Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is there more than one creative writing program at UT?
Yes, and we encourage you to consider applying concurrently to our affiliated departments’ programs.  While our program is unique in its interdisciplinary approach, all graduate creative writing students at UT Austin have access to the same workshops and courses, including those taught by our distinguished visiting faculty.

UT’s Department of English offers a two-year  in fiction or poetry; Radio-TV-Film offers an MFA in Screenwriting; and, Theatre and Dance offers a three-year MFA in Playwriting.

If you wish to apply to one of the other UT programs as well as ours, you will need to submit the required materials to both departments and meet GIAC’s requirements for multiple applications.

What makes for a successful writing sample?
Send us what you feel is your finest and strongest work.  A lot of writers make the mistake of trying to show “range” or submitting very recent work that hasn’t yet had time to mature.  Likewise, some writers will include work that is more ambitious than accomplished, an approach that often doesn’t give the Admissions Committee the clearest sense of who the writers are.  We know that the decision of what to include in a sample can be stressful and confusing, but our advice is to relax and send us what you feel are your best pages to date.

Can I send previously published work as my sample?
Yes!

How important is the GRE score?
We place very little significance in GRE scores.  They have rarely proved useful in our admissions process.  They may be helpful for other programs, but for us, the scores are simply a box to check.  Don’t sweat over the GRE at all.  Put all of your work (and sweat) into your writing sample.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?
Use your best judgment in securing meaningful letters. Obviously, letters from professors or workshop instructors of any writing classes you’ve taken are most useful. If you have been out of school for a while, you might ask for letters from persons you have worked with professionally or in non-academic writing groups.

Is it okay to request more than 3 letters?
Three letters are enough. Extra letters generally aren’t helpful.

What should I say in my Statement of Purpose?
Think of this statement as a lens through which other elements of your application can be brought into focus for us.   What you include is your call, though it’s not uncommon for writers to discuss the work (books, films, plays, etc.) that has shaped their writing lives.  If you’ve had interesting jobs or travels that seem relevant to who you are as a writer, we’d be glad to hear about them.

Put a header on your statement that includes your name and your PRIMARY and SECONDARY fields.  If you have some special preparation or background in the secondary field, it’s worth briefly mentioning in the statement.

Does UT have a literary journal?
Yes! Bat City Review is a nationally distributed (and very cool) magazine published at UT.  Each year, MCW Fellows have the option to work on the magazine staff.  A post-grad one-year managing editor position is also available.

If I’m accepted to the Michener Center for Writers, will I be teaching?
There are no teaching duties for Michener Center Fellows.  We are very proud to offer three years of full funding without any teaching obligations.  We want writers to immerse themselves in their projects and we want to spare them any unnecessary labor.

That said, if a Michener Center writer wants to teach, there are a variety of options to explore.  The Library Foundation’s Badgerdog Creative Writing Program works to make creative writing accessible to anyone and everyone, and MCW Fellows have a rich history of teaching writers of all ages through that program.  Students have worked with resident faculty member Deb Olin Unferth on the Pen-City Writers Program, a creative-writing certificate program for men incarcerated at a maximum security prison in southern Texas. They may also have the opportunity to teach creative writing and literature courses at UT’s Osher Lifetime Learning Institute’s SAGE (Seminars for Adult Growth and Enrichment). The Michener Center is also currently developing a new course that would train students to teach writing outside of the university, in a wide variety of social service settings; to think deeply and practice in action how to use the writing process as a community building tool; and to use teaching writing as a vehicle for transformative social change.