Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about our MFA in Creative Writing Below.
Our program is fully-funded to all admitted students. There is no partial-funding, or mostly-funding. All admitted students receive an in-state tuition waiver and a monthly stipend with an assistantship. The Graduate Assistantship award includes a stipend of $23,000 for teaching one class per semester, and checks are direct-deposited near the end of each month. (More information about the assistantship below.)
We are a genre-flexible program that encourages hybrid work. We don’t just allow you to explore; we encourage it. This is reflected in the diverse interests of our faculty, our expansive and innovative curriculum, and in the many career paths of our successful alumni. Our program is flexible: Just because you enter the program in fiction doesn’t mean you’ll be expected to write a fiction thesis. Moreover, all of our workshops are open to all admitted MFA students (in addition, all PhD seminars are open to all MFA students.) This structure allows for a rich and extended network of MFA and PhD students. We offer full-funding to all students with a very competitive 1/1 teaching load, which offers students plenty of time to write while in our program. All incoming students are paired with a faculty mentor for their first year to assist new students with whatever they may need. Finally, because we’re a small program, there’s an incredible amount of opportunity for professionalization and leadership roles for students.
We admit between 6-8 students per year total (that includes all genres). Our acceptance rate varies yearly due to application size, but in 2021 it was around 3.5%.
No. Our MFA is an academic program, with a combination of workshop and seminar classes. You are required to take some literature & theory courses (12 hours total) in addition to creative writing workshops. Our literature courses are very influential to many of our MFA students, and many of our literature and theory faculty serve on the thesis committees of our MFA students. Take a look at the graduate English department’s current (and past) offerings.
Our MFA curriculum is incredibly flexible, designed to let you become the writer you want to be. Many MFA students take two workshop courses and one PhD seminar per semester. There is one required pedagogy course, ENGL 7915: Teaching College Composition, for students becoming the instructor of record. You may find our MFA curriculum requirements in pages 12-13 of the Purple Book. (The Purple Book is also an excellent resource in explaining the various requirements and policies of the program as a whole.)
Students may also take up to 9 hours of 7000-level coursework outside of the English department. (Some 4000-level classes offer a graduate course option; ask the professor or your mentor.) Many students elect to take courses in such departments as Art History, Comparative Literature, and Performance Art. At the end of the 1st year, an advisor will meet with you to help you develop an academic course plan.
Yes! It is required that you take at least one workshop outside of your primary genre.
Thesis advisors and a committee formation begins in the spring semester of your second year. You can find more information about the process on page 13 of the Purple Book.
A writing sample should be representative of the kind of work you’ve done and the kind of work you hope to do. You can use your statement of purpose to help establish some context for your writing sample.
Yes. If you are applying in multiple genres, please let us know on your application, in your statement of purpose, and consider including work in both genres as part of your writing sample. Be sure to clearly label the writing samples by genre. Only one application is necessary.
Only if you are applying in multiple genres. Learn more about application guidelines.
Yes. Be sure to label it as such.
No. Many admits have backgrounds in other disciplines. Your statement of purpose can be used to explain how your unique background sets you up for success in our program.
Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation? Do my letters of recommendation have to come from Creative Writing teachers?
Your letters need not be from creative writing teachers, but at least one letter from an individual familiar with your writing in an academic setting is advised. In general, letters of recommendation should cover these areas: potential for success as a creative writer, potential for success as a student, potential for success as a teacher, and potential to contribute meaningfully to a creative community.
Offers of admission are usually given in mid-March.
LSU offers a limited number of fee waivers options on a first-come, first serve basis to eligible domestic applicants. Submit the waiver request form.
What makes a strong candidate in your program's eyes? What makes a candidate stand out? What makes you want a candidate?
We’re looking for strong and serious writers who are curious—not only about other genres, but others’ writing as well. An ideal candidate is committed to participating and engaging in a literary community. Intra-community support is really important to us.
You can start an application. The deadline for all applicants is Jan 15.
For 2022 applicants and beyond, the GRE is not required. If you’ve already taken it and would like to send us your results, go ahead.
A statement of purpose should be used to introduce yourself to the admissions committee, establish your reasons for applying, and provide a narrative context for the rest of your application. Some things you might address are your artistic influences, your past/present literary work, and any future writing projects you would like to develop while at LSU. The four areas we’re looking to hear about from letters of recommendation are also areas you might address: potential for success as a creative writer, potential for success as a student, potential for success as a teacher, and potential to contribute meaningfully to a creative community.
