» MFA in Creative Writing


The MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University encourages students to write boldly, read thoughtfully, and live vibrantly.

We’re here to make something. To explore options as we discover the hundreds of ways a draft doesn’t work, the dozens of ways it shouldn’t work, and the one way it could work better than anything we’ve written before.

We’re here to put in the time. Hours in thought. Hours in books. Hours on the keyboard. Hours talking with each other about how to create something extraordinary.

Our students and our faculty—Mark Axelrod, Richard Bausch, James P. Blaylock, Alicia Kozameh, Anna Leahy, Mildred Lewis, Martin Nakell, and Tom Zoellner—are here for big ideas. To bring them to life in words and deliver those words to the world.

Whether you’re interested in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, or a combination of genres, the MFA at Chapman University invites you to write better than you ever thought you could.The MFA is designed so that you can create a portfolio of possibilities for your life. When the world asks us what we can write, we answer: anything imaginable.

Why this MFA?

  • The most aesthetically wide-ranging faculty of any MFA in the country.
  • More genre options for students, including Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Screenwriting, and Experimental Writing.
  • Well-published, award-winning authors: Mark Axelrod, Richard Bausch, Jim Blaylock, Alicia Kozameh, Anna Leahy, Mildred Lewis, Martin Nakell, Tom Zoellner.
  • Six competitive fellowships (three each year) with full tuition waiver and a stipend of $18,000. These fellowships are renewable for a second year and require no work obligation so that students can put their writing first. Limited full-tuition scholarships are also available.
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantships and innovative Graduate Assistantships for select students in the second year of study.
  • WordTheatre and the Tabula Poetica Reading Series every fall, the John Fowles Center Reading Series every spring, and Pub(lishing) Crawl in April.
  • Dynamic Visiting Writers: Isabel Allende, Victoria Chang, Carolyn Forché, Karen Joy Fowler, Pico Iyer, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kim Stanley Robinson, Rebecca Skloot, and more.
  • Aspects of a Writer, an innovative course that introduces students to the large writing life.
  • Digital Humanities, the cutting-edge of English studies.
  • Flexible Scheduling, with classes offered in late afternoon and evening and part-time options.
  • Our MFA alums find employment in related fields of writing, marketing, and teaching and are publishing their work in journals, magazines, and books.

The culmination of each MFA student's degree program is a book–length thesis project of distinction. For further information on degree prerequisites, admission requirements and a list of courses view the Graduate Course Catalog.

+ - Admission Requirements

All applicants must provide the following materials:

  • Official transcripts from ALL degree-granting (bachelor’s or master’s degrees) colleges and universities attended. An official transcript submitted in a sealed envelope which you have received from your college or university is acceptable.
  • An essay expressing your reasons for wanting to join the particular academic program to which you are applying.  What are your personal and career goals, and how will this particular degree from Chapman University help you reach those goals?  Your essay should be double spaced, size 12 font, and 1-2 pages in length.
  • Two letters of recommendation that speak to your academic preparation, intellectual ability, and aptitude for graduate study.
  • A portfolio of creative work to be evaluated by the MFA faculty committee. You should submit work that you believe best represents your style and demonstrates your potential. The portfolio should include 20-30 pages of fiction or non-fiction, 10-15 pages of poetry, or the first 15 pages of a screenplay or stage play. Be advised that the purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate your creative potential as an MFA student; however, you should also be aware that literature courses will also be part of the degree and you should be comfortable writing critical essays as well.

+ - Application Deadlines

Apply now using the Online Application. Submit your application and all supporting documents online by the deadlines listed below. Applications received after these deadlines will be considered on a rolling basis as space is available.

• For Fall Semester, including fellowship and scholarship consideration: February 1

• For Spring Semester: November 1

+ - Dual MA/MFA Degree

The dual degree combines the MFA in Creative Writing and the MA in English by merging the practice and study of creative writing with in-depth literary scholarship in a three-year program. It is designed especially for students who intend to pursue a career in teaching English and creative writing at the university, community college, or secondary-school level.

Dual-degree students must be admitted to both the MA and MFA programs, be enrolled concurrently in both programs, and complete all requirements for each degree program, including both thesis requirements. For further information on degree prerequisites, admission requirements, and a list of courses, view the Graduate Course Catalog.

In addition to application materials required for the MFA, dual-degree applicants must submit a non-returnable critical essay of 12-15 pages that demonstrates critical skills and ability to discuss literary and theoretical texts.

Students already enrolled in either the MA or the MFA program who wish to switch to the dual-degree program must apply and be admitted to the other degree program before completing 27 credits.

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Contact Us

Anna Leahy
Director, MFA in Creative Writing

Allison DeVries
Graduate Programs Coordinator
(714) 997-6752

Shannon McCance
Graduate Admission Counselor
(714) 516-5236

For additional admission information, please contact:
Office of Graduate Admission
888-CU-APPLY or (714) 997-6711
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