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The MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literature accepts applications for admission on a rolling basis, but to be considered for funding, you must apply by January 1.
All applicants for the summer and fall semester should apply by May 1. Spring semester applicants should apply by October 15.
International applications may not apply for spring or summer admission, only fall, and only as a full-time student. The international deadline for all fall admissions is January 15.
How to Apply for the MFA
Application Form Instructions. Please use SUNY Stony Brook Graduate School’s online application. Create an account to begin a new application.
- In the program drop-down menu, please choose Creative Writing and Literature--MFA.
- Only admissions to fall semester will be considered for funding.
- Indicate whether you are applying as a part-time or full-time student. Only full-time applications received by January 1 will be considered for funding.
- Interested in the Manhattan Track? Type “Manhattan Track” in the “Specialization” line.
- Even though the application will ask, you do not need GRE scores.
- You will need email addresses for the writers of your letters of recommendation. See below for more information.
Additional Documents to Upload. Be prepared to upload the following:
- A statement of purpose discussing your reasons for study, your evolution as a writer, and your reading life. This should be one to two pages, the length of a good letter.
- A writing sample. Admission to the program is based primarily on the evaluation of your creative writing. Your sample may be in fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, scriptwriting, or a combination of genres. Please send up to 10 pages of poetry, single-spaced, or 25 pages of prose, double-spaced, with your name on every page. Send your best work, and disabuse yourself of any requirement to submit the maximum number of pages if they are not all of equally high quality. Please prepare a cover sheet for your writing sample, listing your address, phone number, e-mail address, genre(s), and title(s) of your submission.
- A résumé or C.V. This document can be combined with your statement of purpose into one upload.
Letters of Recommendation. Your three letters of recommendation should be from writers, professors, or writing professionals who are familiar with your work. They do not necessarily need to be professors from whom you took undergraduate courses. We've received wonderful recommendations from leaders of informal workshops at libraries, from long-time fellow members of writing groups, from teachers in continuing education programs, and from writers conference faculty. Whomever you choose to write for you, the application system will email your recommenders with a link and instructions to upload their letters. If you are using Interfolio for your letters of recommendation, please have the dossier emailed to Peggy Grigonis, our Departmental Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Official Transcripts. Finally, you will need to have an official transcript from any undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended. Electronic official transcripts should be sent to Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions, at email@example.com. Hard copy official transcripts should be sent to the Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions office at:
Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions
Stony Brook University
Health Sciences Tower
Level 2 – Rm. 271
Stony Brook, NY 11794-8276
If you have your school(s) send your hard copy official transcripts to you, do NOT open the envelopes. The unopened envelopes should be sent to the address above.
Please send your items via a service that provides tracking. If it is close to the submission deadline, a courier such as FedEx or DHL, is recommended as these couriers will deliver directly to the Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions. Items mailed using the US Postal Service (USPS) are delivered first to the University’s Central Receiving Office, which can cause the package to arrive at the Graduate Admissions Office after the intended date of receipt.
Applicants to the Master of Fine Arts program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and, except in special circumstances, have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale. It’s fine to have an undergraduate degree in an area outside of the humanities. A candidate with outstanding promise in creative writing but a less-than-stellar academic transcript may be admitted on a conditional basis.
Stony Brook Southampton is part of the State University of New York (SUNY). As of Fall 2021, tuition is $471/credit for New York State residents and $963/credit for non-residents. A New York resident who takes a full-time load of three courses for 12 credits would pay $8,596.00 for the semester, inclusive of fees and health insurance. The Office of Student Financial Services has more detailed breakdowns of tuition scenarios.
The cost compares favorably to any number of writing programs charging up to five times as much. Unless you are getting fully funded somewhere, our rates are pretty hard to beat. Or maybe going full-time to an MFA program doesn't work in your life. You can take just a course or two each semester. Many programs don't allow a part-time option. But we offer a cost-effective way to incorporate only as much high-quality and rigorous writing instruction as your full-time life can accommodate.
Out-of-state residents pay more, but if you are accepted to the program, you will establish residency in New York State, a process that takes one year, and you'll pay the in-state rate going forward.
Teaching Assistantships/Graduate Assistantships
We award a number of full and partial Graduate and Teaching Assistantships to our incoming students. All applications for full-time study in the Fall term are considered, provided that the application is submitted by January 1. These GA/TA awards are extremely competitive. In 2019-2020 2 students were fully funded and 14 were partially funded.
A full TA/GA offer comes with an academic-year stipend of approximately $20,000, a 15-20 hour/week workload, full tuition waiver and subsidized health insurance. A partial TA/GA offer comes with a 50% tuition scholarship and academic-year stipend of approximately $10,000, as well as subsidized health insurance and an 8-10 hour/week workload. Students in good standing can expect to have their funding renewed for their second year, when they teach creative writing courses to Stony Brook undergraduates.
Recipients of funding offers who can contribute to the diversity of Stony Brook may be eligible for the Turner Fellowship. Those with outstanding academic promise may be eligible for the Graduate Council Fellowship. These fellowships award an additional $30,000 over the course of three years to their recipients, along with tuition waiver and stipend. We have a high rate of success in identifying candidates for these prestigious awards. Every year since 2015 we have had Turner and GCF fellows among our cloudy trophies hung.
Even if you don't receive a TA/GA offer, you will have an excellent chance to earn money teaching undergraduate creative writing courses at Stony Brook. We regularly assign them to all of the MFA students who have taken the Teaching Practicum or are otherwise qualified. YAWP, our outreach to area middle and high schools, is popular regular source of employment for part-time students.
Other Financial Support
All of our students receive partial scholarships to the Southampton Writers Conference.
The Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction, Jody Donohue Poetry Prize and Joseph Kelly Prize in Creative Writing are cash prizes of $500-$1,000 each awarded to incoming MFA in Creative Writing students of exceptional promise in fiction, poetry and/or creative nonfiction. All applicants, both full- and part-time, are eligible. Winners are chosen based on their application writing samples and will be notified in their acceptance letters.
From time to time, our program is able to raise additional funds that we can distribute to our deserving students in the form of prizes, service awards, or scholarships for current students. For example, this past year we added the Sally Martell Award of $1,000 for mid-career, returning women students.
To favor one incoming student over another, by awarding assistantships or prizes, runs counter to our philosophy that we are all in this together, faculty and students alike, struggling with the extraordinarily difficult work of putting words together. If you earn admission to our program, with funding or without, we guarantee that you will be treated with the same respect as every other member of our community.
Applicants are also encouraged to explore opportunities for external funding independent of our program's limited resources. For more information on other types of financial aid, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid Services at (631) 632-6840.
The fine print about transfer credits, international students, and other admissions arcana is revealed in the Graduate Bulletin.
Or contact us:
MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literature
Chancellors Hall, Room 238
Stony Brook Southampton
239 Montauk Highway Southampton, NY 11968
Phone: (631) 632-5030
Fax: (631) 632-2576