We offer a very competitive 1/1 teaching load for assistantships, or one class per semester. This offers our MFA students plenty of time to focus on their creative and academic work.
Most MFA admits will spend their first year as a graduate assistant in a large lecture course, teach composition in their second year, and teach an introductory creative writing class in their 3rd year. Students will have plenty of training before teaching their own class. All MFA students teaching composition are required to enroll in ENGL 7915: Teaching College Composition the semester they become the instructor of record. If you enter the program with 18 or more hours of graduate coursework in English, you may forego work as an assistant in a large lecture course and teach composition as the instructor of record in your first year.
We have several options for non-teaching assistantships, including editorial assistantships at The Southern Review and New Delta Review as well as program assistantships that include administrative and creative work for the Creative Writing program.
Funding & Fees
Tuition and non-resident fees are covered by an assistantship, but the LSU Graduate program does charge some fees which aren’t covered. In the 2020-2021 year, these amounted to $1,502.07 per semester, or $3004.15 for the academic year. The 2021-2022 fees are slated to go down by another $900 to around $2100 per year.
The LSU fee list is updated every July; visit the Budget & Planning website to view fees schedules. (A note: all graduate fees are calculated based on a 9 hr semester.)
Students can elect to take graduate fees out of their monthly stipend.
It is not. LSU's student health insurance runs about a thousand dollars per semester. You aren’t required to have an LSU plan; some students may find cheaper options through healthcare.gov.
Life In Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge is an ever-developing city with a complex and rich history and distinct personality. It is a college town, but also the state capitol. We have an emerging art scene, great food, and tons of festivals.
We’re also just an hour from New Orleans and from Lafayette, the capital of Cajun country.
Since we are a small program, there are many, many opportunities for professionalization and leadership roles, including opportunities to hone your skills curating Delta Mouth or serving in an editorial capacity on The Southern Review or NDR. Beyond that, the English department has a lot of working groups on campus, from a new Sexuality Studies Working Group, to the Black Women's Graduate Collective, to the English Grad Student Association, which works closely with LSU’s governing bodies and hosts the annual Mardi Gras Conference.
Our main department is on the second floor, and we have elevators in the building. Please reach out if you have any specific questions or would like to talk to a current student or faculty.
Yes! Simply contact Creative Writing Director Jennifer Davis.
Many recent grads have gone into publishing/editing, arts admin, teaching (both K-12 and college), and onto to further graduate studies. Grads from the last few years have worked at literary journals (Southern Review, Paris Review), at ElectricLit and GrubWriters, and at Counterpoint Press, just to name a few. We also offer limited postdocs that are available to MFA students.
The Creative Writing program also offers a monthly professionalization series, which includes invaluable skill-sharing workshops and networking opportunities with industry professionals and our Creative Writing alumni.
We understand that it can be very difficult to afford an MFA even with an assistantship, and that many fellowship opportunities are geared toward PhD students. The following is a (very partial) list of external sources of funding open to MFA students:
- All students: scholarships and fellowships are available from the Educational Advancement Foundation.
- 1st/2nd generation immigrant students: the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
- Arab-American students: the Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship Award.
- Asian-American students: the Against The Grain Artistic Scholarship.
- LGBTQ students: the Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship.
- Muslim students: The Islamic Scholarship Fund.
- Native American students: the American Indian Graduate Center offers several scholarship options.
- Students of Color: the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fellowship.
- Students of Hispanic heritage: the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the CINTAS Foundation (for students of Cuban heritage).
- Women: The Irene Adler Prize.
For female international students:
- Horror: The Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship (for female-identifying writers).
- Poetry: The Poetry Foundation offers Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships to poets aged 21-31.
- Screenwriting/Film: the Francis D. Lyon Graduate Fellowship.
General research fellowships are available through The Huntington and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
If there’s a particular subject of research that correlates with your MFA work–say, political economy, social justice, study abroad or teaching at the college level –please consider searching for graduate scholarships and fellowships by subject. We recommend the Sallie Mae Scholarship Search and CareerOneStop’s Scholarship Finder.
If you have any additional questions about the program, we encourage you to write Jennifer Davis, the Director of Creative Writing, or Dr. Michael Bibler, the Director of Graduate Studies.