Frequently Asked Questions
Note to applicants: The most important thing to understand about our admissions process is that the writing sample (along with personal statement and MCW coversheet) are read online first. If we like what we see there, we move on to evaluating the supporting materials like reference letters, GRE scores, and transcripts. This is not license to put off submitting the other materials—we can see if you submitted those by the deadline. But all will not be lost if a lone letter or a single transcript has gone astray; if you become a semi-finalist (after all writing samples are read) we will let you know and give you a chance to provide it. Until then, it’s not necessary to call the office to check on the status of any items.
Is there more than one creative writing program at UT?
Yes, and we encourage you to consider applying concurrently to our affiliated departments’ programs. While our program is unique in its interdisciplinary approach, all graduate creative writing students at UT Austin have access to the same workshops and courses, including those taught by our distinguished visiting faculty.
UT’s Department of English offers a two-year MFA in Creative Writing in fiction or poetry, now called the New Writers Project. Their students are supported by TAships (which include a good health insurance package and tuition assistance) for three semesters and a Michener fellowship in the final semester. Their program also includes editorial opportunities with the department’s literary magazine, Bat City Review.
Theatre and Dance offers a three-year MFA in Playwriting, in which students are supported by a combination of departmental fellowships and teaching assistantships with benefits. Playwrights from both Theatre and MCW share workshops, production opportunities, and play development opportunties at two major play festivals on campus.
Radio-TV-Film offers an MFA in Screenwriting. Their MFA candidates receive annual scholarship stipends and are eligible for TAships in the department, and enjoy wider access to production opportunities in the Film program.
If you wish to apply to one of the other UT programs as well as ours, you will need to submit the required materials to both departments and meet GIAC’s requirements for multiple applications.
How important is the GRE score?
A low GRE score has never kept a terrifically talented writer out of the program. We look most closely at your verbal score, obviously. But it does help form our overall picture of how academically prepared you are for graduate study. All applicants must present scores less than 5 years old, regardless of educational background.
Who should I ask for letters of reference?
Use your best judgment in securing meaningful letters. Obviously, letters from professors or workshop instructors of any writing classes you’ve taken are most useful. If you have been out of school for a while, you might ask for letters from persons you have worked with professionally or in non-academic writing groups. Your sister or your therapist are probably not good alternatives (yes, we’ve actually gotten such letters).
Is it okay to request more than 3 letters?
Three letters are enough. Extra letters generally aren’t helpful.
What should I say in my Statement of Purpose?
First, stick to the 350-word limit: we have a lot of reading to do.
Think of this statement as a kind of lens through which all the other elements of your application can be brought into focus for us. It is your chance to speak in your own words about yourself. The best personal statements balance clear-eyed professionalism with a fresh voice, without being gimmicky.
Put a header on your statement that includes your name and your PRIMARY and SECONDARY fields. If you have some special preparation or background in the secondary field, it’s worth briefly mentioning in the statement.
The MCW Coversheet doesn’t appear on the electronic application anywhere!?!
Correct. The coversheet is a crucial document available on our website only. You will download it, fill it out, and email the completed document to the MCW offices at email@example.com. (We realize that some may have versions of Acrobat which allow them to fill it in electronically and return it to us; others will need to print it out, fill it in with a pen, and rescan it—either way is fine.) It is due by December 15 as is everything else. It is not uploaded or provided on the GIAC site. Your email must conform to the these instructions: The subject line must read: COVERSHEET: [your last name], [your first name]. (Your primary field). Ex: COVERSHEET: Hemingway, Ernest (Fiction). Your coversheet will be lost if the subject line is not exactly in this format.