fall semester should apply by January 15. Details are found and required additional documents are uploaded as part of the application procedure. Note that required material includes a 1000-word nonfiction writing sample, preferably a literary analysis. Ideally, you should select an essay or sample of an essay that demonstrates your facility with undergraduate-level discourse about literature or a closely related field. Questions, email us at] 

Meanwhile, limited GPAs are available for students who may be interested in gaining other types of professional experience with the above-mentioned publishing practice or literary citizenship efforts. For example, GPA positions have been created to support editorial and research initiatives with Poetry Daily, the management of Stillhouse Press, the administration of the Cheuse Center, and coordinating social media for the Creative Writing Program.  For more information, email the Creative Writing Program director (Gregg Wilhelm at

Both GTAs and GPAs work 20 hours/week and receive a stipend, full tuition waiver (up to 18 credits per academic year equalling nearly $34,000 over the course of the program), and optional health care coverage. On average, about 65% of the program's students receive funding. 

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 37,000 students (undergraduate and graduate students, combined) from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility.

MFA APPLICATION DEADLINES: January 15 for priority admission and funding consideration, February 15 to still be considered for possible funding, and April 15 to still be considered for fall admission. Please follow this link to start your MFA in Creative Writing application.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: Mason's campus is a richly diverse and dynamic space. We receive several applications from international students each year. For more information that is pertinent to international applicants, click here.

OFFICE OF GRADUATE ADMISSIONS: All prospective students planning to submit an application should also read additional information regarding requirements and policies for all applicants to graduate programs at Mason.

For questions, to request more information, or to schedule a visit (sit in on a class, talk to faculty and current students, check out campus), email