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Welcome to the GVSU Dept of Writing GradSchool Wiki Main Page


This is an attempt by the faculty and students of Grand Valley State University to better organize and share our knowledge about graduate schools (M.A., M.F.A., and PhD) in creative writing and professional writing. Obviously it shall get larger. Our hope is that anyone who comes across this can add their knowledge onto the wiki and it can grow and persist, grow and persist.


Who is in charge of the wiki? Well, all of you, but the moderator is Caitlin Horrocks.




  • Fiction, Poetry, Non-Fiction, Screenwriting, Playwriting (M.F.A.)
  • English, Editing and Publishing, Journalism, Professional Writing, Technical Communication, Rhetoric and Composition (M.A.)
  • Creative Writing, English, Rhetoric and Composition, Technical Communication (Ph.D.)

(What do the different degrees mean?)





  • Practice the craft and improve your writing
  • Get credentialed to teach at colleges
  • Improve your secondary-education teaching
  • Join a community of writers
  • Get exposure to a profession
  • Move to a new part of the country
  • Read a lot, talk, and think about writing more than you ever will again





  • M.A.: about two years (little financial support offered)
  • M.F.A.: between two and four year (between no support and full-support (depending on the school))
  • PhD: five years and up (between some support and full support (depending on the school))




Schools specialize — UCLA has a screenwriting M.F.A. but no fiction or poetry program, for example. Some schools cover multiple bases. N.Y.U. has a poetry, fiction, and dramatic writing program. Creative Writing, Rhetoric and Composition, Professional Writing, or Technical Communication may be programs within English departments or part of stand alone Creative Writing, Writing and Rhetoric or Technical Communication programs. It's worth asking professors what they know about the strong programs in your field; programs and faculty (and funding!) change.


Current GVSU Writing faculty have degrees from: Arizona State University, Bowling Green State University, Iowa State University, Old Dominion University, Purdue University, Michigan Technological University, Texas Tech University, Western Michigan University, University of Alabama, University of Arkansas-Little Rock, University of Arizona, University of Iowa, University of Houston, University of Kansas, University of Louisville, University of Missouri, University of Montana, University of Oklahoma, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wyoming, University of California-Berkeley and more.




An increasing number of reputable universities now offer online graduate degrees in various subfields of writing. Online degrees offer the flexibility of earning a degree without having to move. They can also be completed while employed full-time in corporate, non-profit, or academic settings. Although the convenience of these degrees is very appealing, a high level of self-motivation is needed to be successful in online programs. In addition, many programs ( especially at the Ph.D. level) have residency requirements. These requirements can be varied in length (from 2 weeks to 2 months) and frequency (once to 6 times while you are enrolled in the program). During your residency periods, you will attend classes and workshops while staying on campus. Some programs offer financial assistance to travel to and attend residency periods, others offer discounted housing costs on campus during your stay.


Selecting the online program that is right for you takes a lot of research. You should definitely research program specialties and see if they match your expectations. In addition, research the universities and consider only institutions that also have on-site programs and a history of offering high-quality education in your field.


The following links might be helpful if you are considering an online graduate program:


Article about low-residency MFA programs from The Writer magazine

List of low-residency MFA programs

Top Ten Most Affordable Online MFA Programs (these are not necessarily the best online MFA options, but a few here are fully online, without in-person residency periods, which is rare) 


MA in Technical Communication/Science Communication:

Arizona State University

Northeastern University

Purdue University

Texas Tech University


Ph. D:

Texas Tech University (Technical Communication and Creative Writing )

Old Dominion University

Indiana University of Pennsylvania




Creative Writing


Professional Writing/Rhetoric and Composition 



APPLYING: What you will need


  • Writing Sample (or Manuscript)

M.F.A. programs ask for upwards of 30 pages of original material to evaluate. Hands down, this is the most important aspect of your application. No one gets into creative writing graduate school based on their transcripts. Be sure to send your strongest, polished work.


Graduate programs in English, Rhetoric and Composition, Professional Writing, and Technical Communication may want to see a sample of your academic writing in the discipline.


  • Transcripts

Plan ahead: you will need to have GVSU mail an official transcript to the schools you're applying to. This can take up to a week. Check here for more.


  • Personal Statement

How-to and Examples of Personal Statements

Purdue OWL Advice on Personal Statements
"How I Wrote my Statement of Purpose" (by a successful MFA applicant)

          "What to say in Your Statement of Purpose" (by an MFA faculty member)


  • Letters of Recommendation

How to Ask for Recommendation Letters


  • GRE Scores

GREs and Standardized Tests Required




GRAND VALLEY ALUMNI: Where they've ended up, and their grad school experiences


We encourage our alums who have gone on to graduate schools to create new pages for individual programs they are attending (or have attended) with descriptive info, how they chose the school, how the students are, and really anything that might be of interest. I'd also encourage our alums to post their contact info so that prospective students could contact them if they have specific questions about the process or programs.













          Ask and answer your additional Qs and As


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