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University of iowa creative writing graduate program

Creative Writing (MFA in English)

The MFA in English with a focus in Creative Writing is awarded by the Graduate College. The Creative Writing Program, also known as the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, also offers Nondegree Course Work. For the MFA in English with a focus in nonfiction writing, apply to the Nonfiction Writing Program.

Applicants must meet the Admission Requirements of the Graduate College and the department offering the degree program (review the department’s web site or the General Catalog for departmental requirements).

Tuition and fees vary by degree program and the type of student you are.

  • Fall Semester—December 15
  • Spring Semester—not offered

The graduate application process has two steps

  • You must first submit the online application to the Graduate College and pay the $60 application fee by credit card ($100 for international applicants).
  • Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email instructing you on how to upload your supporting documents and submit letters of recommendation. A few programs require materials be sent directly to them. However, almost all supplemental material can and should be uploaded from your Admissions Profile in MyUI, our online service center for applicants and students. You can only access this AFTER you have submitted your application.

Degree Program Supplemental Materials

  • Mail manuscript of your best work, with a Manuscript Cover Sheet (PDF) – address listed below
    Receipt of your manuscript will be noted on your Admissions Profile.
  • A Statement of Purpose
  • Application for Graduate Awards
  • Your General GRE test scores (optional but recommended)
  • Supplemental Financial Aid


The application requirement section of your Profile includes an electronic letter of recommendation feature. If your program of study requires letters of recommendation, you will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders including their email on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email giving them instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.

  • Three letters of recommendation

Materials to send to Admissions

  • A set of your unofficial academic records/transcripts uploaded on your Admissions Profile. If you are admitted, official transcripts will be required before your enrollment. For international records, all records should bear the original stamp or seal of the institution and the signature of a school official. Documents not in English must be accompanied by a complete, literal, English translation, certified by the issuing institution.
  • Your official GRE scores are not required for admission to this program. However, applications that include GRE scores may be more competitive for a greater range of financial assistance (the University’s institutional code is 6681).
  • International students may also be required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or DuoLingo scores to comply with the university’s English Language Proficiency Requirements.
  • Once recommended for admission, international students must send a Financial Statement.

Apply Online, the $60 application fee ($100 for international students) is payable by Discover, MasterCard, or Visa.

Iowa Writers Room

The Iowa Writers Room is a professionally oriented program that prepares students to enter a career in writing long-form television.

About The Iowa Writers Room

The Iowa Writers Room, though a relatively new program, grew directly from the University of Iowa’s unparalleled history of literary excellence. Iowa has long been able draw the best creative talent in the country to its graduate writing programs and some of those writers made their way to Los Angeles. Their presence has grown in recent years as alumni have filled the need for intelligent, character-driven scripted television. Indeed, the current demand for creative content is so high that UI alumni are increasingly selling the screen rights for their novels at the same time that the novels are sold for publication.

As Iowa’s impact in the entertainment industry grew, the university saw an opportunity to shorten the path to success for students by creating a value-adding, differentiated screenwriting initiative that is both low-cost and high-impact, and nimble enough to respond quickly to market demands. Thanks to the university’s many writing programs, graduate and advanced undergraduate writers already know how to create a story. This program gives them two options to learn how to tailor those stories to a new and quickly changing medium.

Writers Room Fellowships

Each year the program offers two or three fellowships to graduates of Iowa’s MFA writing programs. These include the Writers Workshop, The Playwrights Workshop, The Non-Fiction Writing Program, the Department of Cinematic Arts, and the Spanish Creative Writing Program. Fellows are in residence for the fall semester and work closely with a visiting professor to develop plans for a long-form television series and write at least one episode. During the term they engage with professional writers in Los Angeles who provide additional mentoring and offer career advice. After the fellows’ scripts are completed, they are shared with successful producers, writers and agents, most of whom are alumni of the University of Iowa. Fellows receive a $15,000 scholarship as well as travel funding to assist them as they begin their careers.

Writers Room Pro-Seminar

Each fall the program offers an advanced course in writing for long-form television. It is taught by the visiting professor, who leads students through the challenges of writing for this form. He or she mentors them as they develop an idea for a series and work on an episode. Admission to the course is open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students; applicants must submit a sample of their writing for consideration. Like the fellows, they engage with guests from the profession both in person and online. Successful scripts are sent to many of the same producers, writers and agents.

The visiting professor who mentors the fellows and teaches the pro-seminar has experience and strong ties to the screenwriting industry. Complementing him or her is an extraordinary range of successful writers, producers and agents, whose work has helped define the genre and continues to chart new territory for it.

Iowa alumni have played a transformational role in Hollywood for decades. From David Milch with NYPD Blue and Deadwood, to Mitch Burgess and Robin Green and The Sopranos, to DB Weiss and Game of Thrones, and to Lila Byock with Watchmen, Hawkeyes have captured our collective imagination and helped shape cultural conversations through their work. Our television-writing alumni have embraced this initiative and have guided the its development through an LA-based steering committee. These alumni contribute to the semester-long class and provide vital industry contacts for students interested in entering the entertainment industry. Their collective credits include: Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Manhattan, Blue Bloods, Castle Rock, Six Feet Under, West Wing, House of Cards, Mad Men, Girls, the Terror, Coach, Newhart, The Right Stuff, Gossip Girl and Northern Exposure.

Related UI Programs

Alumni Television credits

The Writers Room is funded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, by the Meta and George Rosenberg Foundation, by Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, and by other donors. It is supported by the Department of Theatre Arts.

Over the next five years it is hoped that the Writers Room will expand its reach to include more fellows and open that program to applicants from outside the University of Iowa. At least one additional pro-seminar will be offered, and a long-term residency will be provided for a professional writer.

Profile: Abigail Carney, recent UI alum with upcoming television series.

Profile: Mark Johnson, UI alum and winner an Academy Award, three Emmys, a Peabody, and a Golden Globe for films such as Rain Man and television shows such as Breaking Bad.

Profile: D.B. Weiss, UI alum and co-creators, executive producers, showrunners, and writers for Game of Thrones

Related Programs

Iowa Writers’ Workshop
Playwrights Workshop (Theatre Arts)
Cinematic Arts
Nonfiction Writing Program
MFA Program in Spanish Creative Writing
Department of English Creative Writing Program

Graduate Program

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a two-year residency program which culminates in the submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of stories, or a book of poetry) and the awarding of a Master of Fine Arts degree. The program typically admits up to fifty graduate students each year – approximately twenty-five each in the fiction and poetry programs.

Each year the Workshop faculty selects a class of fiction writers and poets from a large and impressive pool of applicants. The manuscript is by far the most important part of any application. We do not look for any particular style of writing, but rather for strong work that shows evidence of talent and individuality. The Workshop is committed to a diverse educational environment.

The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, status as a U.S. veteran, service in the U.S. military, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preferences, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual. The university also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to university facilities. For additional information on nondiscrimination policies, contact the Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the University of Iowa, 202 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, IA, 52242-1316, 319-335-0705 (voice), 319-335-0697 (TDD), [email protected] If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in these programs, please contact the Writers’ Workshop at (319) 335-0416.