University of Pittsburgh

graduate

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all graduate students in the Writing Program receive funding? 

Yes, all of our graduate students receive funding to study at Pitt. You can learn more about that here. 

Is the GRE really necessary?

No. As of the 2019-20 application deadline, these scores are not necessary.

Can I enroll in the MFA Program part-time?

Yes, you can enroll in the program on a part-time basis, but you should keep in mind that the statute of limitations on the degree is four years.

My GPA isn't stellar. Will that ruin my chances for admission? Is there a minimum GPA?

Ideally, your undergrad GPA should be 3.0. You will not be able to receive funding if your GPA is below 3.0. However, on rare occasions, a GPA below 3.0 will be deemed acceptable for admission. If your GPA is below 3.0, you may still be able to be admitted with a “provisional status.”

I don't have a BA in English. Will that affect my application?

Candidates for admission to the MFA Program in Writing need not have been undergraduate writing or English majors, but should be prepared to submit a sample of writing in the genre in which they wish to specialize. But it should be noted that a background in English factors heavily in the awarding of Teaching Assistantships.

I don't have an undergraduate degree. Will that affect my application?

You cannot be admitted into any graduate program without a BA degree.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

For your letters of recommendation, try to choose faculty members and others who are familiar with both your creative and critical work. In particular, we value letters from creative writing instructors.

Can my TA write me a letter of recommendation?

Yes, if you feel they can speak in detail about your abilities as a student, as well as your potential to pursue graduate work.

I won't graduate until May, so my transcripts will be incomplete. Is that okay?

In this instance, you will be admitted on a provisional basis. Once you provide your transcript, you will receive full admission.

What if I want to apply in two separate genres (i.e., poetry and fiction)?

You may apply to two seperate genres, but you should a) submit separate writing samples for each genres that you wish to be considered; b) signal this preference to be considered for two genres within your personal statement; and c) share your preference to be considered for more than one genre with the graduate administrator via email (engrad@pitt.edu) before and/or once submitting your application.

What is a statement of purpose?

Your statement of purpose should tell us about yourself and what brought you to this program. Why did you choose the University of Pittsburgh’s MFA program? What do you expect from your time in the program? And what are your aspirations as a writer?

Who are your students?

Our students come from colleges and universities from all over the United States and the world. Feel free to read their bios and learn more about where they come from and what they are writing about.

How many people get teaching assistantships?

In each incoming class, the Writing Program awards three Teaching Assistantships in each of the three genres (nine total), which means that at any given time, we have approximately 27 students who are active TAs in the Writing Program. We also have a number of K. Leroy Irvis Fellowships available for minority students selected during the regular application process. In addition, a number of Graduate Student Assistantships will be available for MFA students.

If I do get a TA, what courses would I teach?

First-year and second-year teaching assistants teach composition courses with the support and supervision of Pitt's nationally recognized Composition Program. The thorough training our students receive in teaching has been an important factor for many of our graduates who have obtained teaching positions. After the second year, TAs may teach advanced composition and introductory creative writing classes.

I applied to the program before and was rejected. Now, I am now reapplying. What is the process?

If you were not admitted the first time you applied, you need to begin the entire application process from the beginning.

I applied to the program before and was accepted, but I did not attend within one year. Do I need to reapply?

If you were accepted but did not begin the program within one year after acceptance, you also must completely redo your application.

Can I transfer from another MFA program?

Yes. A maximum of six graduate credits earned at another institution may be transferred, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, toward fulfillment of the MFA credit requirements. Any transfer of credit, however, depends on a course-by-course evaluation by the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with Writing Program faculty, regarding the relevance and comparability of each course to our MFA program and its curriculum.

Can I meet with someone to discuss the program?

You can contact the Graduate Administrator, who will then guide you to the appropriate person in the genre that you have selected. The email address is engrad@pitt.edu, and the phone number is 412-624-6549.

Can I apply for the Spring semester admission?

We do not have a Spring semester admission.

Does my writing sample need to meet the stipulated number of pages?

Yes, we do want the stipulated number of pages for writing samples.

How do you run your workshops?

Each instructor has his or her own methods and approach to workshop. Individual faculty members are willing to provide more information about their courses to students. Also, you might check out the profiles of our graduate faculty on this Website. Each faculty member’s profile includes a short statement on her or his individual philosophy of writing and teaching.

If I'm accepted, how do I arrange a visit to Pitt?

If you are admitted, the head of the genre you have selected will contact you to arrange a visit. You will be able to sit in on classes and attend readings and other literary events. You will also be able to meet personally with faculty members and graduate students, which is a key aspect and benefit of our annual MFA Open House that is held each spring. In addition, we also hope you’ll find time to explore the city and begin to discover all that Pittsburgh has to offer. We’re a major university located in an urban setting—with great neighborhoods to boot. We have the best of big-city and small-city life rolled into one, so please come visit us and see for yourself.

What’s it like to be a graduate student in Pittsburgh?

A great question that’s hard to answer, but here is some information about the city and region that might give you a better idea of what we have to offer.

 

 

Revised 11/04/2019
